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Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA Thursday, November 12, 2009

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Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Thursday, November 12, 2009

TNT’s NBA Thursday coverage continues Thursday, November 19 at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Hornets followed by the Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers.


(click on link below to watch)

In a post-game interview with TNT's Craig Sager, LeBron James discusses changing his uniform number from 23 to 6 next year out of respect for Michael Jordan.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Barkley on the firing of New Orleans Hornets’ coach Byron Scott: "(The Hornets) screwed Byron Scott, the same thing as in New Jersey a few years ago when he got them to the NBA Finals twice with a mediocre team. New Orleans is not a good team. They have basically quit since the Tyson Chandler fiasco when he was traded and then came right back. They have never been the same. It’s not Byron Scott’s fault. Trading Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor, that’s pretty much a wash. New Orleans is not a good team and (Jeff) Bower is covering his behind by taking over."

Smith on the Hornets overachieving in previous seasons: "The one thing that team was is an overachiever. Then when you are not an overachiever anymore and you have expectations of Grade A, but it’s not a Grade A team…they’re overachievers and we said that when they were in the playoffs two years ago. We said this team is overachieving."

Barkley on being grateful that Cavaliers forward LeBron James has stopped talking about his impending free agency: "LeBron (James) should never be talking about being a free agent. It’s disrespectful to the city of Cleveland, the mistake on the lake…man, what happened to the Browns? Brian Sipe is rolling over in his grave. I love LeBron, he’s a stud, but I’m finally glad he finally said that (he won’t talk about his free agency). He and Dwyane (Wade) are not going to play together, but I’m glad he finally said that. I was sick of hearing it."

Smith on why Cavaliers forward LeBron James should have put a stop to free agency questions before he played in Madison Square Garden: "LeBron (James) said (he will stop talking about free agency) after he visited Madison Square Garden; if he had said it before - he doesn’t go back to Madison Square Garden again – it might have had a little more validity. When he goes to Denver or he goes to San Antonio no one is going to care to ask him about it."

Barkley on former baseball slugger Sammy Sosa’s ‘skin rejuvenation’ that caused his skin to appear white: "Sammy Sosa: I know you want to get in the Hall of Fame, but going white ain’t the way to go."

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Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers (111) @ Miami Heat (104)

Announcers: Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Reggie Miller with Craig Sager reporting

Miller on Heat guard Dwyane Wade driving to the basket against Cleveland’s big men: "That’s about the third time Dwyane Wade had gone straight at Shaquille O’Neal. He does not care who is going to be the teeth of that defense, he’s going to attack if it’s (Anderson) Varejao, (Zydrunas) Ilgauskas and especially if it’s Shaquille O’Neal."

Fratello on Heat guard Dwyane Wade dunking on Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao: "Yesterday they had the announcement here that Dwyane Wade signed on with the Jordan Brand of Nike. He was with Nike, but he now he is with Jordan Brand which is a branch of Nike. Perhaps a little inspiration with Michael (Jordan) sitting in the stands and watching the game with Pat Riley."

Miller: "How many times did you see Michael Jordan give facials to Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Rik Smits, Reggie Miller? And tonight wearing the Air Apparent’s shoes…wow."

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers coach Mike Brown after the first quarter.

Brown on the high-flying offense between te two teams in the first quarter: "That’s pretty and it makes for great TV, but someone’s got to defend here. The first team that does that is going to have a chance to win. 35 or 33 points (in a quarter), that’s too many points."

Brown on the importance of having a low-post game: "We’re evolving tonight. It’s good to have the big fella (in Shaq) down there, to be able to go him early and establish a low-post game, but as the game goes along we’ve got to do the job on the other end and start getting stops. Trading baskets is not a good thing on the road."

Miller on every team needing to retire Bulls great Michael Jordan’s #23 jersey: "(Michael Jordan) drew in so much revenue when the Bulls and Scottie (Pippen) and Dennis Rodman came to town. We were averaging five, six thousand people but when the Bulls came to town, they were the Beatles, they were the Rolling Stones. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson really put the league on the map, that rivalry between the Lakers and the Celtics. But Michael Jordan and his greatness took it to another level. He is an icon like Babe Ruth. I love Magic; Magic is one of my mentors. But Michael Jordan is an icon, a symbol. That’s why I think every team should think about possibly retiring his number."

