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Quin Snyder’s Takeaways from Seattle Seahawks Camp

August 28, 2015
tags: ,

CMtWlaRXAAA1Je1via @seahawks

(as read out loud by David Locke)

** Emphasis on developing your players: How is that defined? Maximizing individual potential.

The process by which this occurs is best when it operates as a partnership. We as coaches need to listen, and to help our players improve. This is more than skill development, although that is an important piece.

Sometimes that may mean having a vision for a player that could exceed their own hopes and expectations, whereas [it] also leads to the affirmative that practice is everything.

Maximizing potential is impossible without a commitment to practice. That commitment is most impactful when it is accompanied with passion.

[I] feel encouraged that we are following a path that resonates to [me].

** A strong and deep-seated belief in what you want your team to project will allow you to sustain consistency as a coach and a leader through periods of extreme adversity.

Our process-oriented approach to our team’s development as well as that of our individual players [is] important for the way we want to play. Our system reflects what I value as a coach, as well as personally.

Unselfishness, competitiveness, perseverance. The alignment of professional and personal allows for consistency and confidence in the face of whatever the results reflect.

Bits from Randy Rigby Interview, 8/26

August 27, 2015
tags: ,

rigby 605

How was your fishing trip, Randy?
I have to tell you, I had a remarkable experience…We had five days of fishing [in Alaska], and let me just say that I’ve, with four of us, we brought home 350 pounds of silver salmon, pink salmon, and halibut, and had the time of our life.

One quick story, and I know we don’t want to stay on this, but we got out there halibut fishing, and my son-in-law all of a sudden said, “I’ve got a halibut on the line.”

And next thing y–we know, it star–his line starts running out there. And of course, you know, it’s not supposed to, for halibut, they don’t, the fish don’t run.

But next thing we see is a sea lion with the halibut in its mouth, up on the surface of the water looking at us. And he shakes the line, pops the line off, and within three bites, has that halibut down in his stomach.

And we start cussing the halibut, and then we start realizing, hey, that was pretty awesome to see that.


Spencer Checketts: Randy, would you say the sea lion did it just for the halibut?
Rigby: I like that joke. I like it.

Gordon Monson: Yeah, nice. Hey Randy, what did the fish say when he swam into a wall?
Rigby: (long pause) Wha–what?
Monson: Bam.
Rigby: Hahahaha.

Later…

Checketts: You know why fish don’t play basketball, don’t you, Randy?
Rigby: No, why?
Checketts: They’re afraid of the net.
Rigby: You guys are on a roll!

Later…

Monson: Randy, what did the fish say when he posted bail?
Rigby: You got me.
Monson: I’m off the hook.
Rigby: I’m off–hahaha.

Later (after Rigby hangs up)…

Monson: Which fish can perform operations?
Checketts: A sturgeon? Did you Google fish jokes?
Monson: I did.
Checketts: Yeah, so did I.

First (and likely last) ever #UDQM fishing story
We just, we were having so much fun, we didn’t want to get outta there. And I’ll tell you, a couple of times, we got into some salmon. We were landing some 31-inch salmon that weighed well over 20 pounds, and giving you one f–r–heck of a fight. And it was just, we had a lotta fun, as a group.

What can you tell us about Jeff Withey?
Well, I’ll tell you what, we should have some shot-blockers. We’re, Jeff has been in, and by the way, this week. I’ve been able to watch him work out, and I’m very impressed. You know, this is one that Justin Zanik did, really did a nice job on searching this one out. And Dennis [Lindsey] and Justin really feel like we’ve, may find someone that we’ll, it’ll be interesting to see how he, then, performs.

But we’re excited. I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic. Very impressed with how he handles the ball, and he’s got a nice touch around the basket as well as outside. And he’s working very hard, and so, he’s just, he is a Jazz-type player. He’s a quality individual, and he’s excited to be in Salt Lake City.

