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Vernon Maxwell

Zdjęcia: gettyimages

Przemek Opłocki:

You were drafted by Denver Nuggets, in the second round, with 47 pick, and then sold to San Antonio Spurs. Do you remember draft night?

Vernon Maxwell

All I want to do was to get a chance to play in NBA, and I really didn’t think about it at all.

PO:

You finish rookie season with 11,7 pts per game, and were close to All-Rookie Team. What grade will you give to this season, and probably not below „good”?

VM:

C+.

PO:

In the second season Spurs sold you to Houston. Were you happy about this move?

VM:

I was glad that I was going to Houston. I was excited about this move.

PO:

In Rockets you became a crucial part of a team, and your career elevated to the next level. What happened?

VM

Everything was comfortable when I came to Houston from San Antonio. I could play my game. They put me in the greatest situation, and they did everything for my comments when I got to Houston. There was also the crucial role of coach Chaney.

PO:

What was special in coach Dick Chaney? Did he have a good communication with you, or did his tactic suited to your style?

VM:

Yes, he just let me play my game, Focus on it, and that was what I did.

PO:

The biggest game in Vernon Maxwell career? 51pts and 30 in 4 quarter against Cavs on January 1991?

VM:

That was the big night for me, I will never forget it. That was one of the best moments, besides winning championships.

PO:

I would say, this game was a proof, how good season it was. You scored 17,0 points per game, and were part of ‘17+ points quartet’ with Hakeem Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe, and Kenny Smith. The quartet who was a core of future championship team. Did this team have a special chemistry, or was it too early to even think about it?

VM:

I just think we kept it together, we got familiar with each other, we knew what each other likes to do. There was already harmony. We knew each other on defence, and offense. Everybody knew their role, and that play a big part of what we were doing, and why we were so succesful.

PO:

You made most 3-pointers in a season from 1991 to 1993. That is how ‘Mad Max’ appeared. Please explain me, why you didn’t appear during 3-Point Contest at All-Star Weekend? Even once.

VM:

(laugh) You know what, I think that NBA did that, because that even didn’t think about put ‘Mad Max’ in 3-Point Contest. That was weird for me, but I never did try to fight it. I lead in league in three’s, by at least 2-3 years. I didn’t want to ask questions about it, but I think I know what it was for: because of my reputation. It bothers me, but I just moved on.

PO:

What type of leader Hakeem 'The Dream’ Olajuwon was? Supporting only in the gym and in the court, or also in 'after basketball’ life?

VM:

He was a great leader. He leaded by example, what you see, you get from him. He was always there for me, when I needed it. He was the great teammate, and the human being. I enjoyed playing with him all those years.

PO:

1993-94 season. What did change in Houston Rockets, that you won Championship? New players? Mentality? Other factors?

vm:

I get to say that we got time to motivate, and everybody knew what suppose to do. We had a couple of new pieces. We added some value players like Robert Horry, Mario Elie, Carl Herrera. Also, we were together for a long time, we knew each other, and that is how we started the way we did that year. We knew that it would be a special year.

PO:

You won 58 games in the regular season, and finish 1st in Midwest Division. Won with Blazers in 4 games. In semifinals you met Phoenix Suns, with Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson. Seven games. Not easy series, wasn’t it?

VM:

We lost first two games at home. We dropped 18 points lead in the first game, and 19-20 in the second. Somebody called it choked it in.Then there was a big game three. We turned series around, and then won really tough competition with Suns.

PO:

4-1 with ‘pick & roll masters’, Malone and Stockton, and then – finals. Dream came true?

VM:

We were very excited. I’d never thought I would play in NBA Finals. It was an unbeliveable feeling for me. I felt blessed.

PO:

How tough was rivalry against Knicks?

VM:

Both teams played in the pretty same way. We wanted to beat them, they wanted to beat us. We had lineups pretty much just a like. Derek Harper – Kenny Smith. Me – John Starks. It was a great matchup. We knew it would be tough, we knew it would take seven games. We had to kept it to our courses, and hopefully come back to our home court in game seven. That was a bless to have a home court advantage.

PO:

The most memorable moment from Finals was…?

VM:

Probably when I hit the last three point shoot to put us to eight points lead. That was the big moment for me.

PO:

New season, new conditions. How did you feel when Rockets acquired Clyde Drexler?

VM:

I felt bad about it. Top official came to me, talked to me at least. I got upset. I handled the problem in the wrong way. I should do it in a more profesional way that I did, but you can’t take it back now. That’s what it was.

PO:

You spent 6 seasons with Houston. 14,9 points and 4,3 assists per game. Better, and worst moments. Next step – Philadelpia 76ers. How did you treat Jerry Stackhouse? Did you feel as a mentor, or more like a competitor?

VM:

I was a mentor. He was and is one of my best friends till today. There wasn’t a competition. I love him like my little brother. He has got a great mentality.

PO:

You played again in Spurs, then in six other teams. How do you remember this time?

VM:

I didn’t feel anything about it. It’s part of the NBA, that’s all.

PO:

This year is 25th anniversary of the first Houston Rockets Championship. Time to meet with former teammates, and talk about that special season. How looks life after basketball for players from 1993-94 season roster?

VM:

I can’t speak of them. I have a great life, I can’t regret.

PO:

I grew up in 90s, and I’ve got a huge sentimental for NBA from this period. Tough and physical basketball. And trash-talk, of course. I know you like talk with MJ and Gary Payton during the game, so for sure they would be part of your ‘All-Time Trash-Talkers Team’, am I right?

VM:

That one’s for sure. They were all the time trash-talking.

PO:

We’ve got you, MJ, Gary Payton… you still have two places in ‘All-Time Trash-Talkers Team’. Who would you choose?

VM:

John Stockton and Anthony Mason.

PO:

Thank you for the interview!