2010 Summer Interview: Kelenna Azubuike

I sat down with Kelenna Azubuike for 9 minutes and 41 seconds, and he was kind enough to answer some questions.

Mike Kurylo: How are you feeling? Donnie Walsh said that you weren’t running yet, but that you were running on the Alter-G, and the next step is to start running on grass. Is that true?

Kelenna Azubuike: Yeah. I’ll be running grass soon, and then on the court. I’ll be back soon. It’s getting better. I’m trusting it more and more, and the strength is getting better and better.

Mike Kurylo: Given that you’re injured now, what do you feel you have to do to get into the rotation or to be a starter?

Kelenna Azubuike: Whenever I come back to just play the way I’ve been playing. Play aggressive and hard nosed. I only know how to play one way, and that’s all out, 110%. I’m really confident what I can do and what I can bring to this team. Whenever I’m out for a period of time, I’m not really worried about jumping back in, because I come in and go as hard as I can and stay ready.

Mike Kurylo: Do you feel you’ll have an uphill battle to win the starting spot or get in the rotation?

Kelenna Azubuike: You know, whatever happens, I try not to get too concerned with that. I try to worry about what I can do to stay ready and whenever I come in to just go as hard as I can. My play will speak for itself. As far as the minutes and getting playing time, I’ll leave that up to the coach. I’m confident in what I can do so I expect to be out there.

Mike Kurylo: What strengths do you bring to the team?

Kelenna Azubuike: I’m a good shooter, driver, and slasher. I feel like I can get to the hole and make plays. I play defense too. I take pride in stopping people and defending, so I play on both sides. And I love to run. So I fit the way D’Antoni likes to play. I think I bring a lot to the team.

Mike Kurylo: Recently New York hasn’t had a good defense, so is this something you feel like you can bring to the team?

Kelenna Azubuike: Definitely. I love playing defense. I think that once you get on the defensive end, you can get back on offense with turnovers and force bad shots. (Off those turnovers) you can get fast breaks where you can easy buckets. The more of those that you get the better your offense will flow. The better the game will be for us. Playing defense is fun. You take the challenge to try and stop people and see if you can do it. I enjoy it.

Mike Kurylo: How do you feel joining a team that doesn’t really have a core of established players?

Kelenna Azubuike: I think it’s exciting to see what we can do together. As our chemistry grows in training camp it’ll be fun to see what we can accomplish this year. I know we’re going to win games. I’m excited to see how good we can be together. I think we can be a great team. There are a lot of great players in here, and everybody has a lot to bring to the table. So I think we’ll be good.

Mike Kurylo: How do you feel about the Golden State guys fitting in, given your familiarity?

Kelenna Azubuike: We know each other pretty well. We all do different things. I think we’re going to fit in really well. Ronnie is a real tough guy, he kinda does the dirty work. He was really good for us in Golden State and I think he’s going to be even better here in D’Antoni’s system. He’ll know what his role is. And the same thing with Randolph, he’s getting better and better. He’s a young guy, and he’s really athletic so he’s real exciting to watch.

Mike Kurylo: You came from the Warriors which were an offensive minded team, much like New York. What are some of the differences between what you were doing in Golden State and D’Antoni’s philosophy here in New York?

Kelenna Azubuike: I think it’ll be more consistent here with the way we play, and it’ll be more structured. They’re both running styles. I think we’re definitely going to try to incorporate the defense in a lot this year. Not to say that we didn’t try that in Golden State, just a lot more so here. I think a lot of players here will complement the way D’Antoni likes to play. It’ll be exciting to se.

Mike Kurylo: How is it being on the East Coast, compared to the West Coast?

Kelenna Azubuike: It’s cool. Especially being in New York. That’s the best place to be on the East Coast.

Mike Kurylo: (laughter) I’m a native New Yorker, so that’s good to hear.

Kelenna Azubuike: Yeah. If you’re going to be on the East coast you want to be in New York. So I’m excited to be here. The East Coast is exciting to play in and I’m looking forward to it.

Mike Kurylo: What in particular do you like about New York?

Kelenna Azubuike: Of course playing in Madison Square Garden! New York is the basketball mecca. If you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. And it’s the same in basketball. The high school guys from here are probably the most well known ones. If you’re killin’ in New York, you’re pretty much known worldwide. Where I came from, Tulsa Oklahoma, if you do well there you don’t really get national recognition or anything. No one really cares. What can you say about New York that hasn’t already been said? I’m glad to be hear.

Mike Kurylo: You came through the D-League, so what was that like?

Kelenna Azubuike: It was an experience. If you go down there with a good attitude it can be good. But it’s tough. It’s not for the faint hearted. I went down there with the attitude that I want to get better and to get ready for this league.

Mike Kurylo: I had an idea for the NBA All Star Game where they have the freshmen or freshmen/sophmores play the D-League All Stars.

Kelenna Azubuike: So you’re saying that instead of the rookie-sophomore game?

Mike Kurylo: Either just the rookies, or combine the first and second year players into one team and let them play the best of the D-League.

Kelenna Azubuike: That’s not a bad idea. Of course the D-League would love that, the exposure. It would be their All Star Game.

