Monthly Archive for June, 2009

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Pau Gasol: Exit Interview

blog_090616paugasolWhile Pau Gasol’s mastery of offense was evident throughout his All-Star 2008-09 campaign, and his entire career, for that matter, it may have been his growth on the defensive side of the ball from L.A.’s 2008 Finals loss to Boston and 2009′s victory over Orlando that made the ultimate difference.

For the season, he averaged 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 blocks on 56.7 percent from the field and 78.1 percent from the line in 81 games at 37 minutes per. In the playoffs, Gasol scored 18.3 points with 10.8 boards, 2.5 assists, 0.83 steals and 1.96 blocks on 58 percent from the field and 71.4 from the line while playing 40.5 minutes per contest.

Here are some highlights from his exit interview:

- To start: “I feel great. When I got here, it was a complete shock … Everything happened extremely fast. I was able to deliver very well throughout the playoffs and help my team conquer the championship. It’s been a beautiful year.”

- Gasol acknowledged that the big difference between last season and this was his focus on getting stronger, pushed along by L.A.’s staff, that clearly played off in the playoff run to the championship as his defense and paint presence picked up considerably.

- Gasol’s next three answers came in Espanol, as is sometimes the case depending on the reporters … Yeah, not sure what he said.

- On Phil Jackson: “I think he would like to come back. I really want him, I wish and hope that he comes back. He’s such a big part of our team and our success. I don’t know if he gets enough credit for what he does. He’s such a great person, not just a coach, he’s just a great guy to be coached by. I respect him so much, appreciate who he is and what he’s about extremely. It’s a true pleasure and honor to be coached by him so I really hope he can coach us again for as long as he wants, can or (will be allowed) by.” In other words, Gasol loves Phil.

- Finally, Gasol acknowledged how hard it was to repeat, citing how L.A.’s hunger from losing last season drove them throughout this campaign, but he suggested that if the team’s able to keep it’s key players and coaches, he felt good about its chances: “We have an amazing group and we’ll definitely go for it again.”

Derek Fisher: Exit Interview

blog_090616derekfisherFor the fourth consecutive season, Derek Fisher appeared in all 82 regular season games, but for the first time since 2002, his campaign ended with a championship.

In the regular season, Fisher averaged 9.9 points, 3.2 assists and 1.16 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the field, 84.6 percent from the charity stripe and a team-leading 39.7 percent from three-point territory. In 22 postseason starts (Fisher missed one game due to suspension), he averaged 8.0 points, 2.2 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 0.95 steals on 39.4 percent from the floor, 28.4 percent from three and 86.1 percent from the free throw line.

Though he struggled early in the playoffs with his shooting, Fisher found his touch when it counted, hitting 43.8 percent of his triples in the NBA Finals, included the two massive triples that tied and beat the Magic in Game 4.

Here are some highlights of his season-ending press conference:

- His open: “Even with all the ups and the downs, times we looked like we could be champions and times that we didn’t, I was just looking back with Mitch (Kupchak) and Phil (Jackson)* on how much fun it was to win this year. We really did it as a group.”
*In their season-ending meeting that preceded his presser.

- Fisher said this championship felt like No. 1 to him because of how much has happened since 2002, how many things he and his teammates have had to push through.

- Fisher wouldn’t say it outright, but implied that he’d be surprised if Phil Jackson didn’t come back: “It’s for him to say but we did talk about the future. I didn’t get the feeling leaving that he wasn’t going to be my coach next season. As you guys know and as I’ve learnd, the card that he’s showing you (isn’t) necessarily the one that he’s going to play … For all intents and purposes, we have a collection of players here (and the) veteran leadership of Kobe and myself, (so) he can feel good about the ability to coach this team. All the work isn’t on him to try and help this team continue to grow.”

- Fisher pointed out that General Manager Mitch Kupchak has not gotten enough credit for building this team.

- When asked if any perspective on his huge Game 4 three-pointers has settled in at this point: “No it really hasn’t. I had to pinch myself yesterday.” Fisher said he saw a Los Angeles Times column that had him ranked twice in the franchise’s all-time Top 5 shots: “I’m on here twice…” Thinking about my life and what I’ve been through… It’s just hard to put into perspective for a guy from Little Rock, Arkansas.”

