NBA On TNT Western Conference Finals Notes: “I don’t think he’s a dirty player at all, he’s gotten a reputation that’s not merited”

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Uh…say what Kobe?

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Spurs forward Bruce Bowen: “I love him as a basketball player. He doesn’t get his just due as a defensive player because he’s playing with Tim (Duncan). I really enjoy playing against him, I don’t think he’s a dirty player at all, he’s gotten a reputation that’s not merited. I think he’s a really smart defensive player and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Barkley on Cavaliers forward LeBron James not shutting down Celtics guard Paul Pierce in Game #7: “I was watching Game #7 with LeBron (James) against Paul Pierce. People try to compare LeBron, who’s a stud, but there’s no way Michael Jordan would let Paul Pierce get 45 (points).”

Barkley on the difference maker in the series between the Spurs and Lakers: “Kobe can dominate this series by dominating Manu Ginobili on the defensive end, that’s what I’m looking for. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game, he’s going to get 25-35 points a game. I think for the Spurs, if he dominates Manu defensively that could be the difference in the series.”

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Game #1: San Antonio Spurs (85) @ L.A. Lakers (89) – The Lakers lead the series 1-0.

Announcers Marv Albert and Doug Collins; with Craig Sager reporting

Collins on Spurs center Fabricio Oberto: “(Oberto) is a guy who brings all the intangibles, he’s a very good defensive player in tandem with Tim Duncan, he makes the open shots and he’s very smart out there and knows where to be.”

Collins on Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic: “You look at (Radmanovic) and go, ‘why not more often?’ Sometimes he’ll mesmerize you and sometimes you’ll look at him and say, ‘why can’t you be more consistent?.'”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after the first quarter.

Popovich on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant being contained in the first quarter: “He just hasn’t decided to bring it yet, he’s checking out the game.”

Collins on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant involving his teammates in the first quarter: “(Bryant) knows he can get his shot anytime he wants to, he knows how important it is that if you want to beat the San Antonio Spurs you’ve got to beat them as a team. They aren’t going to let one man beat them. He wanted for this team’s confidence to get off to a good start. When he comes back in he’ll be looking for his shot.”

Collins on the importance of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili to the Spurs: “(Ginobili) is so important to their team, I think he’s that lightening rod of this team. You know how well (Tony) Parker plays and (Tim) Duncan has that quiet efficiency, but when this guy is in his game he electrifies his team. The last couple of possessions he looks likes he’s laboring a little bit, he had a couple finishes at the basket that he normally finishes that he didn’t get down. Let’s see if he gets his second wind here.”

Collins on the impact of bench players: “Your bench really feeds off the home crowd, they come in the game and they are such an energy group of guys. Your bench can really help you at home, and your starters have to be the guys on the road that carry you through the tough times.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Spurs guard Tony Parker at halftime.

Parker on how the Spurs are trying to stop the Lakers: “Just try to be aggressive, try to speed it up. When you play half court against them it’s a little tough, I’m trying to push the ball and get some easy baskets for my teammates and so far we’re doing pretty good. Tim (Duncan) has been aggressive and we’ve been hurting them with that, so we’ll keep it going.”

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Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Miller

Smith on the Spurs versus Lakers: “The Spurs are not the team of the future like the Lakers, they are the team right now.”

Barkley on the durability of the Spurs: “They are the Spurs. They are like cockroaches, they won’t die.”

Miller on the Spurs bench: “I applaud Pop (Gregg Popovich), he’s going deep in his bench with Jacque Vaughn, Brent Barry, Robert Horry, he’s trying to match the bench of the Lakers.”

Barkley: “The Lakers have a much better bench, they have a lot more energy. It’s great coaching by Pop, but the Lakers’ bench is going to win the series.”

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TNT aired a segment of Inside Trax featuring Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Popovich telling Spurs forward Tim Duncan that Brent Barry is open: “He’s wide open from the three. It’s alright you can’t see the whole world the whole time, TD. That’s why I told him pull his pants down, then you’ll notice.”

