The Sit Down: CBS Sports NBA Writer James Herbert



everybody what's going on welcome to sit down I'm DJ sick Smith we're talking hoops James Herbert CBS Sports writer all right man great how are you I'm good thanks so much for coming in anytime so we got a lot going on in the world the MBA I mean playoffs are in full swing right now everything going down with the lottery what is the most interesting store to you right now in basketball the Eastern Conference Finals honestly like last night Game one between the Raptors and the Bucks like that was a really great game I think the level of basketball was really high that series and I think the Warriors rockets series that we saw in the previous round were probably the two most like not just intense and competitive because a lot of playoff series have been like that but I think they feel like Battle of like juggernauts squaring off so to see it's not just Jana sorcerer's Kauai well of course that's part of it sure but just to seed those two teams in the East I mean the we've been talking about the top four in the East all year long but I've personally sort of thought that those were the two teams that would likely emerge from that and to see them now fighting it out I think you saw last night why Milwaukee was considered the favorite but you also saw the Raptors look like the better team for long stretches of that game so I'm like really focused on that one and I'm kind of psyched because I get to go to Toronto on us covering three four and six there okay so I'm going to actually see that up close and like III just think this has the potential to be a really long and interesting series and maybe the Raptors blew their best chance last night maybe maybe it won't be like Kyle Lowry game I know I got it I mean that had to hurt them to waste that sort of performance but but I do think if they can get past that and not dwell on that like there's a lot of positive things they can take from that game too so yeah I mean a lot of the there's plenty to talk about with the lottery and the offseason all that stuff but like I'm kind of living in the moment right now that game was awesome it really was and Brook Lopez doing his thing in the fourth quarter – yeah I mean there was a guy three million dollars in the offseason so many teams had a chance at him and now he's impacting games on the biggest stage for Milwaukee pretty crazy stuff yeah it's the same stuff he's been doing all year – and it was weird to me like watching the game last night like he had a couple of those moves where like he made like guard like moves literally like kind of loping into the inside and like hitting a reverse lay-up hop in three where did that come from I didn't know we had that what were you watching the Bucks probably not they were watching the baby but I mean the thing is it's like yes he's shooting 30-footers and that's super weird because of the arc of his career and because of just how enormous so the man is but he plays like a guard in general he's been making plays off the dribble pretty much all year long like that's something I wrote about back in like November December and to see him do that against a defense like Toronto's which you saw like made the the Sixers defense look completely uncomfortable for almost the entirety of that second round series like that's impressive stuff and he essentially won them that game and a few of those three-pointers that he hit in that fourth quarter he had an amazing game but I think the broader story of him being as you alluded to probably deep single biggest bargain a free agency last year and him being such a crucial part of the Bucs identity and their turnaround and not just on the offensive end obviously on the defensive end as well I think you saw him make his mark on the game last night on both ends and that's a continuation of what he's done all season long I mean you can't talk about the potential coach of the year Mike Budenholzer without talking about how he's used Brook Lopez change the game with that yeah change the game change the entire season changed like just a crucial part if you honest wins MVP if budenholzer wins coach of the year heck if John horse wins executive of the Year Brook isn't gonna win an award but he could play a part in all of those Awards and he could play a part in this team potentially going to the final potentially winning a championship I don't know like like we'll see how far they absolutely and even guys like George Hill and Pat Connaughton and just that bench for Milwaukee makes a difference having those guys here Sonny Leah Silva or as you look at Toronto's bench and it's just like our normal maybe he'll hit a couple threes right and then after that it's just a really serious drop-off so when you think about Toronto after Game one where do they go from here they're gonna hope to get some of the same stuff they got in Game one like the Kyle Lowry game you know I think the pace they played with particularly in the first half I thought they just had better energy and flow then we've seen from them in quite a while like they just had the feel of the Raptors team that won four straight against the magic that the feel of the Raptors team that was one of the better offenses in the NBA throughout the season I thought after the first game against Philadelphia they just didn't look particularly comfortable right and the Bucks are a great defensive team but I thought for most of the night Toronto look comfortable and some of the threes didn't go down in the second half particularly they they missed some like like they started the fourth quarter