What would you say to Jazz fans who have concerns about the point guard position?
I would tell them that we feel very comfortable that we have three very good backup guards that have an opportunity to step up and really create a wonderful NBA career.*

And the type of players, they are Jazz type of player. They work hard, they have v–strong energy, they have strong work ethic, and I, we feel very good that, we don’t like that Dante Exum is down. A great in–great young man that has worked very hard.

But unfortunately, injuries is a part of life and part of this game, and we have a very good plan, three players that are gonna rise to the occasion that I, are gonna cover that spot. And our fans should be very happy to know that we’re gonna have some strong, three strong players there, to take, fill that vacancy.

* Wonder if Trey Burke sees himself this way.

Who will be the next Jazz All-Star?
Wow. I’ll tell you what. The way that some of our players are working, it could be a number of players. Gordon Hayward, of course. I mean, he’s on a track to be definitely, for strong consideration. I’d have to look at Gordon.

Rudy Gobert has been right there, though. His development has been remarkable. His abilities and his confidence is growing. And then, you know, have you, t–also, Derrick Favors has done some remarkable things.

So I, you know what, right now I could not, I gotta say, there’s three definitely strong candidates, and we got some other guys that I think are working hard as well. But I’d put one of those three right now in it. (1280)

Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 8/21

August 24, 2015
tags: ,

lindsey-emotions

Personnel Update
** Alex Jensen is in Germany with Tibor Pleiss
** Brad Jones is in Atlanta with several players, including Elijah Millsap
** Zach Guthrie just got back from Kansas City with Alec Burks
** Raul Neto and Trey Burke are in Salt Lake City

What commonalities exist between Gregg Popovich and Quin Snyder?
A high level of being geared towards competition. I think both of them have a competitive edge that is very similar. Really motivated; highly intelligent; really into the team.

You, the head coach is the, in many ways, the top 30 out of the, this profession, or in the NBA, by and large, and so, those things that separate the best of the best can really be a fine line. Both have unique preparation methods, but when you look at it, it looks very similar.

Pop will use note cards. You know, Quin will use a different method. You know, Pop will carry a, an old briefcase. You know, Quin will carry a newer, hipper backpack. But when you start removing away, you know, the subtle differences, you, what you find is, is a lot of common characteristics.

Tell us about Treveon Graham
Treveon’s a fine young cannibal man, and has come from a really serious program at VCU, a mid-major program that really outperformed their conference level year after year under coach Shaka Smart.

And so, Treveon’s a good wing that can score. He’s a plus-rebounder for the position. He’s become a very good shooter over time, and he’s someone that — again, you only have so many picks, and you can only marry yourself to so many players simultaneously.

But we have what we call a 61st pick concept: guys that aren’t drafted that we wanna continue to take a look at. And we’ve been very systematic about how we treat our camp invitees, our open gym invitees, our guys that make the Utah Jazz mini-camp, our summer league.

And many guys, we can’t initially offer a contract to, but we don’t close the book on, and Treveon’s one of those guys that we watched play with the San Antonio Spurs summer league team, and we felt like he acquitted himself well. So we wanted to give him an extended look in training camp, and then we’ll see what that means going forward.

If the season started tomorrow, would you be comfortable with your point guard rotation?
Yes, yes. We’ve got — certainly, we’re young…We’ll see what opportunities come outside our current set of three healthy point guards, but we anticipate that all three of our guys will use these next two months to get better. We’ll evaluate that, and then we’ll head quickly into the training camp season.

And then again, we won’t run from the accountability that that position, you know, has to be productive. And again, it’s like I said before, it’s no reason why it can’t, that position can’t collectively be more efficient, in particular just going through each guy and each of our young point guards having more experience.

And yes, Raul* Neto is a rookie by basic NBA terms, but he’s been a professional player for three or four years, and the task of organizing a group of men that are much older and experienced coaches inside a very competitive ACB League, I think he’s much more than a rookie in our mind with his experience in Spain the last few years.

So, Bryce Cotton adds some speed. An offensive substitute, a weapon if you will, and we look forward to capitalize on that.

And Trey [Burke]’s had a very good summer. We just had a very long conversation, Quin and I did, today with Trey, and we’re excited about where he’s moving as well.

