Europe Interview: Josh Powell Of Olympiacos
Josh Powell has been fortunate throughout his career to be in a winning situation wherever he goes and has been a part of two NBA title teams. The same happened this season as Powell joined the reigning Euroleague champion Olympiacos Piraeus and is back playing in Europe for the first time since 2005.
In 16 games with Olympiacos, Powell is averaging 7.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 16 minutes of action, while the reds are fighting through their way to the Euroleague Top 8 stage.
RealGM caught up with Josh Powell in Greece for a one-on-one interview to discuss his new team Olympiacos, Euroleague, his career in the NBA, Lakers and much more.
RealGM: You have already spent almost three months with your newest team, Olympiacos, do you feel that you are the member of the current Euroleague champion team?
Powell: Honestly, since I have been here, everything has been a learning process for me. I'm the only new guy coming to the team as most have been established since last year. Guys know each other very well. I'm just trying to come in and fit in, do the best I can do and find my role. Whatever my needs are going to be that is going to help us be as successful as it is possible.
RealGM: You have played in Europe before, but it’s your first season playing in the Euroleague. Is there anything specific about playing in likely the second best league in the world?
Powell: It’s fun. It is a great experience as you can go to all those different countries and places in Europe. See different cultures and whatever is going on in these individual cities. Of course, the level of competition is very good. I have been having fun and enjoying it since I’ve got here.
RealGM: How did it feel to be playing against your former teammates Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic, with whom you won back-to-back NBA championships as members of the Lakers?
Powell: It was fun and it was great to see those guys. It feels like I haven't seen them for such long time, even as we were playing for different teams in the NBA. It was great to see those guys and be able to catch up and see how everybody is doing.
RealGM: You have played against a couple of Final Four contenders such as FC Barcelona Regal, Zalgiris or Caja Laboral. Who made the best impression for you?
Powell: I would say Caja Laboral. We played them in the first round and second too. I think their chemistry and togetherness is showing right now. I think that makes the biggest difference on the style they play.
RealGM: Do you see Olympiacos repeating its success this year?
Powell: I believe in our team. For us, I just think we need to stay healthy and get over this hump. I know we've been having a couple tough games. If we get that chemistry back on when I first got here, I think that the sky is the limit for us. Talent wise, I definitely believe that we're one of the best teams and it is just a matter of putting everything together.
RealGM: You have played in world's largest countries such China, Russia and the United States, and had a chance to taste different cultures as well. What would you distinguish from all this experience? What did surprise you the most?
Powell: Everything is really different in all aspects. How the fans are about the game, how they are with eating, different holidays. Basically everything is very different in its own sense. Here in Greece, they have name days and they celebrate people's names. Chinese New Year was a big two-week thing. They shut down everything and they blow fireworks every night. It's been an exciting experience all-around. Most important is that it helped me to grow and mature as a man first, and as a basketball player second.
RealGM: During your NBA career, you have never been known as a big man that can shoot from long range, and you also haven't taken a single three-point shot in the Euroleague yet. But last season in Puerto Rico you made four three pointers out of four attempts and finished the game with 34 points and 14 rebounds. So can actually Powell shoot threes or not?
Powell: There is so much in my game that I can do. Whenever I go to a team, I have to find a role and fit in to something that would fit the best for the team. When I played in Puerto Rico, there was a different situation because I was getting a lot of touches and the ball was coming to me. I was in pick-and-roll situation. I just had a chance to show my all-around game. And here is different. Game is different and my role on the team is totally different. I can shoot threes, I even shot threes in the NBA. There is a lot I can do because there's so much that I worked on. But it is important to be able to find where I am going to help this team. Coming here, they already had established with the players and who are going to get touches. I understand that and I just want to try to do whatever it is that I can do to help us be successful.
RealGM: Moving on to the NBA, do you still catch yourself thinking about those two years you spent with the Lakers?
Powell: That is a part of my life. It's probably one of the best memories I have ever had. It's great being a part of the city and a tradition. Just the whole history behind that team, along with the players and the coaches. It was just a fun time. I was able to experience a lot of things out there. Of course, I started my first year in the L.A. when I was with the Clippers. L.A. was just a great and fun time and a good situation. I enjoyed it and I appreciate everything I went through over there.
RealGM: I believe you still follow your former team. Do you see Lakers getting back on winning track this season?
