“It’s a readjustment to be back, yes, but the biggest change is in me. I see the world differently. I no longer see the world through the eyes of simply an American kid growing up here. I see them through the eyes of a worldly man who has experienced new sets of surroundings and made me look now at the world and the USA that I live in again, in a whole different way. I left the United States at 22, and I eventually found myself living in the former Soviet Union, the place that I viewed at one time, as a child of the Cold War, as the enemy to be feared, the threat to the U.S. and the world. After experiencing post-Soviet Union Russia, and living there, I had a totally different view of the place and the time period that I lived there. It changed my whole mindset about things. Now, when I’m looking at international events here through the eyes of an American again, I’m seeing it a lot different.”
“It was amazing. They asked me earlier how I would feel or how would I react. You can’t prepare for that whether it was a surprise or you knew it was coming. It was just an amazing feeling and to just be in the moment. See it. Kind of relive it. As it was happening you see all of the stuff and all of the people you played with. As each play was happening I could remember it like it was yesterday.”
Vince Carter talks about the video montage the Toronto Raptors created and showed to honour his contributions to the franchise
“It’s tough. You hate to see anyone have the game be taken away from him because of injury and especially a talent like that. Obviously he’s worked his tail off to try to be healthy and play for that franchise and over his career he’s always kept his body in shape, we all knew that. For his body to fail him at a time where he still feels like he has something to give to the game, I think it sucks. At the same time, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He should be proud of every moment that he had in this league — from him waiting behind and sitting on the bench behind J-Kidd (Jason Kidd) to finally getting his opportunity in Dallas and going back to Phoenix and having an unbelievable career, the two MVPs, and doing the things that he did. You just look at him, you would never (know). If you’re playing street basketball and he’s out on the side, you’re not going to pick him. And then when he finally gets his chance to pick the four guys that he wants to run with, then you’re going to be like, ‘Damn! I should have took that guy. I should have took him.’ And he’s part of that 90-50-40 club (with) a few guys — (Kevin) Durant, (Larry) Bird, Dirk (Nowitzki). Nash, he did it multiple years. I think 4-5 years straight, which is crazy. And never one of the most athletic guys. Always just played with his mind and his agility. So it sucks. It’s always bad when a guy, like I said before, I’ll harp on it again, when your career is kind of shortened because of injury.”
LeBron James raves about Steve Nash
“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country. I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities from both a time and energy standpoint. I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”
“That’s my biggest surprise coming in here. The one thing I was worried about is whether he would be able to step in after so much time (off). He looks, to me, as good as when we had him in the World Championship in ’10, when he was at full strength coming (into) an MVP year. He looks very, very good. Obviously, [when] he gets in some games it will be a little different, but it’s not like he hasn’t had success in games. He had a lot of success. He’s been the most impressive guy here.”
“I thought it was well-thought-out. It was classy. It was a great move to do it as a letter. That was pretty cool. It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”
At Rucker Park in New York, people sat on rooftops and climbed trees to watch Julius Erving play. In Louisville, Kentucky, Artis Gilmore would pull up in his fancy car, still wearing his fancy suits, and just ball. Kevin Durant first measured the worth of his game on the D.C. playgrounds, and Arthur Agee chased his hoop dream in Chicago. The Philadelphia outdoor courts once boasted a who’s who of the city’s best ballers, and in Los Angeles, playground legends with names such as Beast, Iron Man and Big Money Griff played on the same concrete as Magic and Kobe.
That was then, a then that wasn’t all that long ago.
Now? Now the courts are empty, the nets dangling by a thread. The crowds that used to stand four deep are gone, and so are the players. Once players asked “Who’s got next?” Now the question is “Anyone want to play?” And the answer seems to be no, at least not here, not outside.
Playground basketball, at least as we knew it, is dying.
