Interview: Bayless opens up

Transcript of an interview conducted with Portland Trail Blazers guard Jerryd Bayless on Wednesday morning following a shootaround at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin, Ore.

Bayless on his season:

From where I wasn’t getting in games until now, I think it’s been a very good season. Obviously, everything is not going to be great every single day. But I think I’m getting better, and I’m just learning on the go. I’m not perfect right now. And, truthfully — Andre (Miller) is my guy — but Andre’s not perfect. Chris Paul is not perfect and Deron Williams is not perfect. But I’m trying to learn, and I feel like I’m getting better with it everyday. I feel like I’m seeing the court. I’m seeing things at a different pace now, and I’m trying to continue to learn as much as possible.

On being hard on himself, setting high expectations, and whether he’s meet them this season:

No, probably not. Well, you know … it’s hard to answer. Because, like I said, I wasn’t playing at all. So, how can you meet … ? I hold myself to the highest tier. I don’t feel like I’m going to be happy or complete until I’m an All-Star. So, that’s what I’m trying to do; that’s my goal. Obviously, I want to win. That’s my No. 1 priority. But
on a personal standpoint, if you want to look at that, I’m not happy or I’m not complete until I get to that level of being an All-Star and one of the top guards in the NBA.

On learning how to handle playing time:

There’s definitely ups and downs, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It used to frustrate me a lot. But there’s really nothing you can do about it. So, one game I might play five minutes, the next game I might play 20 minutes. So, I know when I play I produce and I help this team. That’s what I’m trying to do.

On how he is refining his game, and responding to critics who say his game is limited:

You can look. Watch the game. If that’s how they feel — that’s definitely … Before coming here, you can go back to Arizona or my high school days — obviously, that’s a little while back — I drove to the hoop, but that was never really my whole game. And kind of ever since I’ve been here that’s been my trademark I guess with me. But I know what I can do. And when you look at the games, when I play, you can see my whole game. And if that’s what they want to say, that’s their problem.

On his dribble penetration:

(The coaches) tell me to do it. Other than Brandon (Roy), who else is really going to do that? They need someone else to do that, because it gets the other team in foul trouble and gets them into the penalty early. And right now, beggars can’t be choosers, too. Right now, I’m not in that position where I can just go out there and play and not worry. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to get on the court.

On whether he sees himself being with the Blazers in a couple years and being the team’s starting point guard:

I definitely want to start. You can go back and look at the numbers if you want, when I was playing and I was starting. I know what I can do in this league, and I’d love to be a starter here and be the point guard of this team. I think I play well off of Brandon and (LaMarcus Aldridge). So, I think it would be a great situation. But it’s the NBA. If that situation happens where somehow I end up on another team and that’s the way it happens, I guess that’s what happens. A lot of people — I don’t know what people are saying; I don’t pay attention to that — … you can also go back and say that Chauncey Billups … to me, he’s my favorite player in the league. And it took him six teams in six years before he found his spot. … It took Andre a while. My favorite example is that it took Chauncey six, seven years. And Chauncey’s been a mentor for me, and I’ve learned a lot from him in these last couple years. So, people can say what they want, but I’ll get the last laugh.

On his feelings about playing time and how he handles it:

It’s still really hard. I’m not — obviously, every player wants to play. They want to start, they want to play big minutes and they want to help. Like I said, one game I might play five minutes, one game I might play 20 minutes. It’s definitely frustrating at times. But I’m trying to look at the big picture. Hopefully, I’m going to keep on learning from this and hopefully in a couple years, if Andre doesn’t — I can’t speculate, because I don’t know what’s going to happen — but hopefully I’ll be able to be that guy and take over this team.

On whether his frustration is at the same level it was early in the season:

No, no. It’s not at the same level. When I wasn’t playing, that was obviously a very, very high level. Like I said, I’m not happy where I’m at. The biggest thing, I look at all these guys I’ve grown up with, watching them do things that they’re doing, and I’m not happy with where I’m at, because I feel like I can do the same things that they can do.

On clarifying his comment that he’s not happy where he is at:

I just want to play. I’m the backup to Andre. I’m happy. From where I was at from the beginning of the year to where I’m at now, not too many people make that jump that quick. Knock on wood; I’m not happy they happened, but the injuries were kind of a good thing to me — I mean that in the most un-negative way as possible. All those injuries kind of opened up a chance for me to play. And it showed that I was able to play in this league.

It’s not anything against the team. It’s a great organization. Everybody gets along well on this team, and, truthfully, I think that’s kind of rare in the NBA. But yeah, there’s definitely times I feel like I want to play more, and I don’t think that should be a bad thing, wanting to play more. If you didn’t want to play more, I think that would be the problem in the whole situation. If a player didn’t want to play, they’re content with where they’re at right now.

On not settling:

It’s kind of like a double-edged sword. If I say I’m not happy, then they’re going to be, ‘You’re not happy with the organization.’ But if you say you’re happy, they say, ‘Well, you say you’re content with just being a backup now?’ So, that’s now what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say that I’m happy right now from where I was at the beginning of the year to where I’ve got to now. I think I’ve done a very good job. And in the future, hopefully in the future if everything works out with all the situations, I would love to be the guy on this team that would run this team.

On his relationship with Blazers coach Nate McMillan and how it has evolved:

We’ve definitely — we’ve had our ups and downs. But my relationship with Nate is good. … Nate wants the game played a certain way. And I try do that right now to the best I can. With my group coming in, me, Rudy (Fernandez) and Martell (Webster), he wants us to run a little bit more than the group with Andre and Brandon and LaMarcus. I’m just trying to do the best I can ton execute what he wants me to do. I think I’m doing a pretty good job — look at the other backups in this league (laughs). If you go around and look at other backups, I think I’m doing a pretty good job.

On finding peace in his situation:

I don’t know, man. You play well, you have personal peace. You don’t play well, I’m going to be wired. It’s just as simple as that, pretty much.

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