Powell: It's crazy because even if you don't follow or don't want to follow it, you can do nothing but hear about it. Everything that has been going on out there is unfortunate. With all the injuries, hiring and firing coaches. So many different things that they've been dealing with. I think they have way too much talent. You still have another half of the season to play and they still have a chance to make some noise and get it together. I wouldn't count them out just yet, but they have to sort it out pretty soon.
RealGM: You were playing alongside one of the best European playmakers of the past decade, Sarunas Jasikevicius, for some time. How did it feel to be playing together with Saras and why do you think his career in the NBA wasn't as spectacular as in Europe?
Powell: The thing about him, like anywhere else, you have to be in a position where you are able to play and show what you can do. The year when I was there, I don't think he got too much playing time to be able to show what he can do. He's still a very good player and we actually played against him three weeks ago and he had a really great game. He's a good player, but it's just different. When you go the NBA, hopefully you get to the good team and good situation, where you are going to be able to showcase your talent. There are so many guys that have been on one team for one great year, they go somewhere else and they don't do any good. Or vice versa. There are a lot of factors that play into. It's just a tough thing.
RealGM: Throughout your NBA career, you played together with many stars. Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Stephen Jackson, Joe Johnson and many others. Who had the most influence on your personal development and your development as a basketball player? With whom did you have the strongest connection?
Powell: Honestly, I was able to take something from everybody. I would probably say Kobe just from a standpoint that the Lakers were the team that I played the longest with. When I was in Dallas, I had just a year to get an eye on Dirk and I kept going from team to team. You just going to pick up and learn as you can as you're going. I had been fortune to be able to start great relationships with a lot of those guys. And a lot of them may not be superstars, guys like Marquis Daniels, Josh Howard. I'm blessed to know them.
RealGM: Except the 2007-08 season with the Clippers, you never received much playing time, but you still managed to remain in the NBA for such long time. What was your key of success on staying in the league?
Powell: Honestly, throughout all these years, the Clippers were the best as far as being able to showcase my talent. We deal with so many injuries and when guys went down, I was a starter for around the last two and a half months. I was able to show my game, put up numbers like double doubles. I had couple of games when I had 20-10. Like I said, it just depends on your situation. When I was with the Lakers, I had to find a role. When I was with Dallas and Indiana, I had to find my role and find my niche. But I think the main reason I was able to stick around for so long is just hard work, my mentality and dedication to the game. I loved this game, though blood and tears. I worked my ass off everyday. I probably worked too much, but I loved the game and I just wanted to make sure give it a proper respect. This is the gift that God gave it to me and I want to make sure I do everything while I'm playing it.
RealGM: You just turned 30, but you have already played for 14 different teams and seen many different players. Would be able to distinguish one guy, who in your opinion, was the hardest working guy you have ever seen?
Powell: Honestly, on my list I would put myself first. Honestly, I think nobody put in what I put in. Outside of that, I was able to watch Dirk [Nowitzki]. His worth ethic is crazy. It's amazing to see him putting the work he puts in. I was able to workout with Dwight [Howard]. His worth ethic is crazy as well, same as Kobe [Bryant's]. Joe Johnson, for his size being able to be two-guard... He's extremely skilled, very good played and he has a great work ethic as we'll. Those are guys I was able to see and participate in a workouts with them.
RealGM: As you played for so many different teams, I believe you will have plenty of stories to tell to your children.
Powell: There are many stories, but some of them wouldn't be appropriate to share (laughing). On a good note, seriously, one of the stories that I will not be able to forget is my first NBA game. Just coming to the locker room, getting past the pre-season. I had a chance to get four or five minutes. I think I had like four points and two rebounds or something like that. It just takes your breath away because you're sitting in the arena, watching the game at the moment and thinking “wow, finally, I made it”. Coming from where I came from, everybody was telling what I couldn’t do and I'm not going to make it. I dealt with so many things and so much adversity. It was just a blessing moment that I will never forget. I think we were playing against the Nuggets. It was truly blessing, I had a stats sheet and everything.
Of course, another moment is winning a championship. Nothing is going to be able to top that. Being a part of the championship team. I remember like yesterday, my son was couple months old and we won the second championship when we were in LA. I was able to have him on stage with me. One of the most priceless moments in my life is to be able to show that moment to him. It’s such a great accomplishment to have him and win a championship at the same time. I was fortunate because I was able to go to the finals three times. The winning bug has followed me throughout my career and at least that is the one good thing that I can say when I look back on my career. I have never been a part in anything loosing. Maybe one time. Most of the time, everything was positive.