Archive for the ‘TBJ Q+A’ Category

Ananth Pandian has a beard, two little dogs and owns too many esoteric basketball related t-shirts. He lives in Boston and he’s addicted to the NBA and ChapStick.

DC’s Goodman League has basically been involved in every single basketball exhibition that has taken place these past few months. With a commissioner like Miles Rawls you will begin to realize why.

Rawls has been running things at the Goodman for the last fifteen years while working full time at the Department of Homeland Security. Born and raised in DC, Rawls has street cred for days and is even able to heckle President Obama.

I caught up with Rawls to talk about his summer, Durant, and the Goodman’s place in summer basketball.

TBJ: You have been one of the busiest people in the country this summer with all of the different games the Goodman League has competed in.

Miles Rawls: We are busy every summer, but due to the lockout, these summer leagues across the country have taken notice that the Goodman is for real and have been challenging us. We have been getting more exposure than we normally get, thanks to these lockout games. But all that does is solidify what we have been saying for the longest time — we are a legitimate summer league.

TBJ: I know you have been running the league for about 15 years, has this been the busiest summer for you?

MR: Oh yeah. Normally after our season, we are done. The biggest game we ever did was the first AND1 game, but that didn’t have half the media coverage that our match-up with the Drew League had (Capital Punishment). That game was totally off the charts.

TBJ: It seems like Kevin Durant has been playing in every single exhibition game.

MR: He’s not playing on Friday though (Goodman v EBC). Its his birthday weekend. When he is available for me, he will play. Its his birthday so I gave him a pass, as long as he doesn’t miss that rematch in LA on Oct. 9th (laughs).

TBJ: What is your relationship like with Kevin?

MR: I known him since he was in high school. He started playing at the Goodman when he was a little scrawny kid, I think he was at Oak Hill at that time. We have a good relationship as far as on the basketball court, he’s a good kid. We haven’t seen a NBA guy represent DC like Kevin has since Steve Francis.

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Ananth Pandian has a beard, two little dogs and owns too many esoteric basketball related t-shirts. He lives in Boston and he’s addicted to the NBA and ChapStick.

Kevin Durant may think that the summer league exhibition games are getting “played out,” but games are still being planned and tickets sold. The next game on the schedule is this Friday when DC’s Goodman League travels north to basketball mecca New York City to take on the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic team.

The man behind EBC for the last 30+ years is founder and CEO Greg Marius. Marius has been able to make summer games at Rucker Park a viable, competitive stop for players like Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis and Durant.

I caught up with Marius to talk about the summer, AND1’s place in streetball and Friday’s game.

TBJ: How did the summer go at Rucker and for EBC?

Greg Marius:  I think it was a great summer. We got what we wanted out of it. It started slow but it picked up so its not how you start, its how you finish. I think we did a great job of representing our brand.

TBJ: It seemed like there were a lot more NBA players in different summer leagues this summer. What is the story behind Kevin Durant playing at Rucker?

GM: Last summer when Kevin came through for the World Basketball Festival, he said, ever since he was a kid, he wanted to play at Rucker. So he actually reached out to White Chocolate, from DC who always plays up at 55th, and told him he was going to come through this summer if I gave him a team. So I gave him a team and he came through at the right time.

TBJ: So you must have been there when he dropped 66?

GM: I went and got him something to eat before he dropped the 66. (laughs) It was the soul food I got him that made him play so well.

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I recently had a chance to catch up with DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors. While we had a wide-ranging conversation that will largely be featured over on Raptorblog (Raptors talk and all), it was fun to hit the high-flying third-year player with some rapid fire questions about the league and game that he loves so much.

While some of these answers are exactly who andwhat you’d expect, it’s always better hearing it from a fellow NBAer than it is from a fellow blogger. There are also a few twists and turns and a couple of answers you might not have anticipated.

Another thing that’s nice about these quotes from DeRozan is that he has such a high level of respect and appreciation for the game that we all love. He gets it. He fully realizes he’s living the dream that he fell in love with years ago. Here’s DeRozan, on his NBA peers:

Holly MacKenzie: If you had to pick a starting five in the NBA, who would you go with?

DeMar DeRozan: From the NBA? NBA, let’s see. We’ll start with Center. Imma go with Dwight Howard. Power Forward, Amar’e Stoudemire. My three, my three is LeBron James. My two is me, and my one … who do I want as my one? Imma go with my man, John Wall.

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While each and every move that LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have made this offseason has been reported, Joel Anthony has been spending his time in a sweltering hot college gym sweating away the pains of the season as he trains with the Canadian national team. After a whirlwind season with a level of media scrutiny that had never before been seen in professional sports, Anthony can breathe again. Unlike his superstar teammates, he gets to have basketball back, without all of the things that were inescapable when you have the perk of playing alongside James, Wade and Bosh and he’s been enjoying it.

Just how low key are things right now? After a recent practice at Ryerson University, I sat down with a sweat-drenched Anthony as he motioned around the empty gym, smiling at the lack of media presence. There was Cory Joseph getting in extra shooting work, guys getting tended to by trainers on the training tables and head coach Leo Rautins talking with son Andy while two guys who had made their way into the gym had taken over the court and were shooting around opposite Joseph. A far cry from the Heat practice courts, home and away, that had been stalked by media members all season. There was zero hype in this gym, but perhaps even more importantly, zero pressure.

