Earlier today, ESPN NBA analysts Chauncey Billups and P.J. Carlesimo discussed the NBA All-Star 2016 in a media conference call. Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star veteran, will be playing in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2016 on the USA Team and contributing to SportsCenter coverage. Carlesimo will be covering several of the events during NBA All-Star 2016 on ESPN Radio.
The NBA All-Star 2016 Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew will be exclusively televised on ESPN on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. ET. Additionally, ESPN Radio will be covering all of the NBA All-Star 2016 events.
To listen, please click here.
Q. What are your impressions of Draymond Green’s game and how much he’s improved over the last several years?
P.J. CARLESIMO: Well, unbelievable. It seems to be a pattern, which is a great pattern. I’m just so impressed with a lot of the younger players in the league– the improvement that you’re seeing from year to year. To me, I don’t think anybody other than Draymond and Kawhi, Jimmy Butler, these guys were good players and ironically the three of them kind of came into the league with the reputation as defensive players. Everybody said they’re going to have a career. These guys have an NBA skill, and they do a lot of things which is great and in Draymond’s case, he fills the entire stat sheet up.
But to see the improvement, even defensively, I don’t think there is anybody in the league that can defend as many positions as well as he defends different positions. But then on top of that, he’s become such a knockdown, three‑point shooter, on the fast break, the decision making, in the pick‑and‑rolls and in transition. He’s literally elevated his game each year. And that’s the thing that’s really impressive to me because these guys, he in particular and those guys as a group, they’re not content with the fact that they’ve arrived and in this case he’s an All‑Star this year. Obviously, very well‑deserved, but they’re not content with what they are. They work on their game and come back better players than when they left.
It’s a great thing. It’s things that coaches talk about all the time. But you don’t see it, and sometimes it takes players a long time to get that. I’m dying to hear what Chauncey says because guys who have done it before and then they see some of these young guys, it’s really interesting to me.
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Well, Coach, to me I’m going to piggyback a little bit on what Coach Carlesimo’s saying. It’s a testament of really just skill development, you know? Often times in our league now you draft guys for their potential or they have one special talent or they’re 6’11”, and they can shoot the three or there is one special thing. But there is something to be said for guys like Draymond that you come in as a guy that is really at that time you’re happy to be in the league, you know, happy to be here. You talk about the layers that he’s peeling back every single season with his game, not only offensively but defensively and mentally.
I mean, that team literally feeds off of his toughness and his tenacity out there, and it’s funny because so did the Spartans. He’s become what he was in college now in the professional ranks. And I don’t know if any of us, including Draymond, thought that would happen. But there is something to be said about the hard work he’s put in. I’m proud of him.
I’ve been knowing Draymond since he was probably 15 in Detroit. He used to come and ball boy for us and stuff. I’ve been knowing him. I know the work he puts in, and I’m just proud and happy for him.
Q. Once Kobe retires and that salary is freed up, what are your thoughts about what the Lakers might do next season? Who might they go after? Are any of the great players going to want to play for the Lakers? Also, with regard to the Clippers, what do you think their chances are in the playoffs? Do you think that Blake Griffin deserves a suspension?
CARLESIMO: I’ll take a shot at it first. I’m really impressed with what the Clippers have done weathering injuries, really the entire year. It’s been a little bit of a battle for them, and it’s gotten even worse with Austin and of course with Blake. Yeah, I don’t think there is any question he deserves a suspension.
I actually think it’s more ‑‑ I guess it’s the League’s right, and it’s important they get involved. To me, this is more a team thing. The guys who should be the most upset at all are the teammates. They’re not going to hold it against him because it’s a guy you’re in the locker room with every day. But for him to not be there really hurts them, and seeding this year, as much as any other year, if you could get home court that’s really critical. When you do something like that, I know you didn’t think about it, it wasn’t intentional, you can make 11 excuses, but the people it hurts the most are the Clippers, those guys in that room. So I think it’s much more a Clipper decision than it is a League decision in my opinion.
But I’m really impressed with the way they’ve held together. I had them last week; first week after the All‑Star break as a matter of fact ESPN Radio has them against the Spurs. We just had them against the Bulls.
