Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the 2009 NBA All-Star Game from Phoenix – Sunday, February 15, 2009: “Those guys (Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant) could go down as one of the greatest duos ever.”

TNT’s regular season returns on February 19 with its exclusive Thursday night doubleheader. In Game 1, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs visit Allen Iverson and the Detroit Pistons (8 p.m. ET), followed by Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz hosting Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics (10:30 p.m.).TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber; Craig Sager and David Aldridge reporting

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant before the NBA All-Star Game.

Bryant on being in the NBA All-Star Game: “These games are so much fun, you get a chance to be around your peers and I get a chance to catch up with some of my Olympic teammate brothers, so this is a fun time.”

Smith on Suns coach Terry Porter being fired and the ongoing trade talks involving Suns forward Amar’e Stoudemire: “I think it’s unfair. (Terry Porter) comes in, he’s a new coach, he’s got a new team, he put in a new system, all these different, new things. I’m not sure what the expectation level was, you trade away two guys who were in your top seven rotation, so how do you expect your team to be consistent without stability?  Now, going to (the trade rumors surrounding) Amar’e Stoudemire, he’s not going to be worried (tonight), this is a fun time of year. But when it hits tomorrow morning, he will be ready and interested in what’s happening.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade before the NBA All-Star Game.

Wade on the atmosphere of the All-Star team:  “We’ve got young guys like Devin Harris and Danny Granger.  When I was first here I was nervous, (now I’m) just trying to tell those guys to go out there and make sure your first shot is a layup because if it’s an air ball we’re all going to get you, but it’s all fun.  KG (Kevin Garnett) has been cutting up since yesterday at 9:45 and he ain’t stopped.  The bench is great, we’re all supportive of each other.  We play against these guys all year, so it’s fun to be friends for at least four or five days.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal before the NBA All-Star Game.

O’Neal on being back in the NBA All-Star Game after missing last year:  “Last year I was injured, didn’t deserve to be in.  The great Pat Riley petitioned for me, but I’m old school if you don’t deserve it, no lobbying, no commercial, no internet campaign, that’s just how it was.  But I’m back now playing at a high level and it just shows that as a dominant big man I’ve been very consistent with my game.”

O’Neal on spending time with legendary boxer Muhammad Ali earlier in the evening:  “Muhammad Ali, he’s a great man and one of the greatest athletes in the world.  It’s just a pleasure to know him and I’m glad that he knows who I am.”
Webber on a possible strategy for Western Conference All-Star coach Phil Jackson:  “The coach does want to protect his players but you know this is a once in a lifetime moment. What I would be worried about is that Phil Jackson said he’s not going to play Kobe (Bryant) that much, but he’s going to play Chris Paul and everybody (else) will get the minutes, so that might be the mind game to get everybody tired for next week.”

Smith on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Cavaliers forward LeBron James competing against each other in the NBA All-Star Game: “Kobe (Bryant) talking about maybe minimal (playing time), LeBron (James) said, ‘I’m not sure.’ But if Kobe gets hot or LeBron gets hot, those are the two best players on the planet right now, they will go head to head.  I want to see Kobe and LeBron, that’s the debate in every barber shop, on every airplane, in every hotel lobby, who is the best? If one of them gets hot, the other one will show up.”

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NBA All-Star Game: East (119) vs. West (146)

Marv Albert, Doug Collins and Reggie Miller; Craig Sager and David Aldridge reporting

Collins on the impact of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard on the Magic:  “(Dwight Howard’s) impact on the Orlando Magic, they have the fourth best record in the NBA and it’s really been on the defensive end.  (He is) first in blocks, first in rebounds, first in dunks.  If I had to pick a defensive player right now he would be my choice, he has the Orlando Magic positioned for a great finish in the Eastern Conference.”

Albert on Suns center Shaquille O’Neal performing with dance troupe Jabbawockeez during the All-Star introductions:  “Those of you who were with us for the pregame introductions with Shaq performing during the intros, I thought I was watching an updated version of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.”