like norm Powell missing an easy layup no as a guy you mentioned came in had two threes in the first half everybody was like wow this guy didn't play in room 7 now he's back maybe the Raptors will get more out of their reserve this year and they need that desperately yeah and then you look in the fourth quarter like literally Kyle Lowry was the only Raptor who had a field goal like this big free throws and some other people but he was the only one at field goal and there was only in the entire second half they had one field goal outside of Leonard and Lowry and to me it's like that that team did so many things right in Game one I thought they played with great effort on defense then I thought in the second half they just got a little bit of a little bit sloppy especially in the fourth quarter I mean you can't afford to send you honest to the line that many times you can't afford some of the turnovers that they had I mean Danny Green had an absolutely killer one like two and a half minutes left that led to a Brook Lopez dunk on a fast-break where Lowry was the only guy back and trying to challenge me that's not gonna work definitely that but it was just like they played mostly well enough to win but I think against this Bucs team it's like playing great basketball is kind of the price of admission it doesn't guarantee you it went like you need a play great and need to be sharper than them and you need to do it for for close to 48 minutes and I thought for most of the game they did I don't know if they're gonna get a 7 4 9 3-pointer performance from from Kyle Lowry again not but but maybe maybe like Marc Gasol makes a couple of those threes that he missed in the fourth quarter we Serge Ibaka who would have been here oh they wouldn't pass the Sixers no absolutely not in Game seven and I did not think he was particularly good in Game one I didn't think I mean he was talking about not bringing the energy but it wasn't just that I mean there were there were open shots that he missed there are defensive mistakes that he made sure some glaring ones like some of those Lopez 3s that we were talking about like Baku is way off there's nobody within 5 feet of him yeah I got he's bomb in threes there's not a new thing like you said and talking about it since November yeah and like some of it it's like okay if you're helping in on a Yanis drive and you're trying to get out to Brooklyn sure quite get there as fast as you want like you forgive that but like one of those threes was like Lopez coming back and semi transition and just launching a trail three like you have to know yes he is shooting that ball every single time that would stay so those are sort of scouting report things and they'll look at I'm sure they'll kind of curse themselves when they watch the film because they had such a great chance to win but they couldn't quite get it done they'll have another shot to steal a game on the road and if not then they'll have to hope that like coming back home to that crazy crowd in Toronto well well lift them but I just think for both of these teams I think especially for the Raptors it's like you're going to have to limit your mistakes because the transition game for both of these teams like these are two of the best transition teams in the NBA and in the regular season the team that won the transition battle each game was also at the border that's huge here so for a guy like you that follows the NBA so closely does it bother you that we're focusing so much in the offseason already right in the thick of things in the finals well it is drop lottery week so that's kind of unavoidable and I think you know that there's four teams left so if you're a fan of the other 26 teams like you're obviously big iudex you're thinking about the offseason anything about the draft you think about free agency and it's a particularly crazy free agency year and I think what's interesting about this postseason run is how closely tied in it is differ agent sounds like we couldn't discuss kind of the stakes of what were happened what was happening with Boston in the second round without talking about what might happen in free agency with them we couldn't discuss honestly even Philadelphia you see the way they change their game plan you see Jimmy Butler becoming essentially their point guard the guy down the stretch the guy down the stretch and yes you talk about how crucial he is in these victories but you also talk about like hey like this guy looked like a glorified role player for much of the regular season he's turning down shots now he's running pick-and-roll he's like shooting threes with no hesitation the team in scoring when he goes to the bench they look completely disjointed I think the conversation has shifted now to like it's not just does he want to stay and do they want him and there was talk about like oh maybe Tobias Harris is kind of like well in case it doesn't work out with Jamie thank you now it's like they need to keep him yeah and like what will they look like without him how could they possibly replace what he brings and I think a lot of those moves that were done even if we're continuing on the Raptors bucks or in Angola like them getting mera touch at the deadline the Raptors getting Marcus all and the deadline like that's for this right that's not so they can get a couple more regular season victories that that did not matter those teams were going to probably be one in two in the East regardless of what they did at the trade deadline this is about this matchup and beyond and like I'm I'm not sure the Raptors when it got past Philadelphia if they