ESPN NBA Playoffs Conference Call Transcript


ESPN NBA Playoffs Conference Call Transcript

ESPN NBA analysts Hubie Brown and Jon Barry joined the ESPN NBA Playoffs media conference call on Wednesday to discuss a variety of topics pertaining to the start of the NBA postseason. The audio replay is available at ESPN Media Zone. Replay.

Here is the transcript:

Q.         I wanted to get your takes on the Metta World Peace seven‑game suspension, how it impacts the Lakers, the Playoff match‑up, whether it’s Denver or Dallas, and if it’s the kind of punishment that you think could send a message to him, or do you think he might be beyond any kind of change in behavior at this point? 

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, first of all, I think that he came off quite easy.  I think mainly because when you say seven games and their game tomorrow night will count as one, because if the first round goes to seven, we all know that he could play in that game.  So I think the Lakers came out good in that situation.

As far as the fact that I think that it was quite, how should I say, lenient,  was due to the fact that there were 12 previous suspensions.  So I thought that they might count that.  But I feel that possibly the condition of Harden is not as severe.  We all know it’s a concussion, there’s no doubt about that, and no one is downplaying it.  But I think that because of the action, the way the action happened, and then even the aftereffect going down the floor and then encountering another player, I think all of that was taken into consideration.

So it depends upon the individual what you think.

Now, as far as the position, we know that that position has been questionable for most of the season in production at that small forward.  But they can go with Ebanks at that slot and then keep Barnes coming off the bench because he definitely right now is in an excellent groove and making a contribution.

JON BARRY:  Yeah, for me, I thought it was very lenient, as well.  I mean, we’re talking about a guy that’s been suspended over 100 games, and what my problem was after the fact that he had done that, if it was an accident, if he was celebrating, if you were to do that to someone, you would certainly turn around to check and see what had happened.  I don’t expect him to go over and give the guy a hug, but you would go to see if you did, in fact, hurt him.  His reaction was when someone came to him to square off like he was ready to fight again.

So to me this was not a complete accident.  It was not him celebrating and the guy got in the way.  He brushed Harden and he knew he was there, and at that point if he pushed him away, that’s one thing.  He raised his elbow to a level to get to his head.  I believe he knew what he was doing.

That’s getting off easy, as Hubie said.  If they go to a seventh game, in the first round they’ll have him available.  I don’t think that’s right.  He should have at least lost a first round game, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if they said he was done for the season to be quite honest.  It puts the Lakers in a bind.  He was playing well.  Barnes is a little bit banged up.  Now your rotations become different, and it certainly will have an effect on this team.

I still believe them getting out of the first round is not a problem, but again, certainly could have been a lot worse than seven games, and I would have totally agreed with that.

Q.         What about the behavioral change?  Is it the kind of suspension since he’s had these things year after year after year, is he apt to sort of make this sort of a this‑is‑my‑last‑chance kind of a thing or I’ve got to really watch myself, or as a player do you know that people are who they are and it’s hard to change them based on a punishment? 

HUBIE BROWN:  I don’t think that we’re qualified to answer that.  I think that you have to go into the medical profession to get a definite answer over something, because you would think that the 86‑game suspension would have made some kind of an impression, and then there have been suspensions since that time.

It’s unfortunate because the young man is blessed with a great deal of talent, and even that year that that happened, that’s one of his best years that he had in the NBA, because he was an all‑NBA player and he was an All‑Star player, he was an all‑defensive player, and he didn’t even learn from that.  So who are we to make a judgment in this setting that we’re in right now?

JON BARRY:  I think it’s as simple as that after The Palace brawl, and you did what you did and got suspended like that, to ever make another mistake is beyond me.  I don’t know how you can’t learn from that and be on your best behavior, and clearly he hasn’t been.  There’s been other issues that he’s had, and there’s been times when he probably could have been suspended before for things that he has done, and clearly he hasn’t learned.  It is what it is.

Q.         I wanted to get you to weigh in on who you think will win the Western Conference and how you rate the Thunder’s prospects. 

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, first of all, they’re definitely in the mix.  Why they hit this little lull late in the season when they came down the stretch they were seven and four, but there’s always reasons for that, how many games in a short period of time, whether you’re resting people, et cetera.  But they’re definitely in my opinion ‑‑ its San Antonio and then it’s Oklahoma City, who should be one‑two or two‑one depending on how you interpret their style of play.