Miller on Heat guard Dwyane Wade having no issue with talking about his impending free agency: "Dwyane Wade is open to all the people asking him where he may end up. LeBron James, it’s just getting on his nerves because he is the most coveted of all the guys. Dwyane Wade is open to the idea of having another star here in South Beach or potentially going to Chicago or New York."

Miller on Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson’s soft foul on Heat guard Dwyane Wade that led to an ‘and one’ for Wade: "If you’re J.J. Hickson, wrap him up, don’t give him a hug while he’s going to the basket."

Fratello: "If you could see LeBron at the other end of the floor as that foul takes place…he looks at Hickson, grabs his head. (Now James) is talking to him right now, saying, ‘don’t foul him that way with a soft tap. Wrap him up and don’t let him get the layup.’"

Miller: "It’s a little layup that like that can get a shooter and a scorer going. Sometimes you need that lay-up and the ‘and one’ to get going."

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers forward LeBron James at half time.

James on Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s dunk on Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao: "It was an amazing play by D-Wade of course, we all know that. All the fans watching the game know it was an amazing play. They probably replayed it three or four times and in slow motion and everything. But to be here on the road and have a five point lead in this house, in this building, is good."

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Johnson, Barkley and Smith

Barkley on great players being extremely competitive against other great players: "When you are a great player and you play against another great player, it becomes an ego game. You want to do something, especially at home. Everyone wants to see LeBron play well, but if you’re Dwyane Wade you’re like, ‘I’m not going to let you outplay me.’ Anytime I played against a Kevin McHale, a Larry Bird, (Michael) Jordan, (Karl) Malone, Gary Payton and those guys, I wanted to let them know I was the best player on the court that night. Even though in my opinion Michael Jordan is the only player I ever played against who was better than me, I wanted to let people know this is my house. It’s personal."

Smith on the Heat and Cavaliers needing to double team each other’s best player; Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, respectively: "In a pick and roll situation why would you not double them to get the ball out of the best two players hands? Neither team has doubled either player which allows great players to be great. I’m going to make marginal players have to be great. I’m not going to let a great player show me he’s great. You’re going to have to get the ball out of his hands every single time."

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Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade on playing against Cavaliers forward LeBron James: "We play a lot of games throughout the NBA season, but every game against LeBron is special because I know what he’s going to bring during the game, the competitive nature he’s going to bring and excitement throughout the game. It just makes it one of those fun games you want to play in so I look forward to it every year and I look forward to a good outcome."

Miller on adjusting your focus to play a game against another great player: "I remember when No. 23 (Michael Jordan) would come in the building, you turn off your phone, (ignore) your friends who come by and ask you for tickets. Dwyane (Wade) is right, there are a lot of games in the NBA, but there are only certain games that take on a playoff feel. When Chicago and Michael Jordan came, if you weren’t mentally prepared he was going to embarrass you and you do not want to get embarrassed."

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Game 2: Phoenix Suns (102) @ L.A. Lakers (121)

Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins with Cheryl Miller reporting

Collins on the Phoenix Suns players having a deep bond: "This is a team that feels very good about themselves, there’re very much connected, they’ve bonded and they enjoy playing with each other. You can see that there is a real trust with this team. There are going to be some bumps in road during the season, it’s not always going to be smooth and that’s when the camaraderie has to hold you together, during those periods of time."

Collins on the leadership of Lakers guard Derek Fisher: "I remember when (Derek Fisher) was coming out of Arkansas-Little Rock, I was coaching Detroit at the time and I wanted to draft him. We worked him out and loved him. Jerry West took him the pick before me here in Los Angeles. Needless to say he has become a real champion here. He is one of the great leaders in the NBA. When you think about all the changes the Lakers have made, they got Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum developed. But to bring Fisher back here and be with Kobe and Phil Jackson and know what it is to win championships …that was such an important deal. You’d better thank the Utah Jazz for them loving and respecting Fisher’s family to be here."

TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Lakers center Andrew Bynum at halftime.

Bynum on how the Lakers slowed down the Suns: "We’ve made them sit down and play defense. We’ve got to keep them playing against us on the defensive end as long as we can. Take their legs away and make it harder for them to run and then we are in full rotation. Everyone is watching and helping each other out and we’re good."

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Johnson, Barkley and Smith

Barkley on the Suns’ offense not changing from their previous approach; "Phoenix is going to try to outscore people, they don’t make any secret about it. They went back to their old style. Their new style will end like the old style ended. The Lakers are just going to beat them up inside. What’s scary is that the Lakers are playing this well without Pau Gasol. It’s going to end exactly the same way, they are going to have a great regular season and get beat in the playoffs."