didn't have Marcus all playing amazing defense against Joelle Emory yeah and it's just so there's sort of two two angles here when looking at the offseason there's like the teams playing now and how that fits in with what will happen in the offseason obviously even with the Warriors if you're talking about Kevin Durant and what he might do like this might be a preview sort of of what the Warriors look like next year while he's injured and and the other thing is if just you take the playoffs out of it the only way to talk about any of these other teams in the NBA is talk about often free agency and I think what we saw on lottery night was like pretty much the most chaotic most interesting reside possible absolutely and in terms of how that affects Anthony Davis is a situation in terms of how it affects the team's potentially trying to trade for him in terms of the Knicks and the Lakers who have these like high hopes for free agency that I think even though they're picking one after another on draft night I think they had wildly different kind of reactions to what happened on lottery I mean Lakers fans were thrilled to be in that top four and Knicks fans were hoping for one yeah but even I'm a long-suffering expect right so to get three it's like I at least we're in the top three in a draft that potentially falls off the table after so you're saying now you say the time though at the time I was like damn it of course you want to get number one but I was just so glad they didn't get five based on where the probability was I was like if they get five that would just be a nightmare yeah right and then of course for New Orleans to get one my whole thing is like of course Davis would be a game changer in New York but if Durant comes to New York can you see a reality where they stick with these young guys and put whoever that second piece is whether it's Kyrie or Kemba is there a world where it's KD one of those guys and just the young guys and we just say screw it we're not gonna go for Davis here I think they would try to make an offer but I think the reality is that might not be their choice like like they I don't know that that package is going to be enough to get Davis anyway yeah so I think they better be ready to either go with those young guys and whoever they sign or package the young guys for something else if they're really that dead set on competing immediately and that's where it gets really interesting in terms of like the free just that they're targeting whether we're talking about Durant where they're talking about Kyrie Irving or whoever else they might end up considering this summer like what do they think about these young pieces like what they might have questions in those meetings about the direction of the team about what they think the potential is of those young guys how patient they're willing to be because there's a big difference between somebody coming to New York and and saying okay I want to be the guy that brings this team to prominence over the next like three four or five years and somebody that says all right how are you gonna get me a title shot this year and you're not getting a title shot I don't think with Kevin Knox Mitchel Robinson Dennis Smith jr. movie all these guys playing prominent roles next season like that doesn't seem super realistic to me no they need some legit guys in there and those young guys have had some nice moments and you could say yeah Kevin Knox is 19 Mitchell Robinson still progressing but Knicks fans been waiting a long time for something really to move and so if they have an opportunity to get two of these guys then they gotta make it happen if it's Nikola bousillage and Chris Middleton Knicks fans are gonna be happy yeah like basketball nerds like I mean those guys are awesome yeah but it's not box office in New York no I mean bougie bitch is weird like he had one of the best contract seasons in total yeah like some of his advanced numbers painted him is like almost an MVP candidate like he was that valuable to that team like they with him on the court they were awesome with him off the court they were like what the magic had been for four years like he is basically the reason why they made the playoffs this year and then Middleton obviously is a crucial part of one of the best teams in the NBA the best team in the regular season by like any measure that you want to use but of course like you're not signing either of those guys to be a franchise player you're not signing either of those guys or both of those guys to be like alright we're ready to compete and if they get one of them and a Durant like great you can you know you can sell that so the but in New York everything people are people are respecting the world and III think they're in a really interesting spot because if there hadn't been so much hype about this summer I think if if this team was not called the New York Knicks everything else you just looked at their roster in the moves they made over the past two years you could say this is a normal rebuilding team right we're gonna go to time they're there they're going with young players that giving them playing time they're trying out reclamation projects that have been cut by other teams or that they've been able to trade for the porzingis move was a little more complicated but i think the broad strokes of it have been a pretty traditional rebuilding plan the difference is it's like this isn't the process like this is this is they're doing that to create space and then they think that stars are just going to come to them so in that context it's a little bit different