Tale of the Tape Man
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
CLEVELAND, June 13, 2007 -- You've all seen it on the jumbotron before when your team is down by a few buckets in the fourth quarter and a timeout is called.

It's a staple of the NBA experience: The motivational highlight package featuring big shots and spectacular plays by your favorite players spliced between clips from movies like Gladiator, Miracle, Hoosiers and Any Given Sunday all set to an inspiring tune such as the theme from Rocky.

It makes your flesh do its best impression of a basketball, as the goosebumps rise on your arms, and makes the hair on the back of your neck do its best impression of a defender waiting in the lane to take a charge, as the follicles stand straight up.

That's how video serves the common basketball fan, but what about the players and the coaches?

I caught up with Cavaliers video coordinator, Steve Hetzel, during Cleveland's media availability on Wednesday to discuss his role in breaking down game film for the team and how his work helps everyone on the staff from Mike Brown down to Ira Newble.

NBA.com: What is your role exactly with the team and are you going to add any motivational tactics to tomorrow's pregame video package?

Steve: I don't do anything in terms of motivation. I mean, we have done a couple of those things this year, but in terms of production, I go to the Cavs' TV and they do all the editing and splicing and use all the different camera angles and music. My job is specifically opponents scouting and self scouting. I put the film into the computer, cut it up, and dissect it in terms of labeling plays ...

NBA.com: So postgame last night, what was your night like?

Steve: I basically just prepared the film for us to watch as a staff this morning. I labeled our plays and San Antonio's plays, made sure that it was clean all the way through -- I try to take out as much dead time as possible -- I was here pretty late, but that's just the nature of it.

NBA.com: In terms of labeling the plays, is that something you're aware of, you can pick them out right away?

Steve: Yeah. I mean, you watch a season and you do so many NBA teams and you see that the majority of teams run the same stuff. We're very similar to San Antonio, so we run a lot of the same stuff as them, and then when you study them as much as we do in a playoff series, as soon as you see the play you recognize it. So, its not a drawn out process.

NBA.com: Now, you guys watch the tape as a team together, right?

Steve: We don't watch the entire tape. What we did was watch the film as a staff this morning, coach picks out certain clips that he wants to show and it's normally around 45-60 clips that we show the team.

NBA.com: And then it runs in the locker room on loop before the next game?

Steve: No, what happens before the game is that I just run the game. So last night's game will be played for them before Game 4. And then right before the game, 30 minutes on the clock, we show a play edit of San Antonio. It's about a five to seven minute tape of plays that we're concerned about.

NBA.com: Out of this group of guys, is there anybody that takes more stock in watching the tape than the other guys?

Steve: Well, you know Eric [Snow] is always a guy that pays close attention because he's a veteran and he's a defensive-minded player so he's very keen on that sort of thing. LeBron is always focused during the tape before the games. You know, he'll ask us to rewind it so he can go back over certain things. For the most part, when it's time to go, everybody gets focused and locks in on the play tape we're about to show.

NBA.com: You said in the past you have reached out to the Cavs' TV people to splice in motivational footage. What kind of stuff was that?

Steve: We have a theme, "Trust, Communicate, Help and Sacrifice," so we try to find plays that show that. You know, hustle plays ... the guys feeding off eachother emotionally ... and we try to put that together with that message and they do an outstanding job. I don't know if you've seen their pregame, but they're some of the best that I've seen. So, we give them the ideas, they find the clips and they put it together.

NBA.com: Do they use pop culture references too like movies and things like that?

Steve: We haven't this year. I've suggested a couple songs that we've used. When you make a highlight film, it's usually like a movie theme type of thing to get you going, but we've done a couple things with some songs that the guys seem to like.

NBA.com: What were some of the songs?

Steve: This year we used Soul II Soul's "However Do You Want It" to show right before the playoffs. The a capella version. I think they really liked that. We've done it three times. We did one right before the season, one halfway through and then one right before the playoffs.

NBA.com: I was reading your bio and it says you were a manager on the basketball team at Michigan State. How did you break in to the NBA?

Steve: When I was at Michigan State, the reason I got into being a manager was that I wanted to coach. When I saw the video coordinator using the equipment that we use, it's called XOS Technology, I kind of saw it as a way to bring value to myself when I was done there I knew how to use that stuff. Plus, I saw him moving up. He took a job with San Antonio. He got hired as a video coordinator there. I was at Michigan State another year. I graduated, he asked me to be his intern and I came down and I started in San Antonio. It's been unbelievable in terms of my growth as a coach of just watching film all the time. You learn so much. Last year as an intern I basically just did grunt work. And here, as the video coordinator, being in the coaches meeting, knowing what Coach Brown wants to show ... It's a definite progression.

NBA.com: One of my good friends is a walk-on at D 1 school and is trying to get into coaching. Do you think that this is a good path for somebody that obviously is not a star player, but has the knowledge of the game?

Steve: There's always different ways to take and there is no definite way to go, but looking at this coaching staff, it's almost like you're in a pedigree to become one ... Coach Brown was a video coordinator, Melvin Hunt was a video coordinator, Michael Malone was a video coordinator, Kenny Natt was a video coordinator ... So that's three assistants and a head coach that started out in the video room, so it's very encouraging on my part, to see if I keep on doing it and if I just work hard so that good things will happen.

NBA.com: So basically, there is nothing that you guys are going to do different down 3-0 in terms of your job?

Steve: No. Not our prep or anything. I think, along with Coach Brown's theory, we put it on ourselves. We're a no excuse team. We don't need anything extra. Our backs are against the wall right now. If we don't come out fighting, no motivational tape is going to be there to help us.

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