Obviously, that was a heck of a win yesterday. I’m really impressed with the way they’re playing. If and when they get healthy, yeah, I think they can be. I don’t think you can say anybody other than Golden State is a favorite. They’re clearly No. 1 and the Spurs are clearly No. 1‑A. When it gets down to it, and I think we saw a little of that the other night, match‑ups are important.
OKC matches up pretty well with Golden State. They did the other day. OKC’s a tough match‑up for the Spurs. I think the Spurs can be, despite that first game, a tough match‑up for the Warriors. So I think the match‑ups will be fascinating. I could see easily Clippers getting in that mix. They just have too many weapons. They can defend. They’re underrated defensively. Obviously they shoot the three very well. CP is an unbelievable player, so, yeah; I can see them in the mix. I think it’s going to be interesting.
Down the line I wouldn’t be surprised ‑‑ and Chauncey can speak to this because I don’t understand and I’m not being disrespectful, but I don’t understand how players think. To me from the outside Lakers with money, yeah, I could see people wanting to go there. But I don’t know if that’s the way players think. But that franchise, the tradition and the money they have available, I could see that happening. But I don’t know that I’m qualified to make that assessment.
BILLUPS: I’ll start with the Laker deal. I think it’s an attractive outfit. I really do. I think players, now, if you look at a player just for instance Kevin Durant, he’s going to be a free agent, probably the biggest one out there. I don’t think it’s worth it for him to go there by himself. You’re already in a winning situation. You’re on a very, very good basketball team. You don’t want to take 20 steps back.
But if there are a couple other guys that you can go there with and you think you can get some synergy with these guys and it won’t take long for you to be an elite team, man, just being in that market, being in a storied franchise, I think those things matter. I think those things matter.
So I think they’ll be able to attract some people. I don’t know which players, but they’ll be able to attract some guys to come and be Lakers. I mean, it’s the Lakers and it’s Los Angeles and it’s a huge market. In this day and age when a lot of these guys are really concerned with their brand, it’s attractive. It’s attractive.
So I think they’ll be able to attract some guys. I really do believe that. And with the Clips, I’ve been, again, like Coach, I’ve been very impressed with what they’ve been able to continue to play well and get wins. Obviously they’ve got talent. But I am concerned with them going into the playoffs for this reason: By that time, hopefully, Blake Griffin will be back. There are a lot of roles out there that are being solidified and being reshaped right now, but those roles are going to be reshaped again when Blake comes back. I fear Blake coming back and feeling the pressure of having to be good and to be great and carry his team, you know that sometimes disrupts the cohesiveness on a team.
So it’s a tough situation, and at the end of the day when you look at it, in the second round they’re going to have to face San Antonio or Golden State. With Blake, even with Blake, I don’t know that they can beat either of those teams. I think worst‑case scenario they’re a second round team again, you know. So it’s tough to say, but that’s kind of how I feel about the Clips right now.
Q. Who do you both think the Lakers which player or players should they build their team around now that Kobe’s going to be gone next year?
BILLUPS: That are free agents?
CARLESIMO: Yeah, I think Chauncey said it best. It’s not a guy. It’s got to be a couple. Whether it’s the same guy that shares the same agent or two guys that are just buddies or two guys that never thought of playing together, all of a sudden, somehow the Lakers get them together and go, hey; we’ve got a chance to sign Chauncey. Do you want to go play with Chauncey? Yeah. That’s going to make a big difference.
If one elite player sees another one going there, and I could see that happening the way he said it too. But it’s not going to be one. I don’t know who is going to be the first one. But if a couple get together without question, because you see the league now, two is not enough anymore. In the old days if you had two you’d say, wow, we have a chance to win the whole thing. Now it’s like you have to have three. It’s amazing.
BILLUPS: That’s right.
Q. With Tyronn Lue, we’re going to see in the All‑Star Game an All‑Star coach about whom most of the nation knows little or nothing. So I’m wondering what you guys have seen or heard or even know that suggests that Tyronn will be a successful head coach in the NBA and then my second question is a lot of things are going really well for the NBA these days, so I’m looking for one thing you’d think might be a challenge for this league on and off the court in the next year or two?