* People calling Raul Neto “Raul” with a hard “R”: Dennis Lindsey

Randomly…
** Dennis Lindsey is hoping on “Mother Luck” that there won’t be any more injuries. (1280)

Bits from Quin Snyder Interview, 8/21

August 22, 2015
tags: ,

626 snyder

How was your first season as an NBA head coach? Was it what you expected?
You know, you, it was hard for us to have real finite expectations on the front end, and I think as you know, we had a really difficult start. But I think there was a vision for where we wanted to go as a group. You know, we wanna kinda develop an identity on the defensive end, and it takes time to, you know, to work on that with your habits and belief.

And I think as the year progressed, you know, we were really able to dig in there and that expectation was met. You know, I think we were, if not the youngest team in the league, you know, close to it. And us getting better is just gonna be about our guys getting better. So I think I wanna keep the bar high on them.

How difficult was it having such a young team?
Well, I think the biggest thing is, you know, almost the, well not almost, but really having a partnership with your players, where there’s a vision for where they wanna go, for we, where we want them to go, and trying to, you know, to mesh those things. It’s, you know, we’ve tried to be unbelievably organized and process-oriented, just about how our guys get better.

And you know, their individual skill levels, their bodies, their commitment, you know, their strength, but also fit that into the, into this concept as a team. So, we’re trying to approach that, you know, development process with as much emphasis and organization and preparation as we do, you know, [in] our, help-side defense and our offense.

How did you go from being one of the worst to best defensive teams last season?
Well, I think a couple things. One, you know, we’re fortunate in our personnel. It always makes you a better coach, and we’ve got a few guys that I think can be elite defenders. You know, Dante Exum, who got injured recently, but I think really stepped up as a 19-year-old, and was really good on the ball. We have some length on the wings.

And then, you know, we made a decision to play big. And it’s a tough decision right now, ’cause I think there, the league’s going small. And, but we’re trying to get our best players on the floor, and one of those guys defensively is a young center, Rudy Gobert. Derrick Favors, who played some at the five, moved over to the four, and you know, we found out that he can defend better than maybe people thought on the perimeter. So, I think our personnel is one thing.

And then, we just, we really drilled it. We just felt like — I told them I was gonna be relentless, and to do that and try to commit to the habits, but do it in a way where our guys still, you know, apply that, their preparation with some level of passion too, where it’s, you know, it’s my job to try to make it as, you know, it’s not drudgery. And sometimes that’s hard.

On Dante Exum’s injury
Well, your first reaction obviously is, you know, it’s not, you’re devastated for the kid, first of all. And then, you know, the timing of it, being in August, you know, a lot of your planning and preparation, your vision for the team — not just mine, but the other guys on the team — you know, gets rocked a little bit.

But injuries happen. You know, it’s a part of the league, and fortunately, Dante’s young enough where I think his recovery will be a good one. You know, it takes a little time with an ACL, probably, you know, if not a year, close to it, you know, depending on — I know he is gonna really work at it.

And you know, we actually talked this morning about, you know, what is the silver lining, that, you never wanna get hurt, but is there a way for him to maximize this? Can he get better shooting the ball, which I think he can. Can he study the game, and all those things.

He’ll be part a of our team, and I don’t think our team can wait for him. We’ve gotta try to keep getting better, and not feel sorry for ourselves, and other guys gotta step up, and you know, it’s a challenge for the rest of the guys on the team. The Gordon Haywards, and Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks, Rodney Hood. We’ve got some good players, and they’ve gotta be determined that an injury won’t all of a sudden just ruin a year. Even if it’s a key injury, you know?

CMtWlaRXAAA1Je1via @seahawks

On his visit to the Seattle Seahawks’ training camp
I’ve been a fan for many years, and when coach [Pete] Carroll got the job — he’s someone, frankly, that I’ve watched for a number of years, when he was at [U]SC. You know, a college guy. You know, I coached in college for awhile. Just seeing — I read his book, and tried to dig in on, you know, what makes those guys successful, what makes him what he is.

