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AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP


July 18, 2012


Shane Battier

Steve Kerr


STATELINE, NEVADA

THE MODERATOR:テつ Gentlemen, good afternoon.テつ We would like to welcome world champion‑‑ let me repeat that‑‑ world champion Shane Battier.テつ Also Steve Kerr, five‑time world champion.
(Laughter)
We'd like to get this going.テつ We'll turn this over to the media folks for some questions.

Q.テつ Shane, you talked about, on the conference call leading up to this, you wanted to come to Tahoe a champion.テつ How does that feel?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Well, it's pretty surreal.テつ I got off the plane.テつ First person I see is Emmitt Smith.テつ He comes up and says:テつ Congratulations, Champ.テつ Doesn't get any better than.
So having to take all the lumps from Kevin Durant and Brandon Bass and David West, to hear Emmitt Smith say "Congratulations, Champ," it was worth it.

Q.テつ When we talked to you, you were in Indiana, I believe, how tough was it from there on until you finished?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I'm sure Steve can tell you, the beauty of winning the championship is looking back at the journey and the path that you think you're going to take is not the path you ultimately take.
We took a pretty twisty and crazy path to the playoffs.テつ And down 2‑1 Indiana, people started to write us off.テつ Started to trade, the big three, break up the big three.テつ Fire Spoelstra.テつ Down 3‑to‑2 to Boston going to Boston, same thing, started to shovel the dirt.
STEVE KERR:テつ Battier is too old.テつ I heard that one.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Yes.テつ Battier is too old.テつ Too slow.
Down 3‑to‑2 Boston.テつ To hear the same things we heard in Indiana.テつ Then down 1‑0 to Oklahoma City, sort of the same process was repeated:テつ These guys are too old, they're too slow, Oklahoma is too young and hungry.
So to come back from all those situations and win a championship, it makes it even more special than it already was.

Q.テつ On that teleconference, I'd asked you about your game.テつ And you said it would be nice to come in here a champion.テつ But you didn't know how much you'd be able to touch your clubs before getting here.テつ So why don't you tell us now.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I'm taking a contrarian approach this year.テつ Last year I actually took lessons, went to the driving range.テつ Almost daily.テつ Leading up, I was primed.テつ My swing plane was perfect.テつ My angles.テつ And I got out here and I lost my swing.テつ I overthought it and I just lost my swing.
I was absolutely terrible.テつ So I'm taking a contrarian approach.テつ I went out, played the local muni, had a few cold ones and honed my game that way.
So actually just flew in from Duke today.テつ And I spent two days with my favorite golf mentor Ed Ibarguen at Duke Golf Club.テつ He got the positive juju going.テつ I'm feeling good.テつ Even if I'm terrible, I'm still an NBA champion.
(Laughter)

Q.テつ Both of you, Shane I'll start with you, obviously the Dream Team kind of thing is kind of in the news again right now.テつ Some comments back and forth between Kobe and Michael and Barkley, I was curious about your thoughts.テつ You obviously have a couple teammates on this year's team.テつ But what are your thoughts about that '92 versus 2012 matchup?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ It would be heck of a game.テつ It would be heck of a game.テつ I'm partial to the '92 team.テつ For my money it's the greatest team ever assembled.
Every last one of those guys is in The Hall of Fame, first bout Hall of Famer, I don't think you'll ever see a collection of talent that's as deep and as just as good as '92.

Q.テつ And what would LeBron say now if he heard you saying that?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ He would‑‑ he would‑‑ he has a saying.テつ He says:テつ That's out!テつ He would say:テつ That's out!テつ Ethan knows what I'm talking about.テつ He would say:テつ That's out!
I think we had the best team in the world.テつ Spain's really, really good.テつ Argentina is‑‑ this is their last hurrah.テつ It's going to be a really competitive Olympics.テつ I'm excited to watch it.

