HoopsHype.com Interviews

Ben Gordon: "I got immune to trade rumors"
by Marc Narducci / February 25, 2005

Even though you are playing more minutes, you have been more productive and seem to be more comfortable starting. Is that the case?

Ben Gordon: I guess I'm just in the flow a lot quicker than coming off the bench. I can come out and see tempo of the game and I can adjust when I get subbed out. Things have a better flow overall.

Do you prepare differently for starting verses coming off the bench?

BG: Not really. It's kind of the same. I know when coming off the bench, I would warm up much harder than when starting. When I am starting I try to work up a good sweat, but I don't want to overwork myself. When coming off
the bench you want a really good sweat, so the body is warm and ready to go.

You never missed a game in college and played every game as a rookie with the Bulls. Then in December you missed two games with a right knee sprain. How difficult was it for you to sit out?

BG: It was tough. That was my first time missing a game since, I don't think I ever missed a game. I had a sprained knee. I couldn't force it because the season was still young at the time. It was tough.

The Bulls have lost many close games and have such a young team. Is there a correlation to the youth and the close losses?

BG: We have had a lot of close games, but several we could have won. We don't think our youth is that major of a problem for us. Of course in some instances, we may make mistakes a veteran team probably wouldn't make. We're just a short ways from getting those W's, but you don't want to blame youth.

Your name was mentioned in trade rumors and whether there was any substance to it or not, how unsettling was it to hear these rumors?

BG: When I first started hearing the trade rumors, it was a little bothersome, but after a while, I kind of got immune to it. I told myself I couldn't do anything about it so I might as just focus doing whatever I could for my team to help us win.

Some experts questioned whether at your size whether you could be an effective NBA player. Do you feel any vindication with the success you've had?

BG: The strange thing about the size issue is that every year there is somebody who comes into the league who is an exception to what people think. When I was coming out, I didn't really pay much attention to it. I looked at
guys like Allen Iverson, all the smaller players who people can't stop and I saw myself as one of those guys.

You averaged 15.1 points as a rookie and were named NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. Were you surprised by your success that first season?

BG: I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't have any clue if I was going to take a few years to become a good player or if I was going to be good right away. I just tried to work hard and learn. At beginning of my career, I started off really slow and I looked like I wasn't going to be very good from the beginning. I kind of got the hang of things and was able to be successful from there.

Because you got off to a slow start last year, was that a jolt to your confidence?

BG: My confidence didn't really waver, but I started questioning myself, wondering what was wrong and why I wasn't playing well. The thing that kept me going was that I was confident in my skill and ability and all the hard
work I put in. I was questioning why things weren't going my way. But it was just a matter of calming down and getting experience and realizing how hard I had to play on the offensive and defensive end to be a good player.

Do you see yourself as a future All-Star?

BG: I can definitely see that. It's something I have envisioned for myself for a long time. It's a matter of time. You have to win. A lot of things have to go your way to be an All-Star in this league. I just hope every day to get better and hopefully that will be something I will be honored with some day.

Do you see the Bulls making the playoffs this year?

BG: I think we have a possibility. We aren't far out of the playoffs right now. Anything can happen. We can make a run and string some wins together to secure one of those spots, but it isn't going to be easy. You got teams like Milwaukee and Philly in front of you. We have to play really well and hope they lose some games to get the spot.

What has been the toughest thing you had to adjust to in the NBA?

BG: The toughest thing is the game really. The traveling wasn't hard for me, I kind of got used to that. Just learning how to manage your energy out on the court. The game is different from college. It's not like college where you are playing your hardest for the whole game. Here you have to be a cerebral kind of player. You have to know when to expend your energy and know when to kind of let the game come to you. That is something I'm still working at now, but that has been the toughest part.

What was the experience of winning a national championship at Connecticut like in 2004?

BG: That was the best. That whole year was a great experience because I had ups and downs and then we ended up winning the championship. There were so many of life's lessons that I learned. In the end, winning the championship, and having the parade in Connecticut was one of the best experiences.

Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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