Mike Kurylo: It would pit guys that are hungry to get into the league…

Kelenna Azubuike: … and it would probably be a (competitive) game. And those guys are trying to win. If they can do well against NBA players, that’ll be huge for them. There are good players like there, it’s not like they’re a bunch of bums.

Mike Kurylo: Do you feel like there are a lot of guys down there that could contribute in the NBA?

Kelenna Azubuike: Yeah. A lot of it is about timing, and whether someone will give you an opportunity. Sometimes it’s politics or whatever. But I think the guys that are good enough they get looks.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

46 thoughts to “2010 Summer Interview: Kelenna Azubuike”

  1. Some quick thoughts on yesterday’s game:

    * Starting lineup had Chandler/Turiaf in the SG/C spots. Something to keep an eye on. Chandler shot well, Turiaf had only 2 boards in 20 mins.

    * Early on Randolph looked starving with the ball, taking every shot possible. Isola tweeted D’Antoni saying “pass the (bleeping) ball.” Also seemed that coach wasn’t happy with Randolph on a garbage time foul (shove from behind). He did end up with 16 points on 11 shots, and I could have sworn he had a block, but nothing in the boxscores.

    * Mozgov looked good – pretty mobile and blocking shots. One thing is that he missed a point blank shot. I saw him do that in the tv aired training as well. Hope he doesn’t have alligator arms close to the basket.

    * Knicks leading rebounder was Gallo (7 in 32 mins). I’ll take that.

    * Ewing, Rautins, Williams DNP-CD. Wouldn’t mind the first two spending some time in the D-League to start the year. (Not sure if Shawne can be forced – I believe the team would need his permission).

  2. That was maybe the best interview, seems to have a good head on his shoulders. What are your impressions of these guys so far, Mike?

    Mike Kurylo: Ewing, Rautins, Williams DNP-CD. Wouldn’t mind the first two spending some time in the D-League to start the year. (Not sure if Shawne can be forced – I believe the team would need his permission).  

    I believe one has to be cut, no? Unless Curry or someone else is.

    Mike Kurylo: Early on Randolph looked starving with the ball, taking every shot possible. Isola tweeted D’Antoni saying “pass the (bleeping) ball.” Also seemed that coach wasn’t happy with Randolph on a garbage time foul (shove from behind).

    Not great signs… hopefully D’Antoni is patient and AR rewards that patience by getting it together. GS and Don Nelson weren’t low on the guy for no reason, even if they were wrong to be low on him.

  3. * Nice interview! I think Kelenna is one of the most articulate men in the NBA and I’m very anxious to see what he can do this year.

    @1 – Randolph could have been credited with two blocks in the first half (didn’t watch 2nd half). Clyde and Mike discussed how one of them would be goal tending in the States and I think Mosgov got a piece of the 2nd one. So maybe that’s why he was credited w/ none but you saw what he’s capable of.

    Mosgov moves extremely well. I see what you mean about his offense around the basket. He’s pretty good at drawing fouls on small defenders but you’d like to see some stronger moves and better finishes.

    Turiaf was not pleasing to the eye but he did post a team high+20 for the game. I wonder if he just got lucky.

  4. I watched the game. Amare was pretty dominant.
    I liked what Mosgov did, although he again gave up some silly fouls. Randolph is very rough around the edges. You can see his potential, but he’s still got a lot to learn.
    I like the back court of Felton and Douglas. I think the defensive intensity will be great. Felton was active, broke up some passes, some nice steals.
    Felton also penetrated very well and seemed to finish well enough.
    I agree that it would be nice to see Gallo try to penetrate more. He’s a very good free throw shooter and if he can penetrate he’ll get a lot of easy points. Look at Amare. The guy gets to the line.
    The Knicks played decent D in the paint, denying a few shots. That was nice to see, but 114 points to Milan seems like a lot.
    Turiaf didn’t seem very involved.

    I was deeply troubled by 28 turnovers. Even for a new team that hasn’t played together much, that’s a hell of a lot.

  5. I really want to see Azubuike play. He has his head on right.
    But, lord, the New York cliche’s were just pouring out of him. :)

  6. Ted Nelson: That was maybe the best interview, seems to have a good head on his shoulders. What are your impressions of these guys so far, Mike?
    I believe one has to be cut, no? Unless Curry or someone else is.

    I count 16 according to Knicks.com. That means 1 cut + 3 guys that won’t be active every night (you can only have 12 active). I’m always for giving guys work in the D-League as opposed to front row tickets to NBA games.

  7. Ted Nelson: That was maybe the best interview, seems to have a good head on his shoulders. What are your impressions of these guys so far, Mike?

    I found them to be pretty intelligent and all very eager to play with each other and see how good this team could be. The word “exciting” came up again and again and… It was like the stench of former years was finally lifted (considering that Curry was one of the first people to run out of the room…)

    My two favorite people to talk to were Azubuike and Mason. This interview came right on the heels of another reporter who didn’t seem to know what the NBA was asking him a dumb questions

    Q. What do you think you have to do to make the team?
    A. Uhhh I already made the team.
    Q. Well you know what I mean.
    A. ???

    I thought that mistake was kinda ironic considering Azu was a D-Leaguer + is hurt. The interview came out well considering the act I had to follow.

    Oh and one other note for anyone out there listening. I spoke with Donnie Walsh for about 10 minutes one-on-one without a recorder. Just a casual chat, nothing big.