when you're talking about a Kevin Knox or Mitchel Robinson who I think if we were talking about a traditional rebuilding situation we wouldn't be talking about the possibility of those guys being moved for a big star because why would you do that first of all as young as he is as talented as he is his value is not going to be as high as it was last year because honestly he struggled through a lot of his rookie season and I still think there's a ton of upside there but I think this is like the worst possible time to trade a guy like that and Mitchell Robinson you draft a guy where they got him and have him over performing expectations like that and get so much better throughout their regular season it's like alright you want to watch that guy grow fans genuinely have form connections with those guys and want to see if they can reach their potential but like just nothing about this next situation is normal normal nothing about what they're trying to do is normal and I mean we can talk about the Lakers too if you like it's a wildly different scenario but but I think it's also like the fact that they are the Lakers in the entire conversation just like the Knicks it's like the fact that they are the Knicks is why we talk about them as a Durant suitor like I could sit here and argue and I think I could argue well that the Atlanta Hawks roster and the young players they have the calf space they have that makes a lot more sense for Kevin Durant to go inside with than what the Knicks of basketball suffusion absolutely I personally would love to see that team I'm in chemo Giannini a young John Collins so it's just like all right like Kady comes here it is to save the necks and does it mean he thinks there's a chance you will compete for a championship right away like probably not but I mean if Kyrie comes like or just to do his own thing truly for the first time career right there's that argument to be made but even guys like Mitchell Robinson I mean great small sample size but like fouls out constantly in games you know like there's a long way to stretch him out to really let him grow and then it's like some of these other guys like mario hezonia know violent like those guys aren't coming back and maybe if it's a different team it's a different story but yeah it's it has to be a win now mentality for the Knicks after all the struggles and especially after you tank finally in one year to be the bottom and the worst in the NBA yeah and it's weird because like vonlee I thought I mean he nice flashes yeah like by the end of the season he wasn't as productive as he was forgetting he was a little banged up but I thought in general like that is a successful reclamation project that he played the best basketball of his career by far and I thought he showed flashes of not just being a guy that is like putting up good numbers on a crappy team it's like the way he was playing both it was you could actually envision him playing a role on a good team but if somebody is going to go out and pay him for that like the Knicks will just watch him go because they're sleeping on their couch space to try to spend on the big name so like again that's sort of another example of what we're talking about if this was a different type of rebuilding situation then you're probably looking at Vonleh and saying like he was actually like why would they waste this they discovered it yeah sort of diamond in the rough type guy that had failed elsewhere and they gave minutes and and it worked like that's what you're supposed to do when when you're rebuilding and then you keep those guys but in this situation like I I don't think many of those guys will be back unless the next offseason goes wildly differently and they are hoping yeah well here's a perfect example you think about Michael Beasley and what he did on the Knicks right yeah he gets that contract from LA it was one of the many bad signings for the Lakers and so let's talk about Los Angeles now because they have the fourth pick they have all these young guys they have LeBron coming off injury what's the best move right now if you're the Lakers I mean look the dream scenario is they still wind up training for a D do you think they can actually pull it off do you think New Orleans wants to trade with them I mean maybe not and that that's that's a real thing right like if the owner of a team is not inclined to deal with you if negotiations have gone sour in previous instances like that can be a reality now moving up in the lottery that has to help definitely certainly can't hurt but then if we're talking about that we also have to talk about Brandon Ingram who I thought played some of the best basketball of his career right at the end of the season you started turned on a little bit yeah and then look this this blood clot stuff is super scary yeah we don't say that he'll be fine they can say that they're not worried he can say is confident that he'll be back to normal and like I hope that that is all the case absolutely but that is going to scare off other teams and he's gonna want to trade for that it's it's really tough like you you're going to have to have been really diligent in your research and you're gonna have to have trusted your doctors and consulted with your medical staff and like they'll have to essentially assure you like there's this probability that he will remain a healthy if not I don't know how you can make it out the headliner guy and that's the weird thing because I think for most teams he would be the headliner guy and I think it is not like crazy or out of the question to look at Ingram and look at how