home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 27, 2008

Pat Riley

Dwyane Wade

CHRIS WALLACE: We'd like to welcome everyone to the conference call announcing NBA Europe Live 2008 presented by EA Sports. Today we have joining us Miami Heat head Coach Pat Riley and four-time NBA all start Dwyane Wade. The Heat will be making their first trip to Europe in October and will take on the New Jersey Nets in Paris and London.
Today we'll begin with opening statements from Coach Riley and Dwayne, which will then be followed up by a question-and-answer session.
COACH RILEY: Hello, everybody. I'm in the wonderful City of Detroit, Michigan, where we're playing the Detroit Pistons tonight. They also have the NCAA Sweet 16 here on Friday night. A lot of basketball going on here in Detroit and also in the United States.
I just want to say that, you know, for years and years, when I coached the Los Angeles Lakers, we used to take our players to training camp to Honolulu, in Hawaii, which was a five-hour trip. We always felt that it was a great experience to get away at that particular time, get to a place.
Of course, it's not in Europe, but it's a great distance away. We'd have a training camp where there were not a whole lot of distractions. We could get together, get our mind on the game, and at the same time bond a little bit.
So we're looking forward to going to Paris and to London. We're happy to be part of 2008 NBA Live. It's presented by EA Sports. We're just glad to participate in this. We know it's a program that's been going on for about three years now. I think over the last 10 or 15 years, it's been about 48 games throughout Europe.
Since most of our players right now in the NBA are from Europe, most of our great players, like Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker. He was last year's most valuable player, Tony Parker being the NBA Finals MVP. We're just delighted to come. We're going to have a lot of fun. At the same time we hope to represent the NBA in a positive way.
CHRIS WALLACE: Thank you so much. And opening comments from Dwyane.
DWYANE WADE: How y'all doing? First of all, I want to say this is a great opportunity for not only the Miami Heat, but the NBA, taking the game global.
Of course, I've been involved in the Olympics in 2004, and now we're in 2008, it's a big deal, to really go to China this summer, continue to take our game global, continue to represent ourselves as USA Basketball with class. We're looking toward to that.
I think it's going to be very exciting that we get to -- as a team, as the Miami Heat, get to be one of the first teams seen this year on TV. We'll be in Europe where NBA basketball is looked at very highly. We have a lot of fans over there. So it's gonna be great. It's gonna be great for my teammates and I to represent the NBA.
We're looking forward to it. Like coach said, there's a lot of great players in the NBA right now that's from -- a lot of European players in the league like Dirk, Tony Parker. They are great players. I think they're showing that our game has developed over the last five, six years since I've been in the NBA with a lot of foreign players from different parts of the world. So it's gonna be great for us.
CHRIS WALLACE: Thank you very much, Dwyane. We will now open the floor for questions.

Q. Coach, obviously everyone remembers you winning the championship two years ago. You don't have to look at the standings to realize things haven't been great over the last couple terms. Can you explain to fans over here the root of those problems over the last couple years and also how a team like yourself can aim to recover and bounce back from those difficulties?
COACH RILEY: I've been in Miami now for 13 years. We've always been one of the most competitive teams in the NBA. We had finally built our franchise over 10 years to being a championship contender. It all started with the drafting of Dwyane Wade, and Caron Butler, the signing of Lamar Odom. Shaquille O'Neal came on the market. We had to trade a couple of young players to get Shaquille. We ended up in the Eastern Conference Finals and lost in the seventh game to Detroit in 2005.
Then we pulled off a major trade the next summer that brought a lot of very talented, very experienced, hardened veterans to the team to put around both Shaquille and Dwyane. We ended up winning a championship.
Since that time, it's unraveled for a lot of different reasons that go on in this league. I'm one of those people that don't want it to continue just completely unravel. We traded Shaquille this year to Phoenix for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. We have an opportunity this summer with tax room, a year from now with cap space, also with the possibility of the topic in the draft, to turn this thing around very quickly.
We might be at the bottom of the standings right now, but I guarantee you, we're looking up. We're not going to be down here very long. We're a very competitive organization. We have very competitive players. We've had probably one of the most serious injury runs that I've ever been involved in in my 25 years after coaching.
Dwyane himself on the line today has experienced some very serious injuries that he's recovering from, and we feel by next October, with the rest he's going to get, the conditioning he'll get this summer, that we're gonna have a team that will be on the court that will come to London and will come to Paris, that's going to be a lot better than the one we have right now.
So I'm excited. I'm invigorated about it. There isn't anything in the NBA, in the 40 years I've been involved in the league, there isn't anything that the league can throw at me that I can't carry or hold. You got to go through the good and the bad. Right now we're having a bad run, but we're gonna turn it around.

