After the Milwaukee Bucks went down three games to none to the Chicago Bulls in the 2015 first-round playoff series they would eventually lose in six games, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd had a smile on his face.
He wasn't the only one. Many of the Bucks were smiling, actually, after the loss. Because Kidd saw the direction his team was headed. He was more encouraged by the fight they put up than the outcome. All he needed was one more piece to the puzzle. It was as if they knew something great was going to happen.
Flash forward to Kidd sitting at a table, looking like Don Draper, as a crowd of media and staff members looked at him to lead. LaMarcus Aldridge going to the Spurs? That's easy. Kevin Love staying in LeBronland was an obvious choice too.
But Greg Monroe to the Bucks?
Say what you want about all of the official free-agent signings, but none could have a greater impact -- for one team and possibly throughout an entire conference -- as Monroe choosing to bring his talents to Milwaukee. It's as if he knows something great is about to happen.
Scoop: How different was (the news conference) for you? This is sort of like a pretty big deal. Are you excited, anxious, nervous?
Greg Monroe: Probably all of 'em. You know, this is a new situation for me. But I'm definitely looking forward to it. I know I made the right decision for me and I'm very happy with the decision I made. I'm just looking forward to working with these guys.
Scoop: Was having a day dedicated to you, where everything is all about you, what you expected?
Monroe: I never expect much. I understand that everybody does this, and this is part of everything (and) I don't have a problem doing things like this, but I'm not into that. If I could just sign (the contract) and just come in here and start working, I'd be fine with that. As a player, I know we have to connect with the fans and the media, so this is no problem. But at the same time, I can go without it.
Scoop: I said your decision to come here happened by watching the Bucks in the playoffs and saying to yourself: "They are one player away, and that player is me."
Monroe: I feel like that. I'm not saying that I'm the savior or anything, but I saw them, and obviously they had a good thing going and then you have to remember they were in the playoffs without Jabari (Parker), which is a big factor. So you get him back, and I knew I could come here and help. I would never say that I'm that one guy, but I get what you are saying, so yes, I saw them and thought I could fit in here and give them what they need to help them keep moving in the right direction.
Scoop: So, no regrets on leaving Detroit?
Monroe: None. None whatsoever, and it's funny because from now on, from this day forward, anytime a free agent makes a decision everyone is going to ask him that because of what just happened with DeAndre (Jordan). But at the end of the day, it's his choice. Obviously if he was able to do it within the rules.
Scoop: Teams throw things on the table and tell you things that have you saying, "Man, this sounds good!" It's all part of the sell. It's how they reel you in. Now you just went through it and I'm not sure if the Bucks pitched you like that, but rarely do you as an athlete go through that and then get a chance for the team that you are currently with come back at you and show you how much they really need and want you. That just doesn't happen. Just as a human being, you have to pull back and think.
"I saw them and thought I could fit in here and give them what they need to help them keep moving in the right direction." Greg Monroe
Monroe: To me -- well, obviously to many people (DeAndre's) decision (to return to the Clippers) -- is a big thing. It's different; it's rare, but I think you have to give some credit to the people on the Clippers for being consistent, for taking their time and showing him that they feel they have something special and they they feel that they have a brotherhood and that he's a part of it and they want to keep that going. I mean, for them to get on a plane, a veteran, a championship vet like Paul Pierce to get on a plane in LA and fly to Houston to get a player says a lot! And I'm pretty sure ...That's the one thing that I think people kind of underestimate in this league, is how much influence players have on each other.
Scoop: So true.
Monroe: So when you see a guy, a first ballot Hall of Famer, and he gets on a plane and comes to your house to try to convince you to stay on your team? The changing of the mind was a big thing, but to me it's not that big of a surprise. You build a bond with people like that, when people do things like that. When the players say they want you, I think it means more than the organization saying they do.
Scoop: Here's the crazy question then: If Detroit had done that with you ...?
Monroe: I can't lie, it probably would have made me think, maybe affected my decision a bit. I mean, I was there for five years, my whole NBA career to this point. I knew the people in the organization, I loved my teammates, so I mean, I can't lie. I'm not saying if that had happened, I would have changed my mind, but I know that would have affected me, and I probably would have had to ponder a little bit more.
Scoop: And what if Paul Pierce had gone to the Pistons and then flown to see you ...
Monroe: See, that's what I'm saying! You know, I have to tip my hat to him. He put his pride to the side and we all know how Paul is. So for him to get actively involved in the recruiting process ...
Scoop: For a team that he hasn't even played for or signed his own contract with yet!
Monroe: Exactly. And that probably has a lot to do with the respect he has for Doc [Coach Rivers] and the respect they have for one another, but I still feel that people truly underestimate the influence we [players] have on one another.
Scoop: They say every player's NBA career can be broken down in chapters. If that's true, what chapter is this for you?
Monroe: Chapter Two. If you want to get technical, it could be a lot more, but I'll just say Chapter Two. It's a new beginning, a new start, a new organization.
Scoop: Here's something deep I just found out -- the Bucks did not have any nationally televised games last season.
Monroe: Really? Not on ESPN or TNT? Wow. ...
Let's start winning then. You've got to earn your respect here. You have to earn everything in this league. I know those guys are hungry, I know they want to build on what they had last year. And like I said during the (news) conference, "If they're hungry, I'm starving." They've been somewhere that I've never been before. You know, I've come in here to work. And if we start winning, all of that stuff will come, and I think that's what we are focused on as an organization.
Scoop: Do you feel any pressure -- without it even happening to you yet -- on being the leader of this team?
Monroe: Obviously, when you look at this teamed you see the age. It's funny me coming in at 25, and 11 of the players are younger than me. [Laughs] It's just weird, but I don't have a problem with that. I feel like I lead by example. I know I'm going to come in here everyday and put in the work. I know these guys do, you can tell by the way they play and how they've grown as a team that they put in the work too.
Scoop: It's "man time" basically.
Monroe: Definitely. So if you don't know what you have to do on a daily basis in this league, then you're either not in it or you won't be in it very long. And I think these guys here understand that.