NBA Opening Night: Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Most people say that the two things that will stop the Lakers are Lamar Odom’s wedding and Ron Artest running into the stands.  If those are the only two things you have to worry about with winning a championship as a coach, you want that every single year.  Basketball-wise, they don’t have any holes.

Ron Artest is usually the first or second best player on a team.  Now he is the third or fourth option and he can carry you for weeks at a time.  He can actually play defense, get 20 points and stop someone from scoring 20 points.  I don’t know three guys in the NBA that can do that.  Add that to Kobe Bryant, who is the most electric player in the league.  I don’t see how the Lakers can lose another championship, barring injury.  They are hands-down the most talented, best team in basketball.  If you take the best player off of every team in the West (Conference), this would be the only team that would make the playoffs.”

–Kenny Smith on the Lakers being the best team in the league.

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber

Barkley on the excitement of opening night for a contending team: “There’s always excitement when you start the season.  When you’re one of the elite teams, you have a legitimate chance to win a championship.  All of these teams don’t have a chance to win the championship and only one team at the end of the year gets the carrot.  So there is a great excitement when you have a legit chance to get that carrot at the end of the rainbow.”

Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal on his off-season workout routine: “I went through training camp and I felt pretty good.  I went through all the drills, all the high school and college drills.  I did it all and I felt pretty good.  I’ve been doing yoga, a new form called gyrotonics.  I’ll let you look it up.  You know me, I’m advanced.”

O’Neal on playing with fellow Cavaliers’ center Zydrunas Ilgauskas: “With me and Z (Ilgauskas), we’re the best center ever created.  Better than Bill Walton.  Not better than Mr. Russell, but he’s different.  But better than anybody.”

Barkley on Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal in Cleveland: “The key for Shaq is they only have to play him 20-25 minutes a game during the regular season to keep him fresh and healthy.  The guy is 37-years-old and has a lot of wear and tear on his body.  He is going to give it a good effort but he can’t get frustrated with only playing a few minutes a night.”

Webber on Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace in Boston: “This was the best (off-season) acquisition in the NBA and (the Celtics) will win the championship because Kevin Garnett’s passion matches Rasheed’s passion.  In my mind, (there’s) no doubt they’ll win the championship in my mind.  They are going to punk a lot of teams.”

Smith on Celtics forward Glen Davis being injured in an altercation and missing games: “It’s unfortunate for him because he was playing so well at the end of last year, but it’s better for the Celtics because now those minutes won’t be shared with Rasheed.  He’s going to play all those minutes consistently throughout the year.  That’s a better rhythm for him.”

Webber on Ron Artest joining the Los Angeles Lakers: “I think he’s going to come in and play well.  We’ve seen guys come to new teams at pivotal points in their life like Dennis Rodman did (in Chicago).  I think he’ll fill his role and not try to score too much.  He’ll guard the best player, which will help out Kobe late in the game.  He’s going to be a good fit.”

Barkley: “If he plays strictly basketball, they’re a better team.  Ron Artest has to keep his head together because they need him to win.”

Smith on Vince Carter joining the Orlando Magic: “To me, Vince Carter is a better player that Hedu Turkoglu however, I don’t know if he’s better for this team.  What made Orlando so tough to play in the playoffs was they had Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu as unconventional threes and fours.  They are easier to match-up against (this season) even though I think Vince Carter is better.”

Smith on Richard Jefferson joining the San Antonio Spurs: “They become a little more explosive offensively (with Jefferson).  In the past, the Spurs were always a great defensive team but some nights they couldn’t score 115 points.  Scoring comes easy to him and they are lot more explosive because of Richard Jefferson.”

Barkley on the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder being surprise teams this season: “The Clippers and Oklahoma City are both going to have a better record than the Golden State Warriors.”

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Game 1:  Boston Celtics (95) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (89)

Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins with Cheryl Miller reporting

Collins on what Kevin Garnett brought to the Celtics last season: “The thing with Kevin Garnett is he came in (to Boston) and changed the culture with his defense and his energy.  He became the voice of that team and the backline of that defense.  He became their personality.”

Collins on Celtics guard Marquis Daniels: “Don’t let that sleepy look fool you.  This guy is a competitor and he’s got a chance to really help this team, especially playing multiple positions.”

