Archive for the ‘2012 Olympics’ Category

That’s me in the middle with Shane Battier and Steve Kerr in the clubhouse at Edgewood Tahoe last month. Photo credit: Jeff Bayer

A couple of weeks back, I was lucky enough to go to the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.  Thanks to my new blog…and a family connection :)… I was able to get a media credential, that got me into the Edgewood Tahoe clubhouse to the interview room where Shane Battier and Steve Kerr took questions from the press.

They talked about all things basketball, but the hot topic was the Olympic “Dream Teams” controversy and how the game has changed over the past couple of decades.

Since Steve and Shane are a pretty authoritative pair and the Olympics are in the news, thought I’d post some of their comments.  Thanks to ASAP Sports for the transcription.

Q. The Dream Team is in the news right now.  Some comments back and forth between Kobe and Michael and Barkley.  Shane, you obviously have a couple teammates on this year’s team.  But what are your thoughts about that ’92 versus 2012 matchup?

SHANE BATTIER:  It would be heck of a game.  I’m partial to the ’92 team.  For my money it’s the greatest team ever assembled. Every last one of those guys is in The Hall of Fame, first bout Hall of Famer, I don’t think you’ll ever see a collection of talent that’s as deep and as good as ’92.

Q.  And what would LeBron say now if he heard you saying that?

SHANE BATTIER:  He has a saying.  He would say:  “That’s out!” (laughs).

I think our USA team is the best team in the world.  Spain’s really, really good.  Argentina … this is their last hurrah.  It’s going to be a really competitive Olympics.  I’m excited to watch it.

Q.  Steve, with the analysis hat on, how do you look at it?

STEVE KERR:  Well, it’s so hard to compare eras.  The game is different now.  Back then, big players were more prominent.  Now it’s become a smaller game.  So you look at the roster this year.  There’s basically one big guy on the team with Tyson Chandler.  Back then I think they had, what, three seven-footers, dominant ones, with Ewing and David Robinson.  So who knows.  You throw it in a simulator and who knows what comes out.

But I’m partial to the ’92 team.  I think it’s the greatest team ever assembled.  You look at the weapons on that team, the fire power with Jordan and Pippen and Barkley, in particular. Pretty tough to beat.  So I’ll go with ’92.

Q. This question’s for both of you.  How do you compare today’s NBA player to the athleticism of the players when you first broke into the league?

SHANE BATTIER:  I just finished my 11th year in the league.  The league has definitely changed philosophy and what’s successful.

I think there’s much more of a premium on speed nowadays and versatility.  But you look back at the old Laker teams, the ’80s, that was a really versatile team with Worthy and Magic and Byron Scott.  But I think you see a lot more teams going to a spread offense with a 4 man that can really shoot the ball, versus in 2001, when I came into the league, it was much more post oriented.

Q.  Is there one lost art in the NBA now as compared to maybe when, Shane, when you first started playing and, Steve, when you were playing, was there one thing when you watch the game, you say they don’t do this anymore?

STEVE KERR:  I don’t know if there’s a lost art, but I think the way the game has changed the most there’s less passing, there’s more dribbling. I think the guys coming in are so talented with the ball that it’s become a point guard dominated league.  You look around.  So many great ones with Rose and Westbrook, Paul and Deron Williams and Nash.

So most teams start the offense with a high pick and roll.  If you watch Classic Sports, you watch 30 years ago, 20 years ago, there’s more ball movement at the initial part of the attack. And so I think that part of the game has slipped away a little bit from the younger generation.  It’s just kind of the way the game has played.

SHANE BATTIER:  I think there are fewer guys you can throw the ball to on the block and say go to work.  When I was a rookie, you had to be a legit 6’8″, 6’9″ 240 to be a power forward.

And centers were legitimate seven footers.  Now you can get away with a 6’6″ power forward who may or may not have a post game.  So there’s just less horses in the game to throw the ball and say go to work.

Q.  We understand that Kobe had a comment about the commissioner proposing the 23 and under only aged players should be in the Olympics as far as on the American team.  And I think Kobe commented that was a really stupid idea.  Your reaction.

SHANE BATTIER:  I understand where the commissioner’s coming from.  His job is to make the best league in the world, the NBA, run as smoothly as possible. It’s tough when your most highly prized assets are out there risking their day job in the Olympics.  So from a business standpoint, I understand where the commissioner’s coming from.

From a player standpoint, the Olympics are the greatest.  And every kid dreams about representing their country and doing what the Dream Team did and winning a gold medal. So I understand where Kobe’s coming from.  So if there was ever a time when two arguments made sense – I wouldn’t use the word “stupid” – but I could see where both people are coming from.

Q.  Steve?

STEVE KERR:  If Kobe, heaven forbid, gets a season-ending injury in London, the Lakers are still paying him that $28 million or whatever.  So he’s not the one at risk.  It’s the team.

That’s why Commissioner Stern is trying to put some protection in there for the teams.  It’s been a big issue for the owners the last several years.  Mark Cuban has been pretty outspoken about paying the big salary to a guy in the summer who is really out there and putting himself at risk.  So I kind of like the idea, and maybe if somebody like Kobe wanted to play, maybe give him a waiver as long as he signs off on some kind of a contractual agreement.  I don’t know.  Maybe there’s a way around it.  But the commissioner’s job is not to help U.S.A. basketball as much as it is to protect his owners.

Q.  As far as what the fans want to see?

STEVE KERR:  I think the fans like seeing the current format.  In China, LeBron and Wade and Kobe, they were a huge hit.  And I think that will be the same thing in London. So from a fan standpoint it’s probably better the way it is right now.