Collins on the exchange between Gregg Popoovich and Tim Duncan: “What jumps out is that you have a great coach (in Popovich) and a superstar (in Tim Duncan) who have such a level of trust with each other that he continues to coach him. He did it in such a way that he made his point and then added humor. You can’t see it all all the time, but I think that’s the beauty of Gregg Popovich is that he has a little bit of sarcastic wit, and his team appreciates that. That’s how you win Championships. Phil Jackson does the same thing with his team; if you can’t coach your superstars you can’t win a championship in this league.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Lakers coach Phil Jackson after the third quarter.

Jackson on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant being uninvolved in the first half of the game: “I thought Kobe went on vacation, I thought he want to Bermuda, to the Bermuda Triangle instead of the sideline triangle, but we got him back this quarter.”

Collins on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant’s dominating performance in the second half of the game: “How good is Kobe Bryant? To be able to, in the first half, just sort of go through the game and then turn a switch like this…what an amazing second half.”

Collins on a struggling Manu Ginobili: “This is when the Spurs really miss Manu Ginobili, for him to not play well tonight, normally they would put the ball in his hands and let him create an opportunity. He’s three of 12 tonight and has struggled with turnovers.”

Collins on Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s strategy for playing Kobe Bryant: “The energy has picked up for the Lakers. I think Phil (Jackson) made a very strategic move earlier in that third quarter. He went to (Sasha) Vujachic and (Jordon) Farmar and he put them out there with Kobe and what happened is that Kobe normally rests at the third period, but Phil has let him play the entire game, a strategic move by him.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant at the end of the game.

Bryant on Coach Phil Jackson asserting that Bryant was ‘on vacation’ during the first half. “Sometimes Bermuda can be a little entertaining.”

Bryant on defending Spurs forward Tim Duncan: “We tried to give (Duncan) different looks, he’s such a phenomenal player that I don’t think you can give him a steady diet of the same thing, so we tried to mix it up.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller

Smith on the Spurs inability to win the game: “The most important thing is that these are the types of games that (the Spurs) execute themselves into victory. They weren’t able to be do that against this Laker team who is on an upstart coming back. Normally they shut runs down, they execute and they win games.”

Miller on the difficulty of overcoming this type of loss for the Spurs: “If any team can bounce back from this it would be a great Pop and the Spurs defending Champions. But they had an emotional first round (against Phoenix), they are coming off a seven-game series against the young, athletic Hornets and you are up 20 (points) halfway through the third quarter (against the Lakers) and you end up losing. That could take an emotional toll, especially in the Conference Finals.”

Barkley on the Spurs loss of Game #1: “One thing we’ve proved in the playoffs is every game a different team has won at home as on the road. None of these losses are devastating. One loss is one loss.”

Smith on Spurs’ consistency: “The Spurs have proven they won’t panic, they know their personnel and they trust each other, they trust their system and they trust Pop. They ran into a guy who just caught fire and they really couldn’t stop him. The Spurs are going to be the same thing every single night.”

Barkley on Pistons guard Chauncey Billups coming back from injury to play in the Eastern Conference Finals: “No matter how much work you do on the side, the only way to get into basketball shape is to play the game. You can’t factor in the intensity and the adrenaline (rush) of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a struggle for Chauncey (Billups in Game #1) is (the Pistons’) emotional and spiritual leader…”

Smith: “Spiritual?”

Barkley: “I’ve had a rough week, lay off me right now.”

Miller on the Celtics not utilizing guard Ray Allen: “I don’t think they are running enough plays for (Ray Allen). I don’t know if (Celtics head coach) Doc Rivers and Ray need to get in a room together and Ray needs to go to Doc and say, ‘these are my three or four favorite plays, during the course of the game try to run these so I can get a rhythm.’ They are not going to beat Detroit if Ray doesn’t start knocking down shots.”

For a full replay of Inside the NBA log onto TNT OverTime on or check out the “Daily Top 5 of Inside”

TNT started its exclusive Western Conference Finals Game #1 coverage with a slam dunk, delivering a 4.1 US rating and 4,615,000 households. The game, which featured a come from behind 89-85 win for the #1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers over the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, delivered a 51% increase over TNT’s Eastern Conference Finals Game #1 last year between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons (2.7 US rating), and a 36% increase over the 2007 Western Conference Finals Game #1 match up between the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs on ABC.

