HoopsHype.com Interviews

Keith Van Horn: "I was shocked"
by Gery Woelfel / February 18, 2004

What was your reaction when you were informed that theKnicks had traded you to the Bucks?

Keith Van Horn: I was shocked, but once I got over the initial shock, you start to think about the opportunity you have and the talent they (the Bucks) have, the way they play with each other, the love they display for the game. It's a great situation. I happened to play against Milwaukee three times this year, and I really admired the way they played. They have guys who work their butts off and love to play the game. You put those two things together and you have a successful team, a team that guys like myself want to play for. It's an exciting opportunity for me.

You've been to Milwaukee a few times during your career. What are your impressions of the city?

KVH: It's been too cold to get out (laughs). You get in the hotel and then go directly to the bus to the arena, back onto the bus and onto the plane. You don't get out too much. But just walking through the airport and being around the people who did my physical and what not, the people are excited. Milwaukee is a basketball town. The people here seem to follow the Bucks. Everybody I ran into seems to know quite a bit about the Bucks, so that's great.

And what are your impressions of your new team?

KVH: One thing I see in this ballclub is a lot of guys who really understand the game. I don't see any selfish players on this team, and I think that makes it an easier adjustment for a new guy to come in and mix in right away. You have guys on this team who know what it takes to be a good team.

You said you were shocked by the trade, so you didn't have any inkling that you weren't going to be traded?

KVH: I knew the night before. Isiah Thomas called me and mentioned something might happen and that Milwaukee had an interest in me. Isiah said he wanted to be honest with me and let me know that he had been talking about me because Milwaukee had been calling, so I knew 24 hours in advance, which I don't know was better or worse because I had sweaty palms for the next 24 hours wondering what was going to happen.

Where were you when you learned about the trade?

KVH: I was actually with my daughter for her fourth birthday and I was getting ready to take her to a birthday party with Cinderella (at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla.). ... It was a tough night.

What are your impressions of Bucks coach Terry Porter?

KVH: I think this team plays a lot like the way Terry Porter played, and I think he coaches like the way he would have liked to have been coached. And I think it shows. These guys play their hearts out, and Terry Porter did that when he was a player. I'm still somewhat of an outsider looking in, but from that viewpoint, he's an unbelievable fit for this team.

Are you happy to be out of New York?

KVH: I wasn't looking forward to leaving. I didn't necessarily want to be traded. But when you do get traded, you pick out all the positives and I think there's a lot of positives to this situation. I felt we had a good situation in New York with the team we had and my family was happy. But you know you got to understand this is a business and these things happen and now my mind is totally off New York and my mind is completely focused on the Milwaukee Bucks. My mind is focused on helping this team move up in the playoff position. And I think I can help this team do that.

There have been rumors that you and Stephon Marbury weren't on the same page and weren't getting along and haven't gotten along dating to the days when the two of you played for the New Jersey Nets. How is your relationship with Marbury?

KVH: I haven't spoken to anyone from the New York media since the trade, so I don't know where that came from. I thought Steph and I played very well together this year. We helped bring that team from where it was struggling early into a good situation where they are vying for a good playoff position. I felt good about the direction we were headed there.

Considering all of the changes Thomas has made since taking the Knicks reins, you couldn't have been overly shocked to be dealt.

KVH: I thought it would get to a point where the changes would stop, but I was obviously wrong (laughs).

Bucks general manager Larry Harris said he acquired you for "the long term.'' Considering this is the fourth time you've been traded to in seven seasons, that must gratifying to hear.

KVH: It is. But in this business, you have to take it day by day and then season by season. From what I have
seen so far here, I hope this works out.

Did you have any objections to being traded to Milwaukee?

KVH: You can't have any objections. It's a business and they're going to make decisions that are best for their business. As a player, you have to stand by your commitment and go where you've been asked to go.

What are you going to miss about New York?

KVH: New York for me was a great place to live. I had a great experience there, and I thought it was a good place to live for my family. But I knew it wasn't going to be a permanent place. I knew at some point I would be leaving. I'm happy I got the opportunity to live there (he lived in Franklin Lakes, which is 30 minutes outside of New York City in New Jersey) and experience it.

One Buck player who said he's elated to have you on the team is Damon Jones, the loquacious and always-entertaining guard whom you played with New Jersey?

KVH: Damon's a got a lot of energy ... a lot of energy (laughs). But you know what? Teams need guys like
him. I think he's been great for this team. In the games I've seen, he's a great piece to this team. I'm looking forward to playing with him again.

Another one of your new teammates, Toni Kukoc, said he has empathy for someone like you. Kukoc has been traded three times, and he said he's sick and tired of being traded. Can you relate to that?

KVH: Yeah, definitely. If you're single, it's not that hard. You tell someone to put your couch and bed and TV into a truck and move it to the next condo. But when you have children and they're in school and you have family involved, it's a lot more difficult.

You played for Rick Majerus in college at Utah and have developed almost a father-son-like relationship. Rick grew up in Milwaukee, coached at Marquette University and coached the Bucks. Did you get a chance to talk to him about coming to Milwaukee?

KVH: Yeah, I did. He thinks I'm going to fall in love with the place. He's still bias toward Milwaukee, but there have been very few things that coach told me that haven't come true and he might be right again.

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

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