Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Friday, February 13, 2009: Kevin Durant Drops 46 On the Rookies

(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

TNT’s coverage of the NBA All-Star 2009 continues on Saturday, February 14 at 5 p.m. ET with Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai featuring H-O-R-S-E presented by GEICO. All-Star Slam Dunk Theater follows at 7 p.m. ET. NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, which includes the Haier Shooting Stars competition, the Playstation Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, and the Sprite Slam Dunk. TNT’s coverage of the 2009 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 15 begins at 8 p.m. ET.

T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam

Kevin Harlan and Kenny Smith

Cleveland Cavaliers guard and Eastern Conference All-Star starter LeBron James joined TNT courtside during the first half

James on Oklahoma City Thunder sophomore guard Kevin Durant: “(Kevin Durant) has been phenomenal.  If you add a few more wins to (the Thunder’s) resume, he’s definitely an All-Star for the Western Conference.  I think one thing he’s doing this year that he didn’t really have a good grasp of last year is shot management, (knowing) when to take certain shots and when to create certain shots.”

Smith on Chicago Bulls rookie guard Derrick Rose: “Derrick Rose is one of the premier point guards in the league this year as a rookie.  One of the things he does well is he gets into the lane and he’s able to finish.”

James on Detroit Pistons sophomore guard Rodney Stuckey: “(Rodney) Stuckey is one of those guards in the league that has gotten better.  He’s a really good player and he’s strong.  He takes advantage of some of the smaller point guards in the league with his strength.”

James on where he would have gone to college had he not made the jump from high school to the NBA: “Ohio State was definitely one of my choices and North Carolina was one of my choices too.”

Smith: “You might have been a Tarheel?”

James: “I would’ve looked good in powder blue.”

James on if he thinks its fair that high school players have to attend at least one year of college before entering the NBA: “Being a guy that came right out of high school, I think if a kid wants to make the jump from high school to the NBA, he should have that right.  It’s tough, you tell a kid to go to school for just one year, but what does he get out of one year of college when he wants to go to the NBA anyway?  It’s definitely tough on kids who want to come out but can’t”

James on why he has never participated in the slam dunk contest: “A few times with the dunk contest, I was injured so I couldn’t participate.  I’ve never been a guy who can think about dunks before I do them.  I just get in the air and make it happen.”

James on if he ever compares his game to players who have been in the league before him: “I don’t go back and watch old film of guys who used to play this game to see who my game resembles.  I looked up to Michael Jordan and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway when I was growing up.  Those were the types of guys that I wanted to be like.”

James on how members of the 2008 Team USA Oympic team are all having successful seasons in the NBA: “I think all twelve guys who were on the Olympic team have put up career high numbers (in the regular season).  It hasn’t affect us a lot or at all.  We definitely approached the season like we’re still staying at a high level in the Olympics.”

James on Oklahoma City Thunder sophomore guard Jeff Green: “(Jeff Green) is really good.  He’s one of those intangible guys; he’s one of those guys that can play the two, three or four.  He can shoot the ball from the outside and he can post up smaller guys.  He’s one of the tough guys in this league.”

James on Memphis Grizzlies rookie guard O.J. Mayo: “That’s one thing that O.J. Mayo has been able to do his whole life…shoot the basketball.  I think that’s why he’s so successful in this league right now, he can really shoot the basketball.”

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Ernie Johnson and Chris Webber

Webber on the Miami Heat acquiring Jermaine O’Neal from the Toronto Raptors in a trade: “I know that Jermaine O’Neal is a great shot blocker and a great presence inside and Miami doesn’t have that.  (Heat forward Udonis) Haslem is a great shooter who is even better with a post presence.  Dwyane Wade can now play better defense because he now has a better shot blocker.  When I look at this (trade), I really see (O’Neal) helping that starting core of Miami.”

Webber on Shawn Marion being traded from the Heat to the Raptors: “One way to describe (Shawn Marion) is ‘great player’ another is ‘system guy.’  He belongs in a system.  He never should’ve gotten traded from Phoenix (Suns), he needs to be on a team that can win.  He’s the perfect complimentary player; he’s not a franchise player.  He needs to be where a team is trying to win a championship.”

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol joined Kevin Harlan and Kenny Smith courtside for the start of the second half

Gasol on playing against his brother, Memphis Grizzlies forward Marc Gasol, in the NBA: “(Playing against Marc Gasol) is a very unique feeling.  To play against him is emotional.  It’s very emotional to play on the same floor with my brother.”

Gasol on Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Rudy Fernandez: “(Rudy Fernandez) is so active.  He’s very athletic and he knows how to play the game.  He’s a great shooter and he’s a guy who can do a little bit of everything.  When he gets a little stronger, he can be a great player in this league.”

Gasol on foreign players understanding the team concept earlier than American players: “I think we (foreign players) have a better concept of the team game.  We’re not as athletically gifted (as American players).  We have to develop other strengths to be able to compete at the highest level.  I think the team game (in the United States) is something that they develop later with their maturity and knowing what it takes to go to the championship level.  Most guys who are extremely talented, they come out of college really early and they haven’t developed that team connection and spirit yet.”

Smith on Atlanta Hawks sophomore forward Al Horford: “(Al Horford) is a guy that really understands his strengths.  Once he becomes a better low post scorer, he can have the opportunity to play on Sunday (in the All-Star Game).  I think that’s going to come when he moves to his natural position of power forward.”

Smith on if it feels weird to be courtside for a game instead of in the NBA on TNT studios: “No, not really because I did Knick games last year (for MSG).  That was weird because that didn’t seem like basketball.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, Smith and Webber

Smith on how Commissioner David Stern has made All-Star Weekend a premier event: “He’s been able to take the league to different heights.  He’s taken All-Star Weekend and made it a premier event the same way the NBA Finals are.  He understands that if you encompass the present players with the past players and the future players.  He brings in all of the legends and they are embraced.  He has the rookie game which is the future (of the league) and the All-Star Game.  So you have all of the players that you’ve watched in one place.  Then he has the tech summits so he understands that if you’ve done anything, if you’ve made a basket of any significance or if you’ve made a decision that made basketball relevant you have to be here this weekend.  Then you have the NBA at its best.”

Smith on the trade between the Heat and the Raptors that sent Jermaine O’Neal to Miami: “I was surprised (by the trade) because the Miami Heat took a risk because Jermaine O’Neal has not proven he can stay healthy (in recent years).  It’s like gambling on Tracy McGrady, a guy who is a really active, good player but can’t stay healthy.”

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