Joe G's Practice Notebook
We’re talking ‘bout practice …
Back to Work … Tyler Zeller and Alonzo Gee both practiced on Wednesday afternoon after missing Tuesday night’s game. Zeller suffered a left hip flexor strain in the third quarter of the Wine & Gold Scrimmage. He went through some practice activity, but not everything. Gee, who sat out the win over Milwaukee with a sore right hamstring, went through all activities at practice – but neither went through any contact stuff.
Kenny’s Powers … The Cavs crop of rookies all had some impressive moments in Tuesday’s win, but Kenny Kadji might have been the best of the bunch.
Kadji finished with 15 points and five boards, going 6-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the stripe. The freshman big man from “the U” was solid in Summer League this past July and earned an invite to Camp after going undrafted in 2013. The native of Douala, Cameroon is a 25-year-old rookie who began his college career at Florida.
He said that after his successful night, he received upwards of 50 text messages. The best one came from his mom, who herself used to play some hoops overseas.
“She just said: ‘You’re still not that good.’”
Smoove Operator … Several media members agree: Cavs Training Camp invitee, forward Michael Lee, who played his college ball at St. Bonaventure and the last four seasons overseas, has a slight resemblance to actor J.B. Smoove of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Hall Pass” fame.
Torero Tale … Hank Egan, who was an assistant on Mike Brown’s coaching staff from 2005-06 through the 2009-10 season, was at Cleveland Clinic Courts observing his former squad on Wednesday.
Egan and one of Brown’s current assistants, Bernie Bickerstaff, were instrumental in Brown’s ascension to the NBA head coaching ranks.
Brown was finishing up his fourth year of college – two at a JUCO in Mesa, AZ and his final two at the University of San Diego – where Egan was his coach.
“I asked Hank, ‘Do you know anybody in the NBA where I can get an internship this summer?’” recalled Brown. “I had one semester left, and I wanted to go anywhere just to learn and grow. And Hank said, “Yeah, I know Larry Brown, I know this guy, I know that guy. I know Bernie Bickerstaff.”
Bickerstaff was himself a former USD Torero and Brown remembers that day in his coach’s office being inspired by Bernie on the cover of a USD magazine that was on Egan’s desk.
“I grabbed the magazine – I still have it, in fact, the same one,” said Brown. “I was shocked because U. of San Diego, although it’s D-I, is predominantly white. For (Bickerstaff) to have gone to school there back when he was in college, I didn’t think that could happen.”
Coach Egan made the call and Bickerstaff agreed to bring Brown on as an unpaid intern with the Nuggets in the summer of 1992.
Bickerstaff liked what he saw and asked Brown to return as a full-time video coordinator after completing his final class at USD. But before Brown returned to California, Bickerstaff gave him a $1,500 check. (But Mike had just gotten into a car accident and didn’t have insurance – and that ate up $900 of it.)
As promised, Brown returned to Denver after completing his finance degree at San Diego.
“I came back out here on the 15th of December and Bernie said ‘Hey, young buck, your first year out here, we’re going to pay you $15,000.’ And all was thinking inside was, “Yeah, suckers!! I would have done it for a lot less! All I wanted was some sneakers and a sweatshirt! But you’re paying me on top of it!’” recalled Brown, before deadpanning: “Now I look back, and I do get mad about that first contract that Bernie offered me.”
Listen as forward Kenny Kadji and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Wednesday's practice with the media.