Your grandfather is a pretty famous basketball coach in your home state. Did you have any choice but to become a basketball player?
Yes, he was a basketball player too but he was mostly known as a basketball coach. He coached basketball for 51 years at North Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But the answer to the question is yes, and no. I had a choice, but it was one of those things that when you grow up in and around basketball, do you really have a choice? It was my life as a kid. I spent my Friday nights going to high school basketball games. Every time I was with my grandfather he was teaching me things about basketball. My dad was always working with me on my game. My uncles played basketball. It was one of those things that I grew up in, so I have lived it.
When did you start playing?
I started playing competitively in second grade.
Did you get to play a lot with older kids to improve your game growing up…since you had so much access to the sport?
Definitely, I always played with older kids because I was always a little bit taller than the kids my age. It definitely helped my development as a young player.
You played four years at University of Notre Dame. Do you think that staying four years in college helped you be more prepared for the NBA?
I think so, and from a lot of different perspectives of my life, not just basketball. Obviously, it helps with basketball because you can grow, mature, get better and work on your skills. It helps with growing up and maturing as a person as well. I was able to get my degree from Notre Dame, but also I got to learn who I was as a person and that is really what college was about for me. It helped me in many aspects of my life.
Is there anyone else from your college team who is playing in the NBA?
Oh, yeah. Chris Quinn, who plays for the Miami Heat, was on my team. Troy Murphy, who plays for the Indiana Pacers, was also. I keep in touch with them, and when we play each other we always go out to eat the night before the game. It is fun to catch up with them.
Your brother Pat is a professional basketball player also. Did you guys have ferocious one-on-one games growing up?
Oh, we still do! We grew up playing each other in the backyard. We would play all year long. It didn’t matter. We would play in the snow. We would play late at night. We didn’t care when it was, we just wanted to play. When we were younger we got after it pretty good. We still go pretty hard, but when we were younger it was really rough. I was the older brother so I used to get the best of him. You know the older brother can never lose to his younger brother. It is a little closer now that he is older and more mature. But through all of the games and all of the years, we have still stayed close friends.
Where is Pat playing now?
He is playing over in Spain in the Canary Islands for Tenerife in the Spanish League. He is doing well.
Do you have any other siblings?
Yes, I have a younger sister, Lauren. She is 18 and a senior in high school.
Pat was here for training camp a few years ago. Did he tell you a lot about the Mavericks before you got here?
Yeah, he did lay the ground work and gave me a little “Inside Dish” on the organization. You liked that didn’t you? Pat loved it here. He liked the people and everything about it, so I kind of knew what to expect before I got here.
What did it feel like when you found out that you were going to be traded to the Dallas Mavericks?
It was great, but at first anyone that has been traded knows that it is a little tough, especially when you have been in a city for so long. I spent 4 ½ seasons in Charlotte and it was becoming just like home. But in this business it is hard to make anywhere you are playing home. For me to come to an organization like the Mavericks and to be in a city like Dallas is an incredible opportunity. I am looking forward to it. For me to be on a great team and winning games, it is fun just to be part of it. It’s exciting to learn and figure out how I can help this team continue to win.
What is your favorite NBA city to visit?
I like going back east because I am from there. So I like going to New York and Philly. They are my two favorites because I get to see my family and friends. They all come to games when we play out there.
You have also played in the National Basketball Developmental League. Can you compare and contrast the travel and accommodations between that team and the Dallas Mavericks?
The team I played for was the Roanoke Dazzle. I would say it is a little bit different. At Roanoke, we traveled by charter bus. Sometimes the bus rides were 10 hours long. We would leave after a game and make it to the next city when the sun was rising. We didn’t have a private jet like the Mavericks. The bus obviously was not quite as comfortable as the Mavericks plane. The food menu was just a little different also. In the NBDL, we would stop at a rest area and eat out of the vending machines or maybe McDonald’s, if they had one. Sometimes we would go to Waffle House because they were open 24 hours. At the Mavericks, the Filet Mignon from Al Beirnat’s is just slightly different than the food we were eating at Waffle House. We would stay at the Quality Inn or Holiday Inn, which weren’t bad. But they are just a little bit different than the Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons. Holiday Inn doesn’t have 24 hour room service, or slippers next to the bed, or a fluffy robe in the closet. Also, we had roommates on the road in the NBDL.
Who was your first basketball idol?
Well, like most kids from my generation I grew up watching Michael Jordan.
Have you been intimidated by any of the high profile players who you have gotten to meet because you are an NBA player?
I don’t think I have ever been intimidated by any player. But I think during my first couple of years in the league when I was in a game playing against some big name players that have been around awhile, you almost have to pinch yourself. It is like, “Wow, I am playing against Steve Nash. I am playing against Kobe.” Guys that I have watched for years and aren’t that much older than me but are superstars in the NBA, and I am finally playing against them. You really do have to pinch yourself.
If you weren’t playing in the NBA, what would you be doing for a career?
Oh, I would be coaching basketball. Basketball has been such a big part of my life since I was a kid. I cannot imagine not doing something involved with basketball.
Are you married or have any children?
Yes, my wife’s name is Melanie, and I have a son, Matthew, who is 6 months old.
What book are you reading right now?
Right now I am reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. It is a pretty good book. The stuff he says makes sense and makes you think about your life. Pretty cool book.
What magazines do you read on a regular basis?
I read “ESPN” and “GQ”.
First pair of basketball shoes?
I think my first pair was the Original Air Jordan’s. The first ones to come out that were red and black. Do you know what shoes I am talking about? I think they were Air Flight? No, wait; you know what…actually I think my first pair were Reebok Pumps. I think I got the Jordan’s for Christmas because they were a big deal. Who knows? One of those two for sure though.
What type of music do you have in your iPod?
I have everything in my iPod. Rock, alternative, Hip Hop, Pop...everything really. I base what I listen to on my mood.
Bono and U2.
All-time favorite movie?
Rocky 4. It’s the one where he beats the Russian Ivan Drago. I love the Rocky movies in general, but Rocky 4 is my favorite.
Last movie you saw at a theatre?
Gran Tarino. Clint Eastwood is awesome.
Favorite TV show growing up?
Saved by the Bell.
Favorite TV show now?
I am really getting into 24.
How do you like your eggs?
How do you like your steak prepared?
Do you have a favorite hobby besides basketball?
Trying to play golf.
What is the newest gadget that you have purchased?
The Mini Flip. It is a camcorder that you can stick in your pocket. It’s great because if my little guy is doing something that I want to get on video, I can just grab it out of my pocket and catch what he is doing. Then if I want to send it out to my family, I can just put it right on the computer and boom. It’s called Flipshare.
What kind of car do you drive?
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have three things salvaged from the shipwreck, what items would you prefer?
A hammer, nails and a lawn chair.