And I think more than anything, it was a visit to learn. And I was lucky. Their whole staff was a resource to me. And obviously he was, and it was, I think what makes them special is just, you know, a philosophical belief in how to approach it, and one that resonates, and that’s real.

You know, we can have quotes and put sayings on the board, but if they don’t really connect with who you are, they don’t mean as much and ultimately, you know, your players know it. And they don’t have that. I mean, I think who they are is demonstrated by the way they play and what they do.

And I actually used, I used them as an example last year a number of times for our group, whether it was, you know, Richard Sherman’s preparation, or you know, Marshawn Lynch and the way they grind on you offensively, and obviously the defense.

So I always felt like, you know, if we can be a little bit like them, we’re doing pretty good. And if I can go about, you know, my craft a little bit like what he’s doing and they’re doing, that’s a great thing for us. (The Jim Rome Show)

Snyder previously talked about his admiration of Pete Carroll and playing video of Richard Sherman during practice back in February.

Who shushed it better?

August 21, 2015

Pretty Little Liar Aria or Trey Burke? (H/T @dianaallen)

shush

Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 8/14

August 18, 2015
tags: ,

lindsey

On Gordon Hayward and USA camp
They had two days of non-contact drills that Gordon was participating in. We had several of our staff members there in support of Gordon…

Gordon was never planning on playing that event, so we got in some extra sessions with Gordon as well, strength and conditioning and shooting.

On Olivier Hanlan signing with a Lithuanian team
With player rights, we have to extend him a tender, which he will not sign. But that will keep Olivier’s rights exclusive to us relative to the NBA. So, that’s a fairly simple administrative procedure. He and his agent, Michael Tellem, worked with us very well during the draft process.

And we didn’t know exactly how our team was going to form in late June, early July, and obviously wanted to have a bite at the apple with our summer league training camp and summer leagues, and with, knowing that, [he was] amenable to starting his career overseas.

Rytas is a very good club. They play in several different leagues at various levels, so I think while it’s a really high level for Olivier, I think it’s something that he, there’s no question he can handle. So I think Michael Tellem, his agent, did a really good job of carving out a r–we, in some ways from a Jazz perspective we couldn’t come up with a overall better situation.

And Lithuania basketball, the player, the average player, the average coach, fan, it’s a basketball country. So, he’ll be immersed, and it gives us a chance to extend our window…with him [as a] draft-and-stash player.

Update on Dante Exum
There’s, we, y–there’s that sweet spot of you want to do everything in the prehab phase that you can do, but you can’t do too much, so, and cause the condition to become worse. So, you have to be really, really specific. So he and Brian Zettler have been working daily here at [the practice facility] to make sure they’re precise in what they’re doing.

We’re taking measurements on his leg, relative to the swelling. It’s down to a half an inch differential, which we’re ecstatic with.

We’ve, we’re in the process of getting other opinions…We just want to continue to be on the same page with Dante and his representation and make sure everybody’s communicating properly so once we do go into the surgical phase, we have great confidence moving forward, and buy-in from Dante, that all his questions are answered. (1280)

Off-season Odds and Ends

August 10, 2015

One. Trey Lyles doing what we all did to our notebooks in middle school, am I right? (Of course, back in the day we drew the awesome J-note logo rather than the primary Jazz logo of today…)

@utahjazz rook @treymamba41 works on a masterpiece at the #NBARooks photo shoot!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

 

Two. Speaking of 2015 Utah Jazz draft picks:

hanlan tweets

Three. We’re lucky to have a guy like Derrick Favors on the Jazz:

favors tweet

Four. And we’re lucky to have Rudy Gobert on Twitter:

gobert tweet

Five. That time then-Providence graduate assistant Jeff Van Gundy told then-1987 Utah Jazz draftee Billy Donovan he could make the Jazz roster over a third-year point guard named John Stockton:

At least one person thought that could happen. It was Jeff Van Gundy, a graduate assistant during Donovan’s senior year at Providence. Van Gundy started chirping, gassing Donovan up about his chances as he helped prepare him for training camp.