  8. Frank O.: I really want to see Azubuike play. He has his head on right.
    But, lord, the New York cliche’s were just pouring out of him. :)  

    I was waiting for him to say something like “the nightlife, the museums, the restaurants, etc.” But I get the feeling as a someone from a small town, he grew up hearing about NYC like it was a mystical place, like the land of OZ.

  9. I hope we go into the season with this team and don’t make any major trades until the trade deadline at the earliest.

    I like what I saw from Gallo, Randolph, Mozgov, and Chandler and think all will enhance their value this season.

    Randolph is still very raw. We are going to have to deal with a lot of “young player” mistakes, but when he eliminates some of the stupid shots he has the potential to become an efficient scorer to go along with the very good rebounding, shot blocking, defensive versatility etc…

    Gallo hit the boards a little better. That’s one of the things we need from him. At 6′ 10″, even if he spends a little more time on the perimeter than most other players his size, he should be able to get 6-7 boards per 36 now that he’s stronger and more confident in his back. If he can do that and add a couple of assists, that would really put him over the top given I feel certain he will give us more offense this year. I could easily see him his line being 20, 6, 2.5, per 36. If he does that, he’d be giving us 90% of what Melo could give us for a fraction of the price and perhaps with a higher TS%.

    Chandler picked up where he left off before the injury. He went to the hoop more aggressively, didn’t take many 3 pointers, and scored efficiently. He’s going to have to increase his range and become a better playmaker to be the SG, but even if he doesn’t he’s a solid role player. To become more than that, he’s going to have to add some skills, hit the boards better etc… but he’s still a nice versatile two way player.

    I loved what I saw from Mozgov. So much so, I think he should probably start at C. For me, whether he becomes a decent C or a legitimate positive force on the team is going to be dependent on his rebounding. I already know he can score efficiently and block shots. What I don’t know is if he’s Eddy Curry plus the shot blocking and minus the stomach or a well rounded C that can give us 10 boards a night, stay out of foul trouble, and not turn the ball over.

    All in all, I’m feeling great about this team and DON’T want to pull the trigger on a Melo deal yet.

  10. Mike Kurylo: I’m always for giving guys work in the D-League as opposed to front row tickets to NBA games. 

    I agree that the D-League is a nice tool, but my point was that at least one of the three (my guess is it’s not Rautins after they drafted him) is probably not making the team.

  11. stratomatic: when he eliminates some of the stupid shots

    AKA any shot outside the paint…

    stratomatic: What I don’t know is if he’s Eddy Curry plus the shot blocking and minus the stomach or a well rounded C that can give us 10 boards a night, stay out of foul trouble, and not turn the ball over.

    I’m a little confused by the Curry analogy/comparison.

    It was only one game and I especially don’t put much weight on a pre-season scrimmage with a team that’s not even in the NBA, but he led the Knicks in reb/36 with 9.5 for the game. He out-rebounded everyone on the court besides Rocca.
    On the other hand, every indication is that he cannot stay out of foul trouble consistently.
    I don’t know where the TOs will fall, and part of it probably depends what he’s asked to do in the offense. Russia, for example, mostly gave him the ball when he was wide open cutting to the basket (when they gave it to him in the post against the US, on the other hand, TOs and airballs ensued… especially when Tyson Chandler basically shut him down). I don’t see why the Knicks would use him much more than that if they’re healthy (though the athleticism of defenses in the NBA is on a different level and will force more TOs), so hopefully the TOs are respectable-to-good.

  12. Ted,

    In the recent World Championships Mosgov scored very efficiently, but didn’t rebound very well and was very foul prone. So he might have a few of the same flaws as Eddy. Eddy was always an efficient scorer, but below average rebounder, shot blocker, committed a lot of fouls, and was turnover prone.

    At least Mosgov is in great shape, blocks shots very well, and supposedly has a high IQ. So he may iron out any foul and turnover issues. But what I really want to see from him is high level rebounding.

  13. I just think Eddy’s a pretty extreme example in just about every regard. Provided that Mozgov’s blocks come along with even passable overall defense and effort I would not compare the two. Even as a scorer, Mozgov is a good dive man who can score in the flow of the offense while Eddy dragged down the whole offense with his post-game/TO/no passing combo.

    He was a beast on the glass in Europe and in this one game did a very respectable job on the glass. Who knows, but I would be more apt to write off a few weeks of national team play than years of in-season, league play data… especially for rebounds. Despite some invisible games on the glass, he still grabbed 7.8 per 36… which is terrible for a 5, but a small enough sample where a few more boards would have brought him to respectability (5 more boards in the tourney, for example, his #s would round to 8.8 reb/36). I don’t know if he will be an elite rebounder or not in the NBA and the WCs certainly made be less optimistic about his rebounding, but I’m not worried about Timo being Curry/Turiaf level bad as a rebounder the way he was in the WCs.

  14. Mozgov did have a really nice reverse layup off a pass from Amar’e, who surprised me because he made a few nice passes including one where he drove and looked like a PG wrapping a pass around 2 men in mid-air to Turiaf for a dunk.

