HoopsHype.com Interviews

Keith McLeod: "I play with a chip on my shoulder"
by Gerald Narciso / January 21, 2005

Growing up in Canton, Ohio you saw Eric Snow play at the same high school you would eventually attend. What did you learn from him?

Keith McLeod: Just to play hard. I grew up watching him, and as I got older I got to talk to him at camps.

Both you and LeBron James were Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio… So where’s your $100 million?

KM: (Laughs) LeBron was blessed with a little more than I was. I was not a 6-8, 235 (lbs) guard that can do everything. So my $100 million is probably put up for a long time (laughs).

How are you enjoying Salt Lake City so far? Do you think it is a good fit on and off the court?

KM: Yeah, Salt Lake has been great for me. It’s a peaceful town. The people here are nice, they have been great to me. I don’t really do a lot of things. I’m not a party guy or anything like that, so Salt Lake has been great.

What is your favorite city to visit and why?

KM: Um (pauses). I like when we went out to Chicago. The reason why is because they had a great Italian restaurant across for the hotel.

What do you like to do on your spare time?

KM: I pretty much try to clean up a little bit since we’re on the road a lot. I like to play ping pong.

You good?

KM: Yeah, I’m alright (laughs).

Initially, you were brought in with a non-guaranteed contract and as a possible third-string point guard behind Carlos Arroyo and Raul Lopez. Now you’re starting and getting some recognition around the league. How does that feel?

KM: It’s great. I'll keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I’ll get more recognition.

Do you feel you are playing the best basketball of your career?

KM: Uh… I don’t know about that. I think the best is still to come.

Do you feel your success is slightly marred by the fact that the Jazz have had an underachieving year?

KM: I don’t know, maybe that could be a situation. But I think if we can turn things around and win some games, things would be different.

You guys did have consecutive victories over San Antonio and Phoenix. Do you think you are starting to come around?

KM: Yeah, I think so. We’re playing together more and focusing more. And with Andrei (Kirilenko) coming back, I think we’ll be alright.

Can the Jazz still make the playoffs?

KM: I think so. We got to dig down deep. I still think it is something we can do.

Last season, you spent 33 games with the Timberwolves before getting cut around this time of year. What did you learn from the whole experience?

KM: Just to stick with it. Sometimes things don’t go your way, just keep working hard. When the opportunity presents itself, try to take advantage of it.

You were also undrafted coming out of Bowling Green a few years back. Has that setback motivated you to prove all the GMs that snubbed you wrong? Do you play with a chip on your shoulder?

KM: I think I kind of do play with a chip on my shoulder. I think the whole thing has motivated me to prove that I can play in this league.

Do you think your game is starting to get attention because you finally got an opportunity to showcase your talents or because of Jerry Sloan’s system, where guards usually shine under?

KM: I’m sure it’s a little bit of both. I think Jerry’s system has allowed me to be able to showcase my talents.

How good can Keith McLeod be?

KM: You got to keep watching. I’ll let you guys be the judge. But you better believe I’ll keep working on my game. It’s not going to stay the same year to year.

Gerald Narciso is the Opinion Editor at Salt Lake Community College's Globe Newspaper. He currently does work for Utah Sports Magazine and the Salt Lake Tribune

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