Q.テつ Steve, with the analysis hat on, how do you look at it?
STEVE KERR:テつ Well, it's so hard to compare eras.テつ The game is different now.テつ Back then big players were more prominent.テつ Now it's become a smaller game.テつ So you look at the roster this year.テつ There's basically one big guy on the team with Tyson Chandler.テつ Back then I think they had, what, three seven‑footers, dominant ones, with Ewing and David Robinson.テつ So who knows.テつ You throw it in a simulator and who knows what comes out.
But I'm partial to the '92 team.テつ I think it's the greatest team ever assembled.テつ You look at the weapons on that team, the fire power with Jordan and Pippen and Barkley, in particular.
Pretty tough to beat.テつ So I'll go with '92.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Would definitely win a Ryder Cup format against the 2012 team.
STEVE KERR:テつ They would win a golf match, for sure.テつ Although, I don't know.

Q.テつ Steve, you were in Phoenix when Steve Nash had some good series against the Lakers.テつ What are your thoughts on him now in an LA uniform?
STEVE KERR:テつ It's like Jeeter going to the Red Sox.テつ If you're a Phoenix Suns fan, it's hard to fathom seeing Steve in purple and gold.
But also when you let the emotion slip away you realize it's a great move for everybody.テつ Lakers needed a point guard.テつ Steve wanted to be on a really good team that had a chance.
He wanted to be close to home so he could be near his kids.テつ And Phoenix ends up getting four Draft picks out of it.
They're not really competing with the Lakers the next couple of years.テつ Two firsts and two seconds, they get to kind of restock their war chest.テつ It's a good move all around.テつ It's just really hard to envision Steve wearing that uniform when they had so many battles together over the years.
But, you know, I guess this is sports:テつ Anything can happen.

Q.テつ With that analyst hat on again, how do you see Nash and Kobe working?
STEVE KERR:テつ I think they'll be great.テつ They're two of the smartest players in the league.テつ They'll figure it out.テつ I think the trickiest part for Steve is the fact he's got two post players to deal with.
In Phoenix, other than for a year and a half with Shaq he never had a post man, the floor was wide open.テつ Different style, shooters everywhere.テつ High pick‑and‑roll, do whatever you want.
Now Steve has to adapt and play with two post men.テつ The floor will be more congested.テつ He's such a good player, he's so smart, he's such a good shooter, I'm sure he'll adapt and figure it out.

Q.テつ Tell us about your golf game.
STEVE KERR:テつ It got better since I got into broadcasting, I'll tell you that.テつ More time to work on it.
I love playing, especially now that I'm 46.テつ My knees have kind of made me quit basketball and tennis and anything that involves running.
So I'm playing more golf and enjoying it.テつ This is my fifth time in this tournament.テつ I haven't played, though, in six or seven years.
But I played I think like 2001 to 2004, '5, something like that.テつ It's the most fun week of the year, it really is.テつ To come out and play golf with a bunch of great guys in the most beautiful setting you can imagine, it doesn't get much better.
I'm just looking to not embarrass myself.テつ I want to have fun and maybe play a good round or two.テつ But for the most part I'm just here enjoying myself.

Q.テつ I think we all agree it's the best week of the year.テつ This question's for both of you.テつ How do you compare today's NBA player to the athleticism of the players when you first broke into the league?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I think Steve touched on it.テつ I just finished my 11th year in the league.テつ The league has definitely changed philosophy and what's successful.
I think there's much more of a premium on speed nowadays and versatility.テつ But you look back at the old Laker teams, the '80s, that was a really versatile team with Worthy and Magic and Byron Scott.
But I think you see a lot more teams going to a spread offense with a 4 man that can really shoot the ball, versus in 2001, when I came into the league, it was much more post‑oriented.

Q.テつ Looking ahead to next year, how do you think Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are going to fit in, and how do you guys stay hungry after you reach the top of the mountain?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Well, I think it's a great addition for both those guys.テつ They're really smart basketball players.テつ They're veteran.テつ They want to win.テつ They want to win.テつ They want to be around guys who want to win.
And trust me, we are going to enjoy this celebration now.テつ We're going to take a nice long, slow victory lap.テつ Once it's time to lace them up again, we'll be ready to do it again.テつ We have a bunch of competitors in that locker room, and we don't want to hand that trophy off to anybody else.