  15. Great to hear Azu’s positivity. I hope he can be the answer at the 2, because everything he listed – 3 point shooting, defense, driving and dishing – is exactly what we need from a shooting guard. Chandler looked good the other day, but I’m still not convinced he will be as effective as Azu could be if he comes back 100%.
    Re: Mosgov, I hope he starts. Even if he fouls out every game, we have Turiaf and AR to pick up the slack. Having a 7’1″ guy that can move like he can is a definite advantage. On offense, he just needs to focus on cutting to the hoop, looking for boards, and maybe taking a wide open short jumper every once in a while. No top of the key dribbling and creating. We just don’t need that aspect of his game yet. Both he and AR need to be “streamlined” in order to help this team. They both have a ton of potential, but they are both “role” players right now that need to learn their roles. Amare and Gallo need to be the primary scorers while the rest will get theirs through running the offense.
    Depending on what happens with Chandler/Azu/Mason at the 2, I really like what we have to start the season. Felton is not ideal, but he seems steady and Douglas looks good as well, both as a back up pg and a back up 2 who can attack the ball on D. Can’t wait to see us against the T-pups on Wednesday.

  16. Btw, starters for Minni:

    Luke Ridnour, Wes Johnson, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Darko Milicic.

  17. I like that they are letting Beasley play the 3. I think he will surprise a lot of people now that he is playing his “true” position.

  18. Nice interview Mike- I think a healthy Azu would almost certainly be starting at the 2 but I’m definitely worried about his lateral movement/defensive ability coming off of the injury.
    On yesterday’s game- My two big concerns coming into the year are rebounding and overall passing/playmaking (meaning nobody else besides Felton & Turiaf are even average passers for their positions) and this game did nothing to make me feel any better.
    On the plus side- Gallo seems to be moving much more fluidly than he did last year. Stratomatic’s 20, 6, 2.5 per 36 seems doable (though I’ll believe the 2.5 assists when I see it). Hopefully, as his confidence in his back grows he’ll start to mix it up a little inside on the boards- he did get 7 rebounds but he still rarely put a body on someone/boxed out and still tends to slap at the ball coming off of the glass rather than aggressively going after it. I think the Knicks are going to need 7-8 (if not 8-9) rebounds a game from Gallo rather than 5-6 if they don’t want to get killed on the glass. I do think he eventually get up to around 8 or maybe 9 rpg but probably not this year.
    Mozgov- Yes, he fouls too much (if the game had been officiated a little tighter he might have fouled out in his 19 minutes) and he did get lost several times on defense. But… it looks like he can hit the 10-12 footer, did make a couple of nice passes, etc… already looks like a solid backup and while I don’t see him making an all-star team unless he miraculously develops some kind of a post game, I do see him as turning into a decent starter, perhaps even by the end of the season.
    Chandler- As I’d been hearing that he’d really been struggling in camp it was nice to him look pretty much like he did in the second half of last year.
    Amare- Obviously man among boys. Next to LBJ (and maybe Dwight Howard) the guy is probably the most freakishly athletic player in the league. Interesting that relatively few baskets came off of the p&r- I expected the Knicks to run the p&r with Amare & Felton pretty much every time down court (in fact I think they should have run it every time down court so they can get their timing down) so it was encouraging to see Amare getting his own his ease without great set-ups from Nash.

  19. Oh and Douglas looks like he intends to REALLY get after it on the defensive end this year- in both this game and the training camp footage he’s been up on the ball hard pretty much 24/7.

  20. It’s obviously a big career boost to Windhorst, who deserves it as he is a great writer. Still, it seems almost too obvious, with him doing pretty much what everyone had suggested he was going to do for some time now. Still, it’s a career advancement for someone who has certainly earned it, so good for Brian!

  21. nicos: (though I’ll believe the 2.5 assists when I see it)

    He was at 1.8 last season, so it’s not a huge jump.

    nicos: Hopefully, as his confidence in his back grows he’ll start to mix it up a little inside on the boards

    I still feel like people use the back a little too much as an excuse without having conclusive evidence it is a legit one.

    nicos: I think the Knicks are going to need 7-8 (if not 8-9) rebounds a game from Gallo rather than 5-6 if they don’t want to get killed on the glass. I do think he eventually get up to around 8 or maybe 9 rpg but probably not this year.

    It really depends how he’s used and with whom. If you have 2 of Amare/AR/Timo on the court with him and he is grabbing 8 or 9 rebounds… the Knicks will probably be the best rebounding team in the NBA… not many 3s get 8 or 9 rebounds per 36. The Knicks will only “need” 5-6 reb/36 for Gallo to pull his weight on the boards. If he’s mostly playing the 4 with only Amare or Turiaf, than he’s going to need to hit the glass. If he’s best off defensively at the 4 (which would probably mean the Amare case above with WC/AR/BW/Azu at the 3), then his rebounding responsibilities also go up… but if it’s AR getting a lot of minutes guarding 3s, not as much.

    nicos: (in fact I think they should have run it every time down court so they can get their timing down)

    I’ll leave that for D’Antoni to decide.