“Jeff’s like, ‘Listen, man. I’m telling you. You’ve got a chance to make this team,'” Donovan remembered. “He said, ‘They’ve got a guy there that’s in, like, his third year named Stockton that I’m not so sure about. He hasn’t played very much.’

“Training camp starts and I call Jeff after, like, the first day of double sessions. I said, ‘Hey, Jeff, remember that comment you made to me about you’re not sure about Stockton? That’s the best guard I’ve ever played against in my entire life.'”

Donovan was waived three days before opening night. (NewsOK)

Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 8/6 (Dante Exum Injury)

August 7, 2015
tags: ,

lindsey

Dante Exum injury update
As we suspected, when Dante was playing in a friendly game in Ljubljana, he took off and landed in a compromising position and did in fact tear his ACL…

Luckily for Dante, even under tough circumstances, we actually had personnel there in Ljubljana, Slovenia, at the game. And so, Jeff Watkinson was the person there at the time, and so, literally I had a phone call five minutes after the incident…And so, we were able to quickly get Jeff and Dante on a plane home, and give him some immediate care yesterday evening.

It’s very critical during this period that a few things happen, that you reduce swelling, and you try to increase joint mobility. There’s actually a prehab phase to conditions like this that are very critical to having good outcomes.

So, we’ve been using every minute since Dante’s return yesterday evening to our advantage, and we’ve been able to get the swelling down a great deal, and luckily Dante’s able to straighten his leg, which is a good first start to the prehab process. …

We’re gonna be very careful and get second and third opinions from the best doctors, and really, our doctors here encourage, are encouraging Dante and his representation to look at different opinions relative to the imaging and what our doctors in Australia and the doctors here have provided us so far.

So, we have great clarity moving forward, and the great news is there’s never a good time for this to happen, but young point guards** that have had ACLs have had very good outcomes.

* Maybe my expectations are just really low from names being unremorsefully butchered by Jazz personnel and broadcasters over the years, but props to DL for correctly pronouncing Ljubljana.
** Examples cited by DL: Baron Davis, Kyle Lowry, Jamal Crawford

Will the Utah Jazz make a move at a point guard not currently on the roster?
Look, our, Quin [Snyder] and my mindset are exactly the same at this particular time. We’re concerned about Dante Exum and the long-term care, and we’ve had no conversations whatsoever about anybody else outside of the Utah Jazz.

And again, I just, you know, I’ve got to assume that Cecil and Desiree Exum will read this and, you know, this transcript, and could there be anything less sensitive to then, to start talking about, you know, other players when this is the most important topic?

So, we, there’ll be plenty of time to address the team and how we’ll make adjustments going forward. It’s our job to adapt and adjust…This is a blow, but again, it’s our job to move forward. But at this particular date, our sole focus is totally on Dante Exum and making sure that we’re doing the best job possible y–for his care going forward.

One example of a player benefiting from playing for his national team
Take Rudy Gorbert’s* development last year. You could make an argument that that national team play gave Rudy greater confidence to come into the season, and I know for sure it gave Quin and I and the rest of management and coaching staff a greater level of confidence that Rudy needed to have a bigger role. And you’ve seen some subsequent decisions.

* People calling Rudy Gobert “Rudy Gorbert”: Dennis Lindsey

And Dante lived happily ever after…
He’s one that, you know, he’s just, there’s a grace about Dante. There’s a wisdom beyond his years. Like many of our guys, he’s just been very well-raised.* And so, and then, that’s a little bit of what I’m speaking to, that you gotta respect, that our sole focus really should be on him, his representatives, his parents, and make sure that everything is really taken care of…

My first conversation with Mrs. Exum…on draft night, it’s like, we’re gonna care about your son, you know, mind, body and spirit.

