I attended media availability prior to Game 7 yesterday in an empty Staples Center, and jotted down some of my favorite quotes from the main participants in tonight’s epic event.
So, without further ado …
– “This is it. Game 7, for the championship.”
– Odom described the Lakers’ practice session as “precise, laid back, pin-point.”
– Ron told the assembled press that his wife isn’t allowed to talk to him about basketball during the NBA Finals.
– On the crowd’s rare (and happy) reaction in Game 6 to his shooting: “I don’t notice the crowd. Definitely not when I’m out there playing.”
– Artest refused to play into the press’ demands for an easy narrative, and wouldn’t reveal what winning a championship would mean for him and his career.
– I asked Ron what his thoughts were on Kendrick Perkins not being able to play in Game 7: “He’s not missing Game 7! No way he’s missing Game 7.”
– “For Kobe, Game 7 will be business as usual.”
– On Bryant’s evolution as a leader over the years: “He’s come a long way … the most noticeable aspect of his journey is the way he’s led. He’s been the leader of this team … Kobe’s really helped Pau, Lamar and everyone else feel his confidence in them. They almost feel invincible in his presence … That’s the biggest growth since he came into the League.”
– In regards to Phil Jackson’s murky future plans, Shaw claimed that he’s as much in the dark as anyone: “I’m in the same boat as you guys … He hasn’t given any indication one way or another. We gotta play it by ear, just like everyone else.”
– Rajon came out to face the media wearing a pair of what looked like hotel slippers. I snapped a pic of them using my iPhone, which you can see right here.
– Rondo was also walking around the court quite gingerly, favoring his left hamstring.
– The Celtics’ point guard says he’s excited for Game 7, and that the team expects a lot out of Rasheed Wallace (Perk’s expected replacement in the starting lineup.)
– As usual, Big Baby had the most entertaining media session.
– “This is what the NBA, the fans, the world wants.”
– “I wanna be on a float, taking my shirt off, screaming, celebrating a championship.”
– “I love having the opportunity to step up; to play a lot of minutes; to be that guy on the floor.”
– “I would love to celebrate on the Lakers’ floor.” (Big smile)
– “We were the prey (in Game 6), and they ate us real bad.”
– “We’ve won here before. It’s no problem. We just gotta match their energy.”
– “I feel bad for Perk … we just gotta go there and bring it home, for him.”
– A reporter told Allen that Kobe had credited him with being a “great defender”, but Tony wasn’t in the mood for compliments: “It don’t make me feel no type of way. I’m just ready to compete.”
– TA described Game 6 as a “failed opportunity, definitely wasn’t an enjoyable moment. It was a disappointment.”
– I asked him how confident the team felt going into Game 7: “Why wouldn’t we be? This is exactly where we wanna be. Exactly where we wanna be!”
– “Phil Jackson’s teams always win the series after winning Game 1. And our history, after we go up 3 – 2, we always win. So, as Doc said, somethin’ gotta give.”
– Kendrick described his dark mood following the knee injury in Game 6: “It was hard. I kept tossing and turning; couldn’t really sleep. Mentally, I’m just out of it.”
– “Game 7 in the Finals, and not being able to do nothin’ but watch from the sideline … mentally, it’s hard.”
– Regarding the Perkins injury: “We knew that last night, but hey, it’s unfortunate that we lose one of our guys who have been so big for us in the playoffs and in this series, especially with his strength and his lift. But that means other guys got to be ready to step up. We’ve got Big Baby, we’ve got Rasheed, and if possible we’ve got Shelden Williams. We’ve got guys capable of coming in there. All we ask is one game as hard as you can go for tomorrow. We have guys that can fill in and get the job done.”
– “I just love the pressure truthfully, man. I love the fact that I get to play against the Los Angeles Lakers in a Game 7 on the road. I love the fact that if I don’t win multiple championships that I probably won’t be mentioned amongst the other guys in Celtic history that’s done it before. That type of stuff motivates me. That type of stuff, I think, helps me play at my best when I’m put to that type of test. To win another championship would be the best thing that can ever happen. But that’s what we play for. That’s what motivates me each and every year, and that’s what the challenge is for me every time I put on this Celtic uniform. To win one would be great, and I haven’t really even thought about the feeling of not being there with the other guys and winning multiple championships, because I feel like we’re going to get it done.”
– “I’ve said the whole season, you don’t win a championship, it’s a failure. It’s as simple as that.”
– “In order for a rivalry to become official, the other team has to win. And we haven’t beaten the Celtics yet.”
– On being a part of such a historic, meaningful sports moment: “Ain’t got nothing to do with me right now. It’s got nothing to do with me. I look back, years from now or even when I was a kid, you talk about being in this situation I’d be really excited. But when I’m in the moment right now, I’ve got to play. I’ve got to focus on that. I can’t focus on the hype about it.”