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Penney For His Thoughts

Nov. 5, 2003

It has all happened so fast for Burger King Tall Black Kirk Penney, the second Kiwi to play in the NBA.

One moment, he is virtually packing his bags for Europe ... the next, he's having lunch with fellow Kiwi Sean Marks and Aussie Shane Heal in San Antonio, reflecting on a totally unexpected debut for the Miami Heat and preparing for a showdown with the reigning champions.

Life is weird in the NBA. Penney tried to explain recent events to the NZ media ...

Q: Several teams appeared to think you were up to the mark in the NBA ... were you that surprised to get this contract?

Penney: It definitely was a surprise. You just don't know where or when it's going to happen, but you soon learn to deal with the highs and lows and keep an even keel throughout. Anything could happen. Miami called up, and said I was flying out and would probably be playing against Dallas right off the bat. It's a funny business, this is pretty special ... it's great to be here. Miami are a good team.


Q: Is this a short term contract?

Penney: You know, I can't really answer that right now. It depends how I play and some other factors come into it. We'll just have to see.


Q: Was your debut all you expected? How did you feel afterwards?

Penney: It was great to get out there and to make the first shot was special. I had no experience in Miami's system and didn't know what we were running, so a lot of my shots were rushed. Now I just need some practice time to learn the system.


Q: You're played in the pre-season and summer league. How different was this occasion ... the real thing?

Penney: I'll probably know a bit more after tonight when we play the defending champions, San Antonio. With Dallas, they don't play a lot of defence ... they really run the ball, so you're going to get open looks. It was nothing too eye-opening, it was what I expected.


Q: Were you aware that Miami were looking at you in the pre-season and had even thought about drafting you?

Penney: I knew they were. I had a good summer league against them and they wanted to bring me into veterans camp, but at that stage, I had committed to Minnesota. But it has all worked out and I am very fortunate to be here.


Q: Any chance of Sean playing against you tonight?

Penney: I just had lunch with him and we were both hoping to play. The Spurs can't activite him until 5pm. With Tim Duncan out, he's just playing by ear.


Q: How good is it to have a friendly ear like Sean's to bounce stuff off at this time?

Penney: I just had lunch with him, Shane Heal and [Spurs centre] Rasho Nesterovic. We were just bouncing stories from the Aussie series and I was asking Sean about the Miami set-up ...


Q: What sort of feedback did you get from the Miami coaching staff after your first game?

Penney: I think they understand the situation I'm in. I was just happy to get some time ... pretty surprised, actually. It was fan, but it's a difficult situation to walk into. They understand there will be some growing pains, but tomorrow we've got a day off and we can get some practice time. That's what I need now.


Q: How have you adjusted to the bigger three-point shot?

Penney: I'm getting really comfortable with it. In Minnesota, I got to spend a lot of time in practice working on it. That's my calling card, so it's important I become consistent with it.


Q: What exactly is your role on the team?

Penney: Roles are changing every day. For me right now, I'm kind of glad to walk into this situation, having had experience with Minnesota and got a feel for the NBA. Coming here has helped my mindset.


Q: Will you play tonight?

Penney: Well, I'll be on the bench, but the rest is up to the coach. I don't know if I'll play tonight, it's hard to tell whether they'll base it my performance last night, on my reputation, on how I look in the shootaround ... I haven't practiced once with this team, so they're still determining where I stand.


Q: So practice is very important to your future with the Heat?

Penney: That's when you go up against the guys you are competing against for court time ... Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler, whoever.

I just think Miami is a wonderful situation right now for various reasons. The organisation is run very crisply and Pat Reilly has just done a great job. We're struggling right now, but it's a young team. There are only three guys over 25 here. Most of the team are young, but we're all the same age. We're all growing and learning together how to play in this league.