Marcin Gortat does a lot of good things for the Phoenix Suns and his effort is being rewarded with more playing time. Compared to Robin Lopez, he's rebounding the ball at a much better rate and defends certain players very well. One other thing that we also love about him is his willingness to talk. He's refreshingly candid in a way that most athletes try and avoid.
At shootaround prior to facing the Boston Celtics, Gortat was asked about his experience playing against his former Eastern Conference foe. After talking in generalities about how physical the Celtics are, he went to a pretty interesting place when it came to center Kendrick Perkins. He literally compared him to a little dog but managed to do it in a way that both made sense and wasn't offensive. At least I didn't think it was offensive.
Here's the full quote:
"(Perkin's) is a really physical guy. He's a guy who will never let it go. I'm going to kind of compare him to a little dog. These little dogs, they will never let go. They're so small, they just keep barking and just keep running around you. You're going to keep throwing the little ball and they're going to keep running and bring it back. He'll grab to your leg and he'll never let go. That's how is Kendrick Perkins. He'll never let go. He'll keep fighting with you, he'll keep pushing you, keep hitting you and at some point you're going to go like, 'damn dude, you don't have enough?'"
At this point, I admit I was thinking to myself, 'oh crap', here we go. Gortat just called Perkins a little dog and it's going to be on like Donkey Kong. But without pausing to reflect at all, Marcin continued his thought...
"But honestly, that's great. That's character and I really respect him for doing that. I always seen this guy battling Dwight (Howard)...I really respect his game and respect him as a player. Even though right now he's my enemy because we play today, I'm happy he's back on the floor. He's a good player and I believe that he deserves to play because of his hard work and his heart."
And with that, the great Perkins - Gortat media generated feud of 2011 was avoided. Phew.
Gortat went on to talk about playing against Shaq and what a thrill that is for him. He gets asked by kids in his basketball camps back home in Poland about Shaq more than anything.
Gortat is looking forward to facing the big guy and said the key to playing against him, as expressed by Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, is that you have to have "balls".
"On time Coach Van Gundy said, 'it doesn't matter what you're going to do. You can play all different defenses against him, different rotations. The only thing that you need is to have balls.' You need to have balls to guard that guy."
The Suns game plan for Shaq and Perkins and now even their big rookie center Semih Erden, is to keep the tempo high according to Gortat and Coach Alvin Gentry. Phoenix knows that they can't get into a slow-down game with the Celtics and expect to win.
Energy and pace will be the keys for the Suns breaking their three-game losing streak tonight.
Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal Both Expected To Play
Grant Hill, who wasn't able to finish the Suns last game on Wednesday due to a knee sprain that was aggravated when a Bobcats player fell into it, will play according to Coach Gentry.
Shaq, who injured his hip when he slipped on the ice and has missed the Celtics last three games, is also expected to play as per a member of the Celtics media (Comcast) who travels with the team.