“I respond best when a coach is able to get on me where he’s raising his voice, yelling and whatever, because he expects greatness from me—especially when I’m not performing the way I’m supposed to. I like to have, obviously, a mutual respect, and a guy who can be as consistent as possible with his message. But if I need to be yelled at and refocused, I’m open to that and I usually respond well.”
The joy for me comes out of watching our players. Their excitement, their joy. They’re the group on the floor. The credit goes to those 15 men in the locker room that have stuck together, that pull for each other, that compete with each other. They’ve never backed down from that. And I’m proud of the way they have stuck with that. They made growth on the floor, but as a group they have come together and the credit belongs to the 15 men in that locker room.
We could have easily closed up shop, called it a season, but we’ve stuck with it every single day. We said we’re going to get better. We have not strayed from that. Every day in practice, in shootarounds, in games, the mentality is to get better. No matter how many games, how many days we have left, that’s our goal, that’s our mentality right now. Even through the losses, we never wavered.
“Once you have a whole group on the same page, each individual tends to play better.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: “He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder or trying to make a statement, he’s just playing. He’s getting better all the time, and getting more confident. We’re getting him more and more room, and you’re seeing a young player blossom.”
More from Pop: “He stole it from Curry the other night, just took it from him and went down and dunked it, and his expression did not change. He didn’t raise his fist or look cool to the crowd or do any of this stupid-ass stuff. He didn’t do a thing. He just goes the other direction, like he’s bored to death. I love that about him.”
Tim Duncan on his teammate: “He’s not doing it the wrong way. He’s taking great shots and continuing to be unselfish, but he’s absolutely being aggressive. That’s what we need from him.”
On Russell Westbrook:
Here’s a young man that has had serious injuries — bad knee injuries throughout his career — yet every time he walks on the court you know you’re going to get 100 percent from him. He attacks, he’s fearless and he plays the way it should be played, so I’m all for him. I hope he wins 10 MVPs in a row. I just love players that compete on a nightly basis and really take the challenge to their opponents.
I just think that my opinion about basketball, the way I was taught, was when you step on the court you play to win. Now, if you’re not supposed to play to win then they shouldn’t keep score. If they didn’t keep score in these games I wouldn’t have played as hard as I did. But I do think this is our job. We know that we’re going to be hurting years down the road. He knows that he’s going to be hurting years down the road, but he can’t help it. He has to play that way to be effective, and he knows that.
As told to Steve Serby of the NY Post:
Q: What won’t you tolerate as a coach?
A: Being out of shape … being late … being selfish … turnovers … bad shot selection … no weak side help … no hustle.
Q: Will you have a lot of rules?
A: No, I think very basic: Be on time, play hard, play unselfish … be accountable, know your assignments, then you know what? I’ll live with it.
Q: When New York watches your St. John’s teams play, what do you want them to say about them?
A: They play hard and smart on offense and defense. … They compete, they play tough every night. They’re prepared … and they win and lose with class