“This summer was actually the first summer I worked on my game. I usually just play off of raw talent.”
- LA Clipper Jamal Crawford.

Mind boggling, but hardly surprising considering the deficiencies in his game.

“This year, I’ll be spending most of my time in the paint. Just trying to develop my game and continue to expand it.”
- Miami’s LeBron James.

29 other teams shuddered when they heard that.

“That’s what we were going for this summer. To up our street cred.”
- San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, on teammate Tony Parker being linked to a nightclub fight in New York during the offseason.

Nice one, Timmy.

“Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with [Brook] Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”
- Shaquille O’Neal.

Shaq’s really becoming the king of the dumbass quote.

“I’ve got a big chip on my shoulder. I’ll put it out there, I came to Portland out of shape because I didn’t think there was going be a season.”
- New York’s Raymond Felton.

For a ‘professional’ athlete earning millions of dollars, that’s staggering.

“I’m real fired up. … This is gonna be the start of our future.”
- Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban, on this year’s team.

He’s dreamin’.

“The years I had to guard him in the New York when I was the 5, he’s one of the nastiest players in the league. He doesn’t back down from anyone. We’re excited to have him on our team.”
- Golden State’s David Lee on teammate Andrew Bogut.

Let’s hope we can see a lot of that “Nasty” this season.

“Yes, I am. It’s going to take some time. Not starting, not having attention on me, but I think I’m ready.”
- New Houston Rocket James Harden, when asked if he’s ready to be an alpha dog.

You bet he is.

“So really, it’s up to the Thunder here — do they want to win championships even if it means tilting into the red, or simply contend for championships while also remaining in the black?”
- Grantland’s/ESPN’s Bill Simmons, before the Harden trade went down, on the decision faced by the Oklahoma City Thunder over whether or not they should keep and pay James Harden, or trade him to ease their oncoming cap crunch.

I don’t usually quote writers, and I’m not always a BS fan, but this line was brilliant and absolutely spot-on. They’ve just given away titles.

“I know. I’m a jerk. I’m going to go ahead and admit it publicly to the whole world. Tell me what to do. What should I do? The quarter ends, you just got outscored by 12 points, they had eight offensive rebounds so the question will be ‘you just got outrebounded by X amount so what are you going to do about it?’ I don’t know. Am I going to make a trade during the timeout? I don’t know. I’m going to do drills here for a while by the time the game starts, I don’t know. I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to go back to the bench and hope we play better. I don’t know how to answer so sue me for being stupid and not having the answers to the questions…..It entertains everybody but my wife. When I get home and she says ‘geez why are you so mean? You’re a jerk, people hate you.’ I go ‘I’m sorry honey, I have to do better next time.’ And there’s no exaggeration. Did you see that guy honey? Did you see him? All you have to do is see him and you know why I answered the way I did. (She says) ‘That’s no excuse, you’re a grown man. Show some maturity.’ I said ‘I can’t, I can’t do it.’”
- Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich, when asked why he is so tough on courtside reporters.

Never change, Pop.

“It’s the passion to come back and show y’all how post players really need to play – old-school basketball. Y’all are used to all this new, young stuff, high-flying and dunking. That’s not basketball. Terrible footwork by a lot of young guys out here. Let’s go back to old-school basics.”
- New York’s Rasheed Wallace, on why he came out of retirement.

That’s hilarious. Granted, he has terrific post skills, but the guy refused to go down on the block for the last 4-5 years of his career, and instead preferred to camp out on the three-point line. How about this stat – in each of his last five seasons in the league, more than one-third of his shots came from deep….

“There will be no problems because we’re like the Care Bears. We love each other, we care for each other, we’re here on this Earth as one, to love each other.”
- The Lakers’ Metta World Peace, when asked if chemistry may be an issue on the team.

I’m running out of responses for his off-the-wall comments.

“Nash should do a Vegas magic show. They should put his picture on the Flamingo hotel with a picture of him posing spinning the ball with his tongue out. There could be a bunch of strippers around him naked covering themselves with a hat.”
- World Peace on teammate Steve Nash.

See.

“No one at ESPN will tell us what happened. Certainly the NBA office isn’t going to tell us what happened. One of the quotes from ESPN in there — ‘we had discussions, but couldn’t agree on a role’ … as is usual, that’s a bunch of BS from ESPN. We actually did agree on a role, but then they came back and pulled that. That’s when we knew something was up. What I find fascinating … you have to give David Stern and the NBA a lot of credit … ESPN pays the league, and then the league tells them what to do. It’s more ESPN’s problem. You gotta have no balls whatsoever to pay someone hundreds of millions of dollars and let them run your business.”
- Stan Van Gundy, who was set to join ESPN’s NBA Countdown broadcast before the NBA intervened and put the kibosh on it.

