So Al Harrington is Officially a Wizard… and He’s Got Words for the Internet
“Al’s all-around game and reputation as a leader make him a solid fit with our team. He will give us additional depth and experience in the frontcourt, the ability to stretch defenses and another proven veteran in the locker room,” said Ernie Grunfeld per team release. In the afternoon, Harrington spoke with the local media. TAI was there to gather his words and then bring them to you in pixel form using a process not unlike Wonka-vision. Enjoy.
What went into your decision to come to a team like the Wizards that hasn’t made the playoffs in several years?
“Number one, just watching the way they finished the year when they was healthy. I just feel like this is a great opportunity where I can come in and help try to push them over the top. The talent that’s on the roster—with the guys that got real good experience mixed in with the young guys—I just think it’s a good mix. And I feel like adding me to it, I can definitely help these guys.”
Where are you in terms of your knee?
“I’m healthy. I’m playing pickup every day for like an hour, hour and a half—no knee brace at all, no sleeve or nothing. So I feel like I’m healthy.”
What’s the immediate plan going forward?
“I’m not sure on that yet. First I have to find a place to live that I can come back to. But, find a place to live… I’m going to try to get in here early and get with some of the guys. Maybe we can have a mini-camp early amongst the players where we can all get in here and start working out and start working to that goal of trying to be a playoff team this year.”
What have you learned in all your years in the NBA, coming out of high school, that you think you can bring to this squad?
“We’ll be here all day if I tell you what I learned. The biggest thing is just trying to give this team an attitude of winning, and being no-nonsense players, and being about winning and that being the ultimate goal. That’s the one thing that I’m going to push with these guys is listening to the coaches, executing the game plan, and that will probably put us in a good position to win ballgames.”
Have you talked to any of the players coming in to understand what it’s like here, what Wittman’s coaching style is like?
“Yeah, I definitely did that. I called Nene, I called John (Wall), and I spoke to Trevor (Ariza). So those are the three guys I talked to about him, and it was all good things. Nobody said anything negative about not only him, but even the organization. They feel like this is an organization that does everything they can to try to help those guys and put them in position to be successful. So hearing that, it definitely made me want to be a part of it.”
Did your agent (Dan Fegan) play any role in guiding you to Washington? Were there other options on the table?
“Yeah, I had other options, but the biggest thing for me was that obviously I wanted to play on a team that was about winning. and I needed to be in a position where I was going to play. Some of the other teams that we spoke to wasn’t sure what kind of role I would have. For me, I didn’t think that was productive for what I was trying to get done. I feel like I’m in a position where I have to prove myself again, and I feel like the only way I can do that is by being out there on the floor. And what better way than being here and helping this team into the playoffs?”
This team has a lot of young players, especially at the 4 position, so coming in is there any expectations for minutes, do you expect to compete for minutes?
“I’m going to compete. I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. Nobody gave me nothing my whole career, so I’m just going to go out and compete against those guys and help them also. The one thing that I learned when I first came in… I was with Antonio and Dale Davis, and they put their arms around me and told me a lot, and Derrick McKey. Those were the three guys that really taught me a lot and helped me mold my game. So I feel like I just have to give back, and the way I give back is helping those young guys.”
Most people know what kind of player you are, but are there any surprises that you think you can bring to this team that they might not be expecting?
“I don’t know. I’m just going to bring an attitude and just try to get these guys on board that we’re just going to go out and … we’re just going to try to change the culture out there on the floor. We’re just going to try to be a nasty, tough team.”
If someone asked you only 12 months ago if you wanted to be a Washington Wizard, would you even contemplate that?
“It probably wasn’t on my radar at the time. A year ago I guess I was in Denver. No, I wasn’t thinking about Washington at the time. But I’m here now, and I’m excited about it.”
Do you remember your last game here when you scored 29 points off the bench in a Denver win?
“I like shooting in this gym, so hopefully I can carry it over with the uniform on now.”
What have you seen from John Wall’s development?
“If he develops that jump shot, I think he’ll probably be a top five point guard before we know it. Because he’s so fast and so explosive, I don’t think anybody can guard him one-on-one. Well, I know nobody can guard him one-on-one. So once they have to feel that jumper, I think his game is going to go through the roof.”
What did they tell you about what your role would be on the team?
“We didn’t really talk specifics yet. I spoke to Ernie, I spoke to Randy… we just talked overall about me being here and just being a leader and just knowing that if I do what I’ve done in the past, then I’ll find minutes on the floor. So that’s kind of where we left it. Like I said, I don’t want no promises. I’ve performed better when my back’s against the wall. And I just feel like a lot of people wrote me off last year because of an injury that was out of my control, but I’m back healthy now and I’m ready to go.”
What do you think is a realistic goal for the Wizards next season?
“I really believe we’re a playoff team. Obviously the East is definitely gotten better… we have five teams that are staples, and I think the last three spots are wide open. I feel like at the end of the day we should definitely be one of those teams. And if we play the right way, play hard, defend… the one thing I didn’t know about this team was that it was a top 10 defensive team last year. If we can defend, we’ll score points. I know I can do it, I know John can do it, I know Nene can do it, Bradley can do it. We’ve got enough guys that can put the ball in the hole, but if we can be a top 10 defensive team, I don’t see why we don’t make the playoffs.”
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