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June 11, 2004

Larry Brown


Q. I think there's a perception that players left to their own devices like to run up and down, run and gun. Is it hard to get a team to play as sort of patiently as you've gotten this team to play offensively?

COACH LARRY BROWN: That's an interesting question. You know, I love our team to run and there's not a time in a game that I don't ask our guys to get the ball up the court quickly and to explore the opportunity of getting an easy basket. The biggest challenge is to get them to understand what a good shot is, and I think they all want to do it -- but I think sometimes, one, they are so gifted, that a lot of things that they see that they feel are good shots, I might not see. And my reasons might be different than theirs and it might be because of the opponent we're playing, the time or the score. But I think the one thing I know, I haven't coached many guys that I didn't think cared and wanted to do the right thing. Sometimes the competitiveness maybe causes the guys to do some things that I don't think are in our best interests, but I don't believe it is selfish at all.

Q. Last night you talked about how the offense in the first half really disturbed you in the way they were just -- carrying on to what you were just saying, is that part of what you have to do to keep them under control, not feeling too good about themselves, but being up 2-1 and actually being so close to being up 3-0, it would be easy to sort of lose sight of what it's going to take to finish them off.

COACH LARRY BROWN: We're always guarding against feeling too good about ourselves, but I do want to show them I appreciate what we've done and the fact that we've been in every game and had a chance to win, I think that's important. You know, especially when you're a coach that points out the bad as well as the good. But the first half, the reason I was upset is because we knew from the outset of this series there was a way we had to play. It was important that we really shared the ball and took great shots and got a chance to get to the free throw line, and by doing that, maybe we would keep them from doing the things they do best. So that's a constant thing on my mind as a coach. And then it's difficult for some players, especially guys that are scorers by nature, and I'm really fortunate that, you know, I can talk to a Rip Hamilton or a Chauncey Billups and they may take a shot that they know is a great shot for them, but how does it impact us or Tayshaun Prince or Ben or Rasheed to have to guard some pretty outstanding players themselves. That's the constant struggle. And then the last thing, you've got to win four games, and I think that hasn't changed. I think they have a phenomenal coach, who has done it so many times and they have got players that have won championships. So I'm reminding them, they are going to have to play their best game the next game, so we have to continue to try to get better.

Q. Describe the difference in coaching a team that's oriented around a superstar, like your Sixers team was, and a group like this.

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, don't tell my players that they are not superstars. You know, everybody used to be critical of some of the things Allen did. You know, he took a lot of shots and there are a lot of things that maybe a basketball purist would look at and say, well, that's not the right way to play. But for our team, that was the only way we had a chance to win. And it was funny because there wasn't a time we didn't have a time-out that somebody on the team wasn't mumbling about what Allen had just done, but really, when the clock was running down, they threw him the ball and ran away. I had a lot of situations where I just chuckle, but that team was unique because they might have mumbled and grumbled but it never affected the way they played. They had so much respect for him. With this team, you know, I don't think we have any one guy that they look at that can bail us out, so it's imperative that we play as a team on both ends of the court. And we can't waste a possession or expect somebody to bail us out, you know, offensively; we've got to do it defensively. We've got to make a stop or get a steal, block a shot. So it's different, but it's fun. You know, I mean, I really enjoyed my experience in Philly because I had a similar group of guys with character, maybe different kinds of skills. But walking into the dressing room and knowing you're going to get one hundred percent every single night, is the most special thing about being a coach in this league for me.

Q. Could you talk about the Olympics for a minute, like, how do you assess the level of competition that you're going to get there and how do you prepare for that with the group of players that you have?

COACH LARRY BROWN: I don't know what group we have yet. You know, that's been kind of difficult because of the sacrifices they made this summer to get us into the Olympic pool. But competition's gotten better. Look at our league. And then look what happened to us in 2000. There were some close games against quality teams that are only getting better. So I would suspect we're going to have great competition. We lost on our home soil in Indianapolis in the World Championships, now we're going away to Greece. I don't know exactly what reception we're going to receive, but I think we're going to have to really play as a team and play great, and I'm confident that the players that do participate are going to be incredibly , you know, excited about the opportunity and I am sure they will play the right way and give us a chance to win.