Then also to me there is a drop-off.  That’s just me.  But we all know that this year it’s difficult to put your finger on it and say that one specific team is a dominant team, mainly because of the unbalance of the scheduling, and also all the teams did not play the most difficult teams in the East.  A lot of teams didn’t get that opportunity.  And then the fact that it’s a shortened schedule.

So to me they definitely have a great shot.  I think that when they were on the road, they went into all of the major buildings in the East.  They did a terrific job there.  I don’t know, I did not do any of the San Antonio games during the course of the season, but we all know that in that match‑up, you throw that out now, because of the fact that we’re going to have a day in between games for rest, total concentration.

Also, always remember now that throw out what teams did during the year against one another, because if I play a guy 32 minutes, 33 minutes during the year, for me, and he’s one of my three stars, he’s going to play anywhere from 38 to 42 to 44 minutes during these games.  Bench people will get less time.

So there are a lot of variables that go in.  But they’re definitely right at the top of the mix.

JON BARRY:  I’m with Hubie.  I think San Antonio, Oklahoma City, one, one‑A.  They’re the two best teams with the Lakers being third.  The Lakers would be the only other team that I would give a chance to come out of the West.  But these two are the best teams.

My only concern with Oklahoma City is the turnovers.  I believe the benchmark is about 17.  I think when they turn it over less than 17, something like 32 and 5.  When they turn it over more than 17, they’re like 15 and 11.  It’s a big disparity in their turnover game.

They’re a one‑on‑one team with very little low post scoring, which does present a little bit of a problem for me to get easy baskets.  Westbrook has not played well of late.  Hopefully that’s not a sign going into the Playoffs.  He’s really struggled with his shot.

I think if Derek Fisher can give them some great minutes and move Westbrook to the two, I think that’s when they’re at their best and they can play small, play Harden, Durant, Westbrook, Fisher and any one of the bigs that you want, I think that’s a very, very dangerous lineup, particularly against most of the teams that they’re going to play they’re not going to have to worry about the bigs.

They’re clearly one of the favorites, and I’ve had them as my favorite all throughout the year.  Again, I’m with Hubie, I’m not concerned about the last few games.  Dallas was 10 and 9 last year in their last 19 and went on to win the championship obviously, so I don’t put a lot of stock in how you’re playing down the stretch.  They certainly have a great opportunity to come out of the West.

Q.         This is to both Hubie and Jon.  How amazing is it that San Antonio was the No. 1 seed in the West, given that franchise and the way that they just keep plodding year in and year out and showing up in the Playoffs? 

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, first of all, A, give the coaching staff, because in my opinion this is one of Popovich’s best coaching seasons, not only because of the fact that they won so many games, they won that many games last year, over 60, and they went out in the first round.  But to me they changed their style of play.  By getting Leonard to play the small forward position and then picking up Green, who was not highly successful anyplace else, playing him at the 2 guard, they gave their first unit a different look.

Then during the course of the year when they picked up Diaw and Jackson and Mills, they picked up other guys who have made an excellent contribution to their team, picked up where they needed needs.

Then as you look at the style of play, they cut down the minutes of their key guys.  They also then allowed and played the majority of the year with a ten‑man rotation.  They rested their people.  They picked select games during that course of time.

Now, when you score 120 points like they did quite frequently in the last month of the season, you’re playing both ends of the floor.  They’re getting great play from their starting unit as well as their second unit.  They have an inside presence with Duncan, and then they also have the perimeter game and an outstanding three‑point shooting game.

Big bench production, good defensive rebounding, and then in my opinion, Tony Parker definitely should be one of the top three or four guys up for most valuable player.

JON BARRY:  I was shocked that they had that many wins last year, and so to do it again, I was doubly shocked.  I’m with Hubie.  This is arguably the best coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich.  Nobody manages his minutes better than Gregg Popovich, getting rest for his guys.  I believe he sat all three of his best players after 11‑game win streaks during the season.  He doesn’t care about that.  He knows health is paramount for this team.

My only question mark with them is when they won the four championships with those three guys there ‑‑ well, Parker I guess missed one of them, and they were a defensive team.  They won games that were in the 80s and the 70s, and that’s not this team.  This team is not as good defensively as they were then.  They were dominant defensively.  So it’s a different group.  It’s a different way they play.

So for them to win it this way, they’ve never done it that way.  So that’s the big question mark.  Can they win it being a straight offensive juggernaut, which they are?  That’s the big question.  But no more respect to any group of people than this whole organization, starting with Gregg Popovich, management, and these three great players.  Certainly you can’t write them off.

