Transcript: Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry media availability - July 18, 2020
On John Lewis's legacy and if he ever met him before:
"You know what, I have not, but it's funny you asked that because we just talked about him as we brought it in at the end of practice. I just told the guys to just take a look tonight and just go online and read about him, all the things that he experienced during the Jim Crowe era, and everyone knows about the whole bridge incident, trying to get across that bridge. In so many instances, he was with Dr. King when so many things happened. Just a great man that fought for a lot of things that we're experiencing right now. I mean, obviously, we have a long way to go, but he was a pioneer in getting us to where we are right now because he was relentless in what he did and very dedicated to the cause."
On his conversations with Lonzo Ball about passing and pushing the ball up the floor:
"Well, number one, I think he naturally does it. He's been that way pretty much his whole basketball career, really. What it does is that it creates a situation where your big guys are going to run a lot more if they think they have an opportunity to get the basketball. So it's more on him. We like the pitch ahead, and we emphasize pitching the ball ahead and being able to try to create numbers, but in his case, I think it's something that comes natural to his game.”
On his conversations with Zion Williamson since he left Orlando and if he thinks Zion will be back by July 30th:
"I have not talked to him. No. I have not been in contact with him, and I don't have any I formation other than that. I'm not real sure exactly what the status is right now, but I'm sure as soon as we get information, we'll let you guys know."
On how important is it that not only players but coaches are participating in the Black Lives Matter movement:
"Well, I think it just speaks volumes about the coaches in this league, and I think it speaks volumes about where we're trying to get to as a country. I still think that, obviously, we have a long way to go, but it has to start somewhere. The lines of communication have to start somewhere. We’ve got a great venue to do it. We’ve got a great platform to do it on here, and I think you're going to see a lot of things happen here in the next month, and I think it's something that is going to continue. We have a lot of protest marches and things like that, but I think a lot that's happening now is that the marches are being put into action, and I think as long as that's the case…It has been a lot of the coaches. We have six black coaches in the league right now, but we're very dedicated as an organization, as a coach's organization, to try to eliminate systemic racism as much as we possibly can. All of those guys have been on board with this, and all of us are going to be speaking even more on that as the weeks go on."
On how prepared the Pelicans are for scrimmages and games to start:
"They definitely want to get to playing scrimmages or games and just playing against different competition than we have been every day playing against each other in practice. So, I think they're really looking forward to it. We're only, basically, four days away from that happening, so I think the guys are excited about that from a scrimmage standpoint and just to be able to get out on the floor and play in game-like situations rather than practice. I went over to the venue today and had a walkthrough with some of the NBA people. They've done an amazing job with the arena, and I think everybody assumed that we were just going to play in the arena and you're going to hear balls bouncing and the officials talking, but I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised when you see the atmosphere that we're going to be playing in."
On how unique is it to have both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball make great improvement in one year and both be in consideration for Most Improved Player:
"Well, when we traded for these guys we thought that they had a ton of potential. We were excited about having them on our team. I think Lonzo finally got himself healthy. When he got himself healthy, he played at a real, real high level for us and he shot the ball extremely well. I think a lot of that credit goes to Fred (Vinson). A lot of it goes to Lonzo because he's put in the work. He's really put in the work. As far as Brandon, we were excited as heck to get him because we thought that potentially he could be an All-Star. He played at a real high level. I'll be very disappointed if he's not the Most Improved Player in the league because I think he took a tremendous jump this year in making the All-Star team, but just overall being able to be that guy that we can count on at the end of the game and go to him at the end of the game. You saw what happened in our Utah game at home: we needed a big possession and a big shot, and he came up with it for us. As I said, I think both those guys have made a tremendous jump, and like I said, I really do believe that Brandon Ingram is the most improved player in this league."
On the initial exhibition games being reduced to 10-minute quarters and if he anticipates there being other changes for those scrimmages:
"I don't think so, but we've talked a lot about it as coaches, and we've talked a lot about it with the league. This is something that I think is going to be an experimental thing. The first game is to see if that's something that we may want to do with the other games. But as I said, this is something that is new to everyone here and we're doing this on the fly. The NBA has done an outstanding job of having this so well organized that we can have an opportunity to maybe experiment with the first games. I think for us, the whole thing is just getting ready and having an opportunity to play. So whatever that is – 10 minutes, 12 minutes – I think you're going to see an excited bunch of guys with all the 22 teams here just having an opportunity to play.”