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V2M
02-17-2007, 02:28 PM
The 10 best superstar soundbites from Vegas
Stein
By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
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LAS VEGAS -- Dwight Howard disclosed that he could actually throw down on a basket 12 feet, 3 inches high -- not a mere 12 feet -- if this were a league that allowed raised rims in the dunk contest.

Shaquille O'Neal enjoyed Jim Durham's suggestion, in a nod to O'Neal's advancing age, that he might want to start calling himself The Big Methuselah ... but not without this disclaimer from Shaq: "Can you spell it for me?"

A fiery Kevin Garnett, meanwhile, repeatedly tried to stare holes right through a certain ESPN.com correspondent as he described how it feels to watch pundits on TV debating his future on their "little funny talk shows."

Those were just a few of the standout talking points in a third-floor hotel suite at The Palms on Friday afternoon. A kind invite from ESPN Radio to sit in on their annual sitdowns with various All-Stars enabled me to see the big names stop by, one by one, for some candid (and comparatively private) conversation while the NBA's version of Super Bowl media day played out in a crowded, chaotic ballroom two floors below.

The interviews will air in full Saturday night on ESPN Radio's Meet the All-Stars program at 6 p.m. ET, with audio clips bound thereafter for ESPN.com and ESPNRadio.com.

The following 10 snippets are a preview of what you'll be hearing from the players' roundtable discussions with Durham, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Will Perdue and host Mark Kestecher:

1. Garnett on why he hasn't heeded external suggestions to ask Minnesota to trade him:

"It sounds like people want better for me. And my perspective is, why do I have to be the component that's moved? Why can't organizations change? ... Why can't things change in the front office to bring in different people to better it?

"I've seen players move on and go to other situations and it just be a stalemate. ... If I did decide to make a decision on moving or whatever, I'm going to make sure that it's going to be for the better. I'm not into inheriting someone's problems or going through the same problems [elsewhere] that I'm used to [in Minnesota]. Plus, man, I have hope. I'm not one of these people who just up and bail when things are tough.

"I'll take your hits. I'll take your comments. I'll take what you put out there because obviously you have a job to do. ... But I won't compromise my values. When I feel like it's time to make a decision on moving, then I will. But it will be on my terms and when I feel I'm ready."

2. Dwyane Wade on his growing feud with Dirk Nowitzki:

"The whole situation that happened with the Dallas situation, if anybody knows me, they know I'm not the guy who goes and says things in the paper back and forth.

"But Dirk was taking shots at my team all summer. And my team, we really earned our championship. We won four games in a row. You don't do that by luck. I just felt it was time to stick up for my team and let 'em know that we are champions for a reason. I just said something.

"I'm not going no further with it. I respect Dirk, I love him as a player, but I was just standing up for my team."

3. Nowitzki on Wade:

"I guess Dwyane didn't like what I said [about] how we feel that we lost the NBA Finals and that I said we feel like we gave it away a little bit, being up 2-0 and up 10 [points] with a couple minutes left in Game 3. I guess he reacted a little sensitive to that and came back at me.

"I said something he didn't like, he said something I didn't like, but to me that's over now. We're focusing on basketball again. It's going to be obviously a great game on Thursday [in Dallas] when we see them at home.

"But I don't really look at it as a rivalry yet. We [only] played them once in the Finals."

4. Steve Nash on the role soccer had in shaping his game:

"I think it's impacted me in a lot of ways. I think obviously [it helps] your coordination, balance, timing, footwork, endurance.

"But I think also the way I played soccer, I learned a lot about angles and seeing the field that's translated to basketball. ... In soccer, you have to find creative ways to get the ball to your teammates around players or over players or into spaces. When I was able to start playing basketball and use my hands, I felt like, 'This is cheating.' "

5. Shaq on the defending champs entering the All-Star break with the No. 8 seed in the East:

"It's [still] going to be us and Detroit again in the Eastern Conference finals. We just have to get to that level where we can beat them and move on. We're not there yet, but we will be."

6. Jason Kidd on whether he expects to still be a Net after next Thursday's trading deadline:

"In this league, I learned really fast and young that you always have to have a bag packed."

7. Rip Hamilton on his inability, for two years running, to convince NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson to pick him for the Three Point Shootout:

"Last year I told him: 'Look, next year, just keep my name out there. I want to be a part of it. I want to have fun just like everybody else and be in the 3-point contest. I think I can win. So just think about me next year.' [But Jackson] forgot about me again. So every time I see him now, I'm in his ear."

8. Carmelo Anthony on his new partnership with Allen Iverson:

"[With] my confidence, I really think that it can come together [soon]. ... As far as me and AI, it's going to take more than four games for us to gel out there and for us to be where we really want to be. Hopefully we can do it in about 15 games or the next 30 games, but I really [think we'll] be intact next season. That's when we're really going to see it."

9. LeBron James on recent suggestions from Gilbert Arenas that James would rather not take the Cavs' big shots in crunch time:

"I have absolutely not seen him [here in Vegas] and I think he's ducking me. But I'm looking for him."

10. Arenas on another firestorm he caused recently, vowing to score 50 points against Portland and falling 41 short:

"Everybody's talking about the nine, but I still actually have one more game against them. That's not out the window."

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

WurzburgBorn
02-17-2007, 02:39 PM
"But Dirk was taking shots at my team all summer."
I still don't get it. Maybe Dirk did this privately to some NBA players or something because he did no such thing publicly.

dude1394
02-17-2007, 03:22 PM
Diva's full of crapola. What he's "thinking" he heard dirk say was players, broadcasters, bloggers and anyone who isn't a Miami Heat fan saying he got preferential treatment from the refs.

He's had to deflect that somewhere. He's already tried to say that "they shouldn't foul me" and that didn't get him anywhere, so he's found something else to take the discussion away from his preferential treatment and focus it somewhere else.

What's unfortunate to me is how willing broadcasters have:
1. Conveniently forgotten what dirk actually said and how much credit he gave the heat in general and diva in particular.
2. Jumped on diva's side on this one even though it was uncalled for. I see this as a bunch of bigots getting on the side of someone talking smack.

dirno2000
02-17-2007, 03:36 PM
dude what happened to "that dog won't hunt"? For someone who hates when the race card is played you're being awful free with it here.

dude1394
02-17-2007, 03:47 PM
dude what happened to "that dog won't hunt"? For someone who hates when the race card is played you're being awful free with it here.

It's a good point and I should leave it alone. I don't quite care if they are bigoted or not, but it does seem to be a part of this equation.

I certainly wouldn't punish anyone for those comments as I don't care, but I do think cultural issues are a part of this.