I was surprised that they did get beat in the first round last year.  That’s not going to happen this year when they match up with Utah.  They’ll be on a roll, and they’re going to be a very, very difficult out.  Certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they came through the West.

Q.         Hubie, if this was asked earlier I apologize.  I wanted to get your thoughts on what you thought of the discipline regarding Ron Artest, Metta World Peace, whether you thought that the number of games he was suspended was correct and proper based on what kind of play all of us saw. 

HUBIE BROWN:  First of all, I think that the amount of seven games might be surprising to some people, and the reason for that is because of the 12 previous suspensions during the course of the 13‑year career.  Also, the fact that you mentioned seven games:  We all know that Sacramento tomorrow night counts as one of the games.  That allows the Lakers if the first round went seven games, which you never know can happen, if that did happen, he would be available for playing at that time.

Now, the reason why I said it was surprising is because when you watch how it all happened and you got the hit, and the fact that there was no remorse on the hit, and he didn’t actually know who the individual was that was hit, and then no follow‑up to that person.  But then to proceed down the floor and encounter another player into an argument there, I thought, we have no idea how the NBA is going to look back at the past.

I said to a lot of people, I had no idea how they would look back and say after the 86‑game with the Palace incident, was there any stipulation of something of this magnitude again what would happen.  Well, we don’t know that because we’re not privy to that information.

Q.         Question for both of you.  Usually there’s a natural progression to teams winning titles.  A young team gets into the Playoffs, loses a couple of years, wins a series, gets to a Conference Finals or an NBA Finals, loses, then five, six years down the road they win one.  Do you think a team like Oklahoma City, can they skip a couple of steps, and if so, what do you think about the way they’re built that allows them to do that so quickly? 

JON BARRY:  Well, I mean, they’ve taken their lumps.  They took the LA Lakers to six games two years ago, and they were in the Western Conference Finals last year against Dallas.  This team has made progressions.  They’ve been together.  They’ve added a few pieces here and there.  This is basically the same team they had last year, now Kendrick Perkins, he joined last year late.  They have all the pieces.

I think people get caught up in calling teams a young team.  This is not a young team.  This team has been together long enough.  They’ve taken the steps.  As I said, Western Conference Finals last year.

I think they know what it takes.  Scott Brooks, their head coach, now has been there.  I think they understand the process.  They understand what it takes to get it done.  I don’t see any reason why they can’t do it.  They’re certainly not Playoff neophytes.  They’ve been there.  They’ve had success, and I think they’re primed and I think they’re ready.

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, I look at it this way:  I think that they have plenty of talent.  They have excellent front court defensive presence with shot blocking and rebounding, and like Jon brought out earlier, they can play small with playing Durant at the 4 position and Harden at 3.  So they have multiple ways of playing either power basketball against the bigger teams and then also if they want to go small to take advantage of mismatches, they have that opportunity without sacrificing scoring because of the depth of this team.

But to me, they’re going to have to improve, and Jon brought this out earlier, about the turnovers.  They’re 30th in the league.  They’re over 17 turnovers a game.  And that comes about in their half court game.  And if you look at their assists, you’ll see that Jon was right on the money by saying they’re a one‑on‑one team most times when they do score.

So as a coach I’m looking at this and I’m saying, once the game slows down and I get you into a half‑court game, can you execute and get high‑percentage shots for your three best players.  Now, that sounds easy, but that always distinguishes who wins and who loses once we get to the Conference Final and the Final because you’ll always see that one of the top three scorers or two of the top three did not get their looks in their best areas.  They might get looks, but is it the areas that they shoot the high percentages from.

So to me what could possibly derail it is their half‑court execution once they get to a Conference Final and then to the Finals.  You’d like to see better movement, less one‑on‑one, less turnovers, second‑shot attempts because of the positioning of your front court people when the shot goes up.

So there’s a lot involved in that.  But I agree with Jon.  Look, they have a ton of talent, and they could possibly get there and get to the Final and win the whole thing because any time that you have a prime‑time scorer like Durant, for whom distance is not a factor, and then an all‑around third player for you like Harden, you not only are not getting the points but you’re getting the assists and you’re getting savvy defensive play off the ball.

And then Westbrook is Westbrook.  We know he’s in a cold shooting slump right now, but there’s plenty of time for him to come out of this.