Q. Dwyane, you mentioned the Olympics. There's been a lot of controversy surrounding China lately, the situation in Tibet. What are your thoughts on the talks for boycotts or not boycotts? Would you support a boycott if it came to that or are you just worried about basketball?
DWYANE WADE: I mean, you know, my job is to play basketball, to worry about the game. We'll let the Olympic Committee worry about everything else. That's not our job to do as players. We know they're going to do the best thing for the NBA, they're going to do the best thing for all the players.
We're just worried about going over there, representing our country. It's something we've been dreaming about for a while. To us, it's all about going over there and playing basketball as a team and hopefully bringing back the gold.

Q. Pat Riley, obviously the big change this year in the NBA is that there's no more games between European and American teams. Would you have liked to play against European teams this summer?
COACH RILEY: Well, I wouldn't mind that. I think there have been some games in the past where some professional teams have played European teams during certain junctures over there.
But eventually that's where we're headed. I don't know how long it's going to take. I know there's tremendous talk about forming an NBA, a National Basketball Association, in conjunction with the European leagues. And one day that's going to be true. Mostly likely teams in the Eastern Conference will be traveling to Europe and playing games, and European teams will be coming here and playing also.
I think it has a lot to do with the venues in Europe right now. I'm not saying they're not state-of-the-art. But when it comes to basketball facilities, season ticketholders, sponsors, all these things that go into the formula that make the NBA what it is internationally, I think when those cities will begin to show that they have the infrastructure, I will believe that we'll get closer and closer to probably that happening.
But I don't think any NBA team would have a problem playing against a European team. I would look forward to that, as a matter of fact.

Q. Your coach talked already about the bad season of the Heat. Honestly speaking, do you feel with the Heat fans who bought season tickets to see you or Shaquille O'Neal?
DWYANE WADE: There's no secret that it's been a down year for the Miami Heat. But the one thing, I think our fans, they want to see a good team trying, continuing to play hard. I think everyone that coach puts out there, especially now, they're playing their butts off, they're playing hard, they're showing professionalism. We've been snakebitten by injuries a lot. Unfortunately, we have. It has hurt us as an organization, the talent we have had in.
All we can do is continue to look forward, like coach said. The future is bright for the Miami Heat. We have a classy organization that of course don't like to be in this position that we in. I know they're going to do everything in their power to make sure we get back to being respected around the league. So that's the main thing.

Q. There's a lot of debate at the moment in English soccer regarding respect for referees in the game. I understand in the NBA that's something that's taken very seriously. Could you explain how the referees are respected in the game there. If you don't respect the referees, what are the penalties for players and for coaches in the game?
COACH RILEY: The NBA Coaches Association, the NBA Players Association, the NBA front office on a regular basis, we will have meetings with the officials. Every summer we meet with the officials in Chicago. We sit down and we talk about the game. We talk about the rules. We will talk about anything that we feel will improve the relationship between the players and the officials during competition because it gets very heated.
We know the officials are a part of the game, and we know that at certain times during the course of a season, you know, when games get a little bit out of hand, get very competitive, the emotions rise, there has to be a real level of respect for each other. There's nobody who's perfect as a player, and there's nobody who's perfect as an official. They will try to get it as right as they can. If they feel like they make the wrong call, they will confer and try to get it right, especially in big games.
Quite frankly, the penalties on the part of the NBA when it comes to both the players and also the officials, that if somebody acts inappropriately and goes over the line, they'll be suspended and/or fined heavily. So there's a real detriment here as far as somebody getting out of hand with it.
There is a great respect now for our officials. I think the officials approach the players the same way. I think it's all because of the communication and the working together during the summer to try to keep this thing right.

