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Christian Eyenga cherishes practicing with Metta World Peace

May 10, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Andrew Bynum, right, and Christian Eyenga laugh from the Lakers bench during a 104-100 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Andrew Bynum, right, and Christian Eyenga laugh from the Lakers bench during… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Below is a Q&A with Lakers forward Christian Eyenga, acquired from Cleveland along with Ramon Sessions before the March 15 trading deadline. After Metta World Peace drew a seven-game suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City guard James Harden, the Lakers recalled the 22-year-old Eyenga from theD-Fenders. While there he averaged 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 blocks in 33 minutes through six games.

On practicing with World Peace during his suspension: "He taught me a lot about defense. I'm so athletic, so he was teaching me how to get up on somebody and use my length. Offensively, he tells me to attack every time. [Against Sacramento in the season-finale], I was given space every time [but] I would stop if somebody cut me off. But he's told me to keep going.

Who else are you working with? I'm usually just with Ron all the time. He's out so I'm free to play him one on-one, full court, just me and him. I'm trying to get him in shape too.

How he likes being with the Lakers. Everything's been good. I'm just trying to fit in with the team. I know it's hard right now. I came from Cleveland and the D-Leagues. So it's been a process.

On showing some hops in season finale vs. Sacramento. It was just one of those things where I wanted to take advantage of my opportunity. I was showing them what I could do. I wasn't trying to impress anybody, though. I was just trying to play basketball.

On the challenge in not trying to use that game as an audition. This league is too competitive. Everybody wants to show what he can do. Teams always decide whether they keep a player or not by seeing what they can do. But to me, I wasn't trying to give an impression. It was only one game. So I just went there, played five-on-five and just wanted to show coach what I can do. I wanted to show I can play defense and I'm not going to try to do too much on offense.

On participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders event in 2006 with Lakers Coach Mike Brown: When I was in Africa, I went to South Africa and he coached me over there. Then he drafted me when I was in Cleveland and now it's a coincidence that we're together again. Every time I go somewhere, I wind up with him. When I got here, he told me that I follow him everywhere.

It was just a camp. I was like 15 or 16. I would go there and try to learn the sport as much as I can. It was a clinic and there were a lot of teams. He coached my team. In the morning, we would do drills and then play five-on-five. He taught me a lot and tried to help me and pushed me. He definitely got my game better.

On the feedback D-Fenders Coach Eric Musselman and the Lakers have given him. Musselman just told me to play with confidence. They want me to focus on defense. They told me I can be a really good on defense.  On offense, they told me to work on my jump shot. I've played at two-guard so I have to shoot the ball. They said my mechanics are good but just to keep practicing.

On playing for former Laker and Cavaliers Coach Byron Scott: I loved it. Everybody else was young and we would get the ball and start running. That's how I learned the game.

On his future: Mike just told me to be ready and he told me this summer will be good for me [in Summer League], so I need to work hard so I can show everybody what I can do next year. I will get [my shot] one day. I don't know when that day will come. But I just want to be ready. I'm young and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. Hopefully my chance will come. But for now, I'll just be ready.

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