Albert King Q&A Part II:
Pointing Toward Progress
May 13, 2009
By Ben Couch -- NJNETS.COM
East Rutherford, N.J.—Last week, Albert King took some time to look back at the Nets' 1984 playoff upset of the defending champion Philadelphia 76ers. He also discussed several topics relevant to New Jersey's current roster, from playing alongside familiar faces to the development of an "up-and-coming team" into contenders. Check out our exclusive interview below!
NJNets.com: You and
Albert King: Well it’s always good to have someone that you’ve played with before, because in basketball, it all comes down to routine at a certain point: you dribble the ball to a certain spot, you shoot the ball from a certain spot. And if the person knows what you’re going to do before you do it, it just helps you out as far as playing together. We might be in a pick-and-roll: I dribble off the pick, and then Buck knows I’m throwing a bounce pass. If it’s someone new, he doesn’t know if a bounce pass is coming or a lob pass. Whenever you play with someone that you’ve played with before, it definitely benefits you.
Albert King: Not at all -- I’m a New Yorker, he’s a country guy. [Laughs] We were good friends, though I’m from New York and he’s from the country, so you’d think we wouldn’t mix together. But we were good friends on the court and off the court. It was good days at Maryland, and we had good times with the Nets, too.
NJNets.com: Being a Brooklyn native, what was it like playing close to your hometown?
Albert King: It was absolutely nice -- your parents got to come to the games! The only bad thing was everybody wanted tickets. All your junior high school friends, who you didn’t know you had then, would call for tickets. The best thing in the world is to play close to home. It’s a dream to play in the NBA, first, and to play close to home, that’s even better.
NJNets.com: Knowing how your team progressed, making the first round twice before defeating the defending champs in the third year, and looking at other teams in the league, is it better for a young team to gradually build toward success instead of surprise all at once?
Albert King: Long-term, if you want to consistently get back there, I think that’s probably the way it works. I think young teams that get to the next round and maybe get to the Conference Finals, you probably won’t see them again. Remember a team like the (1994) Denver Nuggets, they beat the No. 1 seed (Seattle). Young teams that have a lot of success quick, they usually become too confident. But if you see a gradual progression where they get better and better, usually that’s where you have teams that are going to be successful long-term, because they’re getting that experience.
But as far as ‘Do you want to lose?’ You never want to lose! Whether you’re a young team or a veteran team, you want to go to the next round. But there are teams that progress, each year you see them getting better and better, like the Detroit Pistons over the years when they were always there. There’s different teams. The Nets went to the Finals two years in a row, but you don’t always have the opportunity for a great player, Jason Kidd -- somebody who came out of nowhere, to turn the team around. But when you have a team that stays together and you have a nucleus, you’ll see them grow together.
NJNets.com: Brook Lopez was a steady contributor all season, but it wasn't until the end of the year that Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts really found their grooves. How important are those late-season minutes to a young player's development?
Albert King: It’s very important. I think the big word is ‘minutes.’ Every player wants minutes. If you’re young, if you’re old, you want minutes. I was very impressed with Brook Lopez throughout the whole year. You saw him develop because he had minutes. That’s a key word with NBA players; they want their minutes.
Douglas-Roberts didn’t have the opportunity until people were hurt, and then you saw how athletic he was. Brook Lopez is someone who had the opportunity to develop over the year. Douglas-Roberts is someone I think that if he came in at the beginning of the year or the end of the year, his athletic ability would have taken over and he would have done well. Now, Ryan Anderson had to make sure he had an opportunity on a unit – first unit or second unit – where he was getting open, because he’s a shooter. And in order for him to develop, he has to have shots. Because if he’s not getting shots, it’ll be very hard for him to develop as a basketball player. You have Douglas-Roberts as a scorer, slasher who can take the ball to the hole; Brook Lopez, who’s a guy that someone’s going to throw him the ball inside and get him shots; Anderson needs to just line up at the three-point line and catch the ball. Make sure he’s got guys he can develop with that are going to dribble-drive and kick it out to him, leading to open three-point shots.
With those three guys, that’s a very nice core. You don’t find three young kids coming in at the same time that you can build around like that. That’s very impressive. Rod and Kiki are doing their scouting.
NJNets.com: You previously mentioned
Albert King: I guess what’s going to elevate his game is the players around him, because he’s an All-Star. The good thing about being an All-Star is that you’re going to get calls next year. You’re going to get fouls that you probably wouldn’t, and you’ll go to the line a lot more. The tendency is, when you’re an All-Star, for the whistle to blow a little bit more (often). He’s so quick. He needs guys that are going to fill the wing for him, that are going to make his game a lot better because he’s so quick with the ball. He dribbles faster than some guys run the court! For him to elevate his game ... he already knows how to dribble, he knows how to pass, he’s a very good shooter -- he needs the players around him to develop him a lot more, or else it’s going to be hard for him because he’s so good already.