young he is and look at all the things you can do in court and still see that star potential that you saw when he was the number two pick like I've seen games where he looks like that I've seen games where he's guarding point guards and he has this like crazy long wingspan and guys a freak out can get to it and like you can pick nits with his with his game I don't think he functioned like super well next to the LeBron last year I don't think he was that interested in being a spot of three-point shooter even though he's not a bad 3-point shooter and he certainly had good shooting numbers in college like everybody wants to do so it's a process for him learning how to be a complementary player if he is going to stick in LA and playing are still abroad but I think if you're another team of all the guys they have that the Lanza ball in Kyle kuzmic heart all those guys like those are young players who still have upside who have already proven to be productive in various areas in the NBA I think Ingram was still supposed to be the crown jewel of that package right maybe now that number four pick is the crown especially the best asset of that package and I don't know if that's better than what Boston might have on the table or what like mystery team X that could yeah like I don't know and I think David Griffin is being really smart in New Orleans by coming out so strongly and publically saying that they're not giving up on salvaging the situation they're going to try to sell ad I'm coming back he he told Zach Lowe of ESPN on draft lottery night like we can be Oklahoma City we can play into the season and try to show him like this is what it looks like that's the best move that they can add at this point yeah it might be because like they're obviously gonna grab sign Williamson hmm and the potential of those two guys playing to get across true holiday holiday I mean like defensively those three that like just make a lockdown yeah that's crazy like all those guys can guard almost anybody on the court and then together like just their their length and their intensity like the thing was ion is like he's a guy that I think stars would like to play with because he's not just this dude that is going to like be a that is going to demand the ball in the perimeter that wants like he plays super hard he plays both ends he's a really smart player he's a really good passer he's sort of this like weird combination where like he can be like a rim running Center at times and then he can also be like a point forward I know and we've never seen some position he's crazy I just like I would love to see that trio try it just for a couple months at least and I don't know that Anthony Davis is going to see it this way he might just want to stick to his guns he might still be focused on playing with LeBron he might still just have this idea in his head that the best thing he can do is choose his next team now so that when he hits free agency he can resign with bird rights because if you sign with another this is getting a little technical I know they're like if you sign with another team in free agency that ends up costing you a little bit money and then they're that team will have to free the calf space to come get you so your options kind of dwindle so for example the Lakers they're probably not going to have that that space to get him next summer it would be a lot easier for them to just trade for him now great so I I assumed that a meeting is going to take place between David Griffin and Paul yeah and I wonder how hardline Davis's stance will be I wonder if Griffin can successfully sell him on opening his mind to at least the possibility of staying and if he doesn't then what is the play is the play like we're gonna dare you to sit out because we think you'll like this or is it what Griffin initially said when he took the job and he's out his press conference which is you're either all the way in and all the way out and the interesting thing to me is him saying we can be Oklahoma City with Paul George is very different than you're either all the way in yeah so I can sit here and say I would love it if Davis just took the Super Max signed right now and told the world like this is where I want to be last year was a little out of character I thought I was making the best decision for myself individually in my career but David Griffin is here now Zion Williamson is here now it's a toy I think he could look great to backtrack on that whether that's all folks t-shirt but he could honestly say you know what there's a guy trust there's a once-in-a-generation type player let's roll this out I think he it might be a little bit hyperbolic to say he could return a hero that way but I think he could be forgiven for last year if I start winning games that he'll be forgiving eventually yes so take some time and I mean look like Kobe Ryan asked out in 2007 who was talking about that the day of his final game nobody at all who was talking about him yelling about shipping by an amount of time we've seen crazier things than this and I think the lottery broke in such a way that allows us to talk about these these crazy things and allows us to think about like just I mean the amazing luck that David Griffin continues to get whenever and and if we actually see that team I would I mean I would consider them appointment viewing they'd have some questions still like it's later gets like super easy and surrounding those guys or other talent and whatever but like automatically like I just think Davis's situation is a lot better than it would have been otherwise and I mean I just those partners