CARLESIMO: We were there together. I happened to be doing the two games for ESPN Radio again. Did the Golden State game, wasn’t David’s last game but it was one of David Blatt’s last games and did the opener, the Chicago game, Tyronn’s first game. I think Lue is going to be, I think he is already, but I think he’s going to be an excellent NBA coach. First reason, is the same reason anybody’s been a successful coach in this league, he’s got very good players. He’s got an excellent roster and he knows what he’s doing. He’s been there. He’s been a part of what they did. And I love the way he’s handling the whole thing because people are constantly baiting him into you’re doing this better, you’re doing that better, and he’s being very, very, as he should be as a coach, he’s being very kind to David Blatt.
He’s being very good about pointing out like when somebody tries to criticize their defense and say, well, you’re defending better. Lue turns around and says well I was the defensive coach when David Blatt was here. But he’s standing up and taking hits when it’s appropriate. I really like the way he’s handled that dynamic which will continue to be a challenge. Everything was rolling good, then they lose two games, now here we go. We’ve got to open up another can of worms.
But Lue is good. Doc loved him. I loved him as a player, the type of player that he was. I think that oftentimes translates to being a successful coach because he appreciates how hard you have to work. He’s seen other great coaches and he’s seen other really talented players. So I think his playing background helps him and the years he’s spent with Doc. I know how high Doc was on him. You don’t know, unless you work with a guy as a coach, you don’t know what he brings to the table. Any coach I’ve ever worked with or been on a staff with, I can tell you firsthand what they do and what they can’t do.
Doc’s really high on him. I think he’s had a great learning experience, and he’ll be very, very successful. I think he’s got a great situation because of the talent, but also an extremely challenging situation because of the circumstances. When you take over in the middle of the year, you can’t make a lot of changes, and you’re dealing with great news, the best player in the game but a challenging guy because he’s so big for that franchise. I mean, there is no book. It’s not Coaching 101, it’s not grad school coaching whatever the numbers are there.
Coaching LeBron is a different animal. But I think Lue will do well. I don’t know. Maybe there is going to be some resentment with the new salary cap. I think we’re going to see a lot of it. Do you believe what these guys are making? I don’t know. I’m trying to invent something. I like the shape the game is in now, particularly the young players, but I think there are going to be some stories when the new salaries down the line are negotiated. I think there are going to be somehow can anybody be worth X‑amount of dollars? But that’s a reach, and I don’t want to be the one that fans that. But I don’t really have a good answer for you.
BILLUPS: Yeah, the latter question, man, I’m with coach. I don’t know how different this league can get and some of these salaries that we thought last year were mind boggling, get ready because it’s going to be ‑‑ it’s going to get crazier for some of the names that are getting this kind of money.
One, as a former player, I’m happy to see it. Whether the guy deserves it or not. The only metric that’s there is if they give it to him, they felt he deserved it. So be happy for him. That’s been my thing. And just hope that it continues to grow, but they don’t misuse it and mistreat the blessings that they have, but that’s another story for another day. As far as Coach is concerned, you know, coach made a lot of great points. I’ve never been a coach in this league. Coach P.J. has, so he knows, you know, a little more about what being a great coach is.
I think a couple things that are going to Tyronn Lue a very good coach in this league are two things, and I think they’re very critical at this time with this kind of player, connectability and relatability. Two things that I think are critical. He has the ability to hold players accountable. He comes from great stock, all the great coaches that he’s played for, and he’s also played with, and nobody really talks about this, a lot of great players in this league. He’s played with the Shaq and Kobe’s. He played with Michael Jordan in Washington, and though Michael was older, he was still Michael Jordan. He played with T‑Mac (Tracy McGrady), he played with Jason. He’s played with a lot of great players, so he’s seen what that looks like, and I think that’s why he has no problem going after LeBron James or being honest with LeBron James or Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love.
