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RandBall Q&A: Christian Laettner (and the story of loser ... loser ... loser ... winner)

Posted by: Michael Rand under Sports Updated: June 15, 2011 - 2:54 PM

We just had a very nice chat with ex-Wolves player Christian Laettner, who is living in Florida but is on his way to the Twin Cities tomorrow to run a series of basketball camps with the Timberwolves starting next week.

Laettner, 41, comes back to the area often -- his wife is from here -- but this is the first time he's done camps here since his playing days with the Wolves more than 15 years ago.

We'll have more with Laettner in the paper and online tomorrow, but we thought a couple of things were more interesting to the good readers of RandBall. To wit:

Q We're coming up on the NBA draft pretty soon. Can you take me back to the whole draft experience in 1992 and what it was like to be taken No. 3 overall by the Timberwolves?

I loved every minute of it. it was an honor and a privilege, especially right behind Shaq and Alonzo, two of the all-time greatest. I really looked forward to the opportunity to play for the Timberwolves. I went up there and gave it my all. I fell in love with the city and the people up there, even to the extreme where I met my wife up there. ... The team was -- we just weren't good enough. I wasn't able to do it all by myself. I don't believe many teams can do it just with one really, really good player. You have to be surrounded with a good cast. ... We had some good players, but we had too many coaches. The fans were great, they supported us. Every second I spent up there I enjoyed.

Q If you could go back to that time now, and a 41-year-old Christian Laettner could give rookie Christian Laettner some advice, what would it be? Would you have done anything differently?

Yeah ... (laughs) ... I would have demanded more things. I realize everyone has the image and perception that I was the worst person.

Q Well, that did kind of stick here. What was it really like?

A It was great, except I did a few dumb things and they killed me in the press over it. Once that happens -- and you're seeing it happen to LeBron James right now -- it's tough to turn that around. I used to tell my mother, 'Mom, when they write really flattering things about your son, don't believe it all. And when they write really negative things about your son, don't believe it all.' I was never as bad as they made me out to be, and I was never as good as they made me out to be. But I made some mistakes. I swore at one of our assistant coaches right in front of the media, and they slaughtered me over that. I missed a practice and they suspended me a game, and (the media) slaughtered me over that. There were some other things. It was tough, but it was just media, perception and image. That was life and who you are. You wish you could have your cake and the icing on top, but that's not always the case. I was still living my dream, trying the best I could and having the greatest time. The only thing that didn't happen is that my team didn't have a high winning percentage. Aside from that, I loved playing with Doug West, J.R. Rider, Luc Longley, Mike Brown, all the guys we had on the team. I still stay in touch with Doug (and other guys from the organization).

Q You talked about a few incidents. One that has become part of local lore but I've never read you talking about was something apparently in the locker room. You were talking about how everyone else on the team is a loser but you're a winner. You're pointing at dressing stalls saying, "Loser, loser, loser" ... until you get to yours and you say, "Winner." Did that actually happen?

A You know, I don't know if that actually happened. I can't recall it happening. There might be some context. If it's true, maybe some context needed to be added, I don't know. But as I said, I made some mistakes along the way. Does that mean you should be crucified for it? And have your image forever tarnished? I don't know. But that's the nature of the beast.

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