Leon Powe Interview
Leon, congratulations on your contract with the Cavaliers. You deserve it, especially after what you’ve been through. You know Celtics fans are upset right now, right?
What happened with Boston? Why did you decide to sign with the Cavs?
There was no offer from Boston. I waited a while, about a month or two, because I love Boston, I love the fans, I wanted to be there, but nothing happened. Then Cleveland made their offer, and I had nowhere else to go, so I gave them my word that I’d go there. You know, I’m the kind of person… I never go back on my word.
After the Cavs made their offer, did you start getting other offers?
I got offers from Portland, Dallas, the Lakers said if they didn’t bring Odom back that there was definitely interest, Memphis, and then Boston made an offer, but I had already told Cleveland I was coming.
Are you upset that Boston didn’t offer you a contract earlier?
I’m not upset. I know it’s a business. But I talked with the Celtics – with Danny [Ainge] and Steve [Pagliuca], one of the owners. Steve even told me he would try to pay out of his own pocket to have me back.
What did Danny tell you?
He thought I should try to find a younger team. You know there was a little bit of lack of confidence in my ability to come back, and they knew I wouldn’t be on the court until February, and you they're trying to win a championship, you know. So I told my family once Cleveland made their offer, and that was that.
What’s the status of your knee? 75%, 85%?
It’s going good, you know. I went to Cleveland and their doctors looked inside and thought it looked good. I’ve been taking good care of it, doing my rehab in Los Angeles. But as far as a percentage? I’m not even there yet. I’m just doing slow rehab right now – not ready for any action. I’m not ready for percentages.
You showed last year the ability to be efficient on offense and a key help-defender for the Celtics. Is that how you see yourself plugging into this Cavs roster?
I think I have a chance to do a little bit more there, I’ve been talking to coach [Mike] Brown about my role, and I think I can help them out. Whatever coach Brown wants me to do – rebounding, defense, pass, whatever - I will do it. I know how to score on my own though.
Kevin Garnett is one of the best teammates and leaders you could have asked to play with. What's the most influential thing he has said or done for you?
Well, I’ve always been a hard worker, always worked harder than other guys, but KG, he’s never satisfied. He took it to another level for me. He showed me that you have to never be satisfied to be a champion, he’s gotten everything he has from that mentality. We was always getting into it with each other in practice, you know, in a competitive way.
Talk about your excitement to play with Delonte again, and Lebron and Shaq.
Oh man, yeah, Delonte is a great guy and you know I played with Lebron in AAU so he knows me, and Shaq – all those guys are so competitive. Shaq’s just a funny guy, so I know that’s going to be fun – and a champion. Nothing else needs to be said about Shaq.
What do you think of Josh Childress and some other notable NBA players going to Europe to play for bigger contracts? Would you do this? Are most NBA players thinking about Europe as a possibility, or is that just a lot of talk?
I wouldn’t do it. That’s not really my style. I like it here, you know, at home. I like the NBA. I’ve heard people talking about it after Josh went to Greece, but there’s good things and bad things. Sometimes you go and things are a hassle – you don’t get paid on time, etc. – but then maybe they treat you like a king. So you don’t really know what you’re getting.
For a few years now, you've been taking time out back home to work with Oakland's youth at summer camps like your own and with northern California's biggest basketball school, Triple Threat Academy. Your camp is to raise awareness for Bay area foster kids, right?
The most important thing is to raise awareness for foster kids. Because of where I came from, this is important to me, so we started Fresh Start Family Services to help get kids mentors. You know, when you’re in foster care you have your foster parent but then you’re on your own. I had a lot of mentors though, I never did it by myself – it was the people around me. Some people have no one. No guidance. That’s why we started the Leon Powe Foundation and Fresh Start.
Thanks a lot Leon. You’re doing a great thing here. Keep up the good work and good luck this season.
Thanks a lot.