Collins on New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul enjoying the All-Star Game: “You see Chris Paul, there was so much expectation on the New Orleans Hornets team his year. I see the smile on his face, I bet it’s been a while since he’s enjoyed playing.  New Orleans has had a down year, Tyson Chandler has been hurt, Peja Stojakovic is having a down year.  I’m sure this a special day for Chris Paul to finally have a little fun.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Raptors forward Chris Bosh who was selected to the Eastern Conference Reserves but was inactive due to injury.

Bosh on the trade made to acquire forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks from the Miami Heat:  “I think Shawn (Marion) is really going to help us.  Everybody knows we are struggling a little bit, we need some more wins and we’re trying to make a push for the playoffs, so I’m hoping he’ll come in and give us some help.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant at halftime.

Bryant on Western Conference All-Star teammate Shaquille O’Neal’s pre-game performance:  “(Shaq is) a great dancer, I’ve seen all that before. It was great to be out there with him again.”

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Halftime

Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber

Webber on the first half intensity during the NBA All-Star Game:  “What I like about this game is that I see intensity. I see the guys are really playing hard which sometimes doesn’t cause the most ally-oops and the most dunks, but these guys are playing hard and I expect some excitement in the second half.”

Smith on Cavaliers forward LeBron James setting the tone for the game:  “The tone was set at the start of the game.  During the introductions, LeBron James’ energy with the Eastern Conference telling guys, ‘let’s go, let’s play,’ and then his first two plays he went to the basket and really made things happen.”

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Collins on the effect of fast pace of the All-Star Game on Houston Rockets center Yao Ming who committed a foul on Magic center Dwight Howard: “You see the look on Yao Ming’s face, this game is so fast. I thought it was interesting, he said, ‘You know what, this game is just too fast for me. I feel like I’m doing a running test out there.’ You see that he’s just not quick enough to get over and move his feet, and in fairness to him, this is a guy who put a lot of miles on that body. He had the broken foot last year, missed time, and did play for the China team over in Beijing which was a spectacular day to watch him play (in the Olympics).”

Collins on Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson not playing well in U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix:  “You see Joe Johnson who has such a great year for the Atlanta Hawks who are playing very well.  He has not played well in this building since he has gone to Atlanta. I don’t know if he comes in here and (there are) greater expectations, but even with as a member of the Hawks, today he has not shot the ball well. I don’t know if he puts greater pressure on himself to perform better here because he was once here as a member of this (Suns) team.”

Collins on the jumping ability of Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy:  “(Brandon Roy) is a sneaky leaper, when you watch him you don’t think he gets up that high and then all of a sudden you see him finishing against these bigger players.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Arizona senator John McCain during the game.

McCain on his favorite NBA All-Star:  “So far it’s got to be Shaq.  I think he’s trying to prove to everybody that he’s still the MVP, he missed his first shot and then made, I think, the next eight. No one is stopping him.”

McCain on the firing of Suns coach Terry Porter: “They are lacking in the chemistry.  We wish Terry Porter well, he’s a great guy and he’s a great coach and we wish him well.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Suns center Shaquille O’Neal during the game.

O’Neal on having flashbacks to his days as a teammate of Kobe Bryant:  “I had to admit to my man Kobe, it felt like flashbacks.  Every time I go there Kobe tells me, ‘go to work,’ so I felt like 1999-2004. We never had a lot of friendship, the respect is there.  He has beautiful daughters, I have beautiful kids and every time we see each other it’s friendly and all that. Everything we’ve done, we’ve done purposely.”

O’Neal on whether he is playing for the NBA All-Star MVP Award:  “I’m just glad to be here, brother. I’m glad to be here at the tender age of 37, I remember last year when I wasn’t here people said I was done, so I’m just happy to be here.”

Miller on the natural ability of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to play the game:  “The game just comes easy to Kobe, it doesn’t matter if it’s an All-Star Game, pick-up game or he’s playing for the Lakers. There are some players where the game just comes easy for them.”

Bryant on being a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal once again and being awarded a co-MVP Award with O’Neal:  “It was fun, Phil (Jackson) diagrammed a couple of things for us to play a two-man game like we used to, we went back to doing what we used to do, so it was fun.”