  22. Ted- Points taken. Gallo may well hit 2.5 assists but he had just one yesterday and like last year, seemed too content just to move the ball to the nearest guy on the perimeter rather than looking to make a more productive pass. As for his back: maybe that wasn’t the issue last year but for a feisty kid he didn’t seem anxious to throw his body around and I think in the limited tape I’ve seen of him this summer that seems to be less the case. Maybe that’s just part of the growing process of a young player and has nothing to do with the back but when you can see how much better he’s moving I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the back feeling better might have something to do with it. On rebounding- If AR turns into the guy we wanted to trade for instead of remaining the guy Golden State decided they could live without and earns 28+ minutes a night and Timo can pull down 6 or 7 in 20-25 then Gallo at 5.5rpg might not be a problem but if Turiaf’s getting heavy minutes, Timo can’t stay on the floor due to fouls (or gets passive because he’s afraid of getting a whistle) and AR remains erratic (all distinct possibilities though by no means givens) then Gallo is going to need to step up his rebounding. As for not running P&Rs all game I was trying to be a bit hyperbolic- I was surprised they didn’t run it more as you’d think that’s going to be their bread and butter this year but as it was only the first game of the preseason maybe I ought to relax and take everything with a big grain of salt.

  23. I think people are overstating the rebounding difficulties we will have next year. We should be no worse than last year, which was below average, but I do not see us being worse. Lee was a great rebounder at the five but the rebounding we got from the four was horrible. Amare is a huge step up rebounding over Harrington and should more than offset the step down in rebounding we get from AR/Timo/Turiaf in place of Lee. Azubuike is a very good rebounder for a two and so is Chandler (at the two) and Gallo and Chandler are average at the three. We will never be a great rebounding team partly because of D’Antoni’s system but we should be good enough. His offense uses spacing and quick shots both of which tend to make offensive rebounding harder, but defensively I would be surprised if we are terrible at rebounding. I think we will be fine.

    DS – That Heat index thing is disgusting. They are really putting the cart ahead of the horse. Lets see them play a couple of games before we start a countdown to 72 wins. I think they’ll struggle to win 60. I put them as the 2nd or 3rd best team in the East.

  24. @8
    Mike: You mean it isn’t Oz?
    :)
    You’re very fortunate to be doing what you’re doing, man.
    Good for you.

  25. DS – That Heat index thing is disgusting

    I don’t mind it – they’re simply responding to a pretty clear market out there. If the internet in 1996 was the way it was today, there’s no way there wouldn’t have been a Chicago Bulls equivalent at ESPN.com. People want to read about the Heat, so ESPN is trying to give those people one place to go to get all the Heat talk they want. It’s not like they’re pushing an agenda or whatever, they’re actually responding to the people’s interests here.

  26. Anyone else feel like we have got the best ‘character’ team in over a decade?

    Like, holy shit, a bunch of star athletes who take their jobs seriously, show enthusiasm, and pull for one another? I know the ‘intangibles’ argument is by nature unquantifiable. But guys like Kelenna and Turiaf and Amar’e have given me reason to think this year’s optimism may actually be rewarded for a change.

  27. @27 I think ESPN views that as one benefit of a Heat Index but I also suspect ESPN might be stirring the pot so that Heat haters tune in to watch them lose. Clearly, I’m just sore.

  28. I guess, but I just don’t see ESPN particularly worrying about people not following the Heat, ya know? I think they figure people definitely will follow the Heat (to root for them or root against them) and they just want to capitalize on it, and they’re doing so with some talented writers, including the #1 Lebron James media expert in the country (as an aside, I think it says a lot about the oddity of “The Decision” that the “#1 Lebron James media expert” had no idea that Lebron James had been planning for some time to go to Miami).

  29. Brian – The thing that bothers me is not the coverage. ESPN is a business and would cover dog fighting if that was what the people wanted. I expect that.

    What bothers me is the sheer hyperbole of it all. “Chase for 72”, “Triple Double Tracker”, “All Time Power Rankings”

    I expect that kind of overreaction from random people in a chatroom but not from what I would hope is knowledgeable and respectable journalists.

    I agree that some of the writers who are covering the Heat are good but that does not excuse the sheer audacity of the whole enterprise. Go ahead and assign ten writers to the Heat, that is fine and to be expected, just get rid of the cheap gimmicks.

    I guess I still expect, though I really shouldn’t at this point, my news organiztions to have a semblance of integrity.

  30. Brian Cronin:
    I don’t mind it – they’re simply responding to a pretty clear market out there. If the internet in 1996 was the way it was today, there’s no way there wouldn’t have been a Chicago Bulls equivalent at ESPN.com. People want to read about the Heat, so ESPN is trying to give those people one place to go to get all the Heat talk they want. It’s not like they’re pushing an agenda or whatever, they’re actually responding to the people’s interests here.  

    That’s true, Brian. But to extend your logic, why doesn’t ESPN start streaming hard-core pornography as well. After all, people want to watch pornography, so ESPN is trying to give those people one place to get all the Porn they want. It’s not like they’re pushing a pro-Porn agenda or whatever, they’re just responding to the people’s interests here.

    This is probably a bit outside of the purview of this blog, but it’s the difference between seeing journalism (even sports journalism) as just another market-driven product and seeing it something that’s ostensibly, “a public good”/an entity whose value to can’t be measured only in terms of the bottom line of a balance sheet.

    It’s why some commenters here see the “Heat index” as so obviously repugnant. There still exists the vestiges of the notion (however naive) that ESPN’s job is to serve as an objective news organization whose area of reporting happens to be the sporting world.

    They aren’t.