like may make sense it's they're they're both kind of weird players like the I don't wanna use the term unicorn but like unique players not yeah like I think when you're talking about Williamson a lot of the sort of talk about him like he's like the most interesting prospect maybe the most can't-miss prospect like since AD himself I know if they're both on the same team it's both ends it's all the time it's just just chaos out there and I would love to see it I don't know that I would predict it but it would it would be it would be quite fun definitely so you mentioned the importance of the group you put around stars yeah and you mentioned Atlanta before and what they're starting to do right now and I look at das and they gave up those pics to get porzingis they gave the pics also in the dodger to Trey young trade when you think about Dallas versus Atlanta people love Luke Dantas but people look at it land like they're starting to build something they have a couple pics in the top ten who do you think ultimately is gonna be looking back and saying we won this trade I think Dallas but I don't think it's the sort of like homerun obvious like fleecing that some people thought it was on draft night because Trey young first of all like sure there are questions about his defense he was one of the worst point guard defenders in the NBA second half of the season though right oh of course but I mean there's offensively right defensively yet there's a little bit of a mess yeah and their questions about like you know he's a small guard like in the playoffs if you're strapping at me is he really gonna be able to see over people like blah blah but like those are like good problems like those are problems that you'll deal with when you get there like for right now for a rebuilding team to have the year that he was able to have to learn as much as he did over the course of the season about how to navigate an NBA defense it was locked on him that was focused on him that like so obviously made his teammates better that knew how to get to his spots and get shots off that would be as confident as he was against guys trying to push him around the way they do Steph Curry about like getting into the lane and putting up floaters over 7-footer like it's not just the deep freeze the deep freeze were nice and there were a lot of them the second half of this year sometimes a big moments do but he's no name yeah and getting into that's a different level exactly and and I think the fact that they improved as a team as he improved as a player like that that really shows you something and I think they're perfectly happy to have him on on their team I think GM Travis link has said like they did have Luka higher on their board then trade but given the chance to get Trey young and then an additional pick they thought it was worth it where they were as a franchise and now they that picture they have in this year's you have like you know they're not top of the table but to add more young players to their core which is increasingly looking like pretty impressive core I thought Kevin hurt her quietly had a really good working season for them John Collins is just monster he's awesome and he has future I'll start written all over him and just a lot of Trey's success was set up by having this pick and roll partner that he they just had amazing chemistry from almost day one and I think the Hawks have to be very comfortable with where the franchise is going like yeah maybe eventually they'll they'll want to try to like attract a free agent or something like that to come play with these young guys historically Atlanta has not been a great destination for that it has not had a lot of success so I think trying to build through the draft trying to get as many shots at this as possible like that made sense logically on the night and you're kind of seeing it now because I mean we'll see what they do with some of the other pieces and like I don't know how long Tori and Prince is necessarily going to try to go there but but he's an interesting to you because your old times he has looked like a lockdown defender at other times he's looked like he's trying to do maybe a little too much as a playmaker as a ball handler like I think he could still be a part of their future but I mean like young and college those are the headliners there those are why people are those are the guys that are sort of dictating their style of play and I think why a lot of like sort of in being nerds like people like me who watch League us every night like like we're into that team and I think the future is very bright the Mavericks though like the reason why I said there they're the winners of it it's just like the peek tonnage is like you're talking like superstar level player and porzingis to like when he was healthy we saw flashes of that oh and I think there's areas of porzingis is getting like you know it's like perimeter defense is passing like how he reacts to being double-team shot selective quick like he's not a flawless player but like the way he could protect the rim the way he could stretched the floor the way he could score on the inside like he just he is so dangerous from like pretty much every area of the court offensively and then he is such a good defender when he's inside the pain he can deter people like you can stay healthy I think like that tandem is really imposing and they're both enormous and versatile too and like you see I think it was Donnie Nelson or maybe was Rick Carlisle one of the one of the power brokers in Dallas like immediately said like we want them to be our next Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki and like it's a little bit like of an easy comparison to make but like that those are the cornerstones of their team and they're there going every decision they make from from here on out whether it's who they sign in free agency whether it's who they draft other potential trades they can make like it will all be about maximizing those two guys and I think rebuilding gets a lot simpler when you have those pillars there and then you can make decisions that are based on that when you're not just like wildly trying to just collect talent right random guys throwing a minute I just sort of and look like that's part of it too when you're in your earliest stages like I thought like what the Sixers were doing when when they started the process was just trying to get the guys who they thought had the most talent or had the most trade value and throw them together and they didn't really care about positional needs because they weren't trying to win yet right but I think when you can already have those guys that have proven it that even though they're young like this was just dodges rookie season but like he was playing at a high level and you're like we've never seen before absolutely yeah 19 20 years old yeah but but I think there's such short thing that you're like all right like you know that those like that's their version like we said nation' of its key but like that could be there for like all right we have our Ben Simmons and Joe LM now so this is no longer about like this like 10-year plan like it's not now it's about like so so I think it's not like we expect Dallas to go and be in the championship picture next year but I think there's next decade the next decade is going to be built around what these two guys can do yeah I mean I see I think we'll see what happens with porzingis after the knee injury and obviously how those two fit together but you wrote the whole oral history on Dirk and talked to a bunch of people like to go from Dirk to Luka and KP I mean that works out phenomenally for them but when you wrote that piece what are some little things you learned about Dirk and just described his impact on that whole organization I mean he in many ways he is the the Mavericks right and that's what a lot of people around him said and it's such an interesting kind of career arc for him because when he came into the league he was so unsure of himself like talking to Donnie Nelson who is like there when he was drafted like they weren't sure if he was even going to come over okay the Mavericks contingent had to fly over to Germany meet with him and Holger who's his trainer slash mentor slash like any like if you watch the Dirk documentary or anything like you see this with emotes the older German guy that is feeding him shots and making new weird exercise on the court that's Holger but he's been a part of his life since he was like you know like 15 16 years old and so there you have Don Nelson Donnie Nelson together in würzburg Germany trying to tell Dirk and Holger like we think you should come over now and I'm not sure if I'm ready like me like Holger I think initially want him to stay for a couple more years in Europe gets stronger and more physically ready for the NBA Dirk comes over and initially you know like his English was not nearly as good as it is now just it's like it's a culture shock you know in a bunch of different ways adjusting to the game was not super easy I think he shot like 20 percent for three there was a rough start for his career people forget that yeah and you know he and Steve I mean Steve Nash the guy that sort of helped him get adjusted to life in Dallas they were inseparable they would be at the facility shooting together like those tales have been told a million times but I think you forget that like they were both booed yeah at Reunion Arena crazy to think then I mean Nash was playing through an injury that had kind of limited him and Dirk was kind of just trying to seal out the league and they passed up Paul Pierce actually had to have a last minute discussion on draft night like what do we do we did not expect Paul Pierce to be there like toaster computers were both in their top three and like Dirk was above him but it was kind of like they didn't think they'd actually have to make that decision right and they went to the guy they believed in and thought had the biggest upside even though even internally they were like yeah Paul Pierce could win Rookie of the Year and it's a risk because they don't know if they're gonna even have their jobs if Dirk becomes the Brier that that he eventually does and if not for Mark Cuban being the rare owner who buys a team and then doesn't hear everything down but actually just like he could have easily gotten rid of all those guys and they wouldn't have seen what ended up happening with Dirk so to sort of track his career from back then when like you know he and Steve Nash or like just kind of I mean I wouldn't like Steve is such an easygoing guy like socially confident anywhere whatever like Dirk is sort of a fish out of water just trying to like stay by his side and and just kind of get adjusted to the whole situation and to see how he not only improved on the court but eventually took on a leadership role became this guy who is now like an ambassador for the game synonymous with the bad Rick's and turned into this like hilarious trash talker the reason why the story was meant to do is because you talk to guys and like weird I'm not talking to guys like a Dennis Smith who seems to me it's within the last couple of years