Q&A With Leon Powe: On LeBron, Cal and Eating At Gypsy's

Photo: Leon Powe talks while icing his knee after a workout session in Haas Pavilion. The Cleveland Cavalier forward missed all but 20 games last season after tearing his ACL.
Tim Maloney/Staff
Leon Powe talks while icing his knee after a workout session in Haas Pavilion. The Cleveland Cavalier forward missed all but 20 games last season after tearing his ACL.

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Q&A with Leon Powe

Cavs forward and former Cal star Leon Powe talks about LeBron, championship rings and more.

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In two seasons at Cal - he left for the NBA after his third year, but was injured for what would've been his second - forward Leon Powe averaging 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

The former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year was also the sixth player to lead the conference in both categories, tallying up 20.5 and 10.1 averages on the way to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2006.

Drafted in the second round by the Denver Nuggets, he was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics, with whom he won an NBA title. He is now entering his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Daily Californian caught up with the Oakland native after a workout session at Cal last week.

Jack Wang: You've had a lot of problems with injuries throughout your career, including multiple surgeries to your ACL. How is your knee doing now?

Leon Powe: It's coming along good. Last year was a rough year for me. So far it's been coming along good. Working out ... being here (in Berkeley) every day and just trying to get all my strength back.

JW: What was the feeling around the team when LeBron James left?

LP: It was kind of mixed emotions. I know, from my standpoint, we all got a job to do. We're all pros. And for me, just gotta come in there and play my game, play team basketball. If we do that, we have a chance to win.

JW: Did you watch his "Decision" ?

LP: Yeah, I watched it. I watched it. I tuned in. I wasn't thinking Miami. He surprised me. I was thinking maybe even Cleveland or New York. Somewhere else other than Miami with D-Wade.

But, you know, he made that decision, which is a good move because he'll be paired with two other All-Stars. I think that's what he wanted. He just made a business decision and a decision that was best for his family.

JW: You grew up with a lot of siblings that ended up in foster homes. How are they all doing now?

LP: They're all right. They're with the family. Some of them live in the house together, some of them live in the other family house. They all see each other. Everybody's doing great.

Anytime I can, I drop by the house. I go up there, try and just put some stuff together, something fun for the kids. I'm a little bit older than them so they don't wanna do grown-folk things. Gotta find some kid stuff to do.

JW: You mentioned that you still follow Cal basketball. Did you get to watch the game against Arizona State where they clinched the Pac-10 championship?

LP: I've seen the confetti and stuff after. I forgot where I was; I was playing a game somewhere, but I caught the end of it. It was a big moment for Cal and a big moment for that team. Everybody was going crazy. Everybody was jumping up and down, having fun, and that's the way it's supposed to be.

JW: Do you ever think about what it would've been like to play under Mike Montgomery instead of Ben Braun?

LP: Well, I never thought Mike Montgomery would end up at Cal. He's a Stanford guy and you know how I feel about Stanford people and how Cal nation feels about Stanford people. But I gave him a pass, talked to him when he first got here and he seems like a pretty good guy.

JW: Any advice for Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle on making it to the NBA?

LP: My advice would be just stick with it. No matter what happens, no matter what you go through, just stick with it. Keep believing in your dream, keep working hard, and eventually success will come to you.

JW: What's your best memory from playing at Cal?

LP: I'd say probably the Pac-10 playoffs, when I scored a lot of points (a career-high 41 against Oregon in 2006 semifinals). It was just so fun. Neither team would give up. My teammates wouldn't give up when it looked like we were down and out against Oregon. They weren't going to give up either. Kept fighting, kept fighting, I think we went to double overtime.

JW: Where do you always come back to in Berkeley or Oakland?

LP: Always go to Gypsy's in Berkeley. Always go to Gypsy's. In Oakland, I'll go out, hang around some of my friends' houses, stuff like that. Always go to work out down there too. Hold some camps sometimes for the little kids sometimes and that's what's fun for me, just going out there and giving back to that community.

JW: What do you order at Gypsy's?

LP: They know down there. Crazy chicken alfredo. No sausage. No peppers. All noodles, sauce and chicken. Sometimes I get double portions, sometimes I don't. Most of the time I get double portions.

JW: How did it feel for you to have that breakout performance as a Boston Celtic in Game 2 of the 2008 NBA Finals?

LP: It was just an all-around fun year for me. Winning the championship at the end was just amazing to me. Plus I had my son and all that. Everything came together that year.

JW: Where do you keep your championship ring?

LP: I can't tell you that. If I tell you, I can't let you leave here, so I ain't gonna tell you. But it's in a safe place.


Contact Jack Wang at [email protected]

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