How does it feel to be back in metro Detroit?
The people have been nothing but kind, and I was blessed to have been here in ’04.
You have many years of sideline experience in the NBA, but this will be your first season as a head coach in the league. How long have you been waiting for this?
A number of [assistants] in the NBA … are very capable of being head coaches. A lot of times, things happen quicker or later, and in this case it happened a little bit later. I never had a timetable set in regards to becoming a head coach because I was enjoying being an assistant coach. When Detroit did call, I knew I was prepared and felt very comfortable about coming into this situation.
How realistic is a championship run?
[We’ve] got three guys that understand what it takes to be in a championship-caliber situation. And with the young players that we have, I want them to realize that anything can happen in the NBA. In ’04, we weren’t supposed to win the championship; the Lakers were supposed to win. But we became such a good team in every sense of the word.
The team is a lot younger than it has been in the past. How does it compare to an older roster?
We have a combination of players that have a tremendous amount of experience in the league … to guys that are just coming out of the college scene. One of the things that I’m lucky enough to have in Rip and Tayshaun and Ben are three players that know what I’m about and what I want to get accomplished.
Can Ben Wallace still be a force to be reckoned with, or will he be more of a leader?
[In Cleveland], he taught a lot of our young players what it was to be a professional. His presence in the locker room, his presence on the floor, his presence during a game itself will be so beneficial.
What kind of team attitude are you hoping to bring to the table?
The teams that are successful are teams that get along with each other and have a great culture of what life is like in the NBA. When you have a group that [is] willing to sacrifice for the team, that makes something special.
You teed off at the Buick Open last summer. How’s your golf game?
I did a lot of coaching that day, also — a lot of coaching, because some of my playing was not very good.
Are you into any other sports?
I love all sports. I used to play a lot of tennis, a lot of squash, racquetball.