Q.         Hubie, I’ve always been impressed with the great way you have of making points in your analysis without talking down to your audience.  I was wondering if you could talk about the philosophy you have of being on the air and being an analyst and if there’s any correlation between what you do on the air and what you did as a coach. 

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, when I first broke in a long time ago, 27 years ago, this will be the 27th Playoffs that I’ve been asked to do, what you try to do is I always want to ‑‑ when I first got into it, was try to relate the fan to what is actually going on, not just on the sight which the fan usually follows, which is the flight of the ball, which is involved with either two or three players on one side of the floor.  So what you’re trying to give him is an education of the off side because all the good teams start one way and come back the other.

So what you’re trying to do is bring the fan into basketball, because we know that football and baseball is the closest thing to launching a rocket to the moon, okay.  But in basketball for some reason everybody thinks everybody just got together an hour and a half before the game and they did not want to appreciate the fact of the continuities of the execution, of the defensive rotations.  And then what you try to do is show the difference in the defensive rotations.

A lot of teams can do a trap and make the first rotations, but they don’t do the second, and that’s the difference between the majority of the defensive teams in the league and then the top echelon.  The top echelon will make that second rotation and a third rotation if necessary.

So you never try to ever talk down to the audience because you never want to underestimate the knowledge of the individual in the chair watching the game and then also their appetite for looking beyond.  So just don’t show what you see but show the reasons why things happen.

It’s just like when you do a clinic for either coaches or players.  You’re trying to always get them to be more cerebral.  But thank you very much for the compliment and asking the question.

Q.         Hubie and Jon, not many people expected the Pacers to finish with the third best record in the East when the season started.  Can you talk about what impresses you about this team, and do you see any chance of them getting past the second round if they take on Miami? 

JON BARRY:  Yeah, you know, it’s been a very impressive season.  Frank Vogel has got to be a guy that’s considered for Coach of the Year, certainly in the top three.  You know, I like this team.  They have a lot of really, really good players.  My problem is when you get into the Playoffs, who is that one guy.  You need that one guy that you know you can go to down the stretch time after time after time, and I don’t know that they really have that.  I would think that you would think that was Danny Granger.  I don’t know that he’s a real true No. 1 on a team.  He’s a great player, don’t get me wrong.  But I think in the end, you need that one guy.

I think talent will win out.  Miami has got three of those guys basically who they’re going to see in the second round.  They’ve had their problems with Miami this season.  I believe they beat them once in an overtime game if I’m not mistaken.  But a very, very talented team, but I don’t know that they’re ready to get out of that second round.

HUBIE BROWN:  As far as I’m concerned, I’m with Jon about Vogel and his staff.  They have done a magnificent job with this team, and I give Larry Bird a ton of credit for going out and getting pieces after last year, and they evaluated their ballclub.

I like the ten‑man rotation.  I thought that they did an excellent job with that.  And then they made some moves over the summer and during the year that also helped them in regards to talent.

Now, for them, you would like to see them win the first round, which they should be able to do.  They had an excellent year on the road this year.  They were 19 and 14.

Now, in the East there were only four teams that had winning road records, so you’ve got to give them that.  They can win on the road.  Their style of play can get it done.  But when you talk about getting past the second round, you’re going to have to get past Chicago or you’re going to have to get past Miami, and I think that in both of those, they would be an underdog.

But injury free and Chicago or Miami gets an injury, the match‑ups, not bad.  You have faith in that possibly.  You know you can win on the road.  And then the big thing is can you do two things:  Can you take care of the defensive board against Chicago, because that’s their key way of getting extra points, and then can you have an excellent transition defensive game, because that’s Miami.  That’s when Miami is at its best, and that is in the open floor.  That’s where they hurt you.  And that’s where if you can slow them down, it’s great.  But unfortunately with the athleticism, it will be a true test for them.

But I love what they’ve done there, from management to the coaching staff to the players themselves.  It’s been a great year.  I just wish that the attendance would be better.

Q.         If the Heat and Knicks were to meet in the first round of the Playoffs, do you think the series would be as antagonistic and as competitive as some of the ones they’ve had in the past?  And more generally, what’s your assessment of how the Heat are playing down the stretch? 

JON BARRY:  This will be nothing like those Pat Riley‑Stan Van Gundy wars from years past.  Those games were in the 70s and 80s.  This would be a completely different game.  This is going to be up and down.  I think it would be ‑‑ probably the one series to watch, for me, the most exciting series.  Great athleticism, great scoring on both sides of the ball.  The difference being Miami is a very, very ‑‑ they’re a great defensive team.  New York much, much better, don’t get me wrong, but with Stoudemire and Carmelo on the floor they’re not nearly as good defensively as they have been under Woodson.

