HoopsHype.com Interviews

Michael Finley: "We can get a lot better"
by Gery Woelfel / December 21, 2005

You seem to be fitting in quite nicely with your new team. You're averaging 10.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in 28 minutes a game.

Michael Finley: It's coming along, slowly but surely. It's been a gradual process, but I'm sure things will work out for the best.

What's been the biggest adjustment you've had to make?

MF: I'm coming from a style in Dallas where we ran up and down the court and got up quick shots, whether they're good or bad, and now I'm playing in a system that's more organized and predicated on getting the ball inside out.

You've been a starter for most of your career and now you're coming off the bench. How difficult of a transition has that been?

MF: It's a big difference, but it's something I knew I had to do if I decided to come to San Antonio. It's been working out.

Are you content coming off the bench and helping this team in that capacity?

MF: Oh, yeah. I think with the type of team we have, I don't want to break up or hurt what they've had. I just want to add to that. And, with me coming off the bench, I'll definitely add to that.

What do you think makes the Spurs so successful?

MF: Tim Duncan. He's one of the best in the league right now, one of the best to ever play the game. To have him on your side is always a bonus.

Have you ever played with a player of his caliber?

MF: Not an inside presence like he is. I've played with some great ones, but not since Charles Barkley have I played with someone that dominant inside.

You were a star at the University of Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Bucks gave some consideration to taking you with their first-round pick they acquired from Portland in the 1995 draft. Instead, they took Shawn Respert. The Bucks probably wished they would have selected you now. Did you wish they would have taken you?

MF: Back then, I would have loved to have played in Milwaukee and in the state of Wisconsin because the state has always been good to me. In my four years of school at Wisconsin, they were always been supportive of me. Even in my days in the NBA, they've always been supportive. The Wisconsin alumni are vast. They're all over the world, an they always welcome me with open arms wherever I go.

The Spurs have the second-best winning percentage in the NBA, even though you have some new additions like you and Nick Van Exel. How much better can the Spurs get?

MF: A lot better. But we have a bull's-eye on our back; everybody wants to beat us. Once we get past that, we should be OK.

How many teams did you seriously consider during free agency last summer?

MF: Five.

And they were?

MF: Miami, San Antonio, obviously, Phoenix, Minnesota and Detroit.

Did you opt for the Spurs because of an opportunity to get an NBA championship ring?

MF: The situation was good for me. I felt comfortable with the San Antonio situation. For the most part, I'm happy with my decision.

Is winning a championship critical to you at this stage in your career?

MF: It's always been like that, but now as my career is near the end and my years are limited, so it's more of a focus now.

Gery Woelfel covers the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA for The Racine (Wis.) Journal Times

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