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February 24, 2012

Maurice Cheeks

Mike Fratello


Q.  Some of the players today were talking about sort of the golden age of point guards in the league.  There's a lot of young point guards that have demonstrated in this league.  Can you talk about this generation of point guards.
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Golden age?

Q.  The new golden age.
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Well, point guard is obviously a little different than when I was playing.  Point guards are a little more able to do more things.  They can score, they can rebound, they pass, they do a little bit of everything.  In my golden age, we pretty much did one thing.  And we had the ability to score, but our job was pretty much to set up our team.  These guys' abilities go far beyond that now, and I think that's the difference.

Q.  Why has that changed?  Is that just the change in the game or the change in the types of players?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Yeah, a change in the game.  I think they're better athletes, from the smallest guy to the tallest guy, dunk the basketball, rebound the basketball very well.  So I think it's just the athletes are a little bit better than they were when I was playing.

Q.  Mo, you were on the coaching staff that Ron Adams put together.  What do you anticipate from Ron in this game, coaching against him?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Well, if I know Ron, I think he'll be pretty intense for the game.  We both want to win the game.  I think he'll be very, very intense because that's how he is.  He's very intense, and he'll be looking forward to beating me.

Q.  He did a lot of defense in Oklahoma City when you were there.  Do you think it's going to be a defensive game?
MAURICE CHEEKS:¬† Well, typically All‑Star Games aren't defensive‑minded games, but I think he'll try and put his stamp on it.¬† But as I said, typically these games usually are up and down and a lot more scoring and just high‑scoring games.¬† We'll just have to wait and see.

Q.¬† You had a chance to coach Andre Iguodala.¬† He finally in his eighth year was named an All‑Star.¬† What have you seen in his game that's developed?¬† And two, do you think he's maybe seen as more of an all‑around player than early in his career?
MAURICE CHEEKS:¬† When I coached Andre he was pretty much an all‑around player then.¬† Some of his skills are a little more refined now.¬† As I mentioned about point guards, he can score the ball, he can rebound the ball, he can pass the ball.¬† He does a lot of different things.¬† His game is all around but not solely on scoring the ball.¬† I don't know how many triple‑doubles he has, but his ability to do so many different things, he's a valuable asset for the Sixers, and just him alone, I'm surprised that this is the only All‑Star Game he's made because his abilities have always been very, very good, and maybe now, probably just a little bit more refined now.

Q.  When you were in Oklahoma City with Ron Adams, as Sam mentioned, you guys had Russell Westbrook then.  Obviously he's developed into one of the better point guards in the league.  Being a Chicago guy yourself, what traits do you see that Derrick has that really represent what point guards in that city are made of?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Well, that's nice of you to think that Ron and I had a lot to do with Derrick and Russell, but I think those guys are phenomenal athletes and phenomenal players and just getting better each time.  As I mentioned before, these guys, they score the ball, they rebound the ball, they do so many things.  Those are just qualities that these guys possess.  Strength, Russell Westbrook has strength.  As I talked to Russell one day about the cracks that these guys have on the court, how they get to the rim, the way they get to the rim, and they open up their jump shot so easily, they just do so many things.  Russell and Derrick, the qualities they possess, these guys are high, high quality, and they play at such a high level.  The way they play is just a measure of the point guards in the NBA today.

Q.  When you see Derrick, does he in your mind carry on the tradition of great Chicago point guards like yourself, Isiah, etcetera, Tim Hardaway?
MAURICE CHEEKS:¬† Yeah, he's obviously a lot better than I was.¬† But the way Chicago point‑‑ has raised a lot of point guards, and the way the Chicago point guards go is they usually attack the rim, and I think early on he attacked the rim.¬† He's gotten better shooting his jump shot, and I think that's how they come in the league, attacking the rim.¬† And then as they stay in the league a little bit further, the jump shots get better and better, and he's clearly shooting the three a lot better, shooting the jump shot, period, a lot better.¬† But initially we started the game, the league, attacking the rim.¬† That's how Derrick does it, also.