Again, I don’t put a lot of stock in the way you’re playing down the stretch.  Again, Dallas was 10 and 9, they won the title.  Miami has been resting guys.  Wade has been banged up, in and out of the lineup, so I can’t get a fair assessment of how they’ve really played.

I think they’ve been waiting for the Playoffs.  They’ve gone through the motions over the past month and a half of the season.  They’ve had some poor outings.

I think they’re just ready to turn it on here as we get into the Playoffs, and no better way to jump into the Playoffs than to play the New York Knicks.  It will be the marquee match‑up.  It’s going to be absolutely great to watch, and I think Miami will get this done in five games.

HUBIE BROWN:  I agree with Jon on all the points.  The main thing is for television and naturally for the basketball world that loves NBA, they would crave Miami and New York.

Now, when you talk about Miami, the way they finished, just go back a year ago.  You’re talking about the same exact problems, same exact questions, and then they get into the Playoffs with a day of rest in between and the fact that you’re just concentrating on one team.  Everybody will tell you how great Philadelphia played them last year.  It was 4‑1.  Then they said Boston was going to give them a lot of trouble.  You’re absolutely right.

It was a great ‑‑ 4‑1.  And then the Chicago series, everybody said, well, during the year they dominated, and what happens, 4‑1.  And once we got to the Finals, we all know if they do not kick away two of the games, the Finals could have been 4‑1.  So everything will come down with them once again not against the Knicks because I think they’ll be able to execute extremely well, but as they go through the Playoffs, once again, the half‑court offense, once we get into the last three minutes of play, total execution versus questionable, and then also the fact that will they, if teams go to the zone periodically during the course of the game, will the recognition against the zone be there, and then will they be able to score against the zones rather than going like a 2 for 9 or a 2 for 10 or a 3 for 10 where they take Miami out of their tempo and force them to play slowdown half‑court basketball.

Q.         Hubie and Jon, you just alluded to players and coaches who might be in the running for players and coaches of the year.  Would you care to give your top three or four for each? 

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, look, LeBron James and Durant are definitely going to be in it, and we also know that there’s a strong segment out there for Chris Paul and what he has done during the course of the season, especially the second half of the season.  And then Tony Parker has got to be up in this, mainly because San Antonio, we all realize has done fantastic with the wins and the losses, plus their home record has been off the chart.

And with Pop, sitting key guys at different times, I think Tony has maneuvered that first unit, and he might not be getting overall recognition for leading that first unit with two young guys, two new young guys at that position and then even Blair being undersized for the production that they got out of that first unit during the season.

So I would say off the top of my head, those four guys in my opinion for MVP.

Q.         And coaches, obviously Popovich you’ve got high on your list ‑‑

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, Thibodeau to me, Thibodeau has done an incredible job when you look at the games missed not just by rose but also by Hamilton because that’s your starting backcourt.  Then the fact that you were talking about they’ve missed Rose’s 26 games and Hamilton is over 30.  Then the injuries to Deng, which was a key loss during the year, and then also to Watson who missed over 12 games.

So when you talk about overall, and the fact that Chicago has the record they have, you know that Thibodeau is going to be in it, Popovich will be in it, Vogel will be in it, and then there are a number of other guys that I think are even close.  But I think that in my opinion that Thibs and also Pop are going to be one‑two.  That’s just my opinion.

JON BARRY:  Yeah, my coaches are Thibs, Popovich and Vogel.  Those are the top three for me.  What Thibs has done with all those injuries Hubie just talked about is incredible.  Popovich, again, for the second year in a row being one or two in the league in best record is phenomenal, incorporating all these young players and basically changing his style from the four championships that he won, an incredible job.  And then Vogel, third best in the east, a terrific season.

As far as MVP, it’s been Durant and LeBron for me all season long, and I’ve flip‑flopped, and to me it’s LeBron James.  I think he’s the best all‑around basketball player we have in the NBA.  He’s 13 or 14 and 1 without Dwyane Wade, I believe their team is.  He’s the best player in the game, and I think he edges out Durant.  I know Durant might get the scoring title, but LeBron James to me is the best basketball player that we have in the world.

Q.         It seems like the strike was a long time ago.  Do you think the NBA image took a hit at all from the strike or is that all sort of past history at this point? 