And he can do it and say, listen, this is how I feel. This is what I think should happen. This is what needs to happen now because I’m the head coach. I don’t have to just suggest it to the head coach because I’m the assistant. Now I’m the head coach. This is how we’re going to have to play, and he can demand that and hold guys accountable. Those things, I think, are undervalued when it comes to coaching. A lot of the great coaches in this league, as Coach Carlesimo knows, hold the better players on the team accountable and coach them even harder than they do some of the other guys. He has the ability to do that.
Q. You talk about accountability. Talk about how you had to deal with Larry Brown and that situation you were in with him during the championship year?
BILLUPS: Well, one, he was the toughest probably the toughest coach on point guards that I ever played for. But I’m thankful and happy enough that I was mature enough and I was ready for that kind of coaching.
Now with that being said, it wasn’t always easy. I would come home at night and sit in the mirror and talk to myself because I just needed to hear it. Like he drove me crazy, man, and I loved it. I loved Larry Brown. He is the reason why we had a lot of good players on that team, but if it’s not for him and the way that he coached and the way he demanded for us to play a certain way and he held us accountable every single day, not just myself, not just Ben Wallace, everybody. If it’s not for that, we never become champions. We become one of those really good teams that didn’t get over the hump. That’s why I believe so much in accountability and coaching the best players harder.
Q. When you sat there and watched Ben go through his ceremony, what went through your mind about the flavor and championship that you brought to the city of Detroit?
BILLUPS: It was a beautiful day just to see somebody like Ben Wallace who was undrafted. Who was always a guy that was an underachiever, just for me to be able to celebrate that with him was phenomenal. It was an honor and pleasure to take the court with Ben Wallace every single night and the intensity that he played with and the brilliance that he played with, and the heart and enthusiasm, it was an honor.
It was beautiful for me for that franchise to recognize that, you know. He did so many things that never came up on the stat sheet that most people don’t recognize. He wasn’t a highlight machine. Like he did so many things that were underappreciated, and for me to be there celebrating with him on a day that they show the utmost appreciation was special.
Q. P.J. said you need two or three superstars now to really make it to the NBA title and make that run. How would you describe your five? Because people say there were no stars, but all of you were very good basketball players?
BILLUPS: You know, I think what we had done, I don’t know if it could be done again the way that we did it. We had very good players man. We really did. I felt like we had stars. But what we didn’t have is one guy that had a superstar ego or mentality or personality. And that right there is what made it to where like everybody was on the same level, everybody was the same guy because we had guys that could have benched ours elsewhere. We had guys that were All‑Stars in other situations as well. Rasheed was an All‑Star before he was a Piston before. I went on to be an All‑Star in Denver a couple times after I left Detroit. We had guys that were effective other places as well, so it wasn’t just like it was a team or a system. There were guys that were very good players, but we had no huge egos, man, and everybody played for one cause and that was to win.
Nobody played for their brand. Nobody played to be in the All‑Star Game. Nobody played to be the MVP of the league. We played for one reason, and that was to win and win together. And that was like an anomaly other than the San Antonio teams.
Q. Speaking of the Spurs, is it amazing to you that 11 years later you’ve still got Ginobili, Parker and Duncan being the leaders of that team after you lost to them in ’05?
BILLUPS: You know, it doesn’t, man, it doesn’t. I think they’ve just done a brilliant job of not only keeping those guys at a high level, but just filling other pieces around. I really felt like with our Detroit teams that we were in a position to do the same thing. I wasn’t an aging veteran at the time, but I wasn’t getting older, and so was Rasheed and Max. You go and draft Afflalo who was right there in position and Stuckey. You go in and start getting these other pieces that are not ready now, but you let your veterans teach them and mentor them and show them the way, then they become guys that are able to take over.
When you look at San Antonio, that’s what they’ve done and that’s what they continue to do. What they did this summer, getting LaMarcus Aldridge, it just reminds me of getting Tim Duncan. LaMarcus Aldridge was one of the top two, three, four men in the league. You’ve got him coming to the Spurs, he has to ‑‑ there is no if and when it’s going to happen. He has to at some point do it the Spurs’ way.
