On being a former player and Bull:
SK: “It’s where all of us made our mark. The guys you just mentioned (Will Perdue, Stacey King, Bill Wennington- all work in NBA coverage), none of us were great players. We were all role players and just happy to be in the NBA and happy to be contributing. So the Michael Jordan gravy train continues (laughs). We fed off him when we were players and we continue to feed off him now because of the notoriety we received in winning those championships and being a part of great teams gave us a platform, gave us the recognition that led to this next stage of our careers.”
On Derrick Rose:
RM: “I think if anything that somewhat caught me by surprise or off guard is how quickly he’s been able to pick up all different kinds of defenses as well as his improved outside shooting. He’s really opened up Pandora’s Box in his game by improving his range out to the three-point line.”
On the Draft:
SK: “It’s amazing that you can have the projected number-one pick be a guy who played 10 games at point guard in college in Kyrie Irving. And no one is really quite sure what he’s got, but he’s obviously very talented.
“I’d be surprised if he weren’t the number-one pick.
“It’s one of those Drafts were there is no superstar waiting to take a team to the next level. That’s just not the case. But in every draft, there are players who will eventually turn into really good players, and guys who will be passed over. Taj Gibson is a great example of that.”
On the great ratings:
MA: “I think sometimes negative or controversial developments can add interest. To me it began with the Decision show and then the over-celebration by the Miami players. It definitely attracted attention, not necessarily in a positive way.”
On Miami’s second-round celebration:
RM: “I have absolutely zero problems with the way Miami handled their post-celebration in beating the Boston Celtics because I was in the very same boat when we finally beat the New York Knicks in ‘95. I remember running across halfcourt, kneeling down, praying, kissing the floor. Now I will say this: that was the semifinal round when we beat the Knicks, very much the same way they beat the Celtics. Our very next round was against Shaq and Penny Hardaway and Orlando and the same thing happened in Game 1. We got blown out. You look at the hangover that the Heat had, then maybe it was a little bit of that post-celebration. But when you run into brick walls of your career – mine was always trying to get by New York, for LeBron it was always trying to beat the Celtics, as well as Miami trying to beat the Celtics – you have to give these guys a little bit of leeway to release some of that tension.
“That’s what basketball is all about. Whatever the Heat do, it seems like we always come down on them. If they would’ve been all laissez, people would’ve been like, “What? They don’t care? They just beat Boston. They’re not jumping up and down?” So they can’t win. I think a lot of times they get an unfair shake, a lot of times by their own doing because they bring it upon themselves. But I had no problems with it.”
On Miami’s season turning point:
SK: “I think we mentioned on the telecast last night, when they were 9-8 and they went to Cleveland and LeBron was getting booed every possession, that was sort of a turning point in their season, the way they responded that night and played so well. I felt like they really rallied around not only that moment, but the entire dynamic that surrounds this team – the scrutiny and the criticism. The bigger question is really whether they are good enough yet? They don’t have much depth. Their hands were tied after they got the Big Three in terms of what they could add depth-wise, and the two big signings they made with the rest of their money – Miller and Haslem – have both been pretty much nonexistent thanks to injuries and ineffective play. I don’t think it’s anything more. They galvanized, they’ve played pretty well, they’ve gotten to a good spot, but they may not have enough yet. They may take another year or two of adding pieces.”
On Luol Deng and Chicago guarding LeBron:
RM: “To me, whenever you are guarding a great player, to me I think you’ve always gotta put pressure on them on the other end offensively. I think that’s what Deng tried to do as well: make LeBron guard him on the other end. If you look at the numbers, he had a pretty good game offensively as well. But you gotta remember, these two guys are very familiar. They go back to AAU basketball, playing one another. You’ve heard Luol in certain interviews say that he’s always up to the challenge of guarding LeBron.
SK: “Luol is a really smart player. He understands the angles. He understands LeBron’s tendencies because he’s played against him so often. They played last year in the first round of the playoffs when LeBron was with Cleveland. I just feel like Chicago’s defensive schemes are really good and their team defense just builds these walls in front of LeBron and Wade. Chicago is built to stop Miami’s offense because of the fact that Miami runs so many isos and the ball stops with LeBron and Wade so often. Chicago is just kind of overloaded in front of those guys and waiting for them.
What do you think?
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