  • TNT’s coverage of Game #1 of the Western Conference beat ABC, NBC, CBS and the CW across all broadcast and cable outlets in A18-34, M18-34, M18-49 and M25-54.
  • The game out-delivered all ABC, NBC and CW prime programs on P18-49 and P25-54.
  • The game out-delivered all ABC and CW on Households and Total Viewers.
  • The LA Lakers victory out-delivered Fox’s American Idol Finale  from 8 – 9 pm PT in the LA market in ratings (17.9 vs. 13.2) and households (1,008,000 vs. 744,000).
  • Game #1 of the Lakers/Spurs was the most watched Western Conference Finals game since the 2006 Game #6 of the Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns.

30 Responses to “NBA On TNT Western Conference Finals Notes: “I don’t think he’s a dirty player at all, he’s gotten a reputation that’s not merited””

  1. Temple3 says:

    I think Bowen’s a dirty player – and he’s not alone. I also think he is a superb defensive technician who doesn’t need to play dirty. Last night, he made one play where Kobe backed him down into the lane – and he simply stepped back and let KB fall to the ground. Rick Mahorn may have been the master of that move, but Bowen would have been an ideal Bad Boy.

    There is a great deal of value in his personal story of persistence and effort. Bowen made himself into the player he is today through a great deal of work. He is one of the better players of this type in league history. I would probably place Michael Cooper at the top of that list, followed by a few others (give me a minute) but Bowen isn’t too far off.

  2. Okori says:

    you know what i just realized? The Spurs are maybe the best team in NBA history at scouting foreign players.

    Udrih, Ginobili, Parker, Udoka, Scola (who they traded away). They keep on finding these guys who are great fit-in guys and who have already won on the international level so they know how to play with high-quality talent in high-pressure situations.

    Damn… I hate the Spurs but you have to respect their skill in finding talent.

  3. Okori says:

    Temple: Bowen is Eusebio Pedroza. He’s dirty, but he’s artistically dirty.

  4. thebrotherreport says:

    Damn, the Spurs had Scola?

  5. Okori says:

    yeah.. they traded him to Houston.

  6. thebrotherreport says:

    Which players do you think are better. Today’s Argentinian players in the NBA or the players from Lithuania/Split Croatia of the early-mid 1990’s?

  7. GrandNubian says:

    I think Kobe’s right….I personally don’t think of Bowen as a “dirty” player….he’s basically a “throw-back” from the days of old, when the rules were “man rules”; not like the “sissy” rules of today (hand-check, defensive 3-seconds, etc.)

    He reminds me a lot of Derrick McKey.

  8. thebrotherreport says:

    I think the dirty label tag came when he gave Ray Allen (who isn’t the toughest guy in the world) a couple of hard fouls. Allen said he was a dirty player and some took it and ran with it

  9. Okori says:

    wel… it’s difficult to say. I mean the Lithuanian guys had Sabonis who, and people forget this now because of what he was at the end of his career, was a fearsome post presence. But i’d argue the Argentinians but just barely.

    and this is an excellent Friday Fire question: best player to never play in the NBA

  10. thebrotherreport says:

    I’ve heard it said many times that if Sabonis had started his career in the NBA he would’ve been a Top 5 All-Time Center. I struggle with that thought maybe Top 10.


  11. Okori says:

    dude is one of the most accomplished centers ever. and he could step out and hit j’s from all over the court, run the floor, and was a slick-passing big man.

    he could have been lower half of top 5. Olajuwon in his prime v. Sabonis in his prime is something I want to see.

