Posted Jun 4 2003 8:05PM
Bad flights, long journeys and even longer waits all came out at media availability
San Antonio, June 3, 2003 -- The Nets and Spurs came out to shoot some shots and shoot their mouths for Tuesday's media availability before Wednesday night's Game 1. Here is the lighter side of what transpired.
We're Just Glad To Be Here ... Literally:
The Nets didn't exactly cruise into San Antonio Monday for NBA Finals 2003. Their flight had to abort its first landing, and then circle around for another try. To say it was a bumpy ride is an understatement.
Jason Collins called it "the worst flight of his life."
When asked who took it the worst, guard Brandon Armstrong said, "The rook was scared. He was sweating. You should talk to him about it."
So we asked the rook in question, Tamar Slay. "Yeah, at my age, it was the worst flight I've been on."
And were you scared?
"Heck yeah, I was scared," said Slay. "The (darn) plane was going like this for a while. (Moves hands around.) I had to count my blesssings."
What A Long, Strange, Good Trip It's Been:
Before arriving in San Antonio last season, Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson's peripatetic basketball journey took him all over the globe -- Australia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, the CBA. And even a stint with New Jersey for the 2000-01 season.
Of all the places he had been, Jackson says New Jersey probably taught him the most.
"Being cut by the Nets really helped me. Maybe all the things they said about me being uncoachable and not focusing on basketball were right. I learned my lessons in New Jersey. I learned that I needed to focus on basketball first."
Not only did Jackson learn some lessons in New Jersey, but he also made some good friends, especially with Nets rookie at-the-time Kenyon Martin.
"I talk to him at least twice a week. He called me after we beat Dallas to say 'We're waiting on you.'"
Tale of Two Vets:
Spurs power forward Kevin Willis and Steve Kerr both came into the NBA in the 1980s (1984 for Willis, 1988 for Kerr). But only Kerr (a.k.a., "The Lord of the Rings") found championship success, winning four straight rings from 1996-1999; three with the Chicago Bulls, one with the Spurs.
Despite playing with seven teams over 18 seasons, this is Kevin Willis' first Finals appearance. Even with the wait, Willis is as ready as ever -- in both body and spirit.
Asked how he has stayed in such good shape despite being 40, Willis says, "I like to run. When we run drills, I try to beat the little guys -- Speedy Claxton, Tony Parker -- and some days I actually do. I've always focused on being ready and being in shape."
Willis said he grew frustrated at never having a championship chance, but never gave up hope, especially after the last game of the Maverick series.
"It was like, I can exhale now. We finally got here, all the hard work during the regular season, back in preseason, in practice for this one goal to get to the Finals. We know we are talking about four games; win four games that is the next goal."
Sights and Sounds:
Spurs forward Danny Ferry talking to his dad, Bob Ferry during the media availability. Danny doesn't have a ring, but Bob won one as GM of the 1977-78 Washington Bullets ... Nets forward Rodney Rogers on how he spent his time between the series: "Going to the NASCAR race at Dover." ... Stephen Jackson wearing rubber bands on his wrist in honor of his dead grandparents ... Nets forward Brian Scalabrine on how successful he is at playing as Tim Duncan in practice: "Not good. They just gave me the job because we have the same number: 21." ... Nets center Jason Collins repeats the worst question he's been asked so far: "Why don't you have any tattoos?" ... Brian Scalabrine doing pirouette 360 lay-ups, and then making fun of himself ... Malik Rose on being nervous for the Finals: "The last time I was this nervous, I was going to take my driver's test."