Finally, Darius speaks! I've been lobbying for this to happen for months but now that it's here, I've got mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's great to have answers or partial answers to some nagging questions. On the other, you've got to wonder if this interview is a sign that his chances of making the Celtics roster are slipping away.
He's been silent so long... why talk now? The most likely reason: to build up some good will. The angles to some of the questioning (Celtics history, Garnett, etc.) hits on that pretty directly.
In any case, it's a very exciting Sunday for Blazers fans: let's not overlook the indirect jabs he throws at Blazers management.
Darius's trainer on Darius's condition:
"But, from an explosiveness and quickness standpoint, he is 80-85 percent from where he used to be, and my guess is he should be back to 100 percent by Christmas."
Darius with some tough talk about his Blazers teams:
"I've dreamed of this, but I never thought I would have a chance to play on a team with this much talent," said Miles, who will turn 27 Oct. 9. "I can't let myself relax. I want to stay on point, because this is my first time playing on a team that wins most of its games. The teams I've played on were going to lose most of their games, and we knew this before the season.
Darius on his current progress:
"I've been past the rehab stage since June," Miles said. "I am ready to go, but I just need to get in better shape. It's about maintaining the strength in my legs and getting my timing. I'm excited and anxious and ready to go and play. I don't think my leg will ever be 100 percent again, but I feel like I'm 90-95 percent."
Darius makes an appeal for a spot on the team:
"My goal is to try to be a force off the bench, bring some type of different play and change the game," Miles said. "Hopefully, if Doc [Rivers] chooses to play me, I can do that.
"I just really want to be a part of this. I don't want to be stepping on anyone's toes, just be a real contributor, a sixth man like James Posey was, a player that kind of changes the game around when he goes in -like Posey did for this team."
Darius speaks about the last two years:
"It was a long two years. I felt I could have played last year, but that wasn't in the [Blazers'] plans. It was real frustrating. When you've been doing something so long, you kind of lose a love for it from not playing, then you go back to having so much love for it."
Darius disagrees about the career-ending designation:
"They made a decision on the career-ending injury, they made it for the organization, but I felt they didn't have my best interests at heart. I don't have to prove anything, because I always knew I had the skills to play at this level. But it did make me hungry and fired up. I really wanted to go to a great situation, if I did get another chance.
If I'm Kevin Pritchard and the Blazers organization, given the financial benefits to the team of the medical retirement process, that last line "I felt they didn't have my best interests at heart" stings deeply. Like it or not, that's a hit to the reputation, even if they knew it was coming and have long ago "agreed to disagree" about the issue.
That is a black mark on the public perception of an otherwise squeaky-clean organization.
Could this ill will have been avoided? It sounds like it was unavoidable unless the Blazers were:
1) willing to play Darius
2) willing to let his contract play out like normal
The Blazers were therefore forced to weigh the on-court future of their franchise and millions of dollars against the perceived "best interests" of one of their players. We know which direction they chose. We know that direction was signed off on by a league doctor and a league process. The team certainly seems to be at peace with that decision; given these comments, it seems that Darius might not be.
I continue to hope Darius makes the Celtics roster. Although, like I said at the start, this interview might be a bad sign.
It will be very interesting to see if the team no comment's in reaction to these statements. I would guess they don't have much of a choice and, perhaps, have bigger fish to fry.
Like Shaun Livingston, lol...
-- Ben (email@example.com)