    They sell/broadcast NBA games. The more people watch those games, the better ESPN (or Disney, really) does. What ESPN does is propaganda or better yet, a 24-hour commercial masquerading as news/reporting, like a much better funded “info-mercial” for 6-minute abs or the RonCo pocket fisherman. We’d all like to think a transcendent athlete (like LeBron) wouldn’t/couldn’t be compared to/treated like a crappy piece of plastic sold at 2am, but alas, that’s the world we live in.

    It’s only when that (ugly) truth is shoved in our faces like the ‘Heat Index’ does that you see fans recoil in disgust.

  31. So you guys are mad that covering sports is not serious news, and has gone into the realm of entertainment? You do realize that sports is a bunch of guys in shorts throwing a ball around?

  32. Guys,
    Clearly the ‘Heat index’ is a case of some design intern trying to create a real position for himself. Nothing more, nothing less.

  33. nicos: Gallo may well hit 2.5 assists but he had just one yesterday and like last year, seemed too content just to move the ball

    I don’t know if he’ll get 2.5 ast/36 or not, just saying that it wouldn’t be a radical improvement.

    nicos: On rebounding- If AR turns into the guy we wanted to trade for instead of remaining the guy Golden State decided they could live without and earns 28+ minutes a night and Timo can pull down 6 or 7 in 20-25 then Gallo at 5.5rpg might not be a problem but if Turiaf’s getting heavy minutes, Timo can’t stay on the floor due to fouls (or gets passive because he’s afraid of getting a whistle) and AR remains erratic (all distinct possibilities though by no means givens) then Gallo is going to need to step up his rebounding.

    Even if you have Turiaf and Amare on the court a lot together, I’m not really that worried. Rebounding would not be a strength, but after a season with Harrington as the primary PF… it would be about even. If the Knicks are significantly improved in other areas of the game (all things defense being an area that won’t take much to improve significantly) I’m just not that worried about rebounding.

    Ben R: I think people are overstating the rebounding difficulties we will have next year. We should be no worse than last year

    Agreed.

    Offensive rebounding wise D’Antoni also has 4 guys getting back on D as soon as the shot goes up a lot of the time when they’re running, which leaves one guy to even contest the rebound.

  34. Ben R: That Heat index thing is disgusting. They are really putting the cart ahead of the horse.

    I don’t know that they’ll come close to 72 wins, and maybe two EC teams end up being better. However, objectively, I think they have to be as much of a favorite as any team not only in the East but in the entire NBA.

    Brian Cronin: I don’t mind it – they’re simply responding to a pretty clear market out there.

    Agreed.

    Ben R: I expect that kind of overreaction from random people in a chatroom but not from what I would hope is knowledgeable and respectable journalists.

    LeBron, Wade, and Bosh have set the expectations that high, and if they fail to at least make those worthwhile discussions they will be nationally humiliated whether it’s on a special section of ESPN.com or not…

    This *should* be an historically good team. They *should* win more than one of the next 5 titles, possibly the majority of them. They have *the best* player in the NBA, and maybe in NBA history. They have another incredible wing player who is a deserving 1st Team All-NBA guy quite a few seasons (though Durant probably changes that going forward, still 2nd team All-NBA isn’t bad). They have a solid All-Star bigman. All those guys are in or entering their primes. They have a very, very good 3 pt shooting wing who is also a heck of a passer. Plus a solid collection of role players from which a couple of guys should step up. They’ll probably add one of the top MLE guys next offseason and any offseason they want to after that. This should be a great offense and a pretty good defense.

    Anyway, this is part of ESPN’s business and giving people what they think people want. I doubt this was an arbitrary decision and would expect some smart and experienced people put some thought into it. If the Heat disappoint it will blow up, but ESPN will have a field day covering how the Heat stink so they don’t really lose…

    Robert Silverman: That’s true, Brian. But to extend your logic, why doesn’t ESPN start streaming hard-core pornography as well.

    That doesn’t even make sense or extend Brian’s logic in anyway. People also want to read headline financial news, but ESPN doesn’t stream that. Porn is obviously more offensive to more people than the Miami Heat, anyway, a federally regulated product, and not particularly related to sports. The Miami Heat are, you know, actually a sports team.

    Robert Silverman: it’s the difference between seeing journalism (even sports journalism) as just another market-driven product and seeing it something that’s ostensibly, “a public good”/an entity whose value to can’t be measured only in terms of the bottom line of a balance sheet.

    ESPN.com is not in fact a public good. If they felt like it they could exclude people, as they do with their insider section. This is a private sector operation in a competitive market.

    Who cares if ESPN expects the Heat to win 72 games? You (and I) might have larger problems with the media, but ESPN makes predictions before every major US sports season where they project win totals. If you disagree that the Heat will win 72 games and be an historically great team, then write them and tell them as much. If you hate ESPN, the biggest way to hurt them is in their balance sheet. (This is, by the way, an ESPN blog…)

    Robert Silverman: They sell/broadcast NBA games. The more people watch those games, the better ESPN (or Disney, really) does. What ESPN does is propaganda or better yet, a 24-hour commercial masquerading as news/reporting,

    This is their business. I suppose your problem is not with ESPN but the entire capitalist system. Fair enough, but who do you want providing your news if not an independent media?