- When asked how much Kobe Bryant has changed since the two came into the league together, Fisher acknowledged that Bryant “Lets more people in but still keeps the same competitive edge, desire and fire to be the best player on the court and on the planet.” Fisher cited Kobe’s role as a father and husband for his growth as a person which was evident with his change as a leader, but ultimately, he said that Bryant “Lives in a place where he wants to be the best to have ever done this … That’s all he strives for.” Surely that’s not a fire that many people in the entire world have regardless of profession, and Fisher said he has ultimate respect for that.

Fisher, Mayor Villaraigosa Talk Parade

Four-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, flanked by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilwoman Jan Perry and Police Chief William Bratton, had a message for Lakers fans and L.A. citizens:

Have a great deal of fun in Wednesday’s parade that celebrates the team’s 15th championship … Just not too much fun.

“We feel like we win with class, and when we win we enjoy it and like to celebrate, but we have a responsibility to do it in a way that’s respectful to our community,” said Fisher. “My message is that tomorrow we (celebrate) responsibly, safely and with other people in mind, not just ourselves. We don’t want to have one person or one small group of people ruin this opportunity for us to have a great day.”

Villaraigosa and Bratton, after praising the work of Fisher and his team, echoed the captain’s sentiment of safety in celebration.

“This team has always been a symbol of pride for the City of Angels,” said Villaraigosa. “This town deserves a championship team. This is going to be a great celebration … Let’s do it in a way that respects these champions.”

Villaraigosa added that the parade alone is expected to generate some $15 million for the local economy.

Kobe Bryant: 2009 Finals MVP

Kobe BryantWho but Kobe Bryant could have been the first recipient of the newly-named Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award after the Lakers handily defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 to cap a 4-1 series victory?

While his numbers told the story just fine – Bryant averaged team-high 32.4 points and 7.4 assists, plus 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks on 45.7 percent shooting in five games – it was No. 24′s ability to lead his team both physically and mentally that stood out most impressively.

The title was the fourth of Bryant’s career, but he had yet to earn Finals MVP accolades, which went to Shaquille O’Neal in L.A.’s 2000-2002 three-peat. That Bryant was the clear lead dog in the 2009 race, and that his teammates so heartily bought into his mission put the accomplishment at the “top of the list,” in his words.

After the game, a joyous Bryant addressed a slew of reporters; Here’s the quote transcription:

LAKERS GUARD KOBE BRYANT:
Q. As you well know, Phil Jackson now, 10 championships, most in history. What is it that makes him such a great coach in your opinion?
KOBE BRYANT: I think it’s his ability to bring people together. That’s the biggest thing that he does so well is he continues to coach the group, continues to coach unity and chemistry and togetherness, and that’s the biggest thing, because when you’re together, you can with stand adversity. If you’re not, you can easily break apart and become a team of individuals. That’s his biggest characteristic of what he does well.

Q. Can you talk about the impact that Pau has had on this team in the 17 months he’s been with you guys?
KOBE BRYANT: Pau is I think the thing that helped us get to this level was the improvements that he made defensively. He did a terrific job defensively for us all year, and particularly in this series. Offensively his capabilities are limitless. He’s a dominant post up player, extremely versatile, makes great decisions, and obviously when we got him last year, that really took us to that next step.

Q. How is this different from your previous three rings?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I just don’t have to hear that criticism, that idiotic criticism anymore. That’s the biggest thing. I don’t have to hear that stuff anymore. For us with the collection of guys that are so young and having gone through what we went through last year and having the goal in mind of trying to get back to this point, and to have the attitude of we’re going to become a better defensive team, better rebounding team, and then to actually do it and to see it all happen, it feels like I’m dreaming right now. I can’t believe this moment is here.

Q. You hit that three, put you up 83 67, they called time out, you went to the bench and paused. Was that the moment it hit you it was within your grasp?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, that was the shot that I was measuring the whole time. I knew I had to knock it down because they were starting to surge. I could feel it. It was a 13 point game and I could feel a surge coming. That shot, I knew if I was able to knock it down it would deflate them a little bit and buy us another minute, and that’s why I did that.