  12. Jerold Wells Jr says:

    Couple of things. Bowen is dirty, the slide under the jump shooter thing is gonna wreck somebody’s ankle sooner or later. He won’t stop until somebody punches him in the face. Today’s Argentines are good but I’ll take the late 80’s early 90’s Lithuanian/Yugoslav/Croats (forgive me if I mangled the regions there for all you geography buffs) by a long shot. Who are we comparing here…. Ginobili (top five shooting guard in the league) Scola, Oberto and Nocioni (role players) to Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, Detlef Schrempf and Arvydas Sabonis? Petrovic, Kukoc and Schrempf were legit stars in the League. Divac and Sabonis played pivotal roles title contenders. I really don’t see a valid comparison there. Lastly, Top five centers have to include Shaq, I’m going with him instead of Malone. Hell, give me Robinson and/or Walton instead of Malone.

  13. Okori says:

    Detlef Schrempf is German. 🙂 just wanted to let you know that.

  14. Mizzo says:

    David Robinson or Bill Walton over Moses Malone? Seriously…you mean combined right?

  15. Mizzo says:

    Are we forgetting about Sarunas Marciulionis? Dude was a monster and would boof it on you with the left off the break or coming down the lane. His game was eerily similar to Ginobli’s.

  16. Okori says:

    oh god i did forget about him.

    and that’s why you have to respect the way the Spurs do things. they find the guys who are key contributors on top international teams and let them ripen until they are ready to contribute.

  17. Temple3 says:

    The best player to never play in “the Association” – Len Bias.

  18. Temple3 says:

    Thanks Mizzo for cleaning that up…Sarunas was the truth.

    By the way, Drazen Petrovic was the only player other than Michael Jordan that I saw give Joe Dumars absolute fits. Joe D couldn’t guard him the help of Bull Connor and a firehose. They had some great battles. Petrovic’s death is probably a reason (over the long-term) that the team is moving to Jersey today. Chuck Daly’s crew of Petro, Mookie Blaylock, Derrick Coleman, Chris Morris, and a healthy Sam Bowie was on the verge of some things. Never happened though.

  19. Mizzo says:

    Yeah Drazen’s game was magnificent. Did he play in Portland too?

    “Joe D couldn’t guard him the help of Bull Connor and a firehose.”

    Damn that’s some shit.

  20. MODI says:

    co-sign that first post Temple.

    Bowen is a great defensive technician, a great story, but he is straight dirty and there is a mountain of evidence on youtube.

    Kobe is just getting new PR advice and is probably developing a new attitude as well…

  21. thebrotherreport says:

    Ditto on Sarunas and Petro, Walton or Robinson over Malone…yeah ok!

    If Olajuwan is top 5 Malone is top 5 because of Malone’s tuteledge to “Dream”. I can name 3 centers that played in this era better than Walton, all three went to Georgetown.

    Dude never played a full season and only scored 6,200 pts, Malone grabbed more offensive rebounds than that. And I like Walton but he isn’t nealy in the same class as Malone

  22. thebrotherreport says:

    If we had to go with best to never play in the NBA still living I would say Oscar Schmidt. But overall, no doubt Len Bias

  23. Okori says:

    no Drazen didn’t play in Portland. Drazen, by all accounts, HATED portland. This perhaps had something to do with the fact that the Blazers gave Drazen, who was the reigning European player of the year, a sliding scale of MPG that started out at 12 a game and ended up going to 7. He was traded to NJ and Portland looked like idiots.

    and… the old basketball heads i knew from Yugoslavia who I met doing social work tell me that he was even better in Europe than he was here.

  24. Mizzo says:

    Dream could have been a two guard by today’s standards. He was that talented.

  25. GrandNubian says:

    How the hell did Bill Walton end up on the 50 greatest list?

  26. Okori says:

    I guess because of the 1 season in Portland, and maybe… the UCLA stuff. I dunno how else to be honest.

    We do not know how good he might have been with today’s medical technology.

  27. thebrotherreport says:

    Can say the same for Andrew Toney.

  28. Okori says:

    and Bernard King.

  29. thebrotherreport says:

    I’m still hot over the fact that he isn’t in the Top 50

  30. Mike says:
    watching the replay, if you think about what Kobe is doing on this play, he clearly puts his leg and foot between Perkins legs, then kicks his foot and leg out to throw him off balance. Plays that are dirty/illegal, that end in injury should be looked at very seriously by the league. It isn’t very good basketball when half the players are injured due to dirty illegal plays.