There is a culture there and they’ve set a standard there, and they have the best coach in basketball who is going to make sure that happens. I mean, it’s beautiful to me on what they’ve been able to do. I always said like losing Game 7 in The Finals to them was the darkest day of my career. It was really, really tough. And I always said I had this respectful hate for the Spurs because they’re so damn good. You know what I’m saying? They’re so damn good.
It’s beautiful to me. I love what they’ve been able to do and what they continue to do. That’s why I root for them.
Q. I know you discussed Tyronn Lue and his challenges already. I’m just wondering, when you have players like LeBron and Kyrie who tend to want to take over and win the game in the fourth quarter and just isolation basketball has been an issue for the Cavs. How difficult is that to get it for a coach to change that philosophy with two big‑time players like that?
CARLESIMO: I don’t know firsthand, but a lot of coaches would love the opportunity to be confronted with that challenge. I’m joking, but I’m serious at the same time. It took Miami a while to figure it out. It’s not as easy. When you have three guys, and Kevin doesn’t command the ball quite as much as Kyrie or LeBron because both of them are so good with the ball, not just what they do themselves, but how they’re able to create other people.
But it’s, you know, in one sense it’s easier when you have a Chauncey Billups handling the ball, and you’re running the screens for rip, and you know where Rasheed wants the ball, and you have Ben who didn’t need the ball an awful lot. He’d get it off the glass. That kind of team.
I’m not saying Larry didn’t do a great job. He did exceptional. I loved watching the ceremony, Chauncey. I really did. I watched it on TV and I loved seeing you guys sit in the stands and seeing everybody together. It was great because that was such a great, great basketball team.
But that kind of team, yeah, the pieces fit together. The Cavs will always be a challenge because you don’t know, and you hate to change from night to night. In the league it’s so much easier when you have a set rotation. As much as everybody says well, it’s the end of the game. You know what they’re going to do. They’re going to run a play for X because he’s their best player. You have no clue sitting on either bench at the end of a Cleveland game who is going to take the shot or what’s going to happen. And that’s a good thing, I think.
But it’s a challenge. I think Lue will do well with that and those guys are accepting. As confident and as big ego as they have, they’re about winning too, especially LeBron. I think that’s going to work itself out. But it’s not easy to totally different kind of coaching. It’s not easy. But I think, A, have will be been very, very good with it. That’s the one thing that amazes me. All the scrutiny and everything with the Cavs. I mean, they were whatever they were, one game under .500 last year. At one point they were 19 and 20, something like that almost at the halfway point of the season. Then they lose two of their best players and go six games deep into a championship Finals. I think they’re in good shape right now.
I think they’re the class of the Eastern Conference. I don’t think it’s a walkover, but I think they’ll come out of the East, and I think they’ll have a realistic chance of winning an NBA Championship. They’re only going to get better the more time they play together.
I like the roster moves. No one talks about that. They’ve added a lot to this team from last year. When we do, when ESPN does radio games out in Cleveland, we sit like two seats to the left of that bench. And I look down, I like that roster a lot more than last year’s roster. So I think they’re going to be there. I think those challenges Lue will be up to. But I don’t think it’s ever going to look seamless from game to game. There are too many weapons there, so it’s too easy to second‑guess why did they do that.
I don’t think with them isolation is a bad thing. People talk about isolation as a bad thing. They look at the way Golden State plays, and San Antonio plays and why doesn’t everybody play like that? Everybody doesn’t have that kind of player. It’s not just what Steve Kerr and Pop are preaching. It’s the guys that are out on the floor. Those pieces fit together a lot differently than the pieces in Cleveland do.
Q. Chauncey, do you have any thoughts on that, and the isolation part of it?
BILLUPS: I agree. Obviously, I agree with coach. It’s a tool in the toolbox. It’s not the end‑all, be‑all. And I think impressively that’s one of the things that I’ve seen coach Lue do. I’ve never seen so many five or six‑pass possessions in the last two years since he’s taken over. He’s adding some execution plays. They’re going strong side, weak side, they’re moving that ball around. And then when it gets bogged down, you’ve got two guys that you know can make a play for you or make a play for somebody else. So I don’t see that as a bad thing unless it’s all that you do, and that’s not all that they do.
