Gortat on Coaching Changes, Summer Plans, and Finding Love for Basketball — Dispatches from Poland | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Gortat on Coaching Changes, Summer Plans, and Finding Love for Basketball — Dispatches from Poland

Updated: May 3, 2016


Marcin Gortat recently sat down with Rafał Tymiński of the Polish outlet Przegląd Sportowy to talk about coaching changes with the Wizards, his summer plans, and attempts to rest and rekindle his love for basketball. Below is a translation of the interview via TAI’s Polish Correspondent, Bartosz Bielecki.

Rafał Tymiński: What’s the first thing that came to mind when you heard that Scott Brooks would be the new head coach of the Wizards?

Marcin Gortat: That it’s the best possible option for us. Brooks had a long playoff run before, he helped Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant develop a lot. He’ll surely have an idea of how to make the best of John Wall and Bradley Beal, who, on the Wizards’ roster, will be the counterparts of the Oklahoma City’s duo, in my opinion. For me, that would mean assuming the role that Kendrick Perkins had with the Thunder. But I don’t think Brooks will only copy his strategies from his previous team. He has to have some [new] ideas already. I’m convinced he will tend to keep a tight rein on everything, more than our last coach, Randy Wittman. Sometimes it’s probably going to get rough, some of us might be kept on a short leash.

Tymiński: Is it true that John Wall didn’t show up for one of the last practices under Wittman?

Gortat: That’s bullshit. Only one thing happened: he was late for one of our practices because of an honest mistake. Somebody tried to make a big deal out of it. I even read somewhere that John had arrived after practice and cursed everybody out. Nothing like that happened.

Tymiński: What did the break up with Wittman look like?

Gortat: After the last game, Wittman thanked us for the game. He said we made some mistakes that we have to avoid next season. It all sounded as if we were supposed to see each other after the summer and continue to work together. I don’t think the coach could have acted in a different way, however. We were surprised, though, that the news about him getting fired broke as soon as around midnight of the same day we played our last game. It means that the front office had their mind set on firing Wittman for a while.

Tymiński: Do you regret that it ended like it did?

Gortat: Keeping in mind all the time we worked together, I can certainly talk about Wittman as of one of the coaches that helped me develop. It’s with him that I started in two consecutive playoffs. We had some success that was supposed to be followed with some more success, but it didn’t materialize.

Tymiński: How will you remember your relationship with Wittman?

Gortat: We had a good relationship. In a way, he was very understanding. I could go and talk to him about anything that bothered me in life. Wittman is a sociable man. This season, we weren’t able to fulfill our playoff expectations, so the front office decided something needed to be changed. I think positively about our relationship.

Tymiński: It is said that Brooks was hired by the Wizards to lure Kevin Durant.

Gortat: I already said once that playing alongside Kevin Durant would be a magical experience for me. I would be willing to play till I’m 40 if we could play on one team, just to play longer with him. I’m not sure, though, if connecting the hiring of Brooks to the signing of Durant is the right evaluation of reality. I heard some opinions that it was Durant who was the reason behind Oklahoma’s firing of Brooks, as he came to a conclusion that the possibilities of cooperation with the coach have expired, and that the team would be able to make the next step with a different coach. I can’t say if it’s 100 percent true, though.

Tymiński: Did you watch the first round of the playoffs?

Gortat: There are too many games in the first round. If I wanted to watch it all, I think I’d have to sit in front of the TV all the time. And I prefer to lay on a beach chair, near the pool. I was only checking the scores and the most important news.

Tymiński: Seriously?

Gortat: My muscles are so sore, I don’t feel like getting up. The best I can do is reach for the phone to pick it up when somebody is trying hard to call me. But seriously, on one hand, I feel like the years of playing basketball have made their mark on me, and without a training regime, some body parts just hurt. On the other hand, all the little injuries are slowly letting go. It’s not old age yet, but I feel tired of basketball. Not in a physical sense, but I need to distance myself from it for a bit. Recently, I’ve been talking and thinking too much about basketball, and I was over-sensitive about everything. I hope that a rest from basketball will make me love the game again.

Tymiński: OK, so let’s put basketball aside. What do you do in your free time after the season?

Gortat: People laugh that I want to become a handyman. Because I walk around the house, check if there’s something to be fixed, painted … a nail that needs to be hammered or a hole that needs to be drilled to hang something. I realized that taking care of the house, making some little fixes, make me genuinely happy. It’s not as much of an effort as at practice, but you still have to grab that drill and get up on the ladder. I was joking about that beach chair … right now I’m working on the floors with the Wizards and MG13 Foundation logos in my garages.

Tymiński: And that’s it?

Gortat: The house is by the lake, so I hop on a jet ski. I’ll buy a speedboat soon. I’m also catching up with movies and TV series. Especially the TV series, because I watched a lot of movies during the season. You easily get bored if you fly 60 times a season.

Tymiński: Are  you a fan of “Game of Thrones”?

Gortat: Of course. Soon I will have watched all the episodes. I also watch “Spartacus,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Vikings.” Don’t think that I only sit in front of the TV, though, because even from that beach chair of mine I can finalize stuff related to my summer camps in Poland. This summer we will begin in June—on the 17th in Torun, 18th in Rumia, 20th in Łódź, and on the 25th and 26th in Cracow, where the celebrity game will take place. This year we also want to bring in children on wheelchairs. We have the support of the Polish national team for wheelchair basketball. They want to show the kids the skills of the best. Our wheelchair players are some of the best in the world, they’re really impressive. Two key players play in the Turkish league in Galatasaray Istanbul. Their player-coach, Marcin Balcerowski, is a great guy, and his 16-year-old son plays in Spain now. He’s almost my height and keeps growing. He might end up in the NBA one day.

Tymiński: Who are you going to bring to Poland?

Gortat: This year, it’s going to be Garrett Temple, who had a very good season and will likely sign a solid contract this year. As usual, we will also be joined by Coach David Adkins. Yeah, the same guy who coached Kevin Durant in high school. There’s going to be one more coach selected by NBA Europe. I count on my friends Adam Waczynski and Przemek Karnowski. Both were bothered by injuries this year, so it might be difficult for them to practice with the kids, but even their presence is an attraction for the kids. I would love to invite Joanna Jędrzejczyk (UFC champion) to the celebrity game. She’s extremely inspiring. You’d think our champion is slight and delicate, but she could hit you pretty hard. I will also bring a huge bag of gadgets that I was being asked for all year. There will be T-shirts, sneakers, wristbands … I hope I won’t have to pay custom duty for that.

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Bartosz Bielecki on Twitter
Bartosz Bielecki
Polish Correspondent at TAI
Bart is TAI’s Polish correspondent, covering all things Marcin Gortat from the mother country, including transcribing Gortat interviews with Polish media.