Smith: "You’re giving the Phoenix Suns no credit. With the personnel they have right now, they are 8-1 and they don’t have the strongest team and they don’t have enough shooters."

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Collins on the impressive start of the season for the Phoenix Suns: "It’s been a long traveling early season for the Suns. If they lose this game tonight, to start 8-2 with all the changes and go out and do all the things they have, what a great, great start for Alvin Gentry."

Collins on the Lakers keeping an even tempo against the Suns: "What the Lakers have done tonight is they have not taken quick jump shots. Anytime the game has gotten fast we’ve heard that familiar whistle of Phil Jackson like slow the ball down, make the extra pass, make the Suns defend, get the shot you want to get."

Collins on the Lakers racking up points in the paint: "What (the Lakers) have done is they’ve punished the Suns inside. They now have almost as many points in the paint as the Suns have total. That’s the power and size of the L.A. Lakers. With no Pau Gasol, that’s scary."

TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed injured Lakers forward Pau Gasol.

Gasol on the slow recovery of his injured hamstring: "It’s been responding ok, it’s been over a month for me. It’s been a long process and I have to be more patient. I’m in a good place, taking the right steps and I’m getting a feel for it. I’m trying to be extra cautious are extra tricky so I want to make sure I heal it right the first time and don’t let it become a long term issue."

TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant after the game.

Bryant on the Lakers playing good defense against the Suns: "We did a great job trying to corral a team that’s been shooting out of this world. I’ve very pleased with this effort."

Bryant on the Lakers next opponent the Denver Nuggets: "It’s going to be a physical game. We have history together going back in the playoffs. I’m sure they’ll be ready and so will we."

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, Barkley and Smith

Barkley on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s diagnosis: "Kareem made me feel a lot better. He was so calm and patient talking about it. I want to wish him the best and everyone that is battling cancer. You know Ernie, we battled it with you and it never hit home until it hit you. Everybody battling cancer, I want to give them my best."

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the game.

James on wanting to change his number from #23 next year in deference to NBA legend Michael Jordan: "I grew up idolizing Michael Jordan and to see him coming here to support D-Wade and to support me, it is humbling. It is humbling that the greatest basketball player would take time out of his day to come watch us play. I’ve been thinking about it lately and what I’m going to do is change my number next year. I think no guy in the NBA should ever wear #23. He can’t get the NBA logo, much respect to Jerry West. So I think his number shouldn’t be worn by any player in the NBA, so I’m thinking about changing my number next year to show the tribute of what he did for this game. The pioneer for everybody, he laid down the stepping stones for everybody to come through the ranks. I think I’m going to change my number because that is how much respect I’ve got for a guy like him."

Sager: "What number will you wear?

James: "Probably six, my Olympic number."

Sager: "And what uniform will you be wearing next year?"

James: "We’ll see."

Barkley on other players having a greater impact on the game of basketball than Michael Jordan: "First of all, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, to me, saved the NBA and made it. Michael took it to another level. It is like in golf, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer - clearly Tiger Woods has taken it through the roof, same as Michael Jordan. But (Johnson and Bird) had a greater impact on the game than Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, I always tell those guys thank you."

Smith on retiring Michael Jordan’s number: "Wayne Gretzky’s number is retired throughout the league (NHL). I believe that Michael Jordan’s number should be retired. In the Magic and Bird era, he was still the best player throughout the era. I really believe that he is the guy that everyone put the mantle up to. In our lifetime, this visible lifetime, we look at him as the best player ever. It should be looked at in the same way as Wayne Gretzky. It should be retired in every NBA arena the same way it is for Wayne Gretzky in hockey."

Barkley on how he knew when it was time to retire: "When guys you couldn’t play were kicking my ass. When I started hurting my back pump faking and those guys were blocking my shots. It was very simple for me. It was important for me to leave the game with dignity."

Barkley on Allen Iverson retiring: "What I wish Allen Iverson would do is say, ‘you know what? I’m one of the greatest players ever, I’m a future Hall of Famer. I’m just going to go to Memphis and work with these young guys. Play whatever they ask me to play and leave the game with my pride and dignity in tact.’ It makes it look like you are spoiled. I like Allen Iverson, but he can say, ‘I’m just going to chill and the game has been great to me.’"