Q. What did it feel like when you finally realized the moment was at hand?
KOBE BRYANT: It felt like a big old monkey was off my back. It felt so good to be able to have this moment. We tried not to envision it too much, you know what I mean, because you just get too excited. You try not to think about it, just think about playing the game, and for this moment to be here and to reflect back on the season and everything that you’ve been through, it’s top of the list, man.
Continue reading ‘Kobe Bryant: 2009 Finals MVP’

Lakers 99, Magic 86: Championship Postgame

blog_post_finals09
For a full calender year, the Los Angeles Lakers possessed a single, pervasive thought that permeated through the team’s collective brain…

Championship or bust.

After catching the title scent early in the second quarter of Sunday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals with a 16-0 run, the Lakers sprinted away with the franchise’s 15th championship with an all-encompassing display of basketball.

Each and every player that stepped foot onto the Amway Arena floor wearing purple and gold offered something productive: Kobe Bryant nailed shots near and far from the basket; Pau Gasol swatted shots and defended Dwight Howard impressively; Lamar Odom sank corner threes and attacked the glass; Trevor Ariza swiped the ball and like Odom, buried triples; Derek Fisher made savvy plays and controlled the tempo; Andrew Bynum stood tall in the lane … And so on, and so forth.

No stat line was more impressive than that of Bryant, who put up 30 points, five assists, six boards and four blocks. But the net result of the total team effort was effectively what L.A. showed all year: They were too long, too strong, too deep and too skilled.

“It felt so good to be able to have this moment,” said Bryant, who fittingly won the Finals MVP award. “We tried not to envision it too much, you know what I mean, because you just get too excited. You try not to think about it, just think about playing the game, and for this moment to be here and to reflect back on the season and everything that you’ve been through, it’s top of the list, man.”

They won 65 regular season games, and got better as the playoffs rolled on, eliminating a tough Denver Nuggets squad with six straight dominant quarters and rolling the Magic in five games, winning their final two of 16 playoff contests on the road.

Their coach, Phil Jackson, who won an almost unbelievable 10th NBA Championship to pass the late Red Auerbach, talked not about himself but about his players after the dust settled.

I’d like to say that it’s really about the players; it’s about Kobe Bryant, about Derek Fisher’s leadership of the team. “I tried to take them through some of the build up things that we had to do last year as a basketball club. They came together this year and were self motivated, and for a coach that’s always a positive sign. When a team is ready, they’re aggressive, their learning curve is high, and they wanted to win. I’ve always felt as a coach you have to push your team, and I told them they had to push themselves. I wasn’t at the stage of my life where I could get out and do the things that I had done 10 years ago or 15 years ago to push a team. And they pushed themselves, and I really feel strongly that this is about them.

In their final contest, the Lakers first survived the inevitable first quarter back-against-the-wall charge that saw Orlando take a 15-6 lead with force, cutting the lead to just two as the quarter ended, and going off on a 23-10 run to close the first half up 56-46.

It was academic from there, the Lakers refusing to allow anything on defense in tacking five points onto the lead after the third quarter, up 76-61 heading into the final quarter en route to a championship.

If a dagger were even needed at that point, Bryant pulled up from three as if a defender (JJ Redick) weren’t right in his face, countering a Jameer Nelson three that had provided Amway Arena’s last grasp at survival. The Magic tried to mount a last gasp effort by hitting six threes in the fourth quarter, but never got closer than 11 points.

A championship had been won.

Check back later this week for an extensive season-ended “By The Numbers” column, but until then, only one matters:

1
NBA Title earned by the L.A. Lakers on Sunday, June 14 at Amway Arena in Orlando.

Lakers – Magic Running Diary 5

57688836Read about the Lakers vs. Magic Game 5 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 4, 2009
Lakers 100, Magic 75: Postgame 1

Game 2
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 7, 2009
Lakers 101, Magic 96: Postgame 2

Game 3
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 9, 2009
Lakers 104, Magic 108: Postgame 3

Game 4
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 11, 2009
Lakers 99, Magic 91: Postgame 4

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Magic: Tyronn Lue, Jeremy Richardson

