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June 5, 2004

Larry Brown


Q. The Lakers were in here talking, and they say that they really don't know you well enough to know if you present unique challenges. How much of an advantage is that for you if they don't really understand or can't prepare for what you guys are going to bring?

COACH LARRY BROWN: I don't know how to answer that, really. Maybe we know too much about them and that's why I'm wearing all black. (Laughter). You know, again, we are just going to worry about how we play and I don't think this is a time to change. I have a tendency to think that we should worry about the things we have control over.

Q. There's an awful lot of talk about your defense and understandably so. The Lakers were not playing as good of defense as they eventually played early in the playoffs, is that in your mind what got them here and how good of a defensive team are they?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, I don't think they get here unless they guard people, especially when you consider what the teams in the West bring. You know, most of the teams in the West have a real ability to score, and so that's kind of the deceiving. And I've said this a lot of times, the only real true test of your defense is the number of possessions that you have to guard. If it's a low-possession game, chances are you're going to give up fewer points. Most of the time they are in higher-possession games. At the end of the year watching them play in the playoffs, I thought they won because of their defense. I don't think I've ever seen Shaq defend or rebound any better. I've always felt that he was a very underrated defender and rebounder. I think that the job Malone has had to do against quality players, has been phenomenal. Everybody's always recognized what a great all-around player Kobe is, and defensively, he's gotten a lot of credit. Payton has been an All-Star at that position. I think that's why they are here. I stay up a lot and watch them play, but again, I think they are playing their best right now.

Q. How come you didn't hire Phil as an assistant when you were head coach, back with the Nets in the '80s?

COACH LARRY BROWN: That's a lot of baloney, that story. I had already hired two guys.

Q. So he made that up?

COACH LARRY BROWN: I think he did. (Laughter) Maybe that's one of the things that come out of the sky and...

Q. You said in the conference call you would not employ the hack-a-Shaq, what is your philosophy about that? Some coaches decide yes, some don't, you obviously said no; why?

COACH LARRY BROWN: All right. I never have. I mean, again, if you look at the history of this league, teams take playoff-kind of fouls. You don't want to give a guy a layup. Basically, no matter who it is. If it means giving a guy a layup or putting him on the line for two shots, I think most people will agree that's what you do. So, that's the way we've always approached it. And I don't think your team in most cases can afford to give up players by putting a guy on the line. I hope we defend before he gets the ball. It's like my assistants keep telling me to play zone, and as a coach, every time we talk about zone, I think every team we play against is going to make every jumpshot. And then when I see teams play zone against us, I always figure, we'll never make a jumpshot. (Laughter) So, I just assume Shaq's going to make all his free throws.

Q. That's why you're wearing black.


Q. To follow-up on that, is it more because hack-a-Shaq offends your sensibilities regarding playing the right way, or is it something more strategic where you can't get points -- you have to get all of your points out of sets and it puts you in team and individual foul trouble?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, I don't think it's against -- I don't think it's necessarily the wrong way to play. If a guy can't shoot a free throw -- they used to foul Wilt Chamberlain. It just doesn't rhyme as well. (Laughter) I think if you go through the years in basketball, guys that are poor foul shooters late in games, people have a tendency to foul them and you take your poison. But I also don't think we should just put our guys in foul trouble. I don't like grabbing a guy before the two-minute mark just to put him on the line. That I am opposed to, and I think that rule should be changed. You know, I remember as a young, young player, watching Wilt run around threatening to hit a guy if they fouled him. Most guys were smart enough not to. But I don't like that part of it. But again, if he catches the ball in deep late in the game, you know, rather than allow him to dunk the ball or get an easy shot, you would foul him. Same thing, I think you would do if Kobe was there, or any player. So, off-the-ball fouls in situations like that, I don't feel very comfortable doing that.

Q. Can you talk about the transition that Mike James has had to make coming from being a starter from Boston to a backup for you guys, and not being as involved in the offense as he was in Boston and how he's handled that.

COACH LARRY BROWN: I haven't handled Mike James, you know, the right way. He has not had opportunity to play a lot, but he is a big part of this team. He went from being a starter, playing major minutes, to sacrificing a lot of that with us. He went from being on a free-shooting team to a team that maybe is a little bit more inclined to take higher percentage shots, move the ball, not rely on the 3-point shot as much. But it's probably hurt him in his mind, but he's helped us. He comes every day to practice. When you put him in the game, he gives you everything he's got. His defensive effort is phenomenal. And he's a great teammate. And lo and behold, Boston is on vacation and we are here. So that to me is a reward in itself.

End of FastScripts...

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