Depriving us of some regular Stan? That’s criminal.

“I think it’s a bunch of crap to be honest with you. Are they going to come back after a game and fine you for flopping? That’s tough to do to me.”
- Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki on the new flopping rules.

No surprise; the biggest floppers don’t like it.

“I used to flop.”
- Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao.

No, really?

“There are a lot of guys in the league that are in trouble.”
- New York’s Tyson Chandler on the new flopping rules.

He might be right.

“It’s a good weapon defensively for me and it has been very productive in order for me to be good on defense. I will try to see if I can continue to do it and then if the rules don’t allow it, I will find some other way.”
- Phoenix’s Luis Scola on the new flopping rules.

I like his honesty.

“It’s going to clean up the game a little bit. Everybody flops sometimes and if this cleans up the game, that’s great. Every guy who plays in Europe. I flop sometimes. Well, I don’t say I flop. Me, I exaggerate sometimes. I want it to stop though.”
- Portland’s Nicolas Batum on the new flopping rules.

Please, make it stop!

“Shamless flopping, that’s a chump move.”
- The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on flopping.

Amen.

“They started overdoing it, I think it was bad for basketball and it was a great decision to make basketball more clear.”
- Vlade Divac on the new flopping rules.

Even the man who pretty much invented the flop has had enough.

“I had some 89-second handshakes worked out with my teammates. I had to cut those out.”
- San Antonio’s Matt Bonner, on the new rule stipulating that players must be ready for tipoff within 90 seconds after introductions.

With all the time wasting crap in an NBA game (especially in crunch time), they choose to eliminate pre-game handshakes? Odd.

“I will consider going back to the NBA next summer. Honestly, that’s the best league in the world.”
- Sasha Vujacic, currently playing in Turkey.

Ya think?

“We’re not good friends to be honest. And to say the truth, I’m not going to ask him for advice.”
- Tracy McGrady on Stephon Marbury. Both will play in China this season.

Fair enough.

“I’ve always been a pretty coachable kid, so whatever coach needs me to do, I’ll do. If I have to take out the trash, I’ll take out the trash.”
- Brooklyn’s MarShon Brooks.

Love his attitude.

“What Rick said about Michael was, ‘Yes, Michael has been good. I get along with him. But I don’t think we’ll be a championship team with him. If I put Michael in, Michael can score, but he doesn’t play any defense and he forgets the other offensive players, and I just can’t tolerate that under my system because the other players are just standing around.’.. The coach would have put up with Randolph if we had gotten rid of Beasley. He said Randolph isn’t really a problem, he just can’t remember things. When he was going down his list and got to Randolph, he said, ‘I think he should be off the team. But if these things were taken care of and I had to deal with it, I can deal with a kid like him because he is more of an introvert, he’s not a nasty kid.’”
- Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, on what coach Rick Adelman said at the end of last season on Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph.

That’s a pretty good insight.

“At the end of the day, everybody in that locker room knows this team is myself and Tyreke’s. I don’t give a [expletive] about no articles [asking whose team it is]. This team goes as far as we carry it.”
- Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

True.

“No, it wasn’t [positive]. No. I didn’t enjoy it. I went out there, and … I’m not going to say I didn’t learn anything from it, because I did. But it was just, in my mind, another political battle. I learned more about politics. I saw the work ethic of the so-called elite in the league, and I took some notes from that and took that back with me. But as far as the rest of it? No. Honestly, the scrimmages were one-sided the whole time. To even have a chance, you had to play hard as hell. We were out there getting our heads knocked off, and if they’re going to play physical, then I’m going to play physical back. I’m not out there trying to start fights — just trying to stand on my own. But I guess the ignorance of people is they take it as being immature.”
- DeMarcus Cousins, when asked if his time with the U.S. select team in Las Vegas in July was a positive experience.

I love the edginess of this guy.

“I think it’s bull (expletive) to tell you the truth. I feel like it takes away from the guys who are legitimate centers.”
- Indiana’s Roy Hibbert, on the league’s decision to drop the center spot from the All-Star ballot.

Of course he wouldn’t like it; he landed a max deal in the offseason due in large part because he was ‘All-Star’ last season. But we all know he wasn’t really an All-Star. The change is a good one.