Q.¬† Being as though you achieved the level of greatness that you did that was referenced in today's Hall‑of‑Fame press conference, does it make it easier when you're communicating with today's point guards being as though you're one of the top, when you're coaching them, as you come across them, does that make it easier to communicate with them?¬† And do they listen to what you have to say in general?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Well, they do, yeah, absolutely.  They do.  But again, I mentioned, talking about point guards, when you mention point guard, you're talking about how a guy runs a basketball team, and these guys certainly run a basketball team, but they do so many different things.  I think that is certainly the difference.  I can teach a guy certain things about the game.  That's my job, is teaching them knowledge of the game, so to speak.  And as they play on the court, they get more knowledge.
But I think the abilities that these guys have are far further than I had because they do so many different things.¬† You mentioned Isiah Thomas, he's probably one of the few guards back in my time that did so many things that these guys do, the way he could score a ball, pass a ball and do all these things, and these guys do those things as well as‑‑ Isiah did it as well as these guys do it.¬† But I think the things I pass on to these guys is more knowledge of certain things, of how to defend a ball, how to run a team.¬† But the other facets of the game, these guys do it very, very well.

Q.  You've coached against the Timberwolves this year and seen Ricky Rubio play.  Do they remind you at all of the Thunder in the last couple years, a young team with a good point guard, a good forward?  And then can you just talk about Ricky Rubio's play a little bit.
MAURICE CHEEKS:¬† Well, yeah, we played against Minnesota, and I think he's another guy that's just going to get better as time moves on.¬† They're a young team, Kevin Love, these other guys, I think they're just going to get better, and Ricky Rubio is one of those guys, pass first, score second, and that goes way back from my time when guys looked to pass first.¬† And he's one of those guys that does those things very well and runs his team.¬† I think that's one of the reasons why they're doing as well as they're doing is because of how they're doing it.¬† He's a pass‑first guy and looking for guys to receive the ball, and he's running his team extremely well.
MIKE FRATELLO:  I think he was under such a microscope coming here because people tried to look at what he couldn't do rather than how good he really was at what he could do.  And the biggest knock against him was they kept looking at his field goal percentage from over in Europe and saying he couldn't make a shot.  He actually has a beautiful stroke, and the time is going to come where he's going to be considered a pretty darned good shooter.  He's just reluctant to shoot right now because his mindset, his game, as Mo said, was a different one coming from the background he came from.  Starting as young as he did with older people on the team who maybe he felt he had to give the ball to because he turned pro so young.  So when you look at his stroke and you watch him shoot the ball, he has all the mechanics.
And then the other part of it, he has a great feel for the game, a passion for the game.  He seems to be able to unite people on the team to play together.  They have a spirit about them.  So those are all good things.

Q.  Do you have a starting lineup for this game?  And how did you decide it?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  I do have a starting lineup, but I'm going to keep that to myself right now.  Ron might be watching NBA TV.

Q.  You don't want to give away too much?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  I don't want him to know who we're starting.  Do you know who he's starting?

Q.  Not yet.  I was going to ask him that.
MAURICE CHEEKS:  He's probably watching.  He might text you in a minute.

Q.  You've got size in your lineup, right?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  They have quickness, we have size.  So we'll see.

Q.  Tell me what you think of the job Charles did in terms of drafting the roster that you have to work with?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Did you really ask that question?  I think he did an excellent job.  I think he did an excellent job.  Both teams have good players.  I think really there's no wrong draft.  Both teams have good players, and it's just a matter of going out there and playing hard and enjoying yourself.
MIKE FRATELLO:  We have pretty good balance on our team so we can play small if we have to, and we can play with a bigger man in the middle if we need to.

Q.  On Ricky Rubio, do either of you feel he's made the transition from the Euro style to the NBA style successfully?
MIKE FRATELLO:  Well, the question should be what is the transition?  Has Pau Gasol made the transition?

Q.  From the perspective of the point guard of the control of the game.
MIKE FRATELLO:  Yeah.  He has to be good within his position, to run a team, to lead what his coach and teammates need to get done.  That's what he has to be concerned about.  Pau being a power forward, center, whatever you want to call him, he has different responsibilities, but still, he's a European player, one of the most highly skilled big men we have in the NBA.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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