And so, for Dante to already start attacking his prehab phase with the level of intent and discipline that he’s already done, it speaks a lot. So, and hi–that, coupled with his age, coupled with he’s still gonna be 6-6, he’s still gonna have a 6-10 wingspan…You know, he, it just leads us to, we’re gonna be very positive with him all the, each step of the way, and usually those outcomes are very good…

So hopefully, this will be, you know, part of his book, and the narrative will be in following chapters, and, what a great way that, you know, he was able to overcome that, and I, you know, I’d certainly be proud to help him achieve those dreams. (1280)

* By his two parents, in their two-parent home

Bits from Randy Rigby Interviews, 8/5 (Dante Exum Injury)

August 6, 2015
tags: ,

randy rigby

On Dante Exum’s injury
What we know is Gor–is that Dante is on a plane. He’s on, en route to coming back here to Salt Lake. He’ll then go, we’ll have him looked at tomorrow —

[…Here, RR decides it’s a good time to launch into a long plug for the Jazz’s health care partner…]

— And so, we’ll know a lot better tomorrow after MRI and we see the extent of what we’re dealing with.

How comfortable are the Jazz with Trey Burke as their starting point guard?
Trey Burke has worked very hard this off-season. Trey is just coming back from Africa. Our reports, by the way, with his participation in Africa was, he was stellar. He wa–he did not only the right things that we want to see, and the work, effort, and the workouts when he wasn’t playing, but he went in and did a great job of participating and playing in the NBA over in Africa.

He did all the right things as well during the down times as well in, with the community, and with the people there in Africa. That shows, to me, a real maturing that we’re seeing with Trey Burke. …

I’ll tell you, he was a model. He did a very nice job on the court. He did everything they asked him to do off the court. And he was a consummate gentleman, and very impressive on what he did…I’m seeing a growing and a maturing from Trey, and he, you know, he’s learned from his mistakes, and I think he is becoming very solid NBA player and a very solid citizen in doing right — in doing hopefully the right things. …

Trey has been, again, a young man. He’s been learning and growing not only on the court, but also off the court. And I gotta give it to Trey. I’ve been impressed with the development and the attitude that he’s been taking, and a maturing, that we’ve been seeing with Trey, in his development, both on and off the court.

I expect Trey, if we have Dante out for an extended amount of time, I expect Trey to be a professional and to step up to the call, and do the things that we need him to do. If that’s gonna be, to then to come into the starting role, if Quin [Snyder] feels that, and our coaching staff, if that’s the direction they feel we want to go, I expect Trey to take that role and do it the best he can.

If it’s to continue to come off the bench and to really give us that lift, I expect Trey to fill that role, and we’ll call upon a Bryce Cotton or a Raul Lopez, Neto, sorry, Raul Neto, to take that role of the starting job.

Randy Rigby’s message to Jazz fans distraught over Dante Exum’s injury
Keep your head up…And we expect Dante is gonna have his head up, and let’s take this a day at a time. And we’re gonna take it, we’ll take it head-on, with whatever the issue is…and we’ll move forward with it.

And we have a player that has remarkable character, and he loves the game. He has great support from a ownership, and from a team, and from a family, and from our fan base. And so, let’s give him our thoughts and prayers. Let’s hopes for the best.

And if we’re dealing with something otherwise, let’s get behind him and you know what? This team is going to, if we have to move forward while he’s rehabbing and getting better, for a day or two or r–or weeks or months, you know what, we’ve got other great players that are gonna show that it’s an opportunity for them to rise and the Utah Jazz is gonna move forward, and it’s gonna be an exciting year. (1280)

Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 7/31

August 3, 2015
tags: ,

lindsey

When’s the last time you played basketball?
I embarrassed myself this summer. It was the first time in a long time. I was probably 30 pounds, 30 to 40 pounds probably, over playing weight. I got out with our interns and video guys and young coaches. They were forming a game, and there was nine, and there was, you know, my fat you-know-what on the elliptical machine.

So, I actually felt guilty enough to go out and play, and did OK. But my feet were hurting for the next two weeks. I was walking around like I was walking on glass, and I think I’ve pretty much retired.

