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Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 7/31

August 3, 2015
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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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