Interview with Phoenix Suns Goran Dragic, via Slovenian outlets

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In the last couple of days a few Slovenian media outlets posted their interviews with Goran. I chose the one that seemed the most pertinent to the Suns fans. Here's the link,...

And here’s the translation.

Question: What are your feelings after you scored 40 against New Orleans.
Goran: Physically I’m completely exhausted, but psychologically this achievement really picked me up. Every player dreams of that,… and I’m not talking about scoring 40, but about those MVP chants. I’ve been told that so far this only happened to Steve Nash. And the evening was that much better because we won. I only slept 3 hours that night, because I had so much adrenaline running through my veins.

Q: It had to be something special when the whole arena chanted "MVP, MVP"?
G: I got goosebumps and thought to myself, you better make those free throws (laugh).

Q:Was it hard to concentrate?
G: I just knew I can’t miss them (laugh).

Q: Did you know how many points you had?
Q: I did. My teammates kept telling me to go for 40. Whenever I got the ball they were yelling from the bench how many points I had.

Q: When the coach called for a substitution a few seconds before the end, the whole team tackled and embraced you. Based on that, the chemistry has to be really good?
G: We get along great. We know how to band together when it gets tough out there and you can really see that in our game. It’s really great playing knowing your teammate’s got your back. Even if you screw up on defense. We have a family atmosphere going on in the locker room. It’s not important how many each player scores, all that matters is the final success of our team. If things would be different I couldn’t play as well as I am right now.

Q: What’s the secret to your chemistry after you completely turned the whole roster around? Can you attribute that to coach Hornacek?
G: The credit goes to coach and the fact that all the players have great personality. But Hornacek is a phenomenal coach and I hope he gets the "coach of the year award", because he deserves it. He was a great player so he really understands the game on many different levels. He knows how a player feels and sees situations on court.

Q: During Euro championship coach Hornacek told us he’s going to try and mould you in a more offensive type of a player. Obviously he succeeded.

G: At the beginning of the season he kept telling me to be more aggressive, especially when I’m playing off guard. You loose all your fear when your coach keeps encouraging you to shoot. If I’m open I shoot.

Q: What’s you relationship? Do you talk a lot?
G: A lot! …in practice, before and after every game. It’s always friendly and we often joke around,… though things get really serious during game time. I like that he gives me a lot of advice and I try to repay him with good on court performances. I had a similar relationship with coach McHale in Houston.

Q: Obviously you prefer that kind of a relationship?
G: You have to communicate with your coach a lot if you want to be the "on court leader". Since I left Europe I’ve realised, they put a lot more emphasis on communication with your coach in the NBA. I did the same with Bozidar Maljkovic (national team coach) last summer and I think that was the key to my success (Goran was selected on the All Euro team).

Q: Do your teammates view you as their leader?
G: On our team it doesn’t matter who the leader is. Player who’s hot in a particular game’s gonna be the one that gets the most balls. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes Gerald, sometimes Eric, who’s currently injured,… that’s the key to our success. Our opponents never know where the main threat is going to come from.

Q: Do you get "harassed" by the fans, considering you became one of the best players in the league?
G: I have a lot of obligations after the game and have to sign a lot autographs,… but when I’m with my son Mateo and wife Maja, we prefer to stay at home. The season is long and tiring,… body suffers a lot,.. I sprained the same ankle 5 times already so I try to get as much rest as possible. But I did have a special event with the fans a few days ago, where 700 of them came to see me and get my autograph. That was hard work (laugh).

Q: How is your ankle?
G: It's a chronic injury. Every time I turn it again it hurts a lot. Ligaments are really loose. It’s not serious but I’ll have to spend a lot of time rehabbing it after the season, so it won’t cause me any further trouble.

Q: Phoenix is famous for having some of the best medical and athletic trainers around. That probably comes quite handy this season?

G: It definitely helps. We’re playing almost every other day and the schedule is really tough. Pain is constant but adrenaline takes you through most games, so I pretty much forget about injuries. But you definitely feel it next morning.