Q. All four of you guys made it to the All‑Star Game in 2006. Managing those personalities and you touched on it earlier, that no one had an ego or had to do anything. But with four All‑Stars and playing at a level that you were, there had to be for you some managing of that. And Coach Stan Van Gundy complimented you on being the one that pulled all of those personalities together. Can you touch on that a little bit?
BILLUPS: Yeah, for one, the guys respected me. They trusted me. They trusted whatever decision I felt was right at the time was the right decision, whether it was their number or somebody else’s number that I had to call at the time, at that time of the game. They trusted that. That wasn’t easy to come by. That takes a while to get guys to trust you, and there is some blunder involved in that too. You make the wrong calls sometimes and that happens. But when I did that, I would immediately raise my hand, my bad. I’ve got you next time. Boom. It’s a mutual thing. It’s a mutual respect. And that All‑Star Game, when all four of us made it, the one thing that we all knew was we only made it because we were winning.
None of us had crazy numbers. Nobody averaged 25 points. Nobody was blowing the league away. We knew that there was so much strength and power in winning and doing it together collectively. It was a collective collaboration that we believed in. That we believed in. We understand why we were there and because of that, again, there was no extra added ego to it because we knew why we were there.
I wasn’t there because I averaged 26 and 12 and I was on the highlights on SportsCenter every night. I was there because I led the heck out of that team and the game was on the line, I would, or made sure the ball was in the perp’s hand to make the plays to win the game, and you go win games, and you go win games. So that’s what it was about for us.
Q. You talked about getting two or three guys together on these super teams now. But when did it click for you guys that you were on the island of misfit toys that you were complementary pieces on other teams, but you got all of that together? When did it click that you guys were really starting to put things together?
BILLUPS: For me, I can tell you, I thought that we were good enough to be in the Eastern Conference Finals before we got Sheed. I really did. I thought we were good, but I didn’t know if we had enough to get over the top. When it clicked for me was after the trade with Sheed, our first practice. The first practice that we had because none of us had ever played with Sheed besides maybe Ben crossed paths in Washington– nobody ever played Sheed. We knew Sheed from competing against him but we never played with him. So for me, we’re practicing and we’re scrimmaging, and this dude was so vocal and he called out every defensive player we had. This was first practice now. He called help everywhere. I’m picking up the ball at half court. He’s telling me where the screen was, who was coming, what coverage we were in. And I’m telling you, when we got in the huddle and walked off of the floor that day, I said there is nobody that can beat us. Not with that added ‑‑ not with that added bonus to our team. There is nobody that can beat us. Yeah, could somebody have beaten us? Maybe so. But that’s how I felt, and I think we all felt that way. Though we didn’t say that together collectively. That was a feeling after that practice saying, man, we’ve got exactly what we needed, man. So I can just speak for ‑‑ I thought it was, you know.
Q. Chauncey, congratulations on your honor. Just talk about that honor a little bit, and also, I talked to Tayshaun on Saturday. He’s not, as you know, he’s not a very talkative person. But talk about his contributions to the team. Then, P.J., who are the All‑Stars that didn’t get in that you think should have gotten in this year?
BILLUPS: First of all, with my Detroit honor, that’s where it is, man. From the time that I ever started playing basketball, I just wanted to become as good as I could possibly become. I never knew that my ceiling was as high as it became. I just wanted to be the best that I could. I fell in love with the game very early.
Ironically, you know, the Pistons were my favorite team at one point with Joe and Isaiah in that back court. I just love the back court. I actually wore number 4 because of Joe Dumars. I just love his game at the time.
And I just, you can imagine how I feel now about to go upstairs and wrap this with these two guys. It’s humbling. Sometimes I still can’t even believe it. During the course of your career, I know for me, like I never realized how many stones I would turn over or how high I was climbing on that mountain because you stay so focused. You accomplish something and you forget about it really quick. You throw it to the side and forget and try to go get the next thing. So I never really enjoyed or celebrated any of the things that I did because I was so concerned with what’s next, how can I get better? You have to have a short memory.