Starters
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
Magic: Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard

Phil Jackson Pregame
- Jackson opened his presser by talking about Tex Winter, who he said is able to watch and enjoy the Finals from home but isn’t able to speak on the phone: “When I became the head coach of the Bulls, I asked Johnny Bach to be the defensive coordinator and Tex to be the offensive coordinator. Tex is obviously the innovator of the triangle offense … His dedication to it made him the drill sergeant to the team. He always encouraged team play and system play, so if it became too individual, he would always bring that to bear. But more than anything else, he kept a running score on the sideline, which is now done by Brian Shaw.”
- He also talked about how difficult it is to maintain a singular focus with all the outside distractions with just one more game to win. Ultimately, he said, it’s not about him and his 10th title: “It’s really about these young men and what they’re doing.”
- Finally, Jackson compared Jameer Nelson’s return to Orlando’s lineup to Andrew Bynum’s prior to the playoffs and explained that the team skipped the morning shootaround due to the time that would have been wasted getting to and from the arena. Instead, the team watched film at the hotel.

Stan Van Gundy Pregame
- “They’re prepared, they’re in a good frame of mind, it’ll come down to how well we play. I thought practice yesterday was very good, I thought the walk through this morning was good.”
- Van Gundy said he doesn’t worry about missed free throws, because they aren’t a lack of effort or execution. It just happens. He added that Dwight Howard’s improved considerably throughout the season … But just missed some shots.
- He doesn’t think Orlando is getting “badly outplayed,” but didn’t take the bait to say that the Magic should or could be up or even in the series, as an Orlando reporter suggested. “What it could be is basically anything, the reality is it’s 3-1,” he said. In other words, he said that the Magic had a chance to win two of the last three, and the Lakers had a chance to win Game 3, meaning the series “could” have been 4-0, 3-1 or 2-2. But it’s “not.”

Jim Cleamons Pregame Video
Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons joined us to preview the final game, and take a deeper look at the pick and roll, which has been critical for both teams in the series. CLICK HERE and scroll down to “Coach Speak” to watch.

Follow Us On Twitter
In case there aren’t enough observations for you in the diary, feel free to follow us on twitter on @Lakers or @miketrudell.

57688869First Quarter
12:00 The energy in the building for Game 5 is noticeably less than that of Game 4 … Will that seep into the Magic (or Lakers) players? One thing to keep in mind in the early goings: Bynum, Gasol and Odom all had two fouls after quarter one of Game 1, which in large part caused L.A.’s 12-point deficit at halftime.

11:25 Lee scored the game’s first points on a deep pull-up jumper after Bynum turned the ball over trying to find Gasol down low, but quickly made up for it by grabbing an offensive board and keeping it alive for Pau’s tip in.

8:17 Orlando was extremely active on defense as the Lakers struggled to get good looks, resulting in two deep jump shots from Bynum. At the other end, Turkoglu and Lee scored on consecutive drives to put Orlando up 11-6.

7:00 Phil Jackson called timeout after Bryant was stripped and Alston converted a layup at the other end, with Kobe coming up lame surely due to pain on his troublesome finger. However, Bynum grabbed a Fisher miss and stuck it back in, his first make in seven attempts after he was forced into some tough shots.

4:15 After Bryant stuck his second consecutive jumper, Bynum converted his second straight field goal in the paint, a dunk over Howard, to bring L.A. within four at 21-17. In essence, L.A. had survived Orlando’s initial burst.

2:21 At an extended TV timeout that only the Finals can provide, Orlando’s “Dancin’ Dads” performed a bizarre dance to “Ridin’ Dirty” and “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” that you’re glad you missed, though to be fair, they sort of redeemed themselves when my top-three rap song “Big Pimpin’” came on.

0:53.4 Bryant’s two free throws cut Orlando’s lead to just one at 27-26, getting him to 11 points to lead all scorers. On the next possession, Howard got to the free throw line and missed badly on the first in an interesting situation since the last freebies he shot allowed L.A. to tie Game 4. He made the second, however.