JON BARRY:  Well, I think you look at our ratings, I think it didn’t miss a beat.  Attendance, I’m not positive, but I think it’s fine.  I think the strike has had no bearing on anything that’s happened this season.  I think the league is in a great position.  We’ve got great young superstars.  I think everything couldn’t be better right now with the league as we look forward to these great Playoffs.

HUBIE BROWN:  Yeah, I agree with that 100 percent, mainly because of the television ratings.  The interest has definitely been there.  There have been so many outstanding stories during the year that caught us and just propelled us, and you can start with Griffith and the Clippers right at the beginning in their first couple of weeks of the season, and the contributions of Paul and Billups and Billups before the injury.

And then we just kept going, and then the Jeremy Lin story.  So we’ve had a ton of outstanding stories, not individually for players, but then for teams, and there have just been some great, great seasons for different organizations, whether it was by players, by management making terrific moves, and also free agency involved.

So in my opinion, I just can’t wait to get going.  I just think that the Playoffs, there could be some big‑time upsets here, and that would not surprise me at all because of the shortened season and because of the fact we have so many key guys in this league that are in the Playoffs right now that are playing with injuries.

Q.         Hubie, were you also going to mention another coach? 

HUBIE BROWN:  Yeah, I was going to say a guy that I think ‑‑ maybe it’s a sentimental thing with me, but I think George Karl has done an incredible job at Denver.  When you go back and look at the team at the beginning of the season and look at all the people that they have lost and then the fact that they play in the West and they’re still in the hunt, I think George Karl and his staff have done a terrific job all season mixing and matching and getting a lot of young, unproven guys to play at their maximum potential in order to keep them in the hunt.

Q.         With the 66‑game schedule, not the condensed version necessarily, but it seemed like the ratings weren’t really hurt that badly.  I wonder if you think 66 games or a shorter schedule is something the NBA should look at without compacting the games like they did this year? 

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, I think the Players Association would vote for that as long as the salaries stay the same, okay.  Management will never vote for that because of the fact they need the games to pay the contracts that are already guaranteed for the future.  And we also know that television and the people that support television would definitely not want a reduced schedule.  They want their products to come on the commercials for as many nights as possible as we go along.

So it’s wishful thinking, 66, but I doubt if it would ever happen.

JON BARRY:  I think it would be great.  I played back in ’99 when we had the strike shortened season, and it was 50 games, and believe me, all the players would vote for that.  I think you would get a better product because the season isn’t as long obviously, but there’s no way.  There’s already been talk from the NBA that 66 games would never happen, even if it was spread out during a regular time.  It’s just not going to happen.

But certainly it would be a better product, there’s no question about that, to spread out the games and let guys get their rest.  But that’s never going to happen.

Q.         Jon, I had a question for you.  If you could go back to that 1999 season, did you recall, was there some more fallout from the lockout at that point than what we’ve seen?  Obviously as you mentioned there maybe hasn’t been much fallout from this year, but I seem to recall that there was more at that time in terms of fan reaction. 

JON BARRY:  Yeah, there certainly was back then.  It took a while to get this thing back.  Well, you know what, it took seven or eight years to be quite honest with you.  It’s been, what, four or five years ago since I think really the league has gotten that interest back.

There was definitely a disconnect between the fans and our game from ’99, I thought, maybe ’07, ’08, something like that.  Totally different this season.  Whatever the reason, I can’t explain.  Back in that ’99 season, I don’t remember the injuries like this.  It was completely different, and we had back to back to backs, and it was only 50 games, so I’m sure we weren’t playing seven games in nine nights and the schedule was not quite as taxing.  But clearly ’99 and this situation, totally different for sure.

Q.         Do you think that starting on Christmas rather than starting in February the way you did, maybe that had something to do with the fan reaction? 

JON BARRY:  Possibly, yeah.  I think that would be a great time to start the season.  Obviously we couldn’t ‑‑ it’s not going to happen.  We can’t get enough games in.  But that’s when the NBA seems to start off anyway.  We do get going in November, but when you have NFL football going on, it just seems like, okay, Christmas Day kind of gets the NBA going, then you finish the Super Bowl and then it’s back to the NBA.  But to try to get 82 games in, that would never happen.


Ben Cafardo

I lead communications strategy and execution for ESPN’s NBA, MLB, FIBA and Little League World Series properties. I’m also a proud consumer of all things ESPN.
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