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'The fire has been burning for a while now': Dwight Powell on getting Canada to the Olympics

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Dwight Powell discusses why getting Canada to the Olympics in Men's Basketball is important to him and how Dirk Nowitzki helped him understand the significance of representing your country.

Video Transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] that have as much going on as you guys do, was it a difficult decision to make, for you?

DWIGHT POWELL: I mean, for me, personally, not too difficult. I mean, whether it was three one-year commitments, or one at a time, whatever it was, any chance I can put this jersey on, it means a lot to me. So to be able to have a chance to compete at the very highest level, something that I haven't personally done yet, and it's a dream of mine. Definitely something I want to be a part of.

- What has playing in the summers meant to you in terms of professional development outside of the NBA? Like, how has it contributed to-- have you been able to take things from these experiences and back into the NBA, or has it just always been totally different?

DWIGHT POWELL: I mean, it's obviously different. There's some minor differences in the rules, I guess, and the style of play is slightly different. But for me, it's huge, because it gives you a chance to hone in on something that's one of the biggest things that you can do, in terms of sport, to play for your country. So in terms of development-wise, you enter the offseason with a different mentality for me, personally. So as soon as our season ends, take a couple of days to digest and figure out the things you want to do for your pro team to improve, and you have those conversations.

But once you get back here, it's-- you're locked into a whole other season, so you have a different mindset, and you're able to work on your skills with a competition in mind, and a meaningful competition in mind. So it's definitely been key for me, in terms of keeping my foot on the gas development-wise, and to continue to work on my body and remain in shape. And so it prepares you in maybe a slightly different way, but it's definitely important.

- How much did Victoria sort of fuel the fire, do you think, for this group, collective-- all the young guys who are not committed, coming out of that, having that experience, but coming up short?

DWIGHT POWELL: Yeah. For sure, but the fire has been burning for a while now. So I think we got a lot of guys who've been around that really want to get to that big stage, and that was definitely a painful situation, and definitely fueled us, but I think we've been fueled for some time, so now the pieces are coming together. It's exciting.

- There are some guys who don't realize what big a stage that is. Like why do you think your era does? Other guys before you didn't really think the Olympics or the World Championships were that big a deal.

DWIGHT POWELL: I don't know.

- Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]

DWIGHT POWELL: Yeah, I mean, I was fortunate enough, especially my pro career, to be around a lot of very good, great international players that have played at the highest level, and have done amazing things for the International game. So even specifically just talking to Dirk about it, he talks about the opening ceremonies, the Olympics, and not really being able to compare that to almost anything else in his life. So that stuck with me my rookie year, talking to him about it, and through the years, I've had tons of great international players that-- the conversations toward the end of the year, obviously, there's focus on playoffs, there's focus on our own season.

But as you kind of start to get schedules dropped and groups announced and things of that nature, those conversations were in my locker room from day one, so it's been a dream of mine from the beginning, before I even started really playing competitively, but that was kind of taught to me, how big of a-- really how big of a deal it is. So it's definitely-- the fire's definitely been burning for a while.

- I guess with Dirk and Luka, and I guess [INAUDIBLE] even at the start.

DWIGHT POWELL: Yeah, JJ--

- Guys like that, yeah.

DWIGHT POWELL: Zaza Pachulia, we've had of ton of international guys over the years that have played at all different levels. So I've been very fortunate.

- Like you've done the [INAUDIBLE] You'd like to get out there and get--

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

DWIGHT POWELL: Yeah, those are the highest matchups that I've had so far, is when you're going to run against a guy that you played with on the international stage. So that's-- it's always fun.

- Yeah, how cool is it to have the opportunity to play here in Hamilton. It's not quite your hometown, but close enough.

DWIGHT POWELL: No, definitely close enough.

- Kind of a rare experience.

DWIGHT POWELL: No, it's amazing. Any time we get a chance to play here in Canada, it's a little bit more, it's a lot more special. It's-- the preparation's a little-- you feel it. There's definitely a difference. So to be able to play in front of-- an even more of a home crowd, being just down the street from where I grew up, it's huge, and it's a blessing. It's an amazing opportunity, and definitely look forward to it.

- Have you gotten a sense of what it means to the Hamilton guys, [INAUDIBLE]

DWIGHT POWELL: Oh, it's huge for them for sure. I know for a fact that they're juiced up, and it's rare you get to play at home at home, where you're with a bunch of people that are also at home. The pros, those guys from different cities, and we play the Raptors and all that, but your team is from all over, so it's a different energy for us to be able to play at home for real. So I know those guys feel for sure.

- What's the dynamic between Shay and [INAUDIBLE] as cousins. Are they going against each other in practice, or they're playing with each other?

DWIGHT POWELL: Haven't gone against each other just yet. We haven't gone live yet today, but they're competitors. So I don't think they remember the last names once it gets tipped up.

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