Russell Westbrook discusses competing against Rodney Stuckey and other up-and-coming young lead guards in the NBA
Let’s be honest. PistonPowered could use a little infusion of style. So periodically, former MLive It’s Just Sports Swag Consultant Eric Woodyard will stop by the site with some insight on the Pistons and the NBA. Woodyard has contributed at MLive, he covers the Pistons for SLAM Online, he files video reports on his YouTube channel and he writes for the Western Herald. You can also follow his Twitter updates. He covers quite a few games throughout the year, and he’ll send us a variety of interviews and interesting conversations he has related to the Pistons. Make him feel welcome here. — Patrick Hayes
As a team in transition, the Pistons are a team with young players who also need veteran leadership around to help mold them into professionals. Morris Peterson of the Thunder is respected around the NBA as one of the classiest players and a good locker room guy. He’s made a mark on several young guys around the league, including former Raptors teammate Charlie Villanueva.
Also, it’s tradition for me. Anytime Peterson is anywhere in my vicinity I have to catch up with him. Although he was on the inactive list, there wasnt any other player on the roster that I wanted to talk with more, not even Kevin Durant.
That’s how us Flintstones roll.
Eric Woodyard: Obviously you’re back home. How does it feel to be back home in Michigan?
Morris Peterson: It’s always good to be back home and see some familiar faces especially with the long season and being on the west coast. We dont get a chance to get home so it’s always good to come home and see some familiar faces and see your family.
EW: I read something the other day where it talked about how the young guys on this team was blazing you because you were older than most of the players on this team, could you talk about how that’s been? (laughs) Do they still tease you about that?
MP: (laughs) Not as much, but that first week was rough. It’s a thing to go from being one of the youngest guys in the locker room, I remember those days, to now being the older guy but it’s all good that just means they like you.
EW: Last year when we talked, I asked you how was it to play with Chris Paul. This year you’re with another superstar in Kevin Durant, how fun is it to watch him?
MP: I think KD is a great player. He’s definitely ahead of his time. You don’t find too many guys his age doing the things he does. If you look at it, he’s a match up problem. Him being 6-10, 6-11 and being able to handle it and shoot over smaller guys or drive around big guys, he always has an advantage so it’s great playing with a guy like him. To watch him last year and see him do the thing he did was good but once we were in practice, I think he’s worked even harder so it shows out on he court.
EW: How are you feeling health-wise? I know you’ve been battling with injuries for the past seasons …
MP: I’m feeling great, feeling better. I’m just trying to get back into it and get in the rotation and hopefully just try and get out there.
Rodney Stuckey had one of his best games as a Piston last night, and with his strength and athleticism, he’s similar to Thunder guard Russell Westbrook who also wasn’t a natural point guard coming into the league.
Westbrook finished the 2009-2010 season with an average of 16.1 points and 8.0 dimes per game. He then followed this up in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers where he averaged 20.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists over 6 games. This season he showed his performance was no fluke when he gave Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls 28 points and 6 assists in the season opener.
Stuckey talked in the preseason about wanting to take over the team as a leader from the point guard spot, something Westbrook has been able to do with the Thunder. I caught up with Westbrook in the midst of him eating a bag of popcorn in the visitor’s locker room at the Palace of Auburn Hills just before he prepared to battle Stuckey and the Pistons to get a look at how he prepares himself and gets ready for a game.
EW: Can you talk about your pre-game ritual a little bit. What do you usually do before the game?
Russell Westbook: I usually take a nap, grab something to eat and listen to music, nothing too crazy and just hang out, chill and relax.
EW: What type of music do you listen too to get you in the zone?
RW: You know what? I switch it up. It all depends, sometimes I listen to some Raggae, some Cameroonian music…yeah (laughs). Lil Wayne …
EW: I’ve never heard anybody say that before … (laughs)
RW: ... some jerking (Ed. Note: It’s a song/dance, get your minds out of the gutter), I switch it up. So it all depends on how I’m feeling that day.
EW: Do you usually get hyped up to go up against another up and coming point guard? Like tonight’s it’s Rodney Stuckey, do you try to go out and try to prove that you’re better?
RW: Not really, I just try to go out and prove that my team is better. I try to go out and put my team in the best situation to try to win the game.
EW: What were some of the things you worked on this off-season?
RW: Well in the off-season I was really busy with FIBA and USA basketball so with that it helped me become more physical and a better teammate.
EW: That first game against your Olympic teammate Derrick Rose and the Bulls was great battle! So to get back on that battling your peers, can you break it down how does it feel to compete against all these up and coming guards?
RW: It feels good! It’s a good thing for the league, it’s a lot of good guards in the league and to go against somebody who’s real good and real tough, there’s really no nights off.