Ugh. Press conferences. You hate them, almost as much as the Spurs do. So many dumb questions. So many boring, cliche answers. But Monday was media day and we haven't really seen or heard these guys since last June, so just about anything they say is going to seem like a breath of fresh air.
The following, presented without comment, are quotes I thought were particularly interesting and insightful. From Manu Ginobili, that's to be expected. From Pop? No that's a surprise. This might have been the most informative and expansive interview I've ever seen from Pop. A lot of actual telling answers here.
We even got a couple of decent lines from Timmy, but alas, nothing from Tony Parker, which should be a dead giveaway just how exhausted he is after leading France to a Eurobasket triumph. You know when Parker is less interesting in interviews than Duncan that he needs to hook up to a few IVs, immediately.
Thanks to Spurs.com for the video...
On how he thinks they'll recover emotionally from the Finals loss:
"We started right after (the Finals). We had a few dinners after we lost, we talked about it, then each of us had time to do our thing, and new each of us has to get over it and use it as fuel."
On how much he thinks about the loss:
"I don't think about it every day, I try to avoid it. It was hard the first two, three weeks... We all have scars about our careers. (The Finals) is pretty deep, but we're gonna have a good chance this year to keep getting better, keep doing things well and to have a great season."
On how they'll adjust to the departure of assistant coaches Brett Brown and Mike Budenholzer:
"We'll see, we really don't know yet. For sure we're going to miss them. If any of us had a doubt during the game, we would go (to) Bud or Brett, probably before Pop, because Pop you know is doing so many other things and controlling other stuff, that if you have just a question, you can go (to) them and you knew that they were going to think the same as Pop. Brett Brown was a guy who worked me out and warmed up with me every day for 11 years, and we became friends and didn't talk about basketball that much.
On how odd it'll be seeing the assistant coaches leading different teams:
That's not a good thing. When you go to the bench and you see your teammates, when you play Orlando and you see your teammate, and it's happening more and more. You go play Oklahoma City and the kid who was helping you out is their GM, and you start to think about how many years have passed, but it makes you feel proud.
On whether he ever thought he wouldn't re-sign with the Spurs:
Before I had the first talk with R.C. (Buford), I had a few doubts because I didn't know (with) what happened with my injuries in early 2013, with what happened in the playoffs, I didn't know what they wanted to do, if they wanted to change things or not, but I remember sitting with R.C. and I asked him, ‘Well, what do you think? What do you see for me in the future?' and he looked at me and said, ‘Well, you're part of this, we want you here, we know how important you are,' and I said, ‘Okay.' That's it, that's all I wanted to hear.
On how much he thinks about the Finals:
I try not to think about it every day. Obviously the whole ending of the series was painful, but I try not to dwell on it daily.
On whether he thinks the team is over it, emotionally:
We'll get there. I don't think it's time to heal all wounds yet. We're gonna let it fester for a little while, we're gonna continue to think about it, because it's going to continue to hurt, whether we let it go or not, but once the regular season starts and the ball goes up, we have to focus on a whole another season.
On his new assistant coaches on staff:
They're getting along fine but I don't know any of them. I feel like we have to coach the coaches and let Timmy and Manu and Tony take care of the team and I'll just show up to the games because I'm too busy coaching the coaches.
On how much he'll address the end of the Finals in camp:
When we start each new season we talk about the season that just ended first, and we've done that for however many seasons. It's no different than any other year. However we ended up the year before, we close that, we talk about it, and then we move on.
Analyzing the Finals:
We had our opportunities, especially in Game 6, to win, and we didn't take advantage of it. And that's unfortunate. I thought we came back, really well, in Game 7, after such a devastating loss, but four players for Miami took the championship in Game 7 and they deserved it. We could've won the championship in Game 6, there's no doubt about that. And I don't think either team really played that well in Game 6. When you go back and look at the film, it becomes pretty apparent that both teams were pretty tentative in a lot of ways. Timmy had a great game, but there wasn't really anybody else for us or for Miami that played that well that night, so that was a big opportunity missed. When Game 7 came they had four guys that stepped up and played really good basketball and they took the championship.
On Game 6...
Suffice to say, I've thought about it every day. I'm wondering if it'll go away. I'm anxious to have it happen but it hasn't happened yet.
On Kawhi Leonard's development:
I think Kawhi is the new Parker/Ginobil/Duncan kinda guy. He's going to take over as the star of the show as time goes on. Timmy and Manu have obviously figured out a way to play very well, to be at the top of their games at their age, and Tony Parker is still young enough to be the star that he is, but he'll get older too, and that's where Kawhi comes in. He's been phenomenal. He's improved more quickly than any player we've ever had, because his mindset is such that he wants to be great, and he has all the reasons to be, so you have to put him in positions where he can be a great player.
On whether he had an idea Leonard would turn into this:
When we made that trade we were all scared to death, to be honest with you, because ‘Georgie' is one of my guys individually, a hell of a player, he did a great job for the Pacers, but it might be one of the best trades I've ever seen because both players have become so important for their respective teams. Indiana was helped tremendously getting George and we were helped tremendously in getting Kawhi. That doesn't happen that often.
On having training camp at the Air Force Academy:
It'll going to be a lot fun. There's a lot of people there I know, but just to do something different, just to take them to altitude, and to get them in the mountains and get them away from everything, it'll help the coaches, and look at our players who've been here for a while, it'll be good for them to meet the coaches, learn about them, and we've got some new players in camp, so it'll be a good camaraderie thing, and when you go away for camp, it's different for everyone, so you come together.
On Marco Belinelli:
I think he's a very underrated player. I consider him to be in the same mindset as Manu, which means I'm going to have to be patient, as I have been with Manu. Manu taught me to shut up and watch him play a little bit more, which was a good thing, and Marco is going to be the same way. They have the same passion for the game. They have no fear, which most of the time is good but sometimes it can bite you, but I'd rather have that than someone who is timid. His passion for the game and for wanting to be in there for the big moments is special and he's also very versatile. (Tom Thibodeau) in Chicago, because (Derrick) Rose was hurt, had to play him at the point a lot. He's a heck of a pick-and-roll player, and you don't usually see that in a ‘two' or ‘three' man. He's very versatile offensively and he's also active on defense, which he learned in Chicago because they're so good at it, so I'm not going to have to start from scratch with defense with him, so he's going to enter into our plans significantly and quickly.
On whether he'll take it easy in camp on Parker:
No, what's he make, like $200 million a year?
On bringing in Sam Young and Cory Maggette:
They're both big strong people for that position, for that "three" position and we want to see if that fits for us, to have another person there behind Kawhi, because Marco and Manu can go there, but they're a little bit slight for some of the teams we're going to be playing against, and I don't really want to put them in that position very often, so if we have another body that we think will work well with the team, we might do that. Boris can do it a little bit, he guarded LeBron (James) a little bit in the Finals, so we'll have that option, but that's the primary reason we brought those guys in.