Q.テつ You have to be impressed that Ray Allen took half the money that Boston offered just to come play with you guys.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ He sort of had the same mindset I had.テつ I could have gone anywhere as a free agent last year, but it's nice to wake up January2nd, put on your flip‑flops, throw your clubs in the trunk for a quick nine holes after practice.テつ So it's not too shabby living in Miami.

Q.テつ Shane, in your journey through the NBA and where you were in college and whatnot, how hard of a transition was it for you to be way outside as a long‑range shooter and adapt to that and the premium on speed and what it's meant to your career?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Well, you figure it out.テつ You figure it out.テつ Any player that's played more than six or seven years in the NBA, just figures out what they have to do to become successful.テつ And every player has a different route.
I've always just tried to make myself as valuable to my team as possible and make it impossible for the front office to trade me or not to give me a nice contract.
And I think that's the mindset of pretty much every player who wants to play in this league.

Q.テつ I probably asked Shane this question before, but since you're both up there together, you talked about the game changing.テつ Is there one lost art in the NBA now as compared to maybe when, Shane, when you first started playing and, Steve, when you were playing, was there one thing you watched the game, you say they don't do this anymore?
STEVE KERR:テつ I don't know if there's a lost art, but I think the way the game has changed the most there's less passing, there's more dribbling.
I think the guys coming in are so talented with the ball that it's become a point guard‑dominated league.テつ You look around.テつ So many great ones with Rose and Westbrook, Paul and Darren Williams and Nash.
So most teams are‑‑ they start the offense with a high pick‑and‑roll.テつ If you watch Classic Sports, you watch 30 years ago, 20 years ago, there's more ball movement at the initial part of the attack.
And so I think that part of the game has slipped away a little bit from the younger generation.テつ It's just kind of the way the game has played.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I think there are fewer guys you can throw the ball to on the block and say go to work.テつ When I was a rookie, you had to be a legit 6'8", 6'9" 240 to be a power forward.
And centers were legitimate seven‑footers.テつ Now you can get away with a 6'6" power forward who may or may not have a post game.テつ So there's just less horses in the game to throw the ball and say go to work.

Q.テつ Steve, you've earned some great accolades as an announcer.テつ How hard has the transition been.テつ And what do you try to do when you're on air?テつ What do you try to add to it?
STEVE KERR:テつ When I first got into broadcasting, it was difficult because I had never done it before.テつ You try to figure out the rhythm of the game and when to talk and when not to.テつ And when to talk big picture stuff, when to talk details.
And eventually you kind of find a rhythm.テつ It's just like anything else, you practice and you get better and you develop a chemistry with your partner.
So when I went to Phoenix and became a GM for three years and came back, it was like riding a bike.テつ It was really easy to make the transition back into it.テつ But that first year is definitely a tough one, if you‑‑ maybe like Shane will probably be doing in a few years, if he wants, it's just a matter of working at it and just finding your groove.テつ Are you going to do that, by the way?テつ Do I have to be careful about my job?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Only if you and Marv make room for me in the booth.
STEVE KERR:テつ There's room.テつ We'll get rid of Fratello.

Q.テつ What are both your thoughts as far as Jeremy Lin's trade to Houston?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ Jeremy had one of the most remarkable runs I've seen in my basketball career.テつ The guy was unconscious and really captivated the world.
Not just the basketball world, the entire world.テつ And it was fun to see a young guy who works hard, put his time in and took advantage of his opportunity to make the most of it.
And so he's a good player.テつ He's a good player.テつ I think the Rockets got a great point guard.
STEVE KERR:テつ I think the Knicks are taking too much heat right now for not matching.テつ You can argue all you want about if they should have offered him a contract right away, instead of allowing him to test the waters.
But Houston put the Knicks in a horrible position with that contract.テつ And if you look at theKnicks for the last 15 years, one of the reasons they've been in the place they've been, is because they keep signing these horrible contracts, and they keep throwing money around.
I think they showed some prudence in not matching.テつ You can't lock yourself in to huge deals, especially now with the attacks.テつ Even though New York can probably afford it, you hamstring yourself on every possible way to get out and change your team if you're way over the attack.
So I think they made the right call.テつ They're going to miss him for sure.テつ He was a huge hit there and a good player.テつ But I don't think‑‑ I think they did the right thing in not matching.

