Q+A: Ekpe Udoh
Speaking on Mark Jackson, Jeremy Lin, his role off the bench and Twitter.
by Brendan Bowers / @StepienRules
In his second season out of Baylor, Ekpe Udoh is serving as a difference maker on the defensive end of the floor to create a role for himself on this Mark Jackson-led Golden State Warriors team.
In his last seven games, Udoh is averaging almost 3 blocks per night, including 5 in the Warriors 109-101 win over the Denver Nuggets on February 9th. He’s been on the floor to during crunch time for Mark Jackson’s group, closing out games thanks to his strong defense.
SLAMonline recently caught up with the Bay Area big man to talk about the season thus far. Ekpe spoke on the current role he’s playing under Mark Jackson, his expectations for the second half of the season, graduating from Baylor during the NBA Lockout, as well as what Twitter’s like inside the NBA locker room.
Udoh also talked about his ex-Warriors teammate turned NBA sensation, Jeremy Lin. Check out the conversation.
SLAM: We’re almost halfway through this season already. Can you talk about your experiences playing for Mark Jackson so far this year and the role he’s helped define for you on this Warriors team?
Ekpe Udoh: It’s been a good experience. As a former player, he can really relate to everything that’s going on out there on the court, so that’s been a real good thing.
Right now my role is coming in off the bench with the second group and bringing that energy. Getting stops, blocking shots, rebounding and then just doing what I can do offensively.
I’m just trying to come in and be aggressive. Showing that energy that we’ve been playing with lately, and then just hitting that fifteen footer when I’m open too.
SLAM: Speaking of lately, you guys have won your last three in a row, and five of your last seven (heading into Wednesday’s game against Portland). What are your expectations collectively heading into the second half of this season?
EU: We’re a young team. Just looking at the schedule after the All Star break, March and April is really tough. We got twenty games in thirty days, and we know we need to come with it.
We really just know that we need to bring it every night. I know we’ll have to go on the road a little bit more then too, so we’ll really just have to bring it.
SLAM: Has Coach Jackson ever used any of those catch phrases he did during his ABC/ESPN television broadcasts with you guys at practice?
EU: No he doesn’t use those [laughs], but he comes up with some new ones though. That’s classic locker room talk.
SLAM: Another guy who’s been on TV a lot lately is your former Warriors teammate Jeremy Lin. Have you talked to Jeremy over these last few weeks, and what is your general take on what he’s been able to do?
I talked to him a couple times on text messages, but nothing long. I just hit him saying congratulations on what he’s doing, and to say that I just keep hoping for the best for him.
SLAM: Does seeing what Jeremy’s done with his opportunity help other NBA guys just keep grinding in some ways maybe, knowing that big chance can come at anytime?
EU: Yeah, it does. It shows you can always takeoff at anytime; you just need to be ready. Jeremy always worked hard, he worked hard everyday, so you never know when that opportunity will come. You just gotta be ready for it when it does.
SLAM: You took some steps to be ready for life after basketball during this Lockout by going back and graduating from Baylor. Can you talk about that experience?
EU: That was a great experience. Unfortunately we had to go through the Lockout, but during that time I decided to go back and earn my degree. I was really close, only fourteen credits away. So I went back, also got to play with the Baylor team, lift weights and everything and it ended up being a really good look for me.
SLAM: What’s your relationship like current Baylor big man Perry Jones, you talk with him much while you were down there?
EU: Yeah we talked a couple times this summer. I just tried to tell him to be aggressive. That’s all I could really tell him. He has all the tools for this game, so I just told him to be aggressive.
SLAM: Since Jerry West joined the front office in Golden State, have you talked with him much this season?
EU: I’ve talked to him a couple of times and he always gives me encouraging words. He just says to keep pushing. Keep being aggressive and to stay aggressive when I get the ball on the offensive end.
SLAM: You and your teammates are pretty active on Twitter. Can you take fans inside the NBA locker room for a minute when it comes to Twitter? How often are you guys checking on that, or updating your accounts?
EU: People be doing that all day long [laughs]. Twitter is taking over man, and now you got Instagram? Oh yeah, it goes down.
When you go on the road, you just see people on their phones constantly. We’re just trying to stay connected to the fans that way and you know, whoever else might be looking.
SLAM: Which of your teammates would you say is the best on Twitter?
EU: It has to be Nate [Robinson], has to be Nate. He’s up there in his Followers count and he keeps it going pretty good.
SLAM: Growing up, who were the players you looked up too?
EU: As a kid everybody wanted to be Michael Jordan, if you didn’t you were out of your mind. Besides Jordan though, KG was also a guy I looked up too when I was a kid.
SLAM: Your family is from Nigeria, have you ever been there yourself? Do you plan to do any Basketball Without Borders work over there in the future possibly?
EU: I was only there when I was like five actually, back in ’92, but I am planning to go back this summer. Me and my sister are going. I am looking into working with Basketball Without Borders too actually. I plan to do that while I’m in the NBA for sure, and then afterwards too.