The Spurs were kind enough to invite me to their Media Day on Monday. Three major points of interest from Monday. One, I'm a dork. I'm not the greatest at handling unfamiliar situations and figuring out what's going on, and Monday was no different. Two, I interviewed my man George Hill. No, I wasn't wearing my George Hill jersey, but I think it would have helped my confidence and thrown him off enough that he would let his guard down. Three, I got a shooting lesson, of sorts, from Chip Engelland. For the record, #3 was just about the coolest thing ever.
Media Day - What's That Like?
Well, it goes like this. You show up at the gym and there are guys milling around. There are a couple of areas set up for photographers. There are three areas for players to do special one-on-one interviews. These are for the big 4 and the media that matters. So, ESPN gets to interview Tony Parker while he sits in a chair and they shine lights in his face. I fall into the category of media that doesn't matter. That's not to say I'm not treated with respect, I am (all the Spurs people were very cool and helpful). I just don't command the respect those guys do. If you saw me on the Spurs Media Day Live Feeds you understand why. It's one thing to know you are confused and wandering around lost. It's a WHOLE NOTHER beast to have video proof of it on the internet. It's even worse when I'm getting text messages from Bellasa telling me she's watching me wandering around like a car in a parking lot without the parking brake on.
So, I get there. I get informed of what is going on and it still doesn't click. I get told the process and I don't realize said process is unfolding in front of me. I even get told, "if you want to talk to anybody, let us know and we can pull them aside for you. Well, everybody but the Big 4 and Coach Pop. They'll be in the group interviews." The problem is that my scale was off. I was thinking this would be a 2-3 hour kind of deal. Not a 15 minute deal. Yeah, really, that's what happens. Guys come out of the locker room in their uniforms, go to the two photographer stations, and then they go back to the locker room. That's it. They're done. So, by the time I say "hi" to Ian and look around; Haislip, Williams, Hairston, Ian, Bonner, Dwayne Jones, Curtis Jerrells, and Keith Bogans have already come and gone.
Whoa! Regroup. Regroup. Oh man, this is getting bad. All the guys I wanted to ask random questions like, "What's it like playing basketball in Spain and Turkey?" are gone. It was about this time that I get the text from Bellasa saying I'm on the Spurs live feed wandering around the court in front of the camera. LOVELY.
It's George Hill Time
Ok, time to get a plan and get to doing some things. George is still around. I'm thinking he is the last guy that I could interview one-on-one (I was wrong, but that's how I'm thinking) so I put together my list of questions typing like mad into my iPhone. Here's the list (exactly as it appears):
- Big goal/big step forward
- Fun or job? Does pop ever say have fun
- Lotta new guys
That was all I could come up with. I tell the Spurs media guys I'd like to interview George if possible. They say, "sure". So, I'm running through my questions when I realize that I can't read my questions AND record the interview at the same time. You see, the iPhone is also my recorder. Crap, time to start memorizing questions. Then I hear, "George, next up is Pounding The Rock." I turn around and George is standing there looking down at me. I know we always see him smiling on television and being funny with the media. I don't get this vibe from George. I get something more like, "I wonder if this guy has swine flu". (Notice George's hands in the picture and that's not a smile he has. It's a grimace.) The interview is ordinary. George has been working on his shot. He just wants to be the best player he can be. It's a job just like any other job. You have fun off the court. (I'll write a full post on this later). You can listen to the whole thing here.
Manu does his group interview. RJ does his group interview. Pop does his group interview. (see them all here if you haven't already). The first question for Pop was from me. It was like you would think it would be. He got up there and nobody wanted to ask him the first question. Just uncomfortable silence, so I threw it out there. The question is whether or not he feels more pressure this year because of the changes. Here is Tim Varner's description of it, "Hahahaahahah. You got Popped." He wrote that based of my account of the moment. Not from watching the video. Everything seems not quite as bad when I see the real thing, compared to how it plays in my head.
After Pop is Tim. Except Tim isn't here. It's about 1:15. I got to the gym about 12:40. I mill about for a while trying not to get in front of the video camera. Tim flip-flops his way in about 2:15, does his group interview, and we disperse.
Use Those Quads
I wander over and hover around the edge of the Spurs media guy's huddle as they talk to Chip Engelland who is just giving them a bunch of grief. He walks off and one of the guys turns to me and says "hey", and I say I wanted to ask Chip some questions if I could. He shouts out at Chip, who comes back, and the guy gives him the "we are working with blogs this year" business and says I wanted to talk to him.
I tell Chip my question which goes something like "I wrote this article last year about shooting and I would like to know if I'm completely full of shit?" (You, the reader, may remember the article. If not, go read it.) I tell him that I think you have to use your quads to both create arc on your shot and for timing. He says, "What are quads?" So I kick him in the thigh. He says, "let me give you a little lesson". At which point, we walk to the nearest basket and stand at the free throw line. He tells me his basic thoughts on shooting and I ask him some questions and throw in some of what I said in my post.
The lesson amounts to two things. Shooting is about using your legs and your wrist. He uses the free throw as your base from which you work to develop your shot from all the spots on the floor. The legs are important because they are strong. When you do a squat in the gym, you use all the parts of your body and therefore it isn't really just about the quads. It's about everything. He likes to give guys a few basic points like start from the bottom of your squat to shoot, then use your wrist. He said you have to let guys soak in a few basic things and work from there because you don't know how it is going to be interpreted in their brain. Now, that right there is the biggest chunk of knowledge he dropped on me. I know it intuitively, but it helps to have it laid out for you, everybody takes these bits of knowledge and applies them to what they know. Since everybody knows different things, you can't predict the effect of what you tell them. You have to see the effect and work from there.
I think he enjoyed it, but I know I thought it was awesome. Now if only I can get one of the coaches to walk me through "4 down".
Lessons Were Learned
I learned a few things. Hopefully, I will get better at this.
I think my issue really boils down to one personality trait. I love to talk to people. I can talk forever. If there was a job that entailed sitting around and shooting the shit, I would be some sort of mogul. However, it has to be a conversation. I like the back and forth. For me, doing interviews is about the equivalent of hitting on people in bars. Most people don't want to even acknowledge you are there, much less have any interest in you, but out of politeness they wait for you to finish your one-liners before they send you on your way.
Odds and Ends
I got approved for my media credentials for the season. I'll be getting media passes to games off and on all season and it would be a shame if I can't improve on my performance at media day.
After the Tim Duncan interview, there was snark from within the media group. Apparently, Tim doesn't talk to the media much. If they are even half as dorky as I am, could you blame him?
Jefferson had an interesting line where he said that Pop didn't treat every player equally, but that he treated them all fairly. Subtle, but substantial.
Manu dropped this little nugget that our Argentine contingent needs to keep in mind. He said, "Tony is the natural leading scorer...we all accept that".