“I don't think they had given up on me. I just thought they were frustrated like I was frustrated. You know, when we're not winning and things aren't going the way we want them to go, people are going to get frustrated. It was just one big team frustrated.”
But there was some just biting criticism directed your way.
“To say the work ethic wasn't there, I tried hard all the time. I never gave up; I never wasn't out there not trying. So for somebody to say I was giving up and not trying is not true.”
How would you describe that type of attention (that comes with dating someone like Rihanna)?
“It was pretty much overwhelming. It's not something I'm used to. I'm not used to going to a grocery store or to just somewhere simple and people following me around. It's overwhelming.”
Did you think you should have won (the 2011 MVP)?
“I think a couple people thought they should have won it. There was a lot of guys that had great years.”
Yeah, but that wasn't what I asked.
“Of course I'm going to say I should have won it, because every other person in that position is going to say they probably should have won it. So, yeah, I should have won.”
What do you think of the voting process? The MVP is one of those things that doesn't always take the best player in baseball. It's a different definition to each person.
“For me, I don't think they should hold (it against) somebody who doesn't make the playoffs. That's the excuse everybody is saying. … I thought I should have won, but hopefully I can do it this year.”
To most of us who cannot fathom ever attaining that kind of wealth, signing a contract like that (eight years, $160 million) what's it like?
“It was definitely a blessing. … I'm not going to lie, I cried. Because it's something that you dream about as a kid is taking care of your mom and your family and wanting to do good things for people. I made it. “
You apparently like when you see a woman walking by, you like looking at her feet to see what the shoes are. Why?
“I feel like you can tell a lot by a person's shoes.”
What can you tell?
“That they know what they're doing or they don't know what they're doing. I've always liked shoes. I peep everybody's shoes out to see what they're rocking.”
How was playing against Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony back in the day?
“It was unbelievable, man. We used to have so much fun doing that. When we played against Chris Bosh, I think I was a junior. All of this was my junior year, 2002. We played against Chris Bosh in St. Louis and then turned around and played Carmelo in Delaware. To see those guys now and see the position I'm in, man, it's crazy.”
You grew up with Blake Griffin back then. What was he like?
“Well actually Blake, I knew his brother more than I knew him; me and his brother played AAU basketball together. Blake was the kid on the other side of the court shooting around, dribbling and just having fun; just shooting with himself. Now to see where he came from and where he's at now is unbelievable.”
Do you all talk now?
“Yeah, we talk. It's funny because athletes we're all kind of busy and have separate schedules. I don't like to bother him during his season and he doesn't try to bother me during mine, but we come together a lot.”