When the media is granted access to a Kings player during training camp or after practice, you are on the clock. The media relation folks really try and keep the length of interviews to around 3-5 minutes because the players have a lot of other commitments. With most players, this is plenty of time to get in a nice group of questions with some back and forth. Not so much with Mr. Dalembert. Not only does he love to talk, but he is animated with both his face and his body language and he speaks with a rich Haitian accent. Here is the Kings captivating center Samuel Dalembert with The Purple Panjandrum:
TPP: Last night you guys got killed on a handful of alley-oop dunks by the Lakers – is that a communication issue because you guys just haven’t played that much together?
Sammy D: It’s both. I would say it’s communication and positioning. A lot of times when you’re playing, you got to get down a little bit and see where the ball is at and see your man. It happened to us like a few times and I was the victim of one of them. I was very upset at myself and that’s why I started to communicate a little bit more out there and trying to get everybody going and communicating. As you can tell, they are a very experienced team. Kobe Bryant saw it, I saw it and I should have anticipated it because I seen them talking, going like this (points to his eyes). You know, with my experience, I should have been vocal quicker and I blame myself on one of them or two of them. But we worked on that today.
TPP: Are you happy to finally be named the starter or do those things not really matter to you?
Sammy D: As long as we are winning. You can’t get caught up in- am I starting or not starting. Right now, it is as a team. My goal when I came here is to do everything in my power to help this team be the best it can be. Starting, not starting, I don’t complain, I just work hard and I come in off the bench ready to play. At first, it was kind of hard to adjust. For 6 -7 years you’ve been starting and then suddenly, you can’t take the game from the beginning. And I’m trying to get going, but other guys are going already. It’s tough, but after a couple of games I was able to get my flow in and be able to get in and know exactly what needs to be done on the floor.
TPP: It seems like there can be an advantage to starting on the bench for a defensive minded player like yourself. You can watch what someone like Pau Gasol is doing and then come in with a game plan to combat it.
Sammy D: I don’t even need to watch him on the floor. I watch his tape all the time. I have his tape at my house, all the big men.
TPP: Are you a big tape watcher?
Sammy D: Yeah, you have to prepare yourself before you play your enemy you know. Guys are too good in this league and by the time you figure it out, he’s already got three baskets on you and he’s standing at the free throw line and then it’s tough to stop. The referee is going to look at what he’s doing and then they are going to call things on you right away. You have to hit the guys right away and give them a hard foul and say listen, it’s not going to be easy tonight. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but that’s the way I always am.
TPP: Is Pau Gasol the craftiest big man you have to face in the NBA?
Sammy D: He’s not so much crafty, he’s just…. I’ve played some guys who move around, make a bunch of moves, turn-arounds and stuff. Over time, it becomes tough because they have so many moves. With Gasol, it’s tough because he uses his body so well and he’s long. So he uses his body, he waits for you and he wants to face you up, but then he waits to see what you are going to do. He’s waiting for your hands to be out to create a foul. If you don’t do that then he starts dribbling, and if you cut him, he does a little spin shot or hooks it, so you have to invite him to go to the middle and anticipate what he is going to do because he is waiting for the resistance and then he is going to spin. Every guy is different. Some guys like a lot of contact. Pau likes to face up more, and then he backs you down a little bit.
Moving Dalembert into the starting line-up was a forgone conclusion. Coach Westphal loves to teach young players, but with big men, like DeMarcus Cousins, he likes to take it slow. Samuel Dalembert is in the last year of his contract and whether or not he will be a Sacramento King beyond this season is completely unknown. What we do know is that Samuel Dalmbert can do some things on the court the Sacramento Kings have never had a player do before.
Dalembert is an elite defensive rebounder and shot blocker. If the Kings young big men DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Jason Thompson have aspirations of becoming legitimate defensive players, they should take advantage of Samuel Dalembert’s knowledge and skill while he is with the Kings. There are a lot of Samuel Dalembert critics out there from his time in Philadelphia, but throughout training camp and into the early season, Sammy D has been an extremely hard worker, a leader and a mentor to the his younger teammates.