Q. Have you ever been fined, Dwyane?
DWYANE WADE: Have I ever been fined?
COACH FRANK: By me (laughing).
DWYANE WADE: I think one thing I can say is that our officials have a very hard job, especially NBA, you know. There could be a foul every play down the court. And, you know, of course every player thinks they get fouled every time. So, you know, the officials have a very hard job. You know, in the middle of the game, emotions are going, you don't think about it. But when you sit back and think about it, we got to commend them on their job that they do because it's not easy to ref NBA games at all.
We have the best of the best. Our officials are the best of the best. They go through the training they have to go through to be the best. We just have to continue treating them that way.
I think the last couple years it's been really toned down, taken care of. That's the NBA's doing. All we got to do is continue to get better.

Q. Coach Riley, you mentioned already Dirk Nowitzki. I'm calling from Germany, and here in Germany, the NBA fans are concerned that the Mavericks don't reach the post-season. Can you tell us the reason why Dallas has such a problem this season?
COACH RILEY: They don't have a problem. I mean, they're right in the hunt with nine teams in the Western Conference that are all between one or two games from being either in the top seed or out of the playoffs. It's almost unprecedented that there's been nine teams that are going to win 50-plus games, and one of them will not make it. They're right in the middle of that.
They've had a real good season. It's just the expectation level in Dallas is so high. Over the last three or four years, they've been knocking on the door. Usually when you don't break the door down and win a title -- you know, they had us down almost three games to none in 2006, and we came back and won it. Last year they got eliminated in the first round. They were really upset after 67 games, Golden State got them in the first round.
So there's a lot of pressure. And with that pressure sometimes you don't get the best performances. Especially when you're in a real competitive conference like they are. They made a trade for Jason Kidd because they're rolling the dice. In this league, when you have a window to win, you take your chances and try to get the best players that you can to win. The injury to Dirk Nowitzki, everybody is writing them off. I think you're probably going to see one of the great efforts by a team over the next couple of weeks playing without him as they showed the other night against the Clippers, going in there and beating them.
They're not out of it. But it would be a very interesting race to be over in the West right now because it's just so competitive. They're a great team. They got a chance. If they get into the playoffs, they could win it all.

Q. Dwyane, what kind of player are we supposed to expect once you return? You have been through your career working on your driving and penetration game. Like a lot of players in the past, you have had to adapt and change your game a little, like Michael Jordan, playing more an outside game. Dwyane, are you going in that direction, too?
DWYANE WADE: First of all, as you get older in this game, you become more of a seasoned veteran, you start learning the game a little bit more, you start understanding things a little bit more, start doing things a little bit different.
I think my mentality, or the person I am, is always try to attack, keep the pressure on the defense at all times, try to make sure my team stays in the bonus, give us a chance that way.
So I can't say, you know, that I'm going to change my game totally. I can say as you get older, you get smarter, you're going to make adjustments to your game. I've been making adjustments over the last couple years. I had a freak injury with my shoulder, have nothing to do with the way I normally play at all. I'm just gonna continue to try to learn the game, continue to try to pick my spots, where and when I can do things. I'm not 21 no more. I'm 26 now. You know, I'm not as fast as I used to be and athletic (laughter).
I still know the game of basketball. I've got to pick my spots at the right time.

Q. Coach Riley, Luol Deng, Britain's best NBA player. He's had a difficult season with injuries this year. As a sort of rival in that conference, what would your analysis be of Luol this far into his career?
COACH RILEY: We had direct competition with Chicago for two years. We played them in the first round of the playoffs the year we won the championship. He simply at that time had broken through and started to become what people expected him to become when he got drafted out of Duke University.
But last year he had absolutely broken through and was considered one of the best small forwards in the whole NBA. Luol Deng, you should be proud of. I know he's on your national team over there. He's been a great addition to the Chicago Bulls and to the NBA. But he's had some problems this year, as a lot of players do. Sometimes they go through a period of time where they'll lose their game or their game will go down because of things that they can't control.
One thing you can't control all the time, you know, are injuries. They've had somewhat of a rocky season themselves. Their coach was fired earlier in the year. So he's going through one of those seasons where I know he'll learn a lot from what's happened.
But I've always looked at Luol Deng as one of the perfect small forwards. He's an attacker. He's improved his medium-range jump shooter. He makes an effort above and beyond a lot of players in this league to play real hard. Real good defensive player with great size.
Once he gets healthy, I think he's gonna definitely get back to where he was. But he's just been hampered by injuries most of the year.
CHRIS WALLACE: Thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning. Coach Riley, Dwyane Wade, thank you for joining us.

End of FastScripts
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297