What are the benefits of having an international team and coaching staff?
Right. Well, Igor [Kokoskov] is a long-time NBA veteran. Quin [Snyder] actually got Igor his United States start at University of Missouri, and then Igor has been in several places. Detroit, Phoenix, and other places that have had a great deal of success. So, Igor is here because of his own individual merit. He’s an excellent teacher and coach.

He’s the Georgian national team coach, and led them to unprecedented success in Europe and international play with a very lean roster at times. And so, I’ve already grained, gained a deep appreciation.

But the fact that Igor can have a European-base conversation with Tibor Pleiss and Rudy Gobert going forward, that commonality is very important because y–in regards to your team, it’s my opinion and actually studies show, you don’t ever want to have a player on an island that’s isolated. There has to be a tie back to the group.

And so training camp helps with that. Dinners help with that. But being able to speak the same language, or those guys understanding what’s going over, going on with Greece right now and their economy, and having those common conversations can really expedite chemistry. It can make chemistry deeper.

And I, it’s just, it’s a really unique environment when you’ve done it with successful international players. We had Hakeem [Olajuwon] in Houston, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutumbo. It really added to the fabric of experience and of education to the group.

And obviously in many ways, the San Antonio program has coined itself in a lotta different and unique ways. But as much as anything, Gregg Popovich was a Russian studies major and was on bases over there, and he’s like, “Hey, these guys can play” — way back when Pop was still playing. And so, he brought that experience over.

And so the cultural awareness, the worldliness that others can bring back to a team environment makes it really rich and interesting. And at the end of the day, I don’t care if a guy’s from Salt Lake City or Detroit or Houston or L.A. or Serbia — you know, the country of Serbia — or France or Spain or China. It doesn’t really matter.

It’s what that individual can bring back to the group. It’s individual merit inside of a team setting. But each guy that we’ve brought on with international playing and coaching experience, I do think has individual merit and will add to what is starting to become a unique group.

Love this. So much.

Did Hakeem Olajuwon travel?
No. No. We–it’s very expedient for those who competed against him or who were fans at other places to say, but watching Hakeem play every day, it’s — I know this is gonna be strange, but there are times that — I believe John Stockton, Steve Nash were two of the best at what we call playing between the dribbles. And Hakeem copied that in many ways. He just did it on the post.

So, if I were to break down his basic move — everybody talks about the Dream Shake, and the up-and-under. And really, the program on Houston, from a scheme standpoint, an offensive scheme standpoint, was built around Hakeem’s jump hook. And if I were to show you his footwork, it was, watching him work every day was like watching, I would imagine, Picasso paint. I mean, it was part formulaic, but really it was as much art.

And he could dribble a ball once, and instead of immediately grabbing the ball, in layman’s terms, he would let the ball drop. So he was able to get in an extra, what we call step-slide, in between the dribble, and letting the ball drop. And so he could cover huge amounts of ground in between dribbles. And you see a lot of players on the perimeter do it. Hakeem just did it on the post, and he covered so much ground and he was so graceful.

But even when you showed coaches that had studied post play of what he was doing, they’re like, “That’s a travel.” But if you really were to look at what he was doing with his footwork, it was so quick, so phos–so sophisticated. He was covering so much ground, you immediately covered to, he’s covering too much ground so therefore he has to travel.

I know that’s a long dissertation, but absolutely not. And that’s why he’s teaching post basketball today, and he’s one of the most unique players and individuals our league has ever seen.

Lol at DL saying Hakeem got his Dream Shake from Stockton. A bunch of Rockets fans just dropped dead of shock and horror.

On his gift to Patrick Ewing and Jeff Van Gundy
We had a, we had Patrick [Ewing], who’s a great man, as our, as one of our assistants in [Houston]…One of my biggest gifts to Patrick and Jeff Van Gundy, I was wi–I was a fan at the time. I was still, you know, barely out of college in 1994 when the Rockets beat the Knicks in the Finals.

I made sure in Houston there was this big, fat picture in our player lounge where we sent our players and coaches every day of Hakeem blocking John Stock’s–Stark’s shot. And Jeff Van Gundy and Patrick Ewing and some of that group had to go and look at that picture every day. (1280)

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