Most of our shoot around practice this morning covered how we were going to contain Shaq, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire. The early part of this season was frustrating to say the least because we were ahead in many of our games going into the 4th quarter and then it seemed like somehow we disintegrated in the final minutes of the game. But finally a few days we had a breakout game in Detroit where our defense and our offense came together and we had a nice win.
People ask me about Shaq all the time and I just tell them that off the court, he’s one of the most community oriented and genuine people but on the court he has a “mean streak” (in the positive sense of the word) as some basketball executive types like to say, meaning that he takes the game very seriously and he’s going to do everything within the rules to dominate a game.
Of all the players in the NBA Shaq has a way of really being honest with reporters and connecting with the fans in a way that is rarely seen in any sport. Right now, Shaq’s coach, Terry Porter is limiting Shaq’s minutes right now to ease Shaq into their new offensive system. Here is Shaq’s quote:
“They (Suns athletic trainers) do a good job of massaging me and getting me ready,” O’Neal said recently. “Just the agility, the bones, the muscle. Terry does a good job of managing my minutes and how I practice and all that. But I’m ready to go. I just want people to know that and understand that.”
Tonight we have our chance to try to put a dent in the Suns record.
This is why I love basketball. This YouTube video about Chris Paul and his grandfather is one of the best features I have ever seen in my life. I watched this on ESPN a few months ago when Chris Paul’s team was in the NBA playoffs. This story transcends the game of basketball.
Chris Paul is someone who has totally changed the face and the style of the NBA game. It is amazing the way that a player who is about 6 feet tall can totally dominate the NBA game the way he does. In fact, Chris Paul has a dribble move that no one in the NBA was doing as recently as four years ago where he puts a reverse spin on the ball moving from right to left. Off the court, CP3 (his nickname) is a complete gentleman and a total class act. On the court he is one of the most fierce competitors in the NBA. He’s not afraid to throw elbows at 7-footers and he has an ongoing dialogue with the referees the entire game……he just talks to the refs every possession trying to win them over to his point of view. That’s what a great point guard does, even if you think he’s working the refs too much!
This past monday we had a bunch of the Timberwolves players in town all together to finally play some pickup ball together with a lot of the new guys. Yes, this was the first time that I got to meet Kevin Love. The man who used to terrorize my Stanford Cardinal basketball team in his one year at UCLA. Well, on the last play of the day, Kevin Love went up for a dunk. I tried to block it and the next thing I knew I was making two unexpected trips after practice.
1) To team physician Sheldon Burns (he is also the USA Basketball head physician) to get 12 stitches in my chin,
2) To visit Matthew Alm of Brookside Dental (Minneapolis), to get my front tooth popped back into place.
Thanks Kev. 🙂
I’ve played with two big men in my career whose passing skill is off the charts: Shaq, and Shaq. People don’t realize it, but Shaq has a lot of games where he gets five or six assists. And I personally used to watch Oliver Miller whip behind the back passes FROM THE POST to our shooter on the three point line. I predict Kevin Love to be in this group in terms of making other people around him better. Despite being very close to giving me a new gold tooth in my smile, I saw some impressive things from K. Love in just our first day. He shoots, he’s very athletic, and he rebounds….and he’s unselfish. That’s a very nice combo for a big man in today’s game. He’s going to make a serious run at rookie of the year in my opinion. Kevin also gets something that he didn’t get in college playing here in MN. He gets to play alongside a budding all star in Al Jefferson who along wth Tim Duncan and Shaq are probably the 3 best pure post players in the league.
Just over one week until training camp, and I’m excited. My stitches are almost out, my tooth is almost in place, and I’m ready to get some wins this year. Maybe I will see some of you guys out around Lake Calhoun or something.
The other day someone said to me, “Who do you want to win the championship…the lakers or the celtics?” That’s one of the hardest questions I could answer, but the truth is that I want the Lakers to win. I am a Timberwolf first and foremost, but I gave three years of blood sweat and tears to Phil Jackson and the Lakers. I have to pull for my old team even though I do want Kevin Garnett to get a ring.