    Robert Silverman: It’s only when that (ugly) truth is shoved in our faces like the ‘Heat Index’ does that you see fans recoil in disgust.  

    Since this is a market driven product, if and when fans do “recoil in disgust” the Heat Index will be taken down. It’s sort of a beautiful thing. I’m not even the biggest free marketeer in the world, but are you really suggesting the government would do a better job of reporting news? If not, who do you want reporting your news? And why do you even bother paying attention to ESPN if you hate it so much? There are other sources for sports news and news in general.

  35. I wasn’t sure ESPN was a serious sports analysis place so I can’t expect its magazine to be much miore than the People/Us Weekly of sports journalism.

  36. Let me clarify what I meant, b/c it seems that I went out on a hyperbolic limb last night (and yes, I realize the irony of criticizing ESPN on an ESPN blog)…

    No, I don’t think Sports Journalism is equatable with other journalism. We are clearly talking about the exploits of a bunch of pituitary cases who run around in matching shorts. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really unimportant.

    That said, I think there’s an important parallel between the development of sports journalism and journalism as a whole. You see, all these for profit media companies don’t own the airwaves.

    We do.

    You. Me. The guy down the street. Everyone.

    The American people own everything from wireless to analog signals to Hi-Def TV (or at least, in theory, we do. The FCC has given away so much of the public’s property in the last twenty years that it’d make your head spin). So, when a for-profit media company (like Disney, NBC, News Corp. or whomever) broadcast their various entertainments, they are given so by us, the people, in exchange for providing a public good.

    We sell the airspace to them in exchange for this societal “good.” In this case, that’s information

    In the past, it was conceded that an informed populace was necessary for a healthy, functioning democracy. But in the past 20 years, the idea that news was a public good has been shifted to “what the public wants.” I.e., that a free-market solution would produce the best results. To clarify again, I’m not supporting communism/state-controlled news. That’s going to produce equally awful results. I am, however, advocating regulated capitalism. So when I hear responses like, “well. If you don’t like it, don’t watch,” I have to disagree. Because I didn’t abdicate our collective ownership of broadcast rights in exchange for an unregulated, race-to-the-bottom, wild west where there’s no difference between a TV show like “Lost” that I can choose to watch or not and the actual news. I.e., I am permitting Media company X to try to sell me their product. In exchange for being a potential consumer, I want actual objective journalism not because I “like” or “don’t like” it, but because it’s a part of being a better human being and a better-functioning, healthy society. It’s a public good. Now if you are ok with giving up this property you own for free, that’s certainly your right. But it’s important to note that you have given it away.

    So no, whether or not ESPN chooses to hawk LeBron et. al 24/7 or not doesn’t affect the above scenario at all. But what it does do is remind me of this larger problem.

    Thanks for tolerating that. End of rant

    And I really want Mozgov to start

  37. great post Silverman

    and since I live in Italy, I can tell that you are spot on.
    the race to the bottom will drown our collective mind in stupidity and egoism

    life isn’t just about “what you want”
    we are all connected.

  38. Robert,

    You make some good points, but what’s the flip side? When the government (theoretically acting on behalf of the majority of the people) starts telling independent media companies what they can and cannot broadcast where do you draw the line?

    Robert Silverman: I.e., that a free-market solution would produce the best results.

    To a large extent I believe that’s what the founders of the country intended and not what has developed in the past 20 years. You know… the whole freedom of the press thing. Do you really want to curb the freedom of the press because you are pissed at a few news agencies? Wouldn’t it be better for “we the people” to support the good news agencies and use our power (of demand) in the free market to reform or drive out of business the worst news agencies? Again, what is a workable solution to “regulate capitalism?”

    Robert Silverman: In the past, it was conceded that an informed populace was necessary for a healthy, functioning democracy. But in the past 20 years, the idea that news was a public good has been shifted to “what the public wants.”

    I think you are greatly romanticizing the past. News is more freely available from a wider variety of sources today than at any time in the past, infinitely so. I am not an expert by any means, but do you mean to tell me that people got more and better news 20 years ago than they have since the internet? Now there is a flood of information, but there are so many sources of news that the truth is bound to be out there.

    The government does, in fact, make a huge effort to provide un-biased and responsible journalism through NPR and PBS. Maybe your efforts would be better used supporting these institutions than railing against the capitalistic system which is deeply entrenched in this society.

    Robert Silverman: I am, however, advocating regulated capitalism.

    How would you regulate the air waves? Who would make the decision on what is acceptable and in the “common/public good?” Where would you draw the line? This is a really, really, really slippery slope and in the end it is inevitable that interest groups (from political parties to individuals and everything in between) would try to promote their own agendas. If the Republicans were in power CNBC might find it’s content illegal or the Daily Show, whereas if the Democrats were in power Fox News might be relegated to its proper place in the dumpster… Topics and content that the religious right finds offensive would be banned even more than they already are. The FCC already does set guidelines as far as what is unacceptable–and already goes too far in my opinion–I don’t really want them telling news agencies how to do their jobs.

    Robert Silverman: I am permitting Media company X to try to sell me their product. In exchange for being a potential consumer, I want actual objective journalism not because I “like” or “don’t like” it, but because it’s a part of being a better human being and a better-functioning, healthy society.