So now to have to sit back and retire and to see some of these things and to know what’s going to happen on Wednesday night, it’s unbelievable. Like it’s an unbelievable honor, and I still, to be honest, I can’t believe that I was that good. You know? I can’t believe that I made it to be that good that I would be recognized like this. So it’s a great honor.
For Tayshaun, the guy who was the most under the radar guy on our team was probably the most important guy on our team. He took match‑ups that, you know, nobody else could take because he was just that good. He didn’t need the ball. He played small forward. He was a really quiet guy, but he’s tough as nails. He’s that guy that he never talks, but when he does, everybody better listen up. I can remember him as a rookie, and we’re playing in the first round series in Orlando. We’re the 1 seed, and they’re the 8 seed, and Michael Curry at the time is our starting three man.
Well, after two games, T‑Mac was averaging 47 on us, and we were a good defensive team. But we just couldn’t get to the help fast enough. This guy was too good. So we went to Coach Carlisle and said, please, you’ve got to give Tayshaun a shot. Just give him a shot. Let’s see. What is the worst that can happen? He averages 50? That’s three more points. You know what I’m saying?
Man, he gave Tayshaun a shot, and man, I think T‑Mac probably had 22, 25. Now that team might have somebody to be accountable for. Tay was knocking down shots, man, and that was like the birth in the NBA for Tayshaun Prince against maybe the toughest match‑up in the league at the time against T‑Mac, and not only that, he didn’t play much all year. So that speaks to his toughness and his mental fortitude and from that time on, that point on, he made big play after big play after big play, and nobody ever talked about him with the exception of us. And Tayshaun was a big, big deal for that tame.
CARLESIMO: I’m going to contradict Chauncey in one sense. He said he didn’t realize or didn’t think he was that good. He wasn’t that good. He was better than that. He absolutely deserves to be there. And believe me, anybody that sat on the other bench and coached against his teams, they expect that number to be hanging there.
All‑Star is a tough one. I don’t like the fans picking to be honest, but that’s me. I never second‑guess the coaches because coaches, sometimes teams haven’t even played each other, they’ve only played one time and it’s hard. I think all the guys that are there are deserving. I think it’s much tougher in the east and west, Pau Gasol surprised me that he’s not there. I thought he was having an unbelievable year. And Kemba Walker has done a great job. They’re a game, game‑and‑a‑half out of the playoffs.
I think he’s done a great job. I don’t think the guys that are in are not deserving, but I thought Pau and Kemba are also deserving. The older guys in the West T.P. and Dirk surprised me a little bit. It’s hard to pick on the Spurs. I got no problem with Kawhi or L.A., but I thought Tony Parker is quietly having an excellent year. Dirk’s got Dallas a lot higher than I think a lot of people thought they would be.
And the Clipper guys I wouldn’t know what to do. If I was voting myself, I wouldn’t have known what to do with J.J. Redick or DeAndre Jordan or Blake because you can make a case for all of them. That’s how good they are.
So those guys kind of similar to Kemba, Damian Lillard is having a great year. He’s got Portland knocking on the door a lot higher than people thought they were going to be. But there are only so many slots. I don’t think anybody is not deserving. But those guys, I tell you what, it was a tough year to vote. I’m glad I wasn’t voting, because there were a lot of guys that you could make a case for that deserved to be in Toronto.
Q. Chauncey, what do you make of Andre Drummond’s season he’s having in Detroit? When you look back at your time in Detroit, why do you think you were able to flourish so well there?
BILLUPS: First with Andre, man, the sky’s the limit for this guy. I knew that he was talented, but I went there, finished my career and just kind of sat around and sat around him all year. I would get on him. I didn’t think he worked very hard. I would be on his butt, making him beat me to the gym every day. Just a few things that some veterans did for me when I was young.
But the crazy thing about Andre is he hasn’t even reached the surface yet to what he could be. This guy has now become a really hard worker. He’s a little more in tune to the game, to the match‑up, to his responsibilities on the floor. I think Coach Van Gundy has done a terrific job with him in how he uses him and how he holds him accountable, and how when he’s not playing good, he calms him out. He lets him know that, and I love that. I love that.
