MarquetteHoops.com: How does it feel to be headed to a new team with a new deal?
Travis Diener: I couldn't be happier. They have a great organization with very talented and successful people. Playing for Larry Bird will be an honor. I am really looking forward to the opportunity to play for them. It also gives me the opportunity to play in the Midwest, closer to my family and closer to home.
MarquetteHoops.com: Back on your draft day, Larry Bird called Tom Crean and said he would take you with their next pick, but you didn't last that long. Three years later he finally gets his man.
Travis Diener: Yeah, that's pretty amazing. He called me the other day, and I will fly down on Sunday and meet with all of them and have dinner with Larry Bird. I'm excited. Orlando was great, but this is just an incredible opportunity.
MarquetteHoops.com: How many teams were you considering?
Travis Diener: There were really five or six teams involved, some of them needed to wait for this to happen or that to happen, but Indiana was clear that they wanted me from day one. They let me know right from the start that I was their priority, so it helped make my decision that much easier.
MarquetteHoops.com: It is a three year deal, right?
Travis Diener: Yes, it is a two year deal with a player option for the third year. The terms haven't been released yet, so I can't get into that part of it yet.
MarquetteHoops.com: This deal will guarantee your career in the NBA at a minimum of five years. There were always people saying that you weren't good enough to play in the Big Ten, you weren't good enough to play in the NBA and now you are a lock through five years. How does that feel?
Travis Diener: It feels good, but I know it really makes all of the people that have always supported me and stood by me feel really proud, so I'm really happy for them. I always used to use it as motivation, but those negative people will always find something. Honestly, it really doesn't bother me any more.
Back when I was growing up I never would have thought 5 years in the NBA would be possible.
MarquetteHoops.com: You are headed to Indiana. Everyone knows about the tradition of Indiana High School Basketball, and basketball in general throughout the state. With you being a tough as nails player from a smaller town in the Midwest, do you think there will be a special connection?
Travis Diener: I hope so. Indiana High School Basketball is something special, but it carries through on all levels. Indiana is a hotbed for basketball and the people are passionate about their basketball. As long as I keep working hard and doing my job, I think they will respect my game and respect the way I play. I just need to go out there and get it done. I just need to play hard, win games and go from there. As long as I help them win games, I will win the fans too – it goes hand in hand. I am just excited about the opportunity.
MarquetteHoops.com: How do you think you will fit in with the team?
Travis Diener: I really like our team – we have a young team, a lot of young guys. We have Jermaine O'Neal who is a big that can really score in the post. To be successful in the NBA you have to have a big that can score, especially because that opens it up for the shooters. They also picked up Kareem Rush who is an incredible shooter, so we really have some great players. We just have to work hard, take it day by day and stay focused.
MarquetteHoops.com: In a way, you were a man without a team this summer, what did you do?
Travis Diener: Well, I spent most of the summer in Fond du Lac. I would go down to Milwaukee and work out with the players or the coaches pretty often. When I stayed home I would work out on my own with my uncle, but I also spent some time down in St. Louis with my sisters, and when I was there I worked out with the St. Louis U. coaches. It has been a good summer.
MarquetteHoops.com: You also spent some time dominating various Marquette charity golf tournaments as part of "Team Diener".
Travis Diener: Well, the name was Team Diener, and we did win a few, but this "Diener" didn't really have much to do with the wins, but I can't admit that.
MarquetteHoops.com: I suppose I don't even have to ask, but I assume Tom Crean worked with you this summer?
Travis Diener: He worked with me a lot. He did so much for me, coaching me, teaching me – talking to NBA coaches and GMs too, always checking their levels of interest, and also asking what they felt I needed to work on – I kept calling him my second agent. He would even dissect game films for me and break them down to help me improve and also to help me defend other players better and read their tendencies. It just goes to show you how committed he is to the Marquette program and their players. He goes so far above and beyond the call. I owe so much to him. I can't thank him enough. I know I have said it to you before, but if I played for any other school, or any other coach, I would not be where I am today. If it was not for coach Crean, I wouldn't be in the NBA, especially for the five years like we talked about.
MarquetteHoops.com: There is a national sports guy that was asked if there was anyone he would fight in the NBA and responded that he thought he could take you. What do you think of that?
Travis Diener He may have to go to St. Louis first, I think my sisters may want to get the first shot at him.
MarquetteHoops.com: With the big weekend approaching, did you have "The Talk" with Steve (Novak)? You know, to talk him out of it?
Travis Diener: (laughing) Well, I won't take that approach, he's too excited about the wedding. I hope he doesn't get cold feet or anything, but I don't think he will, he's too excited. I guess it's normal for any guy to get nervous in that situation...isn't it? I can't be there for the bachelor party because of my camp in Appleton, but I'll be there for the wedding. It is going to be great. I'm happy for Steve – he's such a great guy.
MarquetteHoops.com: That's all I got for you Trav – good luck in Indiana and congrats, you deserve it!
Travis Diener: Thanks, anytime. We'll see you - let me know if you need more.