0:00 After a Luke Walton miss, Mickael Pietrus (who moments earlier had converted a driving layup after taking six steps) couldn’t convert a quarter-ending three, making it a 28-26 margin after one. In Game 4, L.A. had trailed 24-20.

Continue reading ‘Lakers – Magic Running Diary 5′

Phil Jackson, Team Fined $25,000 Each

From the NBA:

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has been fined $25,000 for criticizing game officials, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations. The Lakers were also fined $25,000 for their coach’s comments.

Jackson and the Lakers have been fined for his comments made on camera between the 1st and 2nd periods during Game 4 of The Finals.

What If?

Dwight HowardWhat if Courtney Lee’s layup as regulation time expired in Game 2 went in?

What if one of Dwight Howard’s two free throws, or both, went in with 11.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 4?

A quick response in Orlando on Friday and Saturday has generally looked like this: “The Magic would be up 3-1 in the NBA Finals.”

But what if Rashard Lewis had been whistled for a foul while hitting Kobe Bryant’s wrist with 1.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter before Hedo Turkoglu blocked the shot from behind and recovered to set up the alley-oop to Lee?

Who knows?

What if the Lakers hadn’t been whistled for 11 fouls to just two on Orlando in Thursday’s fourth quarter, putting the Magic at the line 17 times as the Lakers shot not a single free throw?

Not sure.

Here’s how the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding put it:

If Lee had made that layup and Orlando had won Game 2 to even the series, the teams then have totally different mindsets and plans heading into Game 3. Maybe the angrier Lakers win Game 3. Maybe they then lose Game 4. Who knows? It’s ludicrous to draw supposition about Game 4 in any way if you’re going to change the outcome of Game 2.

The “What If” game is fun to talk about, but isn’t necessarily an accurate assessment of the contest. In other words, each play made in a basketball game directly affects the next play. If Derek Fisher hits all five of his first threes, does he have to nail his final two? If Rashard Lewis doesn’t go 0-for-3 and Rafer Alston 1-for-5 in the third quarter of Game 4, maybe the Lakers don’t get back into the game … Or maybe they do?

Countless plausible “What If” scenarios could have affected any of the four contests, but each would have promptly altered the respective team’s outlook immediately.

The point is, it’s just not that simple.

Adam Morrison: Manning the Sideline

Adam MorrisonLakers forward Adam Morrison hasn’t played a single minute in the 2009 postseason, yet he, just like his other 13 teammates, is one win away from an NBA championship.

After coming to the Lakers in a midseason trade from Charlotte along with Shannon Brown for Vladimir Radmanovic, Morrison’s done his best to both strengthen his knee and improve his overall game, and said he’s understood and even appreciated his place on the bench despite never sitting on the sidelines in his basketball career. A talented scorer and a No. 3 overall draft pick, Morrison knows in his mind that he has what it takes to contribute to a winning team, but that this season just hasn’t been his time.

Before we got kicked off the floor prior to L.A.’s Saturday afternoon practice, Morrison sat down with us to talk about what it’s like sitting in his shoes.

Head Coach Friday Conference Calls

Derek FisherWith practice canceled for both teams on Friday, head coaches Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy participated in phone conference calls with reporters on the line.

Here are the two head men’s responses to varying questions on the heels of L.A.’s dramatic 99-91 Game 4 victory over Orlando:

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to today’s conference call featuring coaches from both teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic. We’ll begin now with Coach Phil Jackson of the Lakers. Would you like to just make an opening remark?
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, I just wanted to inform our listeners and participants that having won that game, which was obviously a big push for us and a great advance towards winning a championship, we recognize the fact that we still have a big battle, big game to win before we can do anything more or claim anything. I have not watched the full tape. I have seen up to the third quarter, but I will respond to any questions about the game and the future games.

Q. I’ve been assigned to place you in context, in your place in history. I know you’re just stuck at nine titles so you’re tied with Red right now, but just on a general notion, how do you feel when you hear yourself asked about a, quote, place in history?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, you know, we try to work under the assumption that you’re only successful the moment you perform a successful act, and in that regard, this has not been accomplished yet. So talking about futuristic things kind of throws me for a loop. Talking about Red Auerbach’s record and what he accomplished as an NBA coach, I can again as a young player in the NBA looking at those records of the Celtics and realizing and thinking about how unattainable they are, how remarkable 11 championships at that time were, and the fact that Red coached nine championships, world championships. So I do know that it’s a momentous thing.

