SAN ANTONIO — Emptying out my notebook like people are emptying out kegs at River Walk bars….
• Tim Duncan has joked before he wants to be a point guard, and he was asked again by a reporter on Saturday if Gregg Popovich should let him.
“I’ve been arguing that point for years now and I’m going to get your name and card, and I’ll get you in a room with him,” Duncan joked.
Popovich played along.
“You see him bring it up once in a while. He brings it up with three more dribbles than he needs to, he should throw it ahead to anybody in the same color uniform. But he’ll get three more dribbles in, just to practice in case I do it, which I’m really going to do.”
Tony Parker does not exactly worry about his job security, and probably doesn’t have to after Duncan’s five turnovers in Game 1.
“Are we still talking about that? I can’t believe they brought it up in the NBA Finals (laughter),” Parker joked. “It’s been a joke that Timmy thinks he’s a great quarterback, that he can be a good passer. I disagree with that. I want to keep my spot.”
• Popovich was asked about the three-point shot and how it has changed the game, and as you can expect with Pop he was honest and blunt:
“I hate it. To me it’s not basketball but you gotta use it. If you don’t use it, you’re in big trouble. But you sort of feel like it’s cheating. You know, like two points, that’s what you get when you make a basket. Now you get three, so you gotta deal with it. I don’t think I don’t think there’s anybody who is not dealing with it.”
• There’s been a lot of talk online and on sports talk radio about LeBron James’ comment to ESPN Friday that he’s the easiest target in sports. You can debate amongst yourselves whether that is true or not, but Shane Battier had interesting thoughts about what’s different about LeBron James’ celebrity.
“He is the first (basketball) mega-star of the twitter generation. So the world was introduced to LeBron when he was in high school as a 14-year-old, there isn’t a fact or a wrinkle or a blemish about him that the general populace doesn’t know about already. Everybody feels they know him and so everyone feels they can critique him because they’ve known him for so long. That’s not something Jordan ever had to go through, or Bird or Magic. I blame it on the information age, and it’s a sign of the times….
“LeBron is complicit in it. You accept everything that goes along with being King James, then you are complicit. Blood is on his hands, too. But he understands that and he deals with it.”
• If you’re still trying to make a conspiracy theory out of the air conditioning situation in Game 1 — and if so you need to take the tin foil hat off and seek help — I will throw you tis bone.
“He’s a crafty player, man, he’s difficult. You never know what he’s going to do. You don’t know if he’s going to shoot it, you don’t know if he is going to drive it, pass it, shoot it again, you don’t know what he’s going to do. I think his ability to do everything in that point forward position makes it difficult. He’s another one of those guys, we’re really going to have to lock in on him, and really do a number on him individually to slow him down. Because when he’s driving and kicking to guys and getting you confused, then you don’t rotate, now he’s hitting threes — he’s one of those players that confuses the hell out of you.”
• Eric Spoelstra also addressed the Boris Diaw problem.
“He’s multi dimensional, puts the ball on the floor, great vision,” the Heat coach said. “You could see with the passes that he made the other night. So we have to do what we do, but do it better, do it with a little bit more thought tendencies, and so forth.”
• Shane Battier talked about how the scouting reports he gets on players he will guard: “I get basic splits — right/left, drives, dribble jumpers vs. spot jumpers, left shoulder vs. right shoulder in the post, basic tendencies.”
So how is that different from what he got when he first entered the league?
“When I first started scouting reports consisted of ‘ya, that guy likes to go left’ and that’s it. ‘Great driver’ and it was like come on, give me a little bit more than that. Now you can tell how good a guy is driving vs. shooting, how good a guy is going left vs. going right, how often he goes left vs. right. You understand what a guy is and what he’s not.”
• Battier was asked to give something off a scouting report of a current player (not in the Finals) and chose Carmelo Anthony.
“You make Carmelo Anthony go right. When he’s on the left block make him go right. He does not want to go right. His percentages go down, his foul drawing goes down, if he goes left it is not good for the defender.”
• Spoelstra gave a shout out to Greg Oden:
“Greg Oden is one of the biggest success stories in this league, and unfortunately people are only judging him by the fact of how many minutes he plays. Two years ago people were saying he would never play the game again and he’s available every night.”
Spoelstra is right. Where most guys would have quit and lived comfortably the rest of their lives off their first contract. He worked hard to get back, to get on the Heat. Maybe he wasn’t everything Miami hoped, but that Oden is here, in the Finals, is a massive accomplishment.