or talking to guys like Greg Buckner and Adrian Griffin from like the way Beverly stages in his career and like they all have stories of him like whether it's like him like calling up Nick Van Exel on his first road trip and leaving a voicemail for him in his hotel room where he's like playing guitar singing to him whether he and Dennis Smith last year have having a race before our practice where Dirk is supposed to start at half-court and Dennis at the baseline and then they go 321 Dennis starts writing and Dirk just turned I was like ah no I wasn't ready like absolute character yeah like just stuff like that from from over the course of his entire career and I think he has this like very obvious connection with Dallas fans and I think just with fans of the NBA who watched him kind of defy all these stereotypes earlier in his career when you know people didn't think a European guy cuz the only European guy could like lead a team inspire teammates I could like kind of win big at the level he eventually did that there was a lot of Sarat has about like big men should be on the block they shouldn't be shooting jumpers like blah blah blah and then when you lose in on the big stage like like they did and the Mavs didn't 2006 or they won the first two games they lose four straight to Miami they they come back in the next year Dirk wins MVP they're in 67 games they lose in the first round to an eighth seed like Berto these are absolutely crushing defeats but then when they eventually get to that mountaintop like everybody involved whether you're talking to Rick Carlisle they're talking abyss ski dr. Nelson Mark Cuban like everybody will tell you like the the heartbreak from before like that's what led to this that's what made this happen like that hardened Dirk that made Dirk make tangible improvements to his game I mean just think about like the iconic Dirk vision well everyone has like the the one foot fatal and step back yep and he wasn't shooting those early in his no absolutely not really wasn't shooting those often it wasn't a big part of his game until Rick Carlisle got there like because the the whole idea was that that was a different way for the Mavs to establish their offense to get him the ball there whereas hard for other teams to send help traditionally the mid-range shot is like what other teams are kind of scheming to like you take and Dirk kind of worked the whole floor because the defenses that were designed to give that up like suddenly this is like a layup to him yeah like how are you gonna run with water how are you gonna double-team him when he's there and like part of that was he would run pick and pops before and he'd get in the situation and he loved a small they just they just switch it and it's like what do I do if they just switch it well if you just take a little one foot fade away over that guy like they're never ever going to block it so like just gradually throughout his career he added different things he tweaked his shot for him he when when Avery Johnson was there he played a lot more like traditional post dubs and I like people think of him as this like stretch for stretch 5 down the block yeah he got down the block you took people off the dribble like he had a really really complete game and I think his his legacy in Dallas will like be directly tied to that 2011 championship for sure always and forever yeah but I think one thing you learn when you sort of talk to people about I was like yeah that's the big moment but like the fact he spent 21 years there the fact that he never a huge deal he could have joined up with it with different stars especially the last couple of years yeah of course he chose not to he felt this connection to Mark Cuban to Carlisle to the fans to the to the city of Dallas I'm not saying that everybody has to do that I'm not saying people who try to maximize their own winning in the NBA are like necessarily doing anything wrong but I just think like the way that his career played out failing it on a big stage the way that he did developing the way that he did he wasn't this big hyped guy even though he was taking like 9th overall it wasn't nothing but like the fact that he was able to realize that potential exceed that potential prove so many people wrong who dismissed him who who doubted him they had said like things that like retro actively just looked like ignorant so they couldn't like like the way he succeeded the way he changed the game for international players like that stuff is all like very well documented I think to pare all of that influence that he's had on the game the impact that he's had in the city Dallas was a pair that with this like really goofy down-to-earth humble personality like that that's what makes him an interesting figure to me is that like he could be self serious he could be he could have a huge ego and I think a lot of the times you think like I think need to have a big ego out on the court he did on the court like he did trash talk everybody burnt the big shot and all that stuff like off of it he just he never needed that stuff he never even had an agent like he was just kind of like he didn't do commercials in doing that stuff he just he wanted a kind of just balled out yeah that's what we did you transcended the game yeah translated I see yeah well James it's been an absolute pleasure thank you so much watch tell everybody where they can check out you work as all my work goes to cbssports.com all right cool enjoy Toronto thank you catching again everybody see you next time you're on the sit down

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