It’s been just one year, but after playing only five games during 2012-13 before undergoing season-ending left knee surgery, Danny Granger’s Indiana Pacers look markedly different entering ’13-14 than they did 12 months ago. Paul George has become a bona fide young star. Lance Stephenson has joined the team’s regular rotation. Guys like Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and CJ Watson provide the roster with a newfound depth.
And yet, as a former All-Star who’s averaged 18.1 points and 5.2 rebounds over a solid eight-year career, Granger should factor largely into Indiana’s upcoming crack at a—dare we say?—NBA Championship. While promoting the League’s Dribble to Stop Diabetes campaign, created to spread awareness about the risk of type 2 diabetes and to promote living a healthy, active lifestyle, we spoke briefly with the Louisiana native about his offseason, his health, his teammates and more.
SLAM: How’s your summer been?
Danny Granger: It’s been good. Just hanging out with my kids, hanging out with my family. I’ve been in Indianapolis for most of the summer.
SLAM: Have you been training with anyone specific?
DG: For the past three weeks, about eight or nine of [the Pacers] have been here, so we’ve all been training here together. We try to do that every year to bring some camaraderie to the team.
SLAM: How are you feeling, health-wise?
DG: I feel good. I’m excited to play this year, excited to be back with my team.
SLAM: Do you have a set date in mind for when you’d like to be back on the court?
DG: A set date in mind, not really. Just when I’m ready to play, I’ll play.
SLAM: What was the team’s 2013 postseason run like for you? Even though you were sidelined, did you feel like you needed to guide the younger guys through the experience?
DG: It was actually an interesting experience. I was excited for the success that we had, and I was very happy to see the progression of our young guys, especially Paul. I was very happy to see the city of Indianapolis really [excited for] the Pacers, because there’s been a lot of years where that wasn’t the case. All those things were encouraging. I wasn’t really too upset about my injury—it happens. It’s a part of sports. You get injured and then you get back to where you were. So I wasn’t too upset about that. I was really excited for the team.
SLAM: I know you’ve been close with Paul for a while now. What was it like seeing him break out last season?
DG: It felt like a big brother kind of thing. I’ve helped Paul a lot throughout the years, and to see him take those steps, it was really gratifying. I loved watching him play.
SLAM: Do you think the dynamic of the team will be different now than before you went down with the injury?
DG: I think the dynamic of our team will probably stay the same, honestly. When I was playing and when I wasn’t playing, our focus was to throw the ball into the post to David [West] and Roy [Hibbert], and we play off those guys. I think playing through the post has really always been our philosophy, and I really don’t see anything changing, honestly.
SLAM: You’ve been with the Pacers for the entirety of Frank Vogel’s tenure as head coach there. Have you noticed him evolve at all over the past few years?
DG: I have. I’ve watched him come from an assistant, to when he got the job, to now. Frank’s a great basketball mind. The things that he can do and the plays that he draws up, it’s really creative. He’s a great coach to be around. I think really the sky’s the limit for what Frank can do because he’s such a talented coach.
SLAM: Do you have any personal goals as far as what you’d like to accomplish on the court this season?
DG: Just trying to get back on the court, man. That’s it. Just gotta get back on the court. Not looking ahead.
SLAM: Tell me a little about the Dribble to Stop Diabetes program.
DG: Yeah, Dribble to Stop Diabetes is a national media campaign developed by the NBA to pretty much encourage basketball fans to really live an active and healthy lifestyle and bring awareness for diabetes research.
SLAM: As an athlete, do you feel any responsibility to push the idea that fans should be more active?
DG: Yeah, just give ‘em a little nudge. I think a lot of people don’t realize that [how active you are] really determines how healthy you are and how you’re living.
SLAM: I know you’re a big New Orleans Saints fan. Any predictions on how they’ll do this season?
DG: Huge, huge Saints fan. For me, Sundays are either a great day or a horrible day. I think Drew Brees is gonna take it home for us.