Collins on Celtics forward Shelden Williams: “Doc Rivers is happy with Shelden Williams.  He’s trying to get rid of the disappointment with everyone saying that he’s been a bust.  He’s got a great chance to come in here and play a roll where he comes off that bench, playing some tough minutes, getting some physical ability and toughness around the rim.”

Collins on the what guards Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon bring to the Cavaliers: “Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon are going to give (the Cavaliers) versatility… small backcourts really hurt them in their series against Orlando (in the ECF).”

O’Neal on playing with LeBron James: “I’m a realist and I know he’s the best player in the world.  I know that, my children know that, everybody realizes that.  I once had that title when I was his age.  But now I’m 37 and on my way out so it would be very foolish of me to come in and take over something that was already pretty damn good.  It’s fortunate for me to be inserted into a good team and not lose anybody.  I’m not crazy.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Halftime

Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber

NBA TV’s Kevin McHale joined the studio crew

Smith on teams having trouble defending against Celtics Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett: “If you have a slow big man, you’re going to have trouble against Rasheed Wallace when he plays (center).  You can’t show and then get back because he gets the ball off so quickly.  You have to have an agile forward (to defend Wallace) and not too many teams have two forwards that can defend Wallace and Kevin Garnett.”

Webber on Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett playing together in the defensive end: “(Wallace) and Kevin Garnett, when they are in together are going to terrorize teams defensively.”

McHale on who improved more in the offseason, Boston or Cleveland: “I think Boston (improved more) with Rasheed (Wallace) along with Marquis Daniels who is going to help that team a great deal.  I think those two additions are going to outdo Cleveland bringing in Shaq (O’Neal).  At the end of games, when you close with Garnett and Wallace, it’s going to be impossible to guard.  They are going to be murder at the end of games.”

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Collins on the Celtics making mental mistakes: “Sometimes the Celtics lose focus.  They get a lead and then all of a sudden, they’ll make two or three bad plays.”

Collins on Rasheed Wallace enjoying his time in Boston: “The energy that (the Celtics) bring every single day is really going to help Rasheed Wallace.  I think he is going to be very happy playing in that environment (in Boston).”

Collins on teams needing to be aggressive when facing the Celtics: “Boston is so good that teams have the tendency to hold the ball and get stagnant.  Against Boston, you’ve got to move the ball, cut, pass and get that ball from side to side.”

Collins on the Cavaliers playing Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas at the same time: “It’s a situation where transition defense is going to be a problem when you play those two guys (O’Neal and Ilgauskas) together.”

Collins on the new additions to the Cavaliers not being familiar with each other: “There’s a lot of trust and communication on defense.  But offense is so much precision and right now (the Cavaliers) just don’t know each other.”

TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Celtics forward Kevin Garnett after the game

Garnett on how he felt to get back on the court after missing games last season with injury: “I feel good.  I feel like the first time I made the AAU team.  I feel eager.  I had to calm myself down but I gave it everything I have.”

Garnett on how the Eastern Conference has improved: “Cleveland has gotten better.  Orlando has gotten better.  Washington has gotten better.  Atlanta has gotten better.  The East (Conference) has gotten better.  We’re trying to measure ourselves and see where we are.  We’re trying to get everything straight.  We’re not perfect at all and we’re a team in process.  Tonight was a great test for us and I thought we did a good job.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Game Break

Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber

Webber on the Lakers not being able to match-up against the Celtics: “The Celtics are the only team that can match the intensity of the Lakers.  I love Pau Gasol and (Andrew Bynum) inside but I don’t think they are ready for Rasheed and the crew.”

Smith on the Lakers being the best team in the league: “Most people say that the two things that will stop the Lakers are Lamar Odom’s wedding and Ron Artest running into the stands.  If those are the only two things you have to worry about with winning a championship as a coach, you want that every single year.  Basketball-wise, they don’t have any holes.  Ron Artest is usually the first or second best player on a team.  Now he is the third or fourth option and he can carry you for weeks at a time.  He can actually play defense, get 20 points and stop someone from scoring 20 points.  I don’t know three guys in the NBA that can do that.  Add that to Kobe Bryant, who is the most electric player in the league.  I don’t see how the Lakers can lose another championship, barring injury.  They are hands-down the most talented, best team in basketball.  If you take the best player off of every team in the West (Conference), this would be the only team that would make the playoffs.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Game 2:  Los Angeles Clippers (92) @ Los Angeles Lakers (99)

Announcers: Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Reggie Miller with Craig Sager reporting

Fratello on Lakers forward Ron Artest playing defense: “Ron Artest can frustrate you and make you start to think about jump shooting instead of taking it to the basket.”

