NBA / Jun 2, 2011 / 1:30 pm

Dime Exclusive: Q&A With Hoops Writer Charley Rosen, Part One

Charley Rosen

Charley Rosen (photo. Seven Stories Press)

One of the most acclaimed basketball writers in the world, Charley Rosen has spent years around the game. He played it at an MVP-level for Hunter College from 1959-62. He played it in the Eastern League (a forerunner to the CBA). And he coached it with Phil Jackson.

Since then, Rosen has authored 15 well-received books, among them Barney Polan’s Game, Scandals of ’51 and Maverick (co-authored with Jackson), a ballplayer-turned-journalist.

With it being the 60th anniversary since the scandals of 1951, and with the retirement of his friend Jackson, I figured it was a great time to talk some hoops with a guy who not only once played against Wilt Chamberlain but still writes about the NBA today for FoxSports.com.

This is just Part One. Check back tomorrow for the second half where Rosen talks about the dysfunction of the Lakers, Kobe-for-Grant Hill rumors back in the day and whether Jackson will ever coach again.

*** *** ***

Dime: To start, are you surprised by Dallas and Miami?
Charley Rosen: I’m not surprised by Miami at all. I never really felt that the Bulls were really that good. The regular season and the playoffs are two different forms of the same thing, like scrambled eggs and hard-boiled eggs, the same substance but two totally different entities. And what the Bulls were able to get away with during the regular season, they couldn’t as they got deeper into the playoffs and as you get deeper into the playoffs, the competition is better and teams have an opportunity to do some real in-depth scouting. During the season, you play a team once a month maybe and you have, if you’re lucky, one practice session and a shootaround to go over a gameplan, a scouting report. But in the playoffs, it’s just so intense. The scouting reports, you can go over game videos that are right there, that are pertinent, that are immediate. You can make really impactful adjustments right then.

So given that, Derrick Rose is the only Chicago player who can create a reasonable shot off his own dribble. I anticipated that they had no chance to beat Miami.

Dime: How good do you think Oklahoma City can be in the future?
CR: I think they have to make some changes. I think Russell Westbrook played as well as he could play in Game 5 in a close-down game. That’s as well as he can play. But taking a closer look at what he did, it’s clear this guy is not a point guard. He’s great on a fastbreak and early offense and any kind of broken field and any kind of hesitation in making proper defensive baseline rotations, wham, he can get to the basket. But he takes questionable shots and his jump shot is questionable. When he misses, he bangs it off the front rim. Shooters don’t do that. Shooters, when they miss they go around and out. A good miss is a back-rim miss, not a front-rim miss. When he misses, he misses badly. Shoots too much, makes too many mistakes. As many people have said, he doesn’t always make sure that the ball gets into Durant‘s hands. Durant I think…I think the offense needs to be expanded. Just getting him the ball off a screen-and-roll at the top of the key a step above the three-point line isn’t good enough. It puts too much pressure on him. He takes long threes. If you miss one of those, you get deep rebounds and the other team is off on the run. And the Thunder defense isn’t that good that they can afford to give up so many fast-break baskets. He came off weak-side screens a little bit more frequently in Game 5, but he needs to be used like Ray Allen is used…have him constantly in motion, except you can post him up a little bit, run him off single-doubles, run him off staggered screens, get the ball on the move instead of having to stop, catch it and then create something. It puts too much pressure on him. It’s too easy to rough him up, to get physical with him when he catches the ball at a standstill and that’s what a lot of teams do. So their offense has to open up.

What else do they need? I think they need another point guard. I like Maynor. I think he’s a great backup. Somebody like Andre Miller would be great for this team. Mature, sees the court, understands what’s going on, can score if he has to. He’ll slow them up a little bit, but since everybody else can run, that’s okay. But they need a mature, disciplined presence at the point. Perkins is overpaid. He can bang people around. He can set pretty good picks, but he’s no threat on offense. He can’t guard anybody who can face the basket and go. He’s foul prone. He’s not such a good passer. He’s limited.

Ibaka has got a lot to learn. He’s got a lot talents. He’s got great range defensively, but he still plays like a rookie which is understandable. He’s kinda comparatively new to the game. He needs to develop some kind of post-up game. They don’t have a post-up player. They really don’t have a guy who can demand a double-team and the post-up, which enables them to play inside-out basketball which would create easier opportunities for Durant. So they need a post-up player. I still see Perkins as a backup. When he was playing for Boston, he had four guys who could score, so you could go along with him. But with the Thunder, he doesn’t have that luxury. I love Collison. I think he was the MVP – if there was one – in the Thunder’s play against Dallas, except for that one game, that one crazy game where Nowitzki was like 12-for-15. He controlled Nowitzki as much as you can and he really made him battle for every shot. I think he’s a keeper.

Harden has got to start. He’s too good not to start. He’s not a great defensive player, but he does everything else. He passes like a point guard. He sees the floor. He can find a lane to drive somehow. He can hit perimeter shots. He’s gotta be a starter. Sefolosha, I also like him, but the problem is with Sefolosha, Collison and Perkins, you have three guys who really can’t score so it’s impossible to play all three of them at the same time, which it compromises whatever exists of the Thunder’s defense. And it’s difficult to play two of them at the same time. Sefolosha can hit a three-pointer once in a while but you can live with that. So I think what the team needs – all the talk about they’re young and they’re growing and they’ll learn from the experience, yeah but you don’t learn from blowing leads like they did in the last two games. There’s nothing positive you gain from those kinds of situations, from not executing in the end game. There’s nothing you learn from that.

