NEW ORLEANS | With everybody stumbling over themselves to praise Kentucky big man Anthony Davis, I figured it might make some sense to ask former NBA stars Reggie Miller and Chet Walker who he reminds them of as players. "I would say that Davis, I hear a lot of comparisons to Kevin Garnett because of his length and shot-blocking ability," Miller said. "But he shoots the ball a little better than Garnett, so I kind of compare him to a Dirk Nowitzki at that size, a 6-9, 6-10 guy that's long and can step outside. But Dirk, obviously, is not the defensive player that Anthony is." After Davis turned in a sterling 18-point, 14-rebound performance against his team in the national semifinals on Saturday, Louisville coach Rick Pitino compared Davis to all-time Celtics great Bill Russell. So I asked Walker - who actually played against Russell back in the day - if the comparison is legit.
"You can't compare, because he's so young," Walker said. "But he has the potential to be a great player. Whether he'll be a Bill Russell, you never know, because Bill Russell was the ultimate team player." But Walker did praise Davis for his ability to block shots while keeping the ball inbounds, a Russell specialty. "You have to keep the ball in play," Walker said. "Most young players like to block it out of bounds, just to show off. He's going to be a good player, no question about it." Walker also went out of his way to say he thinks Kansas will win. "They're the ultimate team, they have a team spirit thing," Walker said. "They never quit, and when you think they're out of it, they come right back at you and win. So I'm pick them to win." Other Miller comparisons Miller said Kentucky freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist reminds him of former Bulls/Clippers star Ron Harper, while Kansas forward Thomas Robinson reminds him of former Blazers forward Cliff Robinson. "Gilchrist is sort of like a Ron Harper, a slasher," Miller said. "Thomas Robinson, I'd put him more like Cliff Robinson...who could hit the outside shot, run the floor, show some strength, play physical. A Q&A with Don Nelson: 12:37 p.m. Longtime NBA coach Don Nelson is known for his freewheeling offensive style, and for coaching some of the most entertaining teams in NBA history. Who can forget the Run-T.M.C Golden State teams of the early 90s, or even his Baron Davis-led Warrior teams of a few years ago? So yes, I simply could not resist a chance to speak with Nelly, who has been retired from coaching for a few years but might be entertaining a comeback. Here’s a short Q&A.
Q: Between Kansas and Kentucky, which team would you love to insert into your offensive system? A: “Well, I’d like to take those young players Kentucky has for sure. They’re pretty special, especially that big center they’ve got. But the other team is pretty good, too. They play so well together as a unit. You just have to admire the way they play.” Q: Is it possible that Kentucky could beat the worst team in the NBA? A: “No (Nelson said this with a Santa-like chuckle). NBA against college, men against boys.” Q: Do you still think about coaching at all? A: “I tried to get a job last year, Minnesota, it’s a team I really liked. I didn’t get it, so I’m pretty well retired now. I like (point guard Ricky) Rubiohe would have fit right in.” Q: Do you ever wish you hadn’t traded Chris Webber? He was the perfect center for your system, right? A: “He wasn’t ready. He was young, let’s just put it that way. He wasn’t ready to be the guy you wanted him to be, and he probably wasn’t until he was almost 30. He’s that man now, a nice guy now. He wasn’t so nice when he was young. Took him a long time, a spoiled guy from Michigan that had everything handed to him. It took him a long time to get there.” Q: Are you guys cool now? A: “Oh yeah, we’re very cool. I actually hired him, but him on my team his last year. We got back. He’s alright now.” Q: Do you ever regret the Billy Owens-Mitch Richmond trade that broke up the Run-TMC Warriors? A: “I regret it every day. I got talked into, you know, you guys can never do anything in the players, you’re too small and all thatI got talked into that by some of the people that owned the team. Bad decision. Wish I had that one back.”
NEW ORLEANS | Well folks, the big day is finally here. Tonight, America finds out who the best college basketball team in the country is. And while it remains to be seen which team will prevail - Kansas has experience, while Kentucky has the talent edge - you can check back here throughout the day for a running ticker of happenings around New Orleans, from now until the nets are clipped. Every half hour or so, I'll update with smarmy captions, funny photos and quick interviews, so if you like that stuff, this is the spot for you.