Q: How has your life changed since the birth of your son Mateo?
G: A lot. I’ve been playing better basketball (laugh). When I scored 35 a week ago, every reporter wanted to know if Mateo was at the game. It’s different. I help more at home. We’re more connected as a family. Without Maja and Mateo I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I have so far. Everything’s connected. Maja takes care of me and does a lot of work, so I can get my rest.

Q: And do you get enough rest?
G: To tell you the truth I almost don’t get to practice this year. Hornacek usually sends me to the side basket and tells me to stretch and shoot. He takes a lot of care to see that I get my rest. I work with the rest of the guys only when it’s time for shooting practice. I only spend about 2 minutes in "5 on 5", just enough to get a little bit of sweat going.

Q: So they understand your situation?
G: They do. Sometimes they notice that I look a little sleepy when I come to practice, so they jokingly suggested that I book myself a hotel room. But it’s really not that tough.

Q: How about your disappointment at the All Star snub?
G: I was angry. I proved that I deserve to be there. On the other hand maybe it’s even better that I didn’t make it, as I feel especially motivated to continue playing at the same level and maybe make it next year. But that’s not my main goal. The most important thing is to play well and help my team. We must get to the playoffs this year and spoil some teams victory plans.

Q: You still competed at the All Star Skills Challenge. What were your impressions?
G: First and foremost it’s a show. A lot of celebrities sitting courtside. The arena was sold out for the entire weekend. I was there for 4 days and didn’t really have any spare time. I had a lot of meetings and interviews,… It was a great experience, but if I won’t get to play in the All Star game, I’m not sure I’ll do it again. To tell you the truth, right now I’d rather have those 5 days back to rest. But I wanted to have that experience, though now that I had it, my opinion on the AS weekend has changed.

Q: Did you get to meet any stars?
G: Many. I met the football (soccer) player Thierry Henry. We exchanged numbers and still text constantly. I hear from him after every game. He’s really good friends with Steve Nash as well. I didn’t even notice him when he approached me and introduced himself. I laughingly told him that introduction is really unnecessary, since I’ve always been a huge fan of his. He said he really likes the way I play and watches a lot of Suns games. I also had a chance to have more personal conversations with Kevin Durant, Karl Malone, Baron Davis, Rick Fox and Tim Hardaway.

Q: Are they approachable an easy to talk to?
G: Very.

Q: Was there any truth to the rumors that you might get traded, we heard at the beginning of the season?
G: I talked with my coach and GM and they both assured me that I won’t get traded. They did however tell me there’s been a lot of inquiry and that they turned down every trade proposal. On the other hand you can of course never be 100% sure you’re staying.

Q: Did that bother you?
G: It didn’t even cross my mind. I would just feel unnecessary pressure in that case. This decision was completely out of my hands. All I can do is always work as hard as I can and GM’s gonna make his decisions.

Goran also mentioned in a few other interviews that EB might be back soon, though no time frame was given. He said they get along great and the team will be much better when he gets back. He also attributed some of his early season success to his summer play, though he hasn’t committed outright to playing this summer. Everybody in Slovenia of course expects he will and the reality is that at least through to the next summer olympics he’ll probably play every summer,… barring any injury of course. He said he can’t be without basketball for more than a month or so.

Though the quote I liked the most was the one in the interview for the national TV broadcaster,…

...on what he has to work on and improve in the off season, Goran stated:

"Everything. I’ve never seen improvement as working on one particular thing. I have to work on everything. I’m not as sharp as I’d like to be right now on defense. I’m not as aggressive as I could be. I can’t play the whole game at the same level, so I find myself a step behind a lot of the time. I can still improve on strength and conditioning, I can shoot and pass better. So,… again, everything. If you want to improve every season you have to work on everything, not just one thing while you neglect others. That’s not improvement."

I also really liked the way he phrased this sentence:

"We must get to the playoffs this year and spoil some teams victory plans."

It really seemed like he had a particular top seeded team in mind,... I'm thinking,... it's gotta be the Spurs ;)

And a few other links,...

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