Phil JacksonQ. Do you have a theory on whether you should foul or shouldn’t foul based on how much time is left in the game?
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, I do. I usually go with anything under five seconds and if the ball is taken out in the half court area, guys coming away from the basket, you want to foul them and make them restart again. You know, usually if there’s somewhere over eight, nine, ten seconds, you want to make them put the ball on the floor, use some time maybe before you give a foul. But that’s not a hard, fast rule. There are times when we have fouled just to say, look, let’s make them start over again, let’s have them reset, have to get the ball back in again and then we’ll go from there. We want to see what they’re going to do. That’s been an option, too. But for the most part it’s usually five seconds.

Q. Your team made a couple of passes and Fish put the ball on the floor two or three times. Were you surprised that no foul ever came?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, once he put the ball on the floor and he was driving the ball up the court, it became difficult for the defender to know whether to foul or not because then he can go into his shooting motion, and any time a guy comes to foul at that point when no one was there with him, and obviously they had thrown two guys at Kobe to double team him and get him off the ball in that situation, that put Derek in the driver’s seat.

Q. How do you keep the emotions in check, even the excitement in check, that the players are feeling the next 48 hours with the knowledge they’re one win away from a championship?

PHIL JACKSON: You know, I don’t know if I have the expertise in that department. This is something that really has got a lot to do with how Orlando plays. We just have to go out there and assume the fact that we’re going to have to play at a very elevated level to win this game. The big key is that if we can match that play and the energy that they throw out there on the floor, then we give ourselves a chance. To do that we have to be focused, which is always a coach’s cry, get focused. We have to reach the energy level or the emotional level of the game in a way that matches what the crowd and the Orlando team put out there on the floor.

Ariza - Gasol Q. Did you sense any over excitement on the players’ behalf after the game last night?
PHIL JACKSON: Oh, without a doubt. They’re excited about the possibility of winning, and they’re thrilled to have won that game. Yeah, there’s no doubt that they’re excited about it. This morning we had a short team meeting just to kind of clarify what we’re going to get accomplished in the next day and a half here sitting around waiting, getting plans made for tomorrow, et cetera. And you can sense the mood of the team is they’re really excited about it. But what I told them is there’s a chance tomorrow’s practice may be the last practice of the season. That’s also something that gets them pretty excited because practice for players is something that is at this level of the game, having gone through hundreds or probably more than a hundred some practices, they’re excited about not having to come to practice again.

Q. Considering how important Trevor and Lamar have both been to your postseason run, what do you think about what lies ahead for you guys in the offseason, potentially having to make a decision between those two players?
PHIL JACKSON: You know, I don’t know if that’s actually what’s going to happen. I mean, that’s not written in stone, that we have to make a decision between those two players. I don’t think that’s a case at all. This is just part of the NBA, what level the NBA has brought to the game at this point, is you have players that you have decisions to make in the free agent life, and last year Boston lost one of its key players in James Posey and they had to go on and let him go to free agency. I think that didn’t bother him. I think it hurt him in the course of the season, but that’s what you have to do is you have to maintain discipline and whatnot. So we’ll discuss that and a number of other things with personnel in a couple of weeks.

Q. I know you’ve talked about Trevor’s development over the last year several times, but especially after his third quarter last night, can you just talk about the player he’s become in the short time that you’ve had him?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, Trevor is a player that we thought was a developing player as we got him. I mean, this is a young guy that obviously we felt came out of college early in hopes of getting drafted and ended up in New York and never got fully developed as a player in college or in the pros because he didn’t stay in one organization long enough to do that. We thought that his ability to develop as a player was going to be key. This is the year that he’s really shown that development as a player. The big key with Trevor is you have to learn how to shoot the shot, and this year he’s learned how to shoot the shot to go along with his drive, his slash game. And here he is in a position that every player envies, having an opportunity to perform on a championship team and be in a free agency situation behind it.

Continue reading ‘Head Coach Friday Conference Calls’