I cannot believe that Flip Saunders was fired. I cannot believe it. This man can flat out coach and while I hope that the Pistons have success in the future, let’s not forget that Flips tenure as head coach of Detroit took the Pistons deep into the playoffs every year. Coaching is not an exact science and it’s not easy at the NBA level with mature and grown men all of whom have strong competitive natures. I wish Detroit well, but they lost a gem with Flip.
My summer is going well. I enjoyed watching Kobe tonight. It’s nice when you see someone care so much about what they do as Kobe cares about his profession. Phil Jackson used to put us in the video room and show us film. “Fellas…like it or not, what you see on the game film is what the fans see….this is your livelihood. It should be important to you.”
I just sent a congratulatory text message to Trent Johnson….. I heard from an ex-Stanford basketball player who told me the news: Trent Johnson now appears headed to LSU as their new coach! Not many coaches have done what Trent has done in a few short years. He’s secured multiple Sweet 16 performaces, a huge recruiting pipeline into Los Angeles, Oakland and throughout the East Coast, as well as one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the nation. Coaches like Trent Johnson do not come around very often and if LSU really did sign him, then the whole state down there should be cheering.
I can attest to the fact that all of us who played under Trent (when he was a Stanford Assistant Coach) are mourning if he’s really gone, but at the same time we are happy for him. I am happy for Trent and his family. This man deserves the very best because he is a first class individual and one of the best basketball minds in the business. In the same way that there is a business side to the NBA, there is a business side to being a college coach. I wish somehow we could have kept Trent at Stanford, but it looks like he’s taken another great opportunity. I think what LSU fans and players can expect is a man who combines a disciplinarian approach with someone you can talk to as a mentor and role model figure. Another few words come to mind about Trent: work ethic, intensity and fire.
The new wave of the basketball world will embrace coaches who can communicate with today’s athletes. Trent Johnson is one of the best communicators in the basketball world. When he was an assistant coach at Stanford, he ALWAYS stayed after practice and played one-on-one with guys who weren’t getting the reps they wanted. He talked with them and built them up and made them ready for when the opportunity which one day would come. He put in the time and work that a lot of people never saw, but earned the undying respect from the players by doing the “little things” like this. But, his knowledge and feel for the game of basketball are what puts Trent into the category of “elite” when it comes to coaching.
I was surprised by the news of Trent Johnson’s departure and wish he was still at my alma mater of Stanford. But, at the same time I’m incredibly happy for him. Today is now a day of reflection for me with regards to Trent and the good times we had together on “The Farm.”
I can tell you for a fact I know someone who has a big smile on his face right now and he’s one of the most illustrious graduates of LSU: The Big Aristotle–Shaquille O’Neal!
Sometimes even the unthinkable can happen. When I arrived at our NBA shoot-around today I learned that Mike Montgomery was going to be name head mens basketball coach at Stanford archrival: UC Berkeley. Of course I called him to congratulate him but it went to voicemail right away so I left him a message–I left that message grudgingly.
All I can remember about UC Berkeley is hostility. One time one of our walk on players from the East Bay almost got into an altercation with a UC Berkeley fan even before the game started! I think the fan threatened a lawsuit or someting. Then last year someone actually hijacked my Gmail email account! The sad thing was that I could see when he was online through the “Chat” functionality from another one of my gmail accounts. I “chatted” with him online to my “old” account and threatened to get the FBI, CIA and every law enforcement agency possible on his tail unless he gave me back my account. Finally he releneted and sent me a message: “You can have your email account back, the new password is “UCBerkeley.”
So maybe you can see why I’m confused about Mike going over there. It’s just a bunch of low lifes over there at Cal.
Of course I’m kidding. While I’m serious about the email hijacking, Cal is an awesome place and a world class institution. I was excited about maybe going there myself, but then they kind of stopped recruiting me. One of my best high school teammates went there an loved it. Actually one of my first text messages was to my brother in law who is doing a UC Berkely PHD. I told him I was mad that his school was stealing our old coach!
