The All-Star power forward was the 17th overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft and was traded to the Indiana Pacers on Aug. 31, 2000. He's averaged 13.3 points per game over his career. He spoke with the Indianapolis media last week.
: With Reggie Miller gone, do you see yourself as the leader of the team?
There's been a lot of talk about who's gonna lead the team. Reggie did something a lot of guys wouldn't have done. He stepped back two or three years ago. You guys are evaluating the team from the outside looking in. You guys don't see who's talking to the team and I've been that guy. I'm real intense. I feel that everybody deserves a chance to be successful in this league, but in order to get that chance you have to be able to hold your own. That's what I've been talking to the team about. At this point, this team doesn't need a babysitter. These guys have been together for four or five years. We're not dealing with a first-year team. We're dealing with a team that's been through a lot of different things. The point this year is, if you can't stay with the team and on the same page with the team, you will be left behind.
We know that no one man can lose a game. Even if it's a play in a game, we've put ourselves in the position to be in that play. We have to play together to win games and if we don't play together, we can lose games. I don't think we'll ever have a situation where guys will sit around and point fingers. If we stay on the same page, we can be awfully tough.
... This may be the best team that this city has seen in a long time. We've had a lot of talented years, but we haven't gone out and played together. I think this year we have a legitimate chance. We've talked about that the past two years but it's almost scary.
This reminds me so much of the team that won 61 games. We were extremely deep at every position and guys came into camp in shape, ready to go, competing for time. And that's what we've got right now. I feel really good. I'm excited about what we can do this year.
: Larry Bird said at the end of last year that you were the max contract franchise guy. Were you aware that he'd said that, and do you feel any extra pressure because of that?
We've talked. We talked two days after we lost and we're pretty much on the same page. There's no pressure. You go out and you do what you're supposed to do. We're all grown men, just like in your business. You can't put a lot of pressure on one person, because everybody knows their role on the team. If you're not going to do what you're paid to do for a couple of hours a day, then you shouldn't be here. There's no pressure on me individually. I'm not really into scoring a lot of points but I do believe I should dominate the game defensively. We've got a lot of firepower here. I don't feel like this year I need to bear the load of scoring. We've got everybody back and we've got some other guys, too. Me and Larry have had some good conversations and I feel like everybody understands what they need to do. If you're with us, you're in.