Miller on the MVP Award going to both Suns center Shaquille O’Neal and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant:  “Those guys (Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant) could go down as one of the greatest duos ever.  They could have won five or six championships if they stayed together. Tonight they put aside their differences, if there were any, and go out and get co-MVPs.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, Smith, Gary Payton and Webber, Craig Sager and David Aldridge reporting

Smith on how All-Star co-MVPs Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s competitive natures helps them: “Obviously there is still some tension (between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal) because all of it hasn’t been forgotten and forgiven.  These two guys are the ultimate competitors and they are this good because of that competitive nature.  Anytime someone questions your competitive nature and how good you are, that hurts you as a player.  They are (league) MVPs, All-Star MVPs and they have egos that have helped them and propelled them to be better than they probably would have been.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul following the game

Paul on having fun playing in the All-Star Game after a tough first half of the season with the Hornets: “It’s always fun (in the All-Star Game) when you are playing with a great group of guys like that on this stage.  (When) you drive to the lane and see Brandon Roy and Kobe (Bryant) on the wing, it’s unbelievable.  I’m glad to be back healthy and once our team gets back healthy, we’ll be ready for the second half of the season.”

Payton on the Suns firing head coach Terry Porter and interim head coach Alvin Gentry returning the team to an up-tempo style of play: “You’re going to lose Shaq (O’Neal in an up-tempo style) and Shaq is playing very well.  With running more up and down (the court), he’s not going to get up the court like that.  He’s not going to get there and they aren’t going to post him up.  They are going to try to shoot fast and that’s not going to help them.”

Aldridge on if the Suns will trade forward Amar’e Stoudemire before the NBA trade deadline: “I believe that (Suns interim head coach) Alvin Gentry does not want to trade Amar’e Stoudemire.  They have a much better chance at running (the floor) with him on the team.  But it’s not (Gentry’s) call obviously.  The Suns have told (Stoudemire) that this is a financial decision.  (Suns GM) Steve Kerr said this weekend that it’s still a financial decision.  (Kerr) put it at 60-40 (percent) that he’s here but if the financial part of it hasn’t changed, (Stoudemire) will be traded.”

Smith on the Suns potentially trading Amar’e Stoudemire before the trade deadline: “(The Suns) are a team that said last year that they are going for (a NBA Championship).  They brought Shaq (O’Neal) in and they were going to try and win it all.  If they trade Amar’e Stoudemire off this team, they’re saying that they are rebuilding.  I’m not sure if there is a free agent or a player out there that can help them right now to win a championship if they are moving Amar’e.  They are sending a different message than last year when they do that.”

Webber on the Suns getting older and having to rebuild if they trade Amar’e Stoudemire: “If (the Suns) do get rid of Amar’e (Stoudemire), the team automatically becomes older with Grant Hill and (Steve) Nash.  I like when they made those moves last year but if this doesn’t work, they (are rebuilding) for six, seven or eight years.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett following the game

Garnett on what it means to be part of the Celtics storied tradition: “One of the best things to ever happen to me was coming to the Celtics and adopting the tradition that they have.  To be part of that winning tradition and having the respect of the players who have come before me, it’s special.”

Garnett on Sager’s pink and red suit that he wore during the All-Star Game: “I’ve never in my life tried to go after you and your suits but tonight, I am stressing to you, you take this outfit home and you burn it.  We don’t want to see this.  I know you don’t double-back with outfits and I’ve never seen you in an outfit twice.  I don’t care if it’s Versace or a name brand, you take this and you burn it.  So when you finish, you should be butt-ass naked.  But you burn it and the shoes too, burn them.  Don’t ask any questions, just burn it.”

TNT’s exclusive coverage of the 2009 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday delivered a 4.1 US HH Rating, representing a 6% increase from the prior year, and 6,855,000 Total Viewers, up 8% from last year’s telecast, according to Nielsen’s Fast Nationals. The West, led by co-MVP’s Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, defeated the East Squad 146-119.

The event also delivered ratings growth in Homes (4,665,000), up 8% from last year, as well as key adult demographics, including:

  • A18-34 (2,517,000) +10%
  • A18-49 (4,033,000) +6%
  • A25-54 (3,445,000) +12%

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