I’m not gonna lie; the much talked-about H-O-R-S-E game between Kevin Durant, Joe Johnson and O.J. Mayo was supposed to have happened hours ago, and I haven’t heard one word about the outcome. The NBA didn’t really hype it up at all during this All-Star Weekend; presumably they wanted to play it low-key and see how the first one turned out before getting a lot of people to watch a disaster show. I’m telling you this because as I post these leftover quotes from Friday’s Rookie/Sophomore media session, I have no idea whether or not Durant’s H-O-R-S-E strategy worked out for him. That said, here are the young’uns:
* On his game plan for H-O-R-S-E: “I haven’t thought of any trick shots yet. I know for sure I’ma shoot a couple deep ones, maybe some behind-the-backboard stuff. We play (H-O-R-S-E) after practice all the time. The only difference is the cameras will be on this time.”
* On hitting his stride as a top-flight scorer in the League: “I think that I’m trying to establish myself as more than a scorer, but an all-around player, a guy that can get his teammates involved, a guy that can get rebounds. I’d like to make that my identity as a player.”
* On Rip Hamilton‘s recent success off the bench: “That’s what he wants to do now; he wants to come off the bench. Rip is Rip, man. No matter what, you put him in and he’ll still go out there and get buckets.
* On the Pistons underachieving this season: “We gotta find ourselves. I think we’re lost right now, you know? We’ve been losing a lot of games. But I think this All-Star break is good for us. It gives us a chance to get away from each other and get a break — hopefully after this we’ll come back and start winning games. We’re a lot better than people think, we’re just not playing like it.”
* On his ink: “I’ll tell you this: I left college with 10 tattoos. I now have 28. So, you do the math.”
* On the highlight of his rookie year: “Winning. We got a winning record, we fifth in the playoff race right now. That’s really my highlight.”
* On not putting up his customary 20-and-10 numbers and not being The Man: “Yeah, it’s been rough getting used to it. For my selfish reasons I would love to be me, you know? But at the same time, we winning, and I’m never mad at that. I love winning, so I’ll do what I gotta do for my team to win. Right now it’s not scoring 25, 30 points a night; it’s playing a role.”
* On living in Miami: “It’s just like living in Phoenix or living in D.C., you know? I got a house — I practice, go home and go to sleep. I don’t really do too much. I didn’t expect nothing coming out [to Miami]; I’d never been there before, so I didn’t have any expectations.”
* On reuniting with the high school Class of ’07 stars Beasley, Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose on the Rookie team: “It feels like a class reunion to me. All those years we were competing against each other in camps and stuff, and now we’re finally here playing with each other in the NBA. We’re all going after the same thing. It’s been great.”
* On his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment: “My first game, when we played the Rockets. Seeing Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Ron Artest, Rafer Alston … It was kinda like, ‘Wow, I’m finally in the NBA.’”
* On the Rockets not living up to preseason predictions: “Injuries has been the main thing. We expected to have everybody healthy. We expected Mac to be the T-Mac that he was last year, but his knee hasn’t allowed him to do that. Ron came in and helped us defensively, but he’s had nagging injuries. And Shane Battier is still hurt. So it’s like even when we get everybody back, they’re not 100 percent. Not only that, we just haven’t had practice together.”
* On how T-Mac is dealing with his latest injury issues: “He’s dealing with it pretty well. It has to be frustrating, especially for somebody that has so much pressure on him. He wants to go out there and play, he wants to go out and be himself, but he just can’t do it. You feel for him, because he really wants to play and he’s just not able to.”
* On his place among the fastest players in the NBA: “I don’t know about straight speed; I can’t put myself in that category. I mean, I’m one of the quickest players in the League maybe, but straight speed? Number one would have to be LeBron James. I don’t think anybody gets up the court that fast. T.J. Ford, Tony Parker … um, Barbosa, too. They’re all extremely fast.
* On his toughest matchup in the League: “Probably Deron Williams. He’s a quick guard, like 6-foot-3, 6-foot-5, something like that, and he can really handle the ball.”
I debated with myself over whether I wanted to give this clown on the right the attention he was so obviously in search of, but in the end figured this costume was too ridiculous to keep to myself. This seems like a good place for him. The photo was taken in the stands at Rookie/Sophomore practice; of one of the media members.