Miller on Ron Artest accepting being the third or fourth offensive option on the Lakers: “(Artest is) going to have to accept it.  He’s coming into a situation where this team is already established, they are the (reigning) NBA Champions.  He’s not coming to a team that’s up-and-coming.”

Miller on the Lakers and Lamar Odom dealing with off-the-court distractions: “There is so much on the plate of Lamar Odom coming off of winning a championship, getting married over the summer. TMZ is following you and your wife around the city and you’re still coming out here and giving everything you’ve got.  Phil Jackson is used to the circus-type atmosphere when he (coached) the greatest player ever Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.  That was a traveling circus as well.”

Sager interviewed Lakers forward Ron Artest after the first half

Artest on his feelings watching his teammates get championship rings before the game: “I was happy for Lamar (Odom), we grew up together.  I greeted everyone as they came out and I told them to enjoy it and let’s get a win.”

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Halftime

Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber

Barkley on Lakers forward Ron Artest shaving designs into his hair: “You know my rule where once you get past 22 (years-old), you can’t wear throwback jerseys?  At some point you’re a grown-ass man and you can’t wear throwback jerseys.  What is the age when you can’t carve crap into your hair?”

Barkley on the Dallas Mavericks losing to the Washington Wizards on opening night: “A lot of people are picking Dallas as the surprise fourth seed in the West.  They can’t come out this flat in the season opener against an undermanned Wizards team at home.”

****    ****    ****    ****

Clippers guard Baron Davis on his rocky relationship with head coach Mike Dunleavy last season: “I was trying to figure out where I was going to be and what my routine was so we never really got a chance to talk and get to know each other.  This summer we spent a lot of time talking about the game and the look of the team.  I think that has ultimately translated to us being able to communicate on the court with some give-and-take on both sides.”

Miller on Baron Davis making an effort to improve communication between head coach Mike Dunleavy and himself: “Communication is the key between the point guard, who is your floor general, and the head coach.  I like how Baron took responsibility for the situation, made the effort to talk to the head coach (Dunleavy) and try to get on the same page.”

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

Jackson on Lakers center Andrew Bynum: “(Bynum is) off to a great start.  We know that getting him through the season is a key factor for us.  He’s had a wonderful run up to this point.  Now we have to keep him in condition and position to compete all year.”

Miller on Lakers forward Lamar Odom: “(Odom) provides versatility coming off the bench (for the Lakers).  He has a long, athletic feel that he brings to the team.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on former Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter: “We have a special bond because he basically raised me.  When I first got here, it was him and I in a room watching hours and hours of film.  It’s good to have ‘Yoda’ back.”

Fratello on how former Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter should be considered for the Hall of Fame:  “I think that Tex Winter should be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.  There’s a contributor category, he’s not a head coach in the NBA but he is the guy who put the offense in for Phil Jackson who owns ten championship rings.  He’s the architect of the Triangle Offense in Chicago and Los Angeles.  He should receive serious consideration to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant following the game

Bryant on the Lakers winning on opening night: “It was good, our rhythm was pretty good.  We had stretches where we locked down defensively.  It’s going to take a while for Ron (Artest) to get his rhythm.  I don’t think he’s used to being that wide-open.”

Bryant on Reggie Miller’s comments that he expects the Lakers to start the season 20-1: “Thank you and no thank you.  We won’t put that pressure on ourselves.  We’ll leave it to everyone else to put that pressure on us.  We just want to get better and work hard every day.  We just take every game as it comes.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber

Smith on the possibility that the Lakers could lose only one game in their first 21 games of the season: “If (the Lakers) aren’t 20-1 they’re flirting with 20-1. They gave 20-1 flowers and candy.”

Barkley on how the Cavaliers need to utilize forward LeBron James in their offense: “I’ve been saying for three years now, the Cavaliers clearly don’t get TNT, walking it up and down the court and letting LeBron go one-on-five, that’s not going to win in the long run. It’s not really going to show until the playoffs. They should be running a lot more and let LeBron (James) finish, he works too hard for his baskets. The only way they are going to get to that next level is LeBron has to do more finishing and starting these plays than going one-on-five.”

