Here's a little lesson in interviewing from somebody who's not at all qualified to give lessons in interviewing: If you approach an interview subject without anything prepared, you'll naturally veer towards questions with "yes"-"no" answers. Or, in the case of Toney Douglas, "most definitely"-"no" answers.
After the Knicks' Summer League win in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, I was creeping around with my voice recorder and caught Douglas sitting by himself in the first row of the bleachers. I hadn't prepared to talk to Toney, but didn't want to waste the opportunity. What follows is a transcript of my conversation with the Knicks' second-year guard. It's an exercise in poor questioning on my end, but also manages to catch Toney's confident and...definitive spirit.
P&T: What do Toney Douglas do differently than he did this time last year?
Well, I'm being more of a leader: being more vocal, running the team. You know, I feel like I have an overall game. I can do more than just score. I can run the team, lead the team, and make my teammates better.
P&T: Is that something that the coaches encourage you to do?
Most definitely. That's something they told me they wanted me to do and it's something I wanted to do on my own.
P&T: Are guys starting to respond to you? Is the chemistry increasing between you and the younger players in Summer League?
Most definitely. The new guys are doing just fine.
P&T: What's your impression of rookies like Landry Fields, Andy Rautins, and Jerome Jordan?
They're doing really good and responding really well, and they can only get better. That's the good thing about it.
P&T: With Raymond Felton now a Knick, do you still see yourself playing the role of vocal leader when it's the regular season?
Most definitely. Why not? I feel like we compliment each other. He's a good point guard and plays good defense and we have a lot of stuff that we compliment each other with.
[At this point, a little girl nearby shrieks at the top of her lungs as if she's just been electrocuted by a giant evil spider. Toney and I share a moment of displeasure, then a laugh, then continue our hard-hitting interview.]
P&T: It seems like the two of you as a tandem, especially on defense, could really be a terror for other teams.
[Toney gets super smiley]
Oh, most definitely. That's how we really compliment each other a lot, so I'm looking forward to it.
I can't help but be reminded of my favorite line in all of Arrested Development:
Michael Bluth: Did you burn down the storage unit?
T-Bone: Oh, most definitely!
Toney Douglas is plainly and unabashedly confident about the '10-'11 season. Check out his interviews with Alan Hahn and Marc Berman for a little more insight. Thanks to Toney for taking the time to talk with me.