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Q&A: Marcin Gortat on Washington, Stan Van Gundy and honesty

Following a tough loss, the honest Wizards center spoke with SB Nation about how he's adjusting to life in D.C., why he doesn't want to be a broadcaster and more.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO -- "We just couldn't make a shot," Marcin Gortat said. His Washington Wizards lost, 96-88, to the Toronto Raptors on Friday, wasting point guard John Wall's 37-point explosion. Wizards not named Wall shot 2-for-14 (14 percent) in the fourth quarter and 32 percent overall. After falling to 4-8 and killing the momentum they'd built with a two-game winning streak, the center voiced his frustration as subtly as when he ripped a towel in two.

"We didn't execute well, we f--- it up a few possessions just system-wise, we didn't run the play correctly and that's what happens," Gortat said. "You lose games. We can't get comfortable after a few wins and not show up the next day."

Gortat, acquired from the Phoenix Suns before the start of the regular season, had his worst shooting night of the year. He went 3-for-10 from the field for six points, with eight rebounds, two assists and a block.

"I feel like I blew this game by myself actually," Gortat said. "The team needed my points today and I couldn't deliver. I screwed up a few defensive coverages also, so I'll definitely put this game on me today."

The 29-year-old knows Washington brought him in for a playoff push. He was on a 25-win team last year, but he's been to the Finals and knows how winning teams respond to adversity. He can see his teammates are mad about the way they've started the season. The fact he's holding himself accountable is appreciated in the locker room.

"He takes his job very serious," Wizards swingman Martell Webster said. "He understands that you gotta earn your way in this league and you have to make progress and you have to contribute positively for your team. I think he's been a joy on this team."

Despite the disappointing defeat, Gortat spoke with SB Nation after the game about his new home, his old colleagues and his honesty with the media:

How comfortable are you on the court with this team right now?

Well, defensively I feel pretty good. Offensively I'm still looking for this spot for myself ... I lost my rhythm a little bit. Obviously I'm going to work on it and try to get back and watch the tape and see what I can do better. I would say it's more about confidence. I gotta get the confidence back really quick. I need probably one good game [on offense] and then I'll start rolling again. Definitely the team needs that and that's what I'm going to focus on.

You blamed yourself for the loss tonight. Have you always been really self-critical?

Oh yeah. I've been very hard on myself because I believe I can do better. I believe I can do better, I can be a better player and perform better for this team and I did. I did before. I did before in the past, also on different teams. I know I can do better, the stuff I showed today was definitely not the better side of me, I just gotta do better. That's it.


Photo credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

You said you were welcomed by the Wizards, you got 25 texts from people in the organization as soon as you were traded. Since then, what's the chemistry and camaraderie been like with this group?

I would say great. This is pretty good, this is pretty nice and pretty big with a big character group of people. There's a lot of veterans on the team, which is really good. A lot of young guys that are actually paying attention. It's pretty good so far. You can see that this team's been together for a while already and they went through a lot. They lost a lot of games last year, so they want to win this year and they know what it means, they know how it is to lose so many games and what kind of season they had last year, they don't want to repeat it now. So they've been pretty good, they helped me out a lot. Especially Nene, Jan Vesely, these guys helped me the most.

How are you finding the city?

It's totally different. Quite honestly, I'm not using my car now because everything is walking distance pretty much. The cool thing, you can order food at 5 o'clock in the morning.

You do that?

Sometimes, yeah. If you're coming from the game, from a road trip and you need to eat something, you can order. It's pretty good stuff.

What are your impressions of John Wall and Bradley Beal, two guys who are really young but almost looked at as leaders already going forward?

I spoke with John about it. If he wants it or not, he's going to be a leader of this team. He's been put in this situation from the get-go, being the No. 1 pick in the draft. Obviously he's young, he still needs to learn the leadership and everything but he's getting there. He's learning. Bradley's a very talented young kid who also has to be directed, put in the right path, but each one of these guys is making big steps forward every day. We just gotta continue to get better. There's a lot of talent in this team and if these two guys get better this team automatically is going to get better.

Is it true you looked into broadcasting but didn't want to do it because you'd have to lie all the time?

It depends what kind of broadcaster you are. You can be a broadcaster just talking about two random teams but if you're a broadcaster for your own team it's going to be hard to be the true, honest broadcaster because sometimes even if the team is playing bad you can't really say bad things because you work for this team. It's hard. It's not an easy job and I just realized that's the thing I don't want to do. I'm too honest with everything I say.

Some people would say you're too honest with media. How important is it for you to speak your mind?

Obviously it's important. You don't wanna come up with some crap to the media. If I feel like that, that's what I'm gonna say. I never had a problem with that. Obviously sometimes you have consequences. You gotta take that. But it is what it is, if I want to say something bad I learned just to not say it or don't speak to media [about it].

You've said you were "spoiled" by success in Orlando with Stan Van Gundy -- is that the kind of thing you can't properly appreciate until later?

Of course. I mean, I never understood what it means until the point where you actually start losing games. And now you understand what the guy was trying to say. It was a great moment, it was a great time for me in Orlando and hopefully one day I'm going to have an opportunity to be on a team like that again.

How important was Stan for you?

He was a godfather of my career. He basically taught me everything. He gave me the discipline, he told me the most important things in basketball. He taught me what to do, how to act and how to prepare yourself for the game. He taught me basically everything about the game, this guy is always going to be the guy that I'm going to always appreciate for everything he did for me. If one day he's going to be back in the league, I would like to play for him.

What was it like to be on the receiving end of the Steve Nash pick-and-roll in Phoenix?

It was great, man. It was just great. I mean, Steve Nash, what can I tell you? He makes things happen. It's easy. Playing with him, it was just, it was easy. Just get yourself ready for the game and it's easy. The guy's a monster.

And off the court?

Great guy. Quiet guy but I was fortunate enough, I was always around him in the plane, in the bus, so I was able to talk to him a lot. Great guy, great person, you can always talk to him. He invited me a few times to Chinatown to play his soccer game which was obviously very big for me. It was great.

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