In fairness I think it’s great for everyone, and I think that the San Francisco Bay Area is going to have some great basketball in the coming years. Trent Johnson is one of the real rising stars in the college game and one of the best minds I’ve ever had the privilege of playing for (he was assistant coach at Stanford while I played there.). Now you’ve got Trent at Stanford, Mike over at Cal and a lot of great recruits comign out of Northern California. UC Berkeley just took a major step in the right direction in getting back to the levels of Pete Newell and Jason Kidd.
Tonight we play against the Miami Heat once again here at home. They key to beating Miami is trying to find a way to slow down Shaq. I use the term “slow down” because there’s no way to stop Shaq from having an impact on the game. He is too talented of a player. Tonight you can expect us to double Shaq a lot with our smaller guards to make him throw it out and put someone else in a Miami uniform in a position to try to beat us.
Our last two games have left us with a bitter taste in our mouth. From blowing a huge lead against Seattle to losing in Utah, we really felt like we were in both of those games. We should have won against Seattle, and we had a real shot at spoiling Jerry Sloan’s 65th birthday when we played Utah a few nights ago.
If the MVP ballotiing were today and if I had a vote, I would have to go with Dirk Nowitzki. He’s just done so much this season and the Dallas Mavericks are the best team in the NBA. Although you have to give Kobe and Steve a look too. To me, no one else in the league has been as outstanding as those two. If you had to look at an impact player though, Chris Webber has been maybe the biggest difference maker in the league when he signed with the Pistons a few months ago. Chris Webber is one of the most skilled passers to ever put on a uniform in this league. When you play against him, he’s like Garnett. He boxes you out with his hands. Both those guys have the strength to hold people off with one hand and then be there for the rebounds.
If there is a coach out there who would be an excellent candidate for the Indiana basketball job, it would be Mike Montgomery. Having played for “Monty” as everyone calls him, I can tell you that his knowledge of the game is vast and he knows how to run a team. When I was at Stanford, he kind of just put everyone in a position where they were going to be able to be as successful as possible. I haven’t talked to him yet about this vacancy and maybe he’ll get mad at me for putting his name out there like this, but even Dick Vitale was talking about it tonight on TV too. Monty’s wife actually has family ties in the Midwest (Minnesota) and with both of his kids grown and out of college, it might be a good fit for everyone.
That is the big question that all of the fans and media are asking me constantly. Today a trusted media member told me that KG had been planning on coming, but that now it was “a decision that would be made by the Celtics Organization” and not by Kevin Garnett. I wouldn’t even waste Kevin’s time by calling him to find out if he’s coming or not. Kev loves Minnesota. If he can be here, he probably will, if he can’t make it due to his team telling him to stay home and rehab he won’t make it. That’s just the way it goes for NBA players as ulitmately it’s Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge’s decision.
But regardless we are read for this game. We felt we played great in Boston earlier in the season and gave ourselves a chance to win on the road. Our practice today was high energy and intense. Theo Ratliff got some live repetitions today in practice too, so that was great news.
I knew the Boston Celtics were going to be good this season, but we haven’t seen an NBA team go 20-2 for a very long time. Tonight Kevin Garnett and Paul P. and the rest of the Celtics play against another great team in the Detroit Pistons. If I didn’t have a game of my own tonight, I would be watching the Detroit vs. Boston game. Flip Saunders knows Kevin as well as anyone in the league and Kevin Garnett may know most of Detroit’s offense like the back of his hand. Needless to say, it’s going to be a great matchup.
I guess they are putting microphones on NBA coaches for nationally televised games. That is the buzz I’ve been hearing around the league. I am really surprised the networks and the coaches decided to do this. I just want to know who at the TV network has the job of listening in to the coach the whole game and trying to figure out what they can put on the air and what they can’t play. In addition, most coaches have their right hand man that they talk to privately back and forth during the game. To draw some sort of parallel, think about someone having your family miked up for a week. To me it’s tough to imagine that. In fairness, the leauge does promise that it won’t use material that is too over the top, but that means the only thing they’ll be able to play on TV is the real generic stuff which isn’t too interesting anyway.