Hornets.com 1-on-1: Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins

Hornets.com 1-on-1: Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins
By: Calder Hynes, Hornets.com
February 12, 2011

Hornets.com caught up with Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Lee Jenkins prior to Saturday’s game against the Chicago Bulls at the New Orleans Arena.

Jenkins has been with Sports Illustrated since 2007 after writing for the New York Times, Orange County Register, and Colorado Springs Gazette. He has won multiple journalistic honors, including first place in the New York Press Association (Sports Reporting) category in 2007 and Football Writers Association of America Best Game Story in 2003. The San Diego native took a few minutes to offer some perspective on the Hornets success this season and lend some insight on some of the biggest issues in the NBA today:

Hornets.com: How would describe the Hornets’ season thus far?
Jenkins: They were the surprise team of the first half. They had a little slump in the middle, but they were great again in January. They have a Coach of the Year candidate in Monty Williams. There just seems to be a great energy. They made acquisitions around Chris (Paul) that complement his talents – a guy like (Trevor) Ariza who never really played with a point guard like that. I think they are a surprise team, no doubt.

Hornets.com: You mentioned Monty Williams is a potential Coach of the Year candidate, talk a little more about the job he has done and why you think he has been successful.
Jenkins: He’s done an awesome job. It seems like so far they have changed the culture – that Dell Demps and he have worked in concert to find players that fit. I think that to me what was most impressive wasn’t the fast start, it was then after the next lull to get the team back in January to playing good basketball. You have seen teams like Golden State get off to a good start and then it collapses like a house of cards. The fact that he got it back is to me even more impressive.

Hornets.com: Jerry Sloan recently stepped down as Head Coach of the Jazz after 23 seasons, what will you remember most about Sloan?
Jenkins: Working with him, just his blunt, straightforwardness. He was never rude though, he was always just honest. He didn’t suffer fools. What I’ll really remember is how he took a small market team and gave it an identity and a system and made them a rock. The fact that they were always in it, that he always made them so competitive. It’s probably what a market like (New Orleans) has to aspire to be.

Hornets.com: Where do you think Carmelo Anthony finishes the season?
Jenkins: The more time goes on, I think he might re-sign in Denver, which would be crazy. The Knicks now have all this urgency since they’re losing games, and I know people are chanting during games ‘we want Carmelo.’ I don’t know that they have the package to offer the Nuggets. I don’t really see that great a match before the trading deadline. It’s kind of a weird situation because it’s a high risk game of Russian Roulette. If you don’t do it, you could lose him, or you could keep him long term. It depends on how Carmelo feels about signing, the new CBA and how much he wants to get that guaranteed money. He may sign.

Hornets.com: Tonight’s matchup of Chris Paul and Derrick Rose features two of the best young point guards in the league, talk about the wealth of young talent at that position.
Jenkins: It’s so incredible. To me, Chris is still number one just because of what he’s done for the duration of the period of time, but (Derrick) Rose is coming so hard. He had (Deron) Williams the other night and outplayed him, and you could say he outplayed Chris tonight. Then you have Russell Westbrook, it’s a league of point guards right now – (Rajon) Rondo too. I think Rose, because he has added a three-point shot, he’s taken a step on guys like Rondo and Westbrook for right now.

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