Interview: Blazers’ Pendergraph — ‘I just have an abundant amount of crazines’
Transcript of an interview with Portland Trail Blazers rookie forward Jeff Pendergraph following a Sunday morning workout at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin, Ore.
Pendergraph on what his mindset is when he enters games:
Mainly I just think about playing hard. I don’t want to think too much, like, ‘Oh, I need to get every rebound. I need to do this; I need to do that.’ Cause then, it puts a little pressure on you. I just go out there and have fun. I know what I do, so that’s just what I go out there and do. Just play hard. And every minute that I’m on the court, play like I ain’t going to get any more after that. Just keep going and going until coach takes me out.
On comparing his approach in college to the NBA:
My mindset is the same. My role’s different. But still my mindset is the same. I’m a rebounder. Just kind or more of a defensive guy. Just change shots on D, get boards, and be a physical presence. The same thing at (Arizona State University), I just don’t have to score 15 points a game.
On the reputation he is already developing as a hard, tough player:
I don’t want to say I’m dirty, but I’m a grinding guy. I mean, yeah, I think that’s the thing that I bring the most. I come into the game and crazy stuff starts happening. (Technicals) start getting called, there’s a lot more fouls. Everything is kind of more sporadic, but we start rolling. I think that’s definitely a thing I bring. I bring a little extra. Everybody’s tough; there’s no soft guys on this team. But I just have an abundant amount of craziness.
On where that comes from:
I don’t know. I’ve always been like that. I think, getting picked on when I was little and stuff.
On getting picked on:
Aw, yeah. So, just doing that. And … what it is now, I don’t let anybody punk me. I don’t stand for that. There’s respect issues. I’m not just going to start talking crazy, unless you start talking crazy to me. And then I’m going to let you know that I’m not that guy; you can’t just talk to me like that, regardless of how long I’ve played in the NBA. You can’t do that. So, I’ll fight back.
On playing against Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony and drawing a hard foul:
Before that, he got mad at me. He’s, like, ‘Watch those elbows, young fella.’
On Anthony referring to him as a ‘young fella’:
He said something, like, ‘Rook.’ It’s all the same. I’m, like, ‘Whatever, man. I don’t care. Just get out of my way then.’ And then, next thing you know, I go down, I go to set a screen and he sees me. And I’m, like, ‘Aw, dang, here he comes.’ Boom. Ah! And I’m, like, ‘Yeeeeah. Go ahead and get mad; hit me. Cause now you got another foul, fool. Let’s go. That means, you bothered. That means I’m doing my job.’ And that’s what happened.
On being a no-nonsese rookie:
I’m just now playing. There’s no scouting report on me. There’s nothing on me. I come in the game, they don’t know what to think. ‘Who’s this rookie?’ And the next thing you know, ‘Holy cow. Who is this rookie? What is this guy doing? You need to calm down.’ And, naw, I’m just crazy like that. That’s what I do.
On finding his game after missing the early part of the season:
I’m just having fun. It’s not really, like, ‘Yeah, I knew I could do this.’ Or ‘I told you so.’ It ain’t nothing like that. It’s, like, ‘Yeah. This is what I do.’ I’m not surprised or nothing. This is what I’m supposed to do. Coach (Nate McMillan) told me during the summertime — this was before the draft — ‘Jeff, if we draft you, this is what we want you to do.’ I’m like, “All right.’ He said, ‘You need to be the tough guy and go in there and mix stuff up.’ And then … the summer league, that was the same thing he said. Summer league was a little different — I was the only big man. But, still, that’s all he said. He’s, like, ‘Jeff: This is what you need to do. Be the tough guy. Get rebounds. Get in people’s heads. Mix stuff up. Just be that kind of annoying guy on defense that everybody hates to play against.’ And I’m, like, ‘All right. I can do that. That’s fine.’
On his soft mid-range shot:
I don’t want to say ‘I have it.’ But I do. I didn’t shoot that much in college, but I can shoot. That’s one of my things. My go-to move is a face-up jump shot. So it’s just, right now, that’s not my role. Right now, it’s beat up the people that want to shoot jump shots. Eventually, if I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. And I have confidence it’s going to go in. And it’ll develop more as it (goes on). You see that with Juwan (Howard). I’m, like, ‘Dang, man. This guy’s shooting the heck out of the ball. What the heck?’ Well, it’s like, let me be 15 years in, I bet my jumper will be true, too. It’s something I can develop. But I have it in my back pocket.