“It’s my team….It’s mine, I got five rings. What do you want me to do?”
- Kobe Bryant, when asked at media day whose team it is.

That’s true, but he probably doesn’t need to frame it like that (considering he’s not even the best player on the team).

“On its face, it’s the best talent I’ve been around. Whether that translates into winning a championship remains to be seen. But just on paper you’re talking Defensive Player of the Years, MVPs, All-Stars. You’re talking about a myriad of things. Guys who are at the top of their position at one point or another. It’s pretty dope.”
- Kobe Bryant.

Agree, pretty dope.

“It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health. That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years. It’s not about health necessarily. It’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?’”
- Kobe Bryant, saying that he can’t see himself playing beyond 2013-14, when his current contract runs out.

I think we’ll wait and see on that.

“That’s not gonna happen. That’s just not me.”
- Kobe again, when asked if there’s a chance he could change his mind and hang on for an extra year or two (beyond his current contract) as a role player averaging 15 points just to pad his championship resume.

Again, wait and see.

“I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team. I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?….. he’s [Parker] the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. So we let him walk on.”
- The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on the 2005-06 Lakers.

He’s right, but no need to go there.

“The reason I wasn’t a Laker after my second year is because I didn’t bow down to [Bryant]. I didn’t kiss his ass. I wasn’t kissing his feet. Quite frankly, towards the end of the second season, I stopped passing him the ball. I stopped giving him the ball. I started looking him off……..Midway through the first season, I tried to at least have a conversation with Kobe Bryant — he is my teammate, he is a co-worker of mine, I see his face every day I go in to work — and I tried to talk with him about football. He tells me I can’t talk to him. He tells me I need more accolades under my belt before I come talk to him. He was dead serious.”
- Smush Parker responds.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

“I’d rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I wish they both went hand in hand all the time but that’s just not reality. I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success.”
- Kobe, in response to Smush Parker’s comments.

Geez.

“Here’s how it goes – I’m scared (going) to the airport, I’m scared going up, I’m uncomfortable in the air and I feel like a million bucks when we hit the runway.”
- Houston rookie Royce White.

He’s in for a tough road (literally).

“I consider myself a trend-setter, so a long time ago I decided, I think it was like a couple months, four months ago, I decided I won’t tweet again, so all I’ll do is retweet. So I technically don’t tweet, I just retweet.”
- Denver’s JaVale McGee.

Peanut.

“He struggled offensively big-time. I took him out in the second half because I drew up a play, guard ran the play, he messed it up. To me that was a lack of focus so I figured he didn’t need to play the rest of the game. I can’t draw up a play during a timeout and you go on the floor and mess it up.”
- Cleveland coach Byron Scott, on why he benched their first round draft pick Dion Waiters in a preseason game.

Scott is notoriously harsh on rookies so expect Waiters to have a tough year.

“I want it, but I can’t control it. Every day when I walk in here I’m hoping they’ll call me in and say, ‘Jack, here’s your extension.’ I think I deserve it, but at the end of the day I’m still happy to be here and all I can worry about is what I can control, and that’s my play.”
- San Antonio’s Stephen Jackson, wanting another extension on his $10 million per year expiring deal.

You would have to be out of your mind (and clearly, some NBA GMs are) to offer this guy an extension.

“I think we’re the best team in the West. We’re so deep, so talented, so versatile. You can’t just game-plan for one person on this team. I think we’ll be No. 1 in the West.”
- Denver’s Ty Lawson.

Just a little ambitious.

“I tell him every day “You’re no longer Darko. You’re a Celtic”. And one day, we asked him what his name was and he said “Celtic”.”
- Boston coach Doc Rivers on Darko Milicic.

You’re wasting your breath, Doc.

“I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever I need to do to help this team. So now, if I have to go kill someone on the court, I’ll kill someone on the court.”
- Boston’s Darko Milicic.

Just get your head in the game, that’s all.

“I am a simple guy. I like to hunt, I like to fish, so that’s what my hobbies are. I fish carp professionally back home. I go to the World Cups, European Championships. I have a team so that’s what I enjoy the most. I’ve got an RV here from the US. We travel, we fish for four to seven days straight.”
- Darko Milicic.

Who would have thunk it.