Q.テつ You both have mentioned the athleticism of the game and how the speed has increased over the years.テつ With the NHL and the NFL struggling with concussions, how is it that the NBA proportionately doesn't seem to have as many?テつ You guys are playing on hardwood fast speeds, hitting the floor?
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I don't think basketball players like contact.テつ (Laughter).
STEVE KERR:テつ And the object of the game is not to kill each other.テつ So that helps, too.テつ I mean, football and hockey are a little different.テつ You guys are head hunting and going after each other.
Basketball, you might bang your head on the floor once in a while.テつ You might run into somebody.テつ We saw it in the summer league.テつ Actually Nolan Smith yesterday got a concussion.テつ And that was a pretty scary moment.テつ I think it's just the nature of the game leads to less incidents like that.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ It's rare that you're blindsided by anybody.テつ Pretty much all the contact in the game, you can see it coming and you can brace yourself.
So it's not like hockey where you're going to get slammed into the board, see a guy coming from the wing or a receiver going across the middle getting laid out.テつ So thankfully that's the good part of our game.

Q.テつ Dwight Howard, possibility going to the Lakers.テつ What's your opinion?
STEVE KERR:テつ That's probably easier for the analyst to answer than the current player.テつ You notice how Shane just kind of looked over at me:テつ You take this one.
Well, I mean, the Lakers have to go after him.テつ It makes perfect sense.テつ I think where they are now with Nash, they're close.テつ I still don't think they're quite a championship team.
But with Howard instead of Bynum, if that's the trade‑off, I think they become a real title contender.テつ They have to do everything they can to make that happen.テつ Howard is just too good defensively, and he would fit in too well with everybody else.テつ I think it would be a really scary roster.
So we'll see what happens.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ My vote would be FC Barcelona.テつ That's me.テつ I heard Spain is beautiful this time of year (laughter).

Q.テつ Shane, what's your favorite golf course down there in Florida?テつ Have you hit anything‑‑
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I haven't played at all, to be honest with you, with the schedule being as it was this year.テつ I hit a bucket of balls and played one hole at Durrell just to say I played the Blue Monster.テつ But that's it.テつ I look forward to getting down to it next year.
I have a golfing buddy now in Ray Allen.テつ He's a pretty good player.テつ So I'm excited.

Q.テつ We understand that Kobe had a comment about the commissioner proposing the 23 and under only aged players should be in the Olympics as far as on the American team.テつ And I think Kobe commented that was a real stupid idea.テつ Your reaction.
SHANE BATTIER:テつ I understand where the commissioner's coming from.テつ His job is to make the best league in the world, NBA run as smoothly as possible.
It's tough when your most highly prized assets are out there risking their day job in the Olympics.テつ So from a business standpoint, I understand where the commissioner's coming from.
From a player standpoint, the Olympics are the greatest.テつ And every kid dreams about representing their country and doing what the Dream Team did and winning a gold medal.
So I understand where Kobe's coming from.テつ So if there was ever a time two arguments made sense, I wouldn't use the word "stupid" but I could see where both people are coming from.

Q.テつ Steve?
STEVE KERR:テつ If Kobe, heaven forbid, gets a season‑ending injury in London, the Lakers are still paying him that $28million or whatever.テつ So he's not the one at risk.テつ It's the team.
That's why Commissioner Stern is trying to put some protection in there for the teams.テつ It's been a big issue for the owners the last several years.テつ Mark Cuban has been pretty outspoken about paying the big salary to a guy in the summer who is really out there and putting himself at risk.
So I kind of like the idea, and maybe if somebody like Kobe wanted to play, maybe give him a waiver as long as he signs off on some kind of a contractual agreement.テつ I don't know.テつ Maybe there's a way around it.テつ But the commissioner's job is not to help U.S.A. basketball as much as it is to protect his owners.

Q.テつ As far as what the fans want to see?
STEVE KERR:テつ I think the fans like seeing the current format.テつ I think they‑‑ in China, LeBron and Wade and Kobe, they were a huge hit.テつ And I think that will be the same thing in London.
So from a fan standpoint it's probably better the way it is right now.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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