Ordinarily, the Orlando Magic host their media events in the media workroom, where the player they're introducing can sit comfortably on a high chair, in street clothes, before being presented with a ceremonial jersey with his name and number on it. Yesterday, for free-agent signee Brandon Bass, the Magic changed course a bit, instead hosting the session on the practice court. Bass wasn't in street clothes, but rather in his full Magic uniform, complete with blue-and-white Nike sneakers. He's probably more comfortable in this environment and in those clothes, which are emblematic of hard-work and dedication. He showed up ready for work, in other words.
He's not the only one with work to do, though. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy now has an embarrassment of riches at the power positions, between Dwight Howard, Bass, Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, and Marcin Gortat. Not only must he integrate the newly acquired Bass and Anderson into his system, but he also must find playing time for Gortat, whose services the Magic retained by matching the offer sheet he signed with the Dallas Mavericks, a surprising move. Dividing 96 minutes a night between that fivesome--even acknowledging that Lewis can move down a notch to small forward for brief stretches--is a task I don't envy. But it's also a problem most NBA coaches would love to have, given the dearth of big men in this league.
Here are the first few questions he answered during his media session. The rest come after the jump.
The first thing everyone wants to know is, "Why Orlando?"
"I think it's a good fit for me. A great fit for me. A great team, a great organization. I think we can do some special things here."
What about the Orlando Magic appealed to you?
"I mean, just about the team being so successful and I just thought it was perfect for me. It'd be a perfect fit for me to join this team so that was mainly the decision."
"I heard this team needed a 4-man, needed somebody to block out, bring some energy, play defense, physicalness."
What do you think you bring to the team?
"I think physical play. A guy who can play inside, play outside, play defense, bring energy. I just play hard."
Have you talked to any of the guys yet?
"No, nobody. I just talked to Coach, and that's about it."
What'd he say?
"He basically said he's happy to have me, and he's gonna come down to Baton Rouge [Bass' hometown] to come see me, to visit with me."
Do you have a history with any of the guys on the team, or know anyone particularly well?
"No. I've talked to Rashard before...Dwight. I don't know any of them personally."
Did any of them help recruit you? Obviously, Rashard is your agent's client...
"Right, right. No. I mean, it's just me and Tony."
You said you're a guy with multiple talents. You play a little center. You can mix it up a little bit. You don't mind doing that?
"I ain't got no problems playing whatever. Wherever Coach puts me at, whatever my job might be, I'll be ready for it."
Was Orlando your first choice? Is that where you wanted to be?
"Yeah. I'm a lucky man."
When did you first hear from the Magic?
"I dunno. Early on in free agency. They were one of the first teams that I talked to."
Was it minutes after midnight that first night? Was it hours? Morning?
"I'm not sure about that, but I know they were one of the first teams, if not the first."
"Oh, it took a little bit in the process. But I'm glad we got it done."
When you play against these guys, what are your impressions of them?
"They got Superman in the middle, and a bunch of shooters all over the court. I knew they were a team to be reckoned with."
Dwight's presence... how will that affect what you're able to do? Free you up to...?
"I think him being on the court, it frees up everybody. That's why I think the team was so successful this year, having him being such a threat in the middle, and everybody being able to shoot so good."
You're an LSU guy. What was it like being drafted by New Orleans?.
"It was great in the beginning, but then it didn't turn out so good."
Was the lack of playing time an issue?
"Yeah, I didn't play at all, really. Dallas was the best thing since signing here, for me."
Because it was able to let you develop as a player?
Where have you made your biggest strides in your game?
"Just comfortable, just being out on the court, really. My first two years [with New Orleans] I didn't play. My last two years I got some time on the floor. So just basically being out on the court and playing."
Did you take some big steps last season?
"I think so. We had a new coach [Rick Carlisle]. Mentally, I think I got a lot tougher last season. I think that was my goal. That was the most I improved last year, I think, was my mental process. When adversity hits, you gotta be able to overcome it, and I think I did that last season."
What's your number-one priority this summer for improvements in your game?
"To be able to bring some consistency. That's defense, offense..."
Anything in particular?
"Not really, because I don't know the team. I don't know what Coach will expect out of me. I'm just going to bring my game and adjust to whatever he needs me to do."
You mentioned that this team is Dwight and a whole bunch of shooters. What do you bring at the 4, being a shooter, and also kinda bang down low?.
"Right. Someone who can knock down 15-footer, someone who can drive, someone who can play defense, someone who can run beside Dwight. "
"Yeah, I did. I mean, because I definitely wanted to have a raise. But I would turn down a couple million to be in a situation like this where I can win a championship. I feel like this is that kind of team."
Why number 30?
"Number 30? It takes me back to high school and college. That's when I was at my best, so maybe I can bring that here."
I know your agent said you're not necessarily looking to start. What kind of role are you looking for?
"Just someone that can come in and help instantly. It don't matter if I start or come off the bench. I just want to be able to help, and I know I can."
You've come a long way. You played in the NBDL, correct? One game?
"Yeah, one game."
Well now you're here, great contract, you're with an NBA Finals team. What does it mean to you to have made that journey?
"It's just a blessing. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of prayer. I'm here now."
You talked to Stan on Friday?
"I don't know exactly what day, but, um... sometime last week. I think Friday."