Q. Are you worried about fielding a young team playing against teams that have been together for years?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Yeah, but that's -- I think that's just the way it is. You know, a kid like Ginobili has been with Argentina for years. It's been a big deal for these kids to play on the national teams. The people that are getting us from the names they are giving me, I think are enthusiastic about going, and I think they are going to be part of this Olympic movement for a long time. So, that's going to be fun.

Q. Can you talk about the development of your pick-and-roll execution, because earlier in the season it wasn't that great, and now it is, and what do you anticipate the Lakers doing to defend it?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, you've seen it evolve. You know, I think Rasheed has helped that, obviously, him coming here. And I think just the fact that we've done it more and more and have had opportunities to learn from it. We've gotten better at execution. It's a very difficult thing for a 7-2 guy to get himself out in a position where he can did defend that effectively, especially if you move him from side to side. You know, I experienced that with Dikembe. As great as you can be defensively, that's still not the easiest thing for a big person to do. And then Karl being limited physically, I think that certainly has had an impact. That's got to be a big part of our offense, especially in transition, I think it's very hard to guard. But I would anticipate them changing up a lot. You know, playing against Phil in the past, I always remember they used to do it one way during the regular season and then in the playoffs, I remember with Chicago, he would always change it up. So we expect that, and hopefully we can handle it.

Q. The series is far from over, but traditionally, historically, in the NBA, the formula to winning a championship is to have great offensive stars, All-Stars. Your top scorers have never been All-Stars. Does it say anything about maybe perhaps the way teams will be built differently or about what's going on that you don't have this, quote, great individual, one-on-one All-Star-type player?

COACH LARRY BROWN: I don't know, the guy I'm coaching against won nine championships with stars. I think it's a credit to him to figure out a way to do that. Not every team is going to be in a position, I think, with free agency, to have superstars. I really believe with the skill level the way it is, with kids coming out so young, with maybe fundamentals being lacking, that defenses should have an advantage, and I think a lot of people are going to look around and really be concerned about the fact that they have people that can guard and rebound. I think that's going to be really important. I also think this 24-second clock a lot of times makes people take a lot of bad shots. And I think if you're patient defensively and know you only have to guard for a reasonable amount of time, you know, you can be pretty successful, because if you defend, you're going to get easy shots. My guys, I look at Rip Hamilton, he's starting to emerge as a pretty special player. I think Ben in his own right is a superstar for what he does. Maybe not an offensive superstar but for the impact he has on our team. You guys have all put him on the second team, voted him Defensive Player of the Year, so that to me is pretty significant. I look at Rasheed as one of the best players in our league. Last night he gets three points and I thought he had a huge effect on the game. You know, the one thing I do think, the difference in this team as maybe opposed to some of the really truly great teams in our league, when things go bad, a Kevin Garnett can get himself or somebody else a shot or Allen Iverson can do that, Jason Kidd. There's people like that on most of the great teams. Right now, I don't know if we have that player yet. Chauncey is starting to get there. I think Rip is starting to do some of those things. That's the difference. But teams win championships, even the superstars figure out a way to be part of teams, and I think that's something I'll always think about in building a team.

Q. You guys have crushed the Lakers the last two games off the offensive glass. I'd like to ask you if you think, how big that has played a role in you guys winning, and what's the secret to your success on the offensive boards?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, that's everything for us. If we offensive rebound, I think that means we've probably taken a pretty good shot and caused them to maybe come over and help. And when big people have to help, that gives you an opportunity to rebound. When you take good shots, it gives you an opportunity to rebound and also stop their break. In Game 3, I think, when we really struggled, they beat us on dribble penetration, and that's when we got hurt on the offensive board, got in foul trouble. So offensive rebounding a lot of times, because of what you've done offensively. And then you have guys that are willing to pursue balls, and I think we've got some guys. Ben Wallace tries to rebound every shot like it's a missed shot, and he's probably the guy that does it as effectively as anybody in this series.

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