But Dre’, I mean, you couldn’t find a better guy. He’s a good dude. You like to see the good dudes do well, especially when they work hard, and I’m just proud of him. I’m just proud of him. I say this, and this is a really tall honor, but I say that he is to me the Moses Malone of this generation. This guy’s going to get his hands on every ball. Not only that, he’s learning how to shoot that jump hook now. Like his points are not all lobs. Like you can throw him the ball and something can happen with him having the ball on the back down. That’s impressive. But he’s still young. I’m interested to see what levels he can get to.
The second question as to why my career kind of flourished in Detroit, there are two guys that I give so much credit to in my career and one is Terrell Brandon and one is Sam Mitchell. So the year before I came to Detroit I spent two years in Minneapolis. When I went to Minneapolis, pretty much that was my third or fourth team in three or four years, and I was really trying to find myself.
It was those two guys that really ‑‑ Terrell took me and taught me how to work, how to work smart, how to study film, how to study my opponent. What to think about. He’s telling me things like, okay, you’re our best player. If KG don’t have 13 of 6 or 7 rebounds or two or three assists at halftime, it’s because you’re not playing well. And I didn’t understand that. I was like, what do you mean I’m not playing well? That’s KG. That’s him. He said, no, you’ve got to put him in great positions. You’re the point guard. You have to figure this out and think for him.
So there are a lot of things like that that Terrell took me in and he just gave me the game. Like he really did. I’m forever indebted to him for what he did to me. And Sam Mitchell as well. Sam for making me beat him to the gym. I should never get to the gym before you and I shouldn’t leave before you either. So making that a standard, working like that, how to dress. These guys, they raised me, man, and I’m talking about in two years they did this.
So by the time I got to Detroit, one, it was a great group of guys around me. But more importantly, I was finally ready. Like I was ready. I was ready to have my own team. I was ready to take on that responsibility. I was taught right and I was raised right. So I was just ready at the time. Thanks go to those two guys and Flip Saunders as well.
Q. Chauncey, knowing George Karl the way you do, what advice would you give DeMarcus Cousins; and Coach, if you’re on Karl’s staff, what counsel would you offer him?
CARLESIMO: Well, you know how old‑fashioned and head strong I am, so my counsel would be for George not to change. George Karl’s got to be who George Karl is. The numbers, the record speaks for itself. Some of the guys he’s dealing with there, their numbers and their record speaks for themselves. It’s about winning.
Chauncey on this call is, I think, 7 different times talked about sacrificing and being in the winning and coaches being demanding of him and how much those coaches holding the best players accountable, how much they meant to him and different teams he’s been on. I’m not putting words in his mouth, but I’m saying you’ve heard that repeatedly from a guy who was an ultimate winner an NBA champion and such a great representative of the game and for the game.
So what would I tell George if I’m on his staff? Just keep on doing exactly what you’re doing, and if ownership doesn’t understand that and if ownership doesn’t understand what they’re dealing with, well so be it.
BILLUPS: I guess me, if I have to talk a little bit to DeMarcus Cousins, I would just say, you know, you always, always ‑‑ it’s tough to come back in this league from being a guy that’s considered to be a guy that’s very critical of their coach all the time, that’s always shown a lot of resistance towards coaching. By the way, I think this is the most talented center that we have in our game.
George Karl’s a guy that there is nothing new about the situation with George Karl. I mean, he’s coached some colorful personalities in his time in Denver, in Seattle with GP. This is nothing new to George. I’m pretty sure he’s seen all of it, all that he’s had to see with Cousins.
But for Cousins, I think you have to kind of ‑‑ it’s the coach. It’s the relationship that when you’re taught as a young kid you don’t go against a coach, and you certainly don’t go against a coach in public or during a game. Now you can have a conversation at any time with the coach if you feel you’re being wronged or there is a situation that you don’t like. That’s totally fine because most coaches in this league have an open‑door policy. They welcome that. However you can’t do it in public. You can’t do it when the media can see. It just looks bad.
Media contact: Gianina Thompson at [email protected] (@Gianina_ESPN)