Talking with Anthony, I asked him to take me through his season, the media, the journey and what it does to a player when they are thisclose to winning an NBA Championship.

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While we all lose during this NBA lockout, there are some players that are going to lose out more than others. You’ve got to feel for the rookies who started their NBA experience by getting drafted in Newark, New Jersey, rather than getting to walk across the stage of Madison Square Garden like draftees usually do. After getting drafted, they had a week to go to their new cities, meet their general managers and coaches and teammates, do a press conference to get their jersey, take some photos, and then that was it. No more contact with their coaches, no summer league, nothing.

That’s rough. Spurs rookie, Cory Joseph took advantage of the time between the draft and the beginning of the lockout, spending his time in San Antonio with some of his teammates. Because he hasn’t played in a few months, the Spurs wanted him to stay active and encouraged him to play for the Canadian National team.

After a recent practice with the team, Joseph couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face when he was talking about his new team. “It means a lot,” Joseph said of the Spurs decision to make him their newest player. “It’s one big family. First class organization. First class fan base. The way they treat each other is unbelievable. I know they’re unselfish and I’m an unselfish player. I’ll fit right in.”

Despite the lockout, Joseph has already began to build relationships with his new Spurs teammates and talks with them regularly. While he’s excited to get started when the work stoppage ends, he isn’t allowing himself any time to wonder about the draft-day deal the Spurs made to send George Hill to Indiana in exchange for rookie Kawhi Leonard.

“George Hill was a great player for them,” Joseph said. “I don’t try to get too much into that. That was obviously a decision they had to make and I’m just trying to go in there and do whatever Coach Popovich wants me to do.”

What Popovich and co. wanted, was for Joseph to spend his summer playing against international competition, so that’s what he’s going to do.

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While Landry Fields was breaking onto the scene and making us all fall in love with him, fellow first-year Knicks teammate Andy Rautins was working just as hard on his game behind the scenes. He didn’t get a ton of burn last season, but he did spend a lot of time in the gym, and as a result, learned a lot about his teammates.

Earlier this offseason, Paul Shirley spoke about Amar’e Stoudemire’s leadership and work ethic to Dime Magazine. One thing I noticed during both trips the Knicks made to Toronto this season was how vocal Stoudemire was throughout the game. On the court and on the bench, he was positive, intense and focused. It was a welcomed sight.

I recently caught up with Rautins after a practice session with the Canadian National team to talk about New York, Stoudemire and that amazing home debut at MSG for Carmelo Anthony.

Holly MacKenzie: So as it stands right now, what is your plan for next season?

Andy Rautins: Right now I’m still with the Knicks and I’m just going to play it by ear. Obviously my goal is to stay in the league and be in New York and to be a part of that system. It’s got great fans, great community, great coaches.

HM: Is there a moment from this past season that stands out to you as a moment you were especially proud of more than the rest of the season  as a whole?

AR: There were moments throughout practice. I didn’t really get to showcase myself in games. There was a short rotation, Coach kept a pretty short leash, but I had moments in practice where I broke through some challenges, some point guard challenges, learning the system and that position. I had some great days that were big for me, really helped my morale and where my game was at.

HM: Who were you closest to on the team, besides Landry?

AR: Naturally Landry, as a rookie, but there were a couple guys on the team I felt a great connection with. Amar’e's a great guy, he gets along with everybody. Roger Mason was a great guy, too. He’s a fountain of knowledge because he’s been in the league for eight, nine years now. He always wanted to help the rookies. Everybody on the team got along well.

HM: It’s funny to hear about Amar’e as a leader. So often that’s been a knock against him, but when I had seen you guys play this year, he was extremely vocal and involved from opening tip to the final buzzer. How has he been as a leader?

AR: He’s the most down to earth guy and his personality is enormous. It’s larger than life in New York. He’s my locker buddy, he’s right next door to me, we’re always joking and messing around but when it came down to it, to working, he was the first one in the gym and he set a great example for all of the young guys on the team. Always came to play in practice and in the game for sure.

HM: I’ve got to ask you, what was that first game like when Melo was introduced at MSG? I can’t even imagine the hype, and being at MSG, the excitement, everything.

AR: Oh my goodness. (laughs) I think about that night sometimes, actually. I just think about that night and I think about myself in that night, like, it’s like a dream. They played the beginning of that P. Diddy song “I’m Coming Home” and it just sent chills up my spine. The whole crowd, they had orange lighters and it was really like, it was really like one of the single craziest moments to witness. It was the second craziest moment in MSG for me behind the six overtime game. I’m partial to that, but, I mean, that night was certainly special and I couldn’t even imagine what it was like for him.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard by now that Kevin Love will be trading in the basketball court for a beach volleyball one this offseason. Yes, the California baller with the Beach Boy roots is trying his hand at volleyball. Not just for fun, either. He’s trying to qualify for the Manhattan Beach Open in L.A.

How long has Love been playing volleyball? Well, he hasn’t. But he was on Tuesday, where he made his announcement and then showed his skills in a makeshift court right in the middle of Times Square. We spoke with Love about his new challenge, what he thinks the Timberwolves need in a new coach and that time he took his best friend’s girlfriend to the prom.

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