“Playground Basketball Is Dying” via ESPN
“Even taking a little less money, this opportunity was too exciting to pass up. I’ve had a taste of the playoffs before, but being a part of this team will be just incredible. You get to a point where you really realize what’s important, and I was thinking: ‘What would my 12-year-old self have done? What would he prioritize?’ It was this opportunity and what they’re building with the Clippers.”
Spencer Hawes to Yahoo! Sports
“For me, I’ll always go with the best (available) talent. We did our due diligence. I went to Brazil three times to see him. Jeff (Weltman) went a couple of times. Our scouts went a few times to see him. We felt comfortable. A few days ago we took Coach Casey and we worked him out in Houston. Coach Casey and Jama (Mahlalela) worked him out and felt comfortable, too.
“I’m not here trying to be popular; that’s not what’s important to me. I’m trying to look out for the organization long-term and I think long-term we’ll look at Bruno (Caboclo) and say at least he has a chance (to be something special).”
Masai Ujiri Talking About Critics Who Claimed Bruno Caboclo Was A Reach
“I’m not putting my nuts on the line for this guy. I’m not drafting the next Tskitishvili. Now, the guys that saw him in Prague, if they’ve seen enough, then fine, but I can’t do it. There is no frame of reference. He’s going top five or six. But if you think it’s a lock to Orlando, they like [Marcus] Smart too. You can look like a hero or get fired taking this kid, that’s who he is. There are a lot of sexy things there. I’ve seen him practice, mostly against other Euros. I’ve seen Wiggins 15 times. It’s very hard for me. I didn’t go to Prague. I’m a Hoop Summit guy. It’s basically drafting a high school kid out of Australia. Not debating his athleticism. He’s a hard worker, smart. His dad played, so that helps with the transition if you are worried about that. It reminds me of Nikoloz Tskitishvili [drafted no. 5 in 2002] a little, but obviously not the same player.”
Anonymous NBA Scout talking to Ryne Russillo
“Chad Forcier and Chip Engelland have been primary reasons for any success we’ve had in developing players. They have a program where the guys come early, they stay late on a daily basis or every time we practice. They’re really responsible for the skill sets of the individuals improving. Kawhi Leonard didn’t shoot threes when he came here, you know, that sort of thing. Tony Parker’s runner, you know, that kind of stuff. And every team works on this stuff, but those are the two guys for us that really get it done.”
Gregg Popovich to David Aldridge During 2014 NBA Finals
“I don’t think anybody really enjoyed this season like in years past. There was no, like, genuine joy all the time. It seemed like work. It was a job the whole year. Winning was just a relief. Losing was a cloud over us sometimes, and then we’d break out of it — and then go right back. But we got here. We had a chance. They were just better.”
“I think we’re always considering it. You don’t know what the opportunity is. Hopefully you’ve built the program to be as flexible as it can be at the time that opportunities are created. But I can’t predict when that will happen, nor know. When you have one of the great players of all time and one of the great coaches of all time, knowing how you’re going to fill those shoes (is impossible) because you’re not. It will be numbing and changing. Those are the people who we’ve come to work with and battle with, committed ourselves to as they’ve committed to the rest of us. And that will be hard.””
R.C. Buford Before Game 5 of 2014 NBA Finals
“This series is not over. We’ve got guys with too much pride to even start thinking about it being over. At the end of the day, our focus will be, ‘How do we get better than we did in Game 3 and Game 4 at home?’ We’re going with that bunker mentality in Game 5.”
LeBron James refusing to give up despite the fact no team in the history of the NBA Finals have come back from a 1-3 deficit
“I got stuck in traffic. I was sitting there in traffic for like 30 minutes and I wasn’t moving. I did a u-turn in the middle of the street and went back home. I jumped on the subway. Good ole reliable subway. I don’t think anyone expected us to be playing today when they planned to have a marathon and a Game 7 on the same day. I got stuck. Believe me, you don’t want to be on a subway going to a Game 7. You saw the pictures and everything. I didn’t think anybody would recognize me but you saw the pictures (on twitter) and everything. I think the shirt gave me away.”
Photo courtesy of Arvin Mednoza on twitter.