    Again, when in the past are you talking about? When was there objective journalism? Everyone’s got their angle, and when the country was founded it was actually a lot more pronounced in the media. This does amount to nothing more than a rant, because your notions of reality are distorted. You are imagining a Utopian society without considering the real life ramifications of muzzling the media and allowing the government to dictate what is news worthy and what product the people want to see. You want to trample the constitution in an age where good news sources are one click away. Information is more freely available today than it has been at any point in human history.
    You have identified a problem (and are hardly the first to have seen it), but “advocating regulated capitalism” is hardly a comprehensive, realistic solution.

    Also, I wish you’d get off your high horse about “permitting” them to sell their product. There are more outlets for news now than ever before. If you tell Media company X (and most of the media companies are huge conglomerates with extensive power) that they can’t broadcast… they’re going online, to print, etc. But, again, how are you going to decide what information and what company makes the cut? Who are you going to entrust with that kind of power? Clearly if you entrust the voting public, they will vote for those outlets that they are already voting for with their dollars. Who are you going to trust that goes against the general public’s wishes to “clean up” the media and only allow information that you, Robert Silverman, finds acceptable and valuable? Isn’t it equally or more likely that this person or body cleans up exactly the content which you, Robert Silverman, finds to be valuable?

  39. Overall, Robert, if you feel like you have a media product that the American public (or even a small slice of it) will prefer to what is currently being offered (which is essentially what regulation through a democratic process and institutions would accomplish), then the current system allows for you to get out there and offer it to the people. This is more true today with the internet than it has been at any point in the past. You don’t need nearly as much scale to offer your product as with other forms of media such as printed word or TV. However, if you envision a revolutionary way of conveying news that the public will love (which is what your regulation would accomplish), then you might turn the industry on its head.

    This is what Mike K. has done with this blog. He filled a niche of the market that no other media outlet was filling nearly as well. He’s been so successful that this site has actually been part of changing the entire system, as represented through this being an ESPN blog (whatever that means exactly).

  40. You too make some good points. You’re right, muzzling content is a dangerous road. Here’s one solution — If you broadcast the news, you’re a not-for-profit company. Take the profit motive out of news. In this instance, the government wouldn’t be in any way regulating content. What it would do is recognize that “The news” isn’t a commodity like widgets or barca-loungers.

  41. Ted,

    I don’t think it’s getting on a high horse to suggest that when something that belongs to the public (whether it’s the airwaves or nat’l parks or the oceans or whatever) is just given away to a corporation to be exploited (and in some cases, destroyed) for their profit that the public is getting screwed on the deal. That’s what’s happened.

    And as far as imagining a Utopian society goes, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that the only choices are complete laissez-faire capitalism or Pravda. There’s a middle-ground here. Just look at two simple laws that have been changed in the past twenty-odd years.

    1. The fairness doctrine: In the past (pre-Reagan), if you wanted to broadcast opinions (either on radio or TV) you had to give equal airtime to the other side. i.e, if you had 3 hours of Limbaugh (, you’d have to give 3 hours to Maddow (or whomever). That’s gone. The reason — the same one you give, “Well, if you have a better product, go sell it.” That’s the point I’m trying to make. That’s a free-market solution and I’d argue that the proliferation of sources certainly hasn’t led to a better-informed country, actually, it’s gotten worse.

    2. Consolidation of media sources — yes, there is a great deal of info available online, but the vast majority of that information spills from about 4-5 media companies that determine what news gets out. Again, 20-dd years ago you couldn’t own 85% of the TV/Radio stations/newspapers in one market. Now you can. And believe me, those same 5 companies are going to figure out the same way to regulate the ‘net.

    Simple regulations. That’s all I’m talking about.

  42. But again, we’ve gone seriously outside of what this blog should be about.

    So…Felton. Geez. He doesn’t look any better than Duhon. I’m worried

  43. Robert Silverman: If you broadcast the news, you’re a not-for-profit company.

    That’s an interesting idea. Definitely could work.

    Robert Silverman: 1. The fairness doctrine:

    Robert Silverman: 2. Consolidation of media sources

    I think both are valid points. I still don’t think either would create amazing media coverage, but they might help. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I think there gets to be a little bit of a false nostalgia and selective memory about the past.

    Two things I would point out are:
    1. Today, especially in this political climate, people are going to find ways to get their biased news (you might argue the media is responsible for this climate… I have no idea, but it’s where we’re at). If you moved to control media content across the board, the media industry might be able to counter move by tearing down net neutrality. So, this might be exactly what those 5 companies need to regulate the net.
    2. Media sources have consolidated, but at the same time if you’re unhappy with their coverage/programming/information/entertainment you have more options at your disposal than ever before. If they are doing a lousy job it opens up huge holes in the market for innovation. As we move forward and the population becomes more internet savvy, this will only be more true. By regulating the internet with a “Fairness Doctrine” and opening the flood gates to ending net neutrality, we might kill the chance for innovative media companies to challenge the big boys.

    Robert Silverman: So…Felton. Geez. He doesn’t look any better than Duhon. I’m worried  

    I’m not rushing to judgement after a couple of pre-season games, but I am judging him after 5 full seasons as one of the worst offensive PGs in the NBA… I’m not sure how anyone could look at his stats and expect a huge improvement over an average Duhon season. Maybe he can at least be respectable and I hope Toney Douglas pushes him for minutes.

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