“Of course….I think (Cuban) would have been able to answer a lot of the questions me and my agent have for him that really didn’t get answered that day pertaining to the future. And I think if he was there he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. It maybe would have helped me. (I wanted to hear about) the direction of the future of the team, other than Dirk. Players they were thinking about. Everything was basically just their track record, trust their track record, which is, you know, I can honor that, because they do have a good track record but it’s not enough for me, especially when [Nets general manager Billy King] was updating me daily.”
- Brooklyn’s Deron Williams, when asked if Mark Cuban’s absence from the Mavs’ free agency pitch (he was in LA at the time taping episodes of the reality show “Shark Tank”) impacted his decision to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets.

I don’t buy that – it doesn’t take Einstein to realise they have nothing beyond Nowitzki – but it’s probably a bit of payback from Deron in response to Cuban’s idiotic comments about Dallas being better off without him. Cuban was a damn fool for not attending though.

“I’m a big D-Will fan, but I’m kind of surprised that he would throw his front office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference. I would have expected him to say — like I’d expect one of our guys to say — ‘Hey I’m so thrilled with the front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn’t have mattered what he did.’ I’m flattered that he thought my presence would have made more of a difference than what the Nets’ management did.”
- Mark Cuban’s response.

I mean, that’s your typical Mark Cuban response right there.

“Thinking conventionally that first season with LeBron — that was my biggest regret as a coach. I put LeBron in a box. And that’s the worst thing I could have done.”
- Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Clearly, both guys have come along way since 2010.

“Just put me on the floor — one, two, three, four or five — and I’m going to make good things happen on both ends of the floor and play hard.”
- Phoenix’s Michael Beasley.

Delusional.

“When this contract situation came down, everybody in my circle — mom, family, brother, sister, friends from college, people who watched me since I was in high school and since I was in college — nobody wanted me to re-sign in that situation because they thought, ‘there [is] so much left in you and this team isn’t taking care of you or treating you right.’”
- Miami’s Ray Allen, on why he left Boston.

C’mon Ray, they didn’t take care of you? Boston offered you two years at $12 million, compared to the two years at $6 million you got from Miami. That was more than generous, and in fact, I would argue exorbitant for a 37 year old with bad ankles who wants more ‘touches’.

“I have said that if the Nets don’t win the NBA championship within five years, I will punish myself by getting married. We are in year three. So no one is more interested in winning a championship than yours truly.”
- Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov when asked “Is marriage something you would consider some day?”.

He’s gettin’ hitched.

“There’s like five teams that matter in this league. If you’re in a small market … right now it’s the Oklahoma City Thunder … but if you’re in small market, you don’t matter. That’s frustrating. You want to compete, you want to get your recognition, you want people to respect you. So in a sense, that’s frustrating.”
- Orlando’s J.J. Redick.

J.J., that’s BS. The Orlando Magic are a train wreck because former GM Otis Smith did his best to torpedo the club (by making some ridiculous trades and handing out heinous contracts) over the last four years. Oh yeah, and ownership failing to read the tea leaves on the Dwight Howard situation certainly didn’t help either.

“People look at it from the wrong perspective. This isn’t Utah, and this isn’t just a team with me and [former Jazz point guard] Deron Williams on it. We’re playing with five scorers here, so your touches aren’t going to be the same, your looks aren’t going to be the same. It’s a different system. All the people should worry about is if we win. Criticize me if we lose, but if we win, just praise us.”
- Chicago’s Carlos Boozer.

Just amnesty this clown and be done with him.

“We’re doing it every way you can do it. If we were a sex manual, it’d be a best-seller.”
- Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle, on his teams’ preseason turnover problems.

Er, ok Rick.

“No. If I did that, I’d blow my brains out. There’s 20-page printouts after every game – I would kill myself. My analytics are here (pointing to his head) and here (his gut).”
- Philadelphia coach Doug Collins, when asked if he was an analytics guy.

Clearly, stats have value in many areas but I do think people go a little nuts with it these days. Something that sticks with me; during the 2012 playoffs Sports Illustrated writer Zach Lowe (now with Grantland) – who I think is the best in the business hands down – wrote a preview of the Spurs/Thunder WCF. In it he examined all the numbers and concluded by saying “But every bit of evidence suggests that the Spurs are going to win this series”. My reaction at the time was something to the effect of “screw the numbers, how are they going to guard Durant/Westbrook/Harden over an entire series?”. I’m not trying to knock Zach because I read the guy religiously and 99.9 times out of a 100 he is bang on. But I think sometimes people today get too caught up in the numbers and the vast array of data that’s available, instead of seeing what’s actually going on in front of them.


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