If evidence is needed that Steve Blake's second campaign with the Lakers bested his first, one need only take a trip down "2011 Exit Interview Memory Lane." The man spoke for less than three minutes, and much of that time was filled by awkward silence. Horribly, horribly awkward silence. There are only so many ways you can ask a prideful dude not inherently chatty to begin with about his struggles in the triangle before the whole thing falls to pot. This year, Blake talked nearly 10 minutes, indicative of a season still plagued by a fair amount of lows, but capped with a nice regular season finish and some key postseason buckets.
"Over time, you get more comfortable with your teammates and they know more about you," explained Blake about gradually discovering his rhythm. "You know more about them. You kind of figure each other out. For me, it was definitely much more comfortable throughout this whole season and the playoffs."
As for why it took Blake a while to getting rolling this season, he couldn't necessarily put a finger on why.
"I think during the season some moments where you're just not playing your best basketball. But you push through it and continue to work on the things you might not doing well and you get back on track. I think for the most part, I got to a good place where I felt good and felt like I was playing pretty well."
Not just playing well, but often outplaying Ramon Sessions, imported as a theoretical answer to fill a long-time void moving forward. Sessions got off to a white-hot start, but cooled as the season continued, then appeared overwhelmed by the playoffs, where he was often outplayed by Blake. I'm guessing -- and it's purely a guess -- Sessions will exercise his player option, but if he decided to test free agency, the Terp could find himself as a potential starter. And even if Ramon returns, a legitimate argument could be made the reserves (and Sessions himself) were better served with him among them. Either way, however, Blake doesn't particularly care what role he plays, as long as it's on a winning team.
"I'm comfortable coming off the bench," said Blake. "But I think I'm at a point in my career where I really just wanna do what's best for the team. If I'm what's best for the team to be starting, I would love it. That would be great. If it's coming off the bench, that's fine with me, too. Maybe when I was younger, 'I would say I really wanna start, I really wanna do this.' And yeah, I do wanna start, but it's not my focus. My focus is for us to be better. My role would be to make us better."
And if that's what it takes to win a title, so be it. As Blake explained, two seasons in purple and gold without a ring to his name is killing him.
"It's tough," admitted Blake. "I mean, that's definitely one of the factors that came into why I came here. Because I wanted to win. I've won a championship on every level except the NBA. It's frustrating to have not gotten that in the first two years. But I still believe with this group of guys, we can still get it. That's gonna be our goal coming into next year. Proving it. And getting that championship."
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