Ben Gordon: It’s obviously been a lot more calm and a lot less stressful – just by having clarity with my situation, having signed early in the summer with the Detroit Pistons. Everything in this summer has been about moving forward, making the transition from the city of Chicago to the city of Detroit. That as opposed to last summer, when it was more stressful. There was a whole lot of uncertainty all the way through training camp. This summer has been less stressful.
Did that stress of the summer carry to the regular season?
BG: When the season started, everything was clear. Clarity was brought into the situation: I knew I was going to play on a one-year deal and that was it. The stress I had is the same every basketball player has: To perform well. It was a little bit more hard because it was a one-year deal and I had to worry about being healthy, performing well and trying to get my team to win as many games as possible. There was a little bit more pressure in that aspect, but other than that… The whole thing about the contract… I mean, clarity was there. I knew exactly what I had to do, so it was a little easier because I had the situation cleared up.
Going into free agency, were you expecting to change teams?
BG: After I signed my one-year deal with the Bulls, that same day I knew that could very well be my last year with the team. Or it could be the the start of something new. Going in, I had an attitude that I was going to expect any and everything – whether it be re-signing or moving to a new team and playing with new teammates. I really didn’t believe one thing was going to happen more than the other.
Tell me a little bit about how the free agency process was. Is it true that the Bulls never made an offer?
BG: Yeah, it’s true. You know, I think the level of interest that the Pistons had and they showed was far greater than that of the Bulls. Most teams in that situation, if they want to re-sign a player like myself in the situation I was under, they’d be very clear about it even before free agency started. But as days got closer, I realized the Bulls weren’t interested in re-signing me. Once July 1 came, the feeling I had was true. They didn’t make an offer. I visited Detroit and that evening I pretty much made my mind up that’s where I wanted to be.
Did it make you feel bad that the Bulls, the team you had led in scoring several years, didn’t show more interest in re-signing you?
BG: Yes and no. After being there for five years, I had a great understanding of how the organization operates. I had a better understanding from the inside, that people on the outside don’t see, of how things work. And at the end of the day, it’s a business. Everybody in that position is going to make the decision that they feel is the best business decision. As a basketball player, obviously with everything I’ve done here and the potential of the future with this team, to not be made an offer is kind of a slap in the face. But from a business standpoint, I fully understand why everything happened the way it did. I don’t have any bad feelings. It’s time to move on and start a new chapter in my career.
When you look back at the Chicago years, how do you feel about what you did there?
BG: I feel that we were like a team that was always on the verge of taking the next step and become one of the elite teams. I feel like we always had great talent, but were always missing one or two pieces to get over the hump. We never got over the hump while I was there, so I’m not happy about that. I wish we’d had more success as a team. We could’ve been great if we had one more piece or at least we had kept the teams together. That part of my career is over. I had a good time there playing basketball. I was able to kind of establish myself in the league and I’m grateful for that. But now I’m going forward and my mentality now is, “How can I, with my teammates, get Detroit to a championship level?” It takes a while. It’s not one year or two years. It takes a while, but that’s my new goal.
There’s not much buzz about the Pistons despite having you and Charlie Villanueva on board now. How do you feel about that?
BG: It’s very clear that the position in which Detroit now is a rebuilding stage. If you look at the team all the way back to 2004, when they won the championship, every year since the team has been competitive. Last season, they took a dip. Joe Dumars realized there were some changes that needed to be made. He kept some of the guys of the team that helped win the championship, but all the while it was time to get some new blood and get ready for another run. It’s only right and natural that we’re under the radar right now cause we’ve got to prove ourselves and establish ourselves. It’s not going to happen in one year, like I said. This is something that we’re trying to build over the next few years.
Do you expect your role to be similar to the one you had in Chicago? Got any idea if you’re going to start or come off the bench?
BG: A lot of that comes from the coach. I learned that early. It’s going to be the coach’s decision at the end of the day. I’ve been on teams where I led the team on scoring, but I was coming off the bench. I’ve been on teams where I started. It’s just whatever makes the team better and the coach feels is more helpful for the team. In Detroit, what I’m expecting is to show my overall game a little bit more. Not just be somebody who can score, but also one who can make plays for his teammates and make them better. That’s something I’m looking forward to.
There are many people who feel that you are just a shooter or just a scorer. Does that bother you?
BG: It doesn’t really matter to me. Everybody’s got a role on the team. There are guys out there whose role is to rebound, others whose role is to score points… That doesn’t mean they can’t do other things, but that’s their role on the team and that’s what the team needs them to do to be successful. What I pride myself on as a player is my preparation. Making sure that I do the right things to be in a position to do what’s necessary for the team. I can definitely do a lot more than what I put on display with the Bulls. I’m looking forward to those new opportunities and at the same time become a better overall player.
As one of the top shooters in the game, who do you think are the Top 5 shooters in the NBA? You can pick yourself.
BG: Pure shooters? I’ve had to say Michael Redd, Ray Allen, Jason Kapono, Stojakovic and Dirk Nowitzki. There’s a bunch of great shooters out there, but those can really shoot the ball.
The European Championship began Monday and Britain is playing. Why did you decide to pass on playing for the team?
BG: I made up my mind and I’m definitely on board to play for Great Britain. But I didn’t want to make a commitment as far as when I was going to play till I felt that I was totally committed to that cause. I want to go there when I’m ready and this summer to me was about getting situated and moving from Chicago to Detroit. I wanted to have everything in order in my life before going overseas and representing the country.
They have been shooting a documentary about your life. How did that come up?
BG: It was one of my good friends that I grew up with. He came up with that idea, that we did a documentary. Especially this past season, it was such a big year for me that you kind of wanted to capture that and show what it’s like for a player going into a contract year and then making the transition to a new team. I think is going pretty good so far.
Do you feel comfortable around the cameras?
BG: I feel more comfortable because I’m doing it with one of my childhood friends. Working with him on this makes the whole thing easier for me. Other than that, I don’t want my life to be put in front of the cameras. But with him, it’s easy.