I think they need a point guard. I think they need a wing who can create and score off the bench to take Harden’s place when Harden starts, and they need another big man, someone who can score in the post and who can be more of a solid defensive presence. Collison is too small to play center for long periods of time. It’s really going to wear him down. The chip they have is Westbrook. He’s got one more year guaranteed and two option years. He’s a guy who’s attractive that people you would think would give up something meaningful in exchange. Yeah, they’re young, blah blah blah blah. That’s really wishful thinking. It depends on what the Thunder want to do. Are they satisfied being in the Western Finals and…I don’t want to say folding, but not being able to do what they had to do when a couple of games were on the line? Or do they really legitimately want to be a championship team? If they want to be a championship team, I think these are the changes that they have to do.

Dime: Do you have any predictions for the Finals?
CR: Well, I don’t like to make predictions. I’m forced to. Being in the media, you kind of have to. Somehow the fans think that making correct predictions proves your expertise. But nobody knows what’s going to happen. If I knew, I would make bets and retire. All you can do is analyze certain things, talk about what has happened and talk about what might happen. But to make solid predictions is I think something that is forced on the media to do. I think obviously Miami is gonna win. I think it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. That’s all I can say. It’ll be hotly contested. At this point, home-court advantage means nothing. Fans screaming and yelling, that’s also overplayed by the media. Players can’t hear them. You are too tuned in to the game. It takes too much focus to play in the NBA. You have to make so many decisions so quickly that fans and all that stuff is just background noise.

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    You guys interviewed this clown? This is the guy that famously stated, “DAMON JONES is the real deal.”

  • heckler

    charley rosen is a CLOWN!

    this old bastard is a has been.
    the game has passed him by and he no longer really knows what hes talking about.

  • LakeShow84

    Trippin knocks

    Charley Rosen is a OG lol

    Have some respect.. and hes as close to keepin it real as it gets nowadays.. and gives u in depth knowledge from a coaches perspective..

    And he knows THOUSANDS TIMES more than most Heckler.. ill be nice and not say you specifically lol

    Half of the people who are going to talk shit dont even understand what he said about Durant in the questions.. yet you’ll try to say dude is old and incompetent because of said age???


  • junior

    hes been off the mark before.
    but the dude is legit.
    he writes honestly without care of what players or
    media outlet thinks,
    and in my mind writes the best break downs of the game, out there, for public reading atleast.
    good work dime.

  • heckler

    @ LakeShow84–

    Yes. people are considered OLD due to AGE.
    charley rose is no exception.
    and if you cannot understand that concept, then no need to even discuss anything further with you.

    and if you think anyone (Charley Rosen) knows a THOUSAND TIMES more about anything (basketball) than anyone else (me) due to their …ahem….age — then thinking like that, my dude, is the HEIGHT of IGNORANCE.

    thank you come again.

  • LakeShow84


    So someone who has been involved in the sport for 40 years doesnt know shit because of his age????

    Correction 50 years..

    call me crazy but he aint coaching a style, hes an inside out observer.. he isnt offering opinion when breaking down someones game.. hes in depth..

    50 years in a trade and he dont know shit because hes old.. i guess all the knowledge left him when he turned 70????


    damn my bad i guess i shouldnt have been able to respond because of the checkmate..

  • LakeShow84

    I guess Sloan and Jackson and Pop dont know shit either..

    I mean…

    Look at how old they are LMAO

  • noname

    great interview. i read rosen’s breakdowns all the time. i don’t always agree with his views, but he always brings a unique perspective to the table in addition to having a strong basketball voice.

  • Dagger

    So, Rosen, is Lebron still a bust?

  • LakeShow84

    @ Dagger

    considering in his last piece he called him the best player on the planet i would say NO he doesnt consider him a bust..

    Listen people if u are journalist and u right about something that is ever changing (such as ANY sport) u are going to be wrong sometimes..

    Ive read some of his stuff i didnt agree with anyways but his good outweighs his bad..

    NO sports journalist is right all the time..

  • a-slam

    rosen’s a joke, a lifetime phil jackson suck-up


    I really don’t get the Charley Rosen hate, he says some ridiculous stuff sometimes and generally gets a man crush for defenders but he knows his stuff for the most part. His evaluation of Oklahoma whilst a little harsh on Westbrook was pretty dead on.

    Haters gon hate.

  • Oscarisalakerfan

    Bunch of haters, I dig me some Rosen.

    He’s brutally honest.

  • Promoman

    Rosen isn’t always right but he generally admits when he’s wrong and doesn’t try bullshit out of being caught off base. He predicted LeBron would be a bust and has admitted multiple times that he fucked up. The man has a good knowledge base of the game and usually is either 100% right or makes a damn good case even if you disagree.

  • Ian

    this is the man that called the admiral overrated because he had a limited offensive game (dropped 71 , won a scoring title and always avged 25ppg on 50percent shooting before td came in) and couldnt rebound(over 10boards easily every season)???? gtfoh rosen. lakeshow u think im going with the others on this one.

  • King

    always read and respect what Rosen writes even tho i dont always agree. Hes easily a top knowledgeable basketball writer

  • QQ

    This is the guy who said Lebron was going to be a bust.

    Imma hate on Bron, BUT WHAT THE FUCK.

    Austin Burton and Charley Rosen, talking about Lebron over coffee.


  • Kudabeen

    Love the interview.

    So what basketball voice is perfect or hits the nail on the head 100% of the time…

    There was a split second in time that Damon Jones was legit…That’s why we know his name, it doesn’t mean he was going to add anything to his game or be more than a one trick player…

    He is measured and honest and that is all you can ask of a guy. Also he has time in, so just saying the latest and hottest is best of all-time doesn’t fly.

    I agree with his overall Thunder Westbrook assessment. I’ve been saying it. He is a great talent, but doesn’t fit Thunder. Miller would be a good fit with Manor. I like the idea of trying to snag a Baron Davis to go with that high energy arena.