In my years of covering sports, I have had the privilege to cover many NBA events, a few regular season games, several All-Star Games, and even the classic seven-game series of the Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics in 2010, which will remain the most memorable moment of my career in sports (although the FIBA Asia Championship in 2013 comes close.)
However, I have always been on the sidelines, after interviewing the players and the coaches, I write reports and notes, and not really in the thick of the action. During the Finals I could actually stand up, raise my hands and touch the roof of the TD Bank Garden and Staples Center (not that I’m complaining or anything.)
When the NBA decided to bring the Global Games to Manila for the first time, I knew the country was in for a treat, but I didn’t know exactly how much I would be able to do.
During my time as a courtside reporter for the Philippine Basketball Association, I was able to chat with the players and coaches before games. Sometimes, we would joke around and talk about candid topics. I got to know some of the players and coaches and can actually call some friends of mine. My time covering the PBA will always be close and dear to my heart. I have always had a dream of doing the same thing for the NBA, and for four days in October, that dream was realized in the Global Games.
Monday (Oct. 7)
NBA legend Ron Harper guested on The Solar Sports Desk, which was going to air live at the Mall of Asia Arena up until game day. Having interviewed Harp before, we didn’t need an icebreaker before the show started. Instead, we chatted about which NBA analysts he likes and which ones he doesn’t respect (let’s just say he has high standards for people who talk about the game he loves, and even some former players don’t cut it for the five-time NBA champ.) We talked about some of the spots he couldn’t miss while he was in town, and of course we talked about Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, all before we even went on air.
Here is a collection of quotes from the NBA stars and legends, some of which took place when cameras weren’t rolling.
“Some of those analysts haven’t won anything and they think they can bash other players or think they are all that. There is that one guy on ESPN, he played a little bit and can shoot, but never did anything else.” Sorry Tim Legler, he was talking about you.
Tuesday (Oct. 8)
First practice and media availability for both the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets. This is also the first time I ever saw Larry Bird up close and personal, like two feet from me. Now I’ve met Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, but for some reason, being near Larry Bird, it seemed like he had a special aura about him. You can feel his presence. You know you are around greatness, and this is coming from a die-hard Laker fan.
Scola “I’ve only been with the team for a week, but you can already see, this is a team that is ready to win a championship.”
Granger: “It is a contract year, but you don’t want to be playing, thinking it’s a contract year. I have a philosophy, you play your game, and everything else will take care of itself. I want to win a championship and that’s my goal.”
McHale: “Designating a leader goes against what the definition of a leader is. A leader is someone people follow, designating one, sounds like a dictatorship, I’m not too big on that.”
Me: Was the Twitter and Instagram exchange between Kevin Durant and Dywane Wade real, or a publicity stunt?
Harden: “Oh it’s real. It is what it is, Kevin voiced his opinion, I’ll just let my game do the talking.”
Clyde Drexler: “The Rockets were good last year, but adding Dwight, they could possibly be the best team in the NBA, but they need to figure out the chemistry, they need to gel, and most importantly they need to stay healthy. “
Wednesday (Oct. 9)
Second practice and media availability
Dwight: “I want the defensive player of the year award, and I want to get the MVP. Those are two of my goals. With this team, I can get that chance, not only be a defensive presence, but also dominate on the offensive end.”
Chandler Parsons: “Growing up I loved to watch big forwards that could do everything, Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Scottie Pippen, 6’8 - 6’9 wings, that can post up, score, be a point forward. Those are the guys I emulated.”
Paul George: “This summer, I’ve been working on learning myself more, learning where I like the ball, learning where I feel most comfortable. It’s the mid-post area, and even the post. Getting shots out of there. Nine times out of ten I have an advantage because of my height.”
Roy Hibbert: “The people here in the Philippines are great. We walk the streets and we feel like rock stars. People are so warm and friendly and sometimes I wish it was like that back home.”
Jeremy Lin: “To me, Linsanity is a miracle.”
Robert Horry: “Having experienced both places, I can say that L.A. is a great city and the Lakers are rich in history. Houston is nice too, and they have their own heritage. At the end of the day, Dwight had to go someplace he was happy.”
Me: You have hit so many big shots in your career, which are your top three?
RH: “Number 3 would be the one I hit in the Finals when I was with the Spurs playing against Detroit. Number 2 would be the one I hit as a Laker against the Kings. Number 1 would be the one I hit against the Spurs in 1995 when I was with the Rockets. Everyone is shocked when I say that, but I was 0 for 9, and they threw it to me and had the confidence in me to make it.
Thursday (Oct. 10)
It’s Game Day, and history was about to be made as the first ever NBA game was going to be played on Philippine soil. When I was told Cesca and I were going to do a pre-game show with Jalen Rose, I was ecstatic. I love pre-game shows and doing one with an NBA legend, who does actual pre-game shows for the NBA in the States, gave me a feeling that this was legit. As much as I wanted to talk about “Champagning and Campaigning,” we had to dissect the game and the upcoming NBA season, but I thought it would be fun to give you a quote that didn’t make it on air.
Jalen Rose: Clyde and Rob said that the Rockets will make it to the Finals?! Well that’s because they’re from Houston, might be a little biased there.
Parsons: “Hopefully we can start every game with a 10-0 advantage, but that won’t happen, we need to cut down on our turnovers and rotate better on defense.”
David Stern: “The Philippines have the best basketball fans in the world.”
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