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Marcin Gortat says lack of character in younger players a big problem for the Suns

Apr 18, 2013, 6:12 PM EDT

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PHOENIX — Marcin Gortat was among the veteran Suns players who weren’t at all happy with the way this season went in Phoenix. Along with Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley, Gortat is a holdover from better times the team experienced while playing with the likes of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, two of the game’s ultimate professionals.

As things have changed and with the Suns now in a full-fledged rebuilding situation, there was a need to integrate younger players into the fold, and the pain of this process was evident as Gortat spoke with reporters on the event level of the US Airways Center on Thursday morning.

Gortat was brutally honest in his assessment of the team’s issues, and ripped the lack of character displayed by the team’s younger players.

“I think we need some changes,” he said. “We need some serious conversations. We need to look in the mirror and each one of us has got to ask if we did everything that was necessary to win, or if we did everything that was necessary to perform at 100 percent. But first of all I’m going to look at myself. I’m going to try to correct myself and hopefully the management and the front office people will do the right thing.”

When asked what skill set needed to be improved on the roster, Gortat pointed to issues more mental than physical.

“Well, I would say we are missing character,” he said. “We are missing just strong minds on the team. We are just weak, mentally weak, basically. I would say that we just need more talent. We need more talent, we need more athletic, energetic guys, and people that want to compete and fight. That’s it.

“But like I said, that’s a decision to make by the people in the front office. I’m just going to look at myself and try to correct my mistakes and try to be better next year.”

Gortat was pressed on the character issue, and essentially said that there was a segment of the team that didn’t seem to care whether they won or lost.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the player,” he said. “If you don’t feel that you’ve got to work, if you feel comfortable that somebody’s coming into your house and punking your ass by 30 points every night, it’s not right. It’s just not right. I’ve been in the league six years now and I’ve never been in a situation like that.”

Gortat said that he tried a few times to provide some leadership, but that ultimately he didn’t feel like he had the cache to get the attention of his teammates.

“I tried at least to approach a few younger players during the season,” he said. “I don’t think I had the impact. I don’t think as a player, a six-year veteran, I have that impact yet. Definitely Jermaine O’Neal was the guy that was trying to convince a lot of the young guys to perform better.

“But I’ve got to tell you, when I was making it in the league, I was listening. I was listening and I had a lot of great veterans, I had a lot of great strong-minded people on the team. If I had tried to act like a smart-ass, or I tried to pretend like I know everything or understand everything, I’d get slapped in the head automatically, and [Stan Van Gundy in Orlando] would bring me back to earth. Like I said, I grew up in a great system. These young guys, there’s a lot of young guys who just think they’re better than they really are.”

Gortat didn’t name names, of course, but he didn’t have to. A cursory glance at the Suns roster will tell you that any issues that may have stemmed from “young players” would likely have to involve Michael Beasley, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, or Wesley Johnson. But to be fair, everyone on the roster except for O’Neal and Luis Scola is younger than Gortat.

It will be an interesting offseason for the Suns, and Gortat will undoubtedly see plenty of the change he called for a day after the team’s 25-57 season came to its merciful conclusion. In addition to personnel changes, whether through the draft or free agency, the team needs to address head coach Lindsey Hunter’s interim situation, as well as the future of GM Lance Blanks, who has just one year left on his contract.

Gortat didn’t exclude himself from the criticism, but made it clear that he was among those on the team who want nothing to do with another year like this.

“We’ve got to be tougher with everything we do, including me,” he said. “Starting with me. Just because I’m talking about our whole team doesn’t mean I’m doing a great job. I’ve got to be tougher, do everything 100 percent better, and like I said, I never want to be in a situation like that for the rest of my life.

“It was so uncomfortable,” he said. “It was a crazy season and no one wants to have a season like that again.”

  1. rodge1 - Apr 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    Any player that brags about ‘not listening to coaches anymore’ is probably one of these non-character players… So glad Miami traded him away

  2. earpaniac - Apr 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Remember when it was a logical question to who the Bulls should draft? Rose or Beasley?

  3. minnesotablizzard - Apr 18, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    So basically you just have to repackage t-wolves players and personnel quotes from the last season Wes Johnson and Beasley played here. Lets be honest, the quotes are about those two. Beasley desperately needs a high dose mushroom trip to dissolve his ego and change him as a person. I think that’s honestly his best bet at this point; nothing else has worked.

  4. bux1022 - Apr 18, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    I’m glad Gortat pointed at himself as well. Because he had a terrible season. Nash makes everyone better. Only a couple players have been able to have success without Nash. Not to see at his age and his bum back he could have even helped. But that’s the problem!! No nashty!

  5. 00maltliquor - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    He may just be speaking about just SuperCoolBeas. The Morris’ and Wes hardly even played, if at all. I would hate for him to name name because that’s a punk move, but I’m very curious as to who he is speaking of (other then pressumably Beasley).

    • louhudson23 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:07 AM

      Why is it a punk move? Clearly,no one has truly called these players on their delusional attitude,so why not make them claim it publicly? He said he attempted to talk to them and they blew him off,so he owes them nothing…..

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:32 AM

        It would be a punk move because they should keep it in house. People like you and me shouldn’t have to hear about it through the grapevine. Deal with the problems man to man, face to face, and not through the media. No?

      • deeballer - Apr 19, 2013 at 8:37 AM

        How do you talk to a man when he’s still but a child? BEasy obviously has huge issues outside of basketball and it isn’t getting any better.

  6. mazblast - Apr 20, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Gortat probably won’t have to worry about it. When push comes to shove, the front office will side with the “great talent” over the veteran role player almost every time. He’ll be gone and will be happy with a better team, one that will be happy to have him.

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