Goran is in Slovenia and giving his first interviews. I translated one with nice relaxed conversation and again some very concrete answers. The original is published here: kosarka.si
From Ljubljana to Phoenix ... from Iiria and Slovan to Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. From someone in who all doubted, to the most improved player. Where are the limits for Goran Dragic?
Viewed from the sports side, there is no limit. Every year I want to move forward, to progress from the previous year. Certainly, the most desirable for me is to win NBA ring. Then there is playing in the NBA All-Star game and ranking in the play-offs with Phoenix. From competitive point of view, I want to make progress every year and then at the end become respected player in NBA history. I want to become the best player I can be. There are also a lot of other things I wish ... I wish a nice and quiet private life, and a large family.
This year was a ground-breaking season in which you have proved that you belong among the biggest NBA star. If you now look back, did you expect such success before the beginning of the season?
Honestly, before the season I did not even imagine such a season like we had at the end. Neither the team nor I personally. We had a great season. We have created a cute team, we had great chemistry. It is a pity only that we fallen out of the rankings in the play-offs for such small difference.
Your qualities are finally recognized also by experts in the NBA, which have give you a few votes in the competition for MVP. For short span you were even one of the main favourites to receive this prize. What does that mean?
I was very surprised! During the season I was all time in the first ten spots, but votes were really nice surprise . I am very happy that I even got near. We know how hard it is and how many great players are in the NBA. The votes are a reward for my efforts and my work, but certainly I can't be satisfied with that. In front of me is still a lot of work and I think that the next season will be very interesting.
How are other players seeing you? Did they recognize you, talk with you?
Visibility grew, both on the field, as well as outside of it. Other players respect me more now, with a lot more talking than in the seasons prior. Also during All-Star weekend, when Kevin Durant said that I should play in the main game, such compliments meant a lot to me. His words get also more credibility now, when he became MVP of the League. But words are words, actions are actions. Unfortunately, I was not selected for All-Star game, but we know that a large part in the NBA is related to marketing. Recently I found that I had a lot of chances to rank in third All-team in the league, but I don't know exactly when they will announce that.
Your head coach is Jeff Hornacek, a former great player of Phoenix, Philadelphia and Utah. What is your relationship with him?
With Jeff we have a very special relationship, which is very friendly. We spend a lot of time together. A couple of times he came to our home on lunch. One day he was even baby-sitting our son Mateo, which can be a bit unusual [laughs]. I was really surprised. We developed a relationship based on friendship. When it's time for workouts, of course, the relationship is like between a player and a coach, but after training we are friends. Jeff is very relaxed and peaceful man. This give you a lot of confidence, you play the best you can and I think this is one of the reason that we were so successful this season.
There is some internal rivalry between you two?
Not only with me but with all the players. On many trainings when we practiced shooting, to spice it, we included a variety of games. With Jeff I no longer want to compete in shooting, because he is a great shooter. Despite the fact that he is no longer playing for many years, he still score almost everything. Before the match I don't compete with him any more, so that I don't destroy my confidence [laughs]. In the team we have always shooting games. If one of the players was not responsible enough, the club financially penalize him. This money is collected together and then we shoot from the middle of the court, and whoever wins, takes the money. There's always something interesting .
Season 2013/14 was ground-breaking for you. You have set new milestones and wrote history. Which game do you most fondly remember ?
What I will remember, of course, will be the game against New Orleans, where I scored 40 points. I did not dare to dream that I would ever reach 40 points .... then I did it in the NBA.
The Suns were one step away from the play-offs. What must the club do next season, that we will see you in one of the best 16th teams of the NBA?
The players who will stay next season, we will be even more mature, as we gained much-needed experience. As I've managed to hear, the front office in Phoenix have plan to bring one star over the summer. We have big cap-space, in the first round we have three selections, so I can't wait to see, who will be chosen. It is interesting to see which veteran they will sign, so that he could help us – giving us also advices – getting in the play-offs.
Season, which is behind you, was definitely very tiring, both physically and mentally. How you feel now, when you don't have trainings and matches?
I'm mostly resting and sitting [laughs ]. I spend a lot of time with the family, also with broader family. I take time, of course, for Mateo, I change his diapers. Basketball is currently on the sidelines.