Webber on the Cavaliers’ offense preventing easy points for forward LeBron James: “I don’t know if it’s the offensive structure, but if LeBron was in the triangle, if he got the ball where Carmelo (Anthony) got it…I just see other NBA teams with great superstars and it’s easier for them (to get points).”

Smith on certain offenses allowing an easy six to eight points every game: “When you play on great teams, and all three of us have been fortunate to play on great teams, there are about six to eight points that you get just because of the offense. You don’t really have to do anything, you’re just running and you get precision passes and you know you’re going to get six to eight points and everything else is a bonus. I don’t see those points (for the Cavaliers).”

Barkley on the importance of the Celtics winning their season opener against the Cavaliers: “All you’ve got to do is play Doc Rivers’ speech. (The Celtics) are playing for something bigger. This isn’t like an opening game for them. Like what Doc Rivers said, ‘we’re going to win a championship, we’re not just coming here to beat Cleveland, we’re trying to win the World Championship.’ I thought that was great coaching on Doc’s part. They’re not trying to make the playoffs. They want you to know from day one, ‘we’re trying to win a championship.’ I thought that was a great move by Doc Rivers.”

Barkley on which Western Conference team will struggle: “I think the Rockets will have the worst record. Sacramento is in there, but I really think the Rockets will have the worst record in the West.  (Aaron) Brooks will have a good season. (Shane) Battier will have a good season. And that’s it.”

11 Responses to “NBA Opening Night: Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Tuesday, October 27, 2009”

  1. GrandNubian says:

    The Celtics have size, size and more size. They look poised for another title run.

  2. ronglover says:

    Never saw the skit for the “Championship Club” where Kenny was there and C.B. couldn’t get in. It was done up like a real club. Kenny kept coming to the door and kept yelling out players names that won rings that were in there i.e. ” Hey Doc is up in here, what’s up man?” And Chuck is left standin at the velvet rope. Hilarious.

  3. KevDog says:

    Well, now that NBA is back, I’m excited as hell.

    The Celtics and Lakers are easily the class of the league and I’d be shocked if they don’t meet in the finals. I expect both of those teams to challenge the Bulls’ 72 win total with the lakers getting there.

    I expect the Lakers to beat the Celtics in 6 becuase of two reasons, they will have the best player on the court in Kobe and while the Celts have as MUCH talent and depth, the Lakers have Youth and most importantly much more versatile players.

  4. Mizzo says:

    If you all get a chance, read what I pose to Doug, Reggie and Webb about the Celtics communicating the interior pick and rolls.

    It’s something to watch in person. No other team does it quite as well. I was interested how Rasheed’s signing would impact the defense.

    I’ll have our preview posted on Friday.

    Just received Magic and Bird’s book When the Game Was Ours in the mail. I speak to them both on November 2. I hope it’s more than the rift between Zeke and Magic. We’ll see.

  5. Origin says:

    Yes Kev thankfully the NBA is back.

    And like I said this summer the key is Gasol’s health…….all that playing in europe in the summer is going to catch up with him.

    He broke his finger this summer and now has a hamstring pull.

  6. KevDog says:

    Orgin, luckily for the Lakers, they have the depth and versatility to give Gasol some rest, ease him back in, play him 30 minutes a game for the first part of the season and still win 70 Games.

    A couple of other thoughts…….

    It’s going to be hard for LeBron to beat out Kobe this year. LeBron’s team has some serious flaws and has a need to get fully adjusted. I look for them to win 56-58 or so games. Kobe’s team will win 68-73. Only D-Wade having a spectacular year and leading the Heat to 50 wins can give Kobe some run, but if the Lakers win 70, it’s all over.

    Not that I give a fuck about the award, just pointing out how things are.

    Anyone catch the thing about the crooked NBA ref? Looks like all of we conspiracy theorists were at least partially and probably mostly right.

    Here’s an excerpt from Tim Donaghy’s book

    “And then there was the ongoing feud between Javie and 76ers superstar Allen Iverson. The rift was so bad that Philadelphia general manager Billy King often called the league office to complain about Javie’s treatment of Iverson during a game.

    Iverson was eventually traded to Denver, and in his first game against his former team, he was tossed after two technicals. Afterward, Iverson implied Javie had a grudge against him, saying, “I thought I got fouled on that play, and I said I thought that he was calling the game personal, and he threw me out. His fuse is real short anyway, and I should have known that I couldn’t say anything anyway. It’s been something personal with me and him since I got in the league. This was just the perfect game for him to try and make me look bad.” The league fined Iverson $25,000 for his comments, but most of the league referees thought the punishment was too lenient and were upset he wasn’t suspended. As a result, we collectively decided to dispense a little justice of our own, sticking it to Iverson whenever we could.

    Shortly after the Javie-Iverson incident, I worked a Jazz-Nuggets contest in Denver on January 6, 2007. During the pregame meeting, my fellow referees Bernie Fryer and Gary Zielinski agreed that we were going to strictly enforce the palming rule against Iverson. Palming the ball was something Iverson loved to do, but if he so much as came close to a palm, we were going to blow the whistle. Obviously, our actions were in direct retaliation for Iverson’s rant against Javie. True to form, I immediately excused myself and made an important phone call.

    Sticking to our pregame pledge, each of us whistled Iverson for palming in the first quarter-we all wanted in on the fun. The violations seemed to affect Iverson’s rhythm and he played terribly that night, shooting 5-for-19 with five turnovers. After getting repeatedly whistled all night long, Iverson approached me in an act of submission.

    “How long am I going to be punished for Javie?” he quietly inquired.

    “Don’t know what you’re talking about, Allen,” I responded.”

    Notice how he basically shows how crooked the officials are and how they referee players on how much or how little they like them? Now notice how that NAZI Stern is trying to shut it down….

    “During the process of editing and vetting the manuscript, which Triumph received from Donaghy in the spring, Random House and its imprint made the joint decision to cancel the book out of “concerns over potential liability,” according to an e-mail from a Triumph representative.

    Pat Berdan, a senior consultant at Executive Prison Consultants and Donaghy’s liaison to the publisher, said that the decision not to publish the book came two weeks ago. He said it was the result of a threat of legal action by the NBA.

    “Somehow, the NBA got wind of the project and let Random House know in a threatening-type correspondence that they would object to the publication of such a book and they threatened that they would sue if they did go ahead and do that,” said Berdan, who didn’t see any letters from the NBA. “Random House considered that and … just pulled the plug on it.””

    Shit is as rigged and crooked as rigged and crooked can be. Fuck David Stern and the NBA machine.

  7. Origin says:

    Great points Kev.

    I really hate this playing in the summer mess.

    I was glad that Cuban told Dirk no. I hate seeing these guys banged up before the season and looking tired by game 40.

    Oh and the comments from the book don’t surprise me. I been saying that about the NBA, NFL and MLB for years.

    I will save those comments however for future reference.

  8. GrandNubian says:

    “Smith on the possibility that the Lakers could lose only one game in their first 21 games of the season: ‘ “If (the Lakers) aren’t 20-1 they’re flirting with 20-1. They gave 20-1 flowers and candy.” ‘

    Well, in order for them to be 20-1, they now have to win 19 in a row.

  9. Temple3 says:

    LOL.

    I don’t see the rush. The Lakers are going to be just fine. Now, the Cavaliers are a different story. They might have to play zone for the rest of the season.

    KevDog:

    I find the ref stuff interesting in that I am always interested in what it takes for someone to break the code. People have said as much about NBA games forever. It simply illuminates the extent to which David Stern actually condones, endorses and profits from this structure.

    In this environment, who is legit?

  10. Mizzo says:

    I saw Brandon Jennings up close and personal last night. The kid just missed a Oscar his first time out…falling one rip and one dime short.

    I’m still impressed.

    Motivation is a great tool for inevitable success.

  11. Eric Daniels says:

    I have been in the hospital this week so I did see some of the games and Mizzo Brandon Jennings does look like the truth at point guard and the Cavaliers don’t look that good to be among the favorites and Boston to me is the favorite because of the physciality and defensive ability and with Rasheed Wallace’s outside shooting he is the ultimate “wild card” amongst the favorites and is more dependable than Artest if the Lakers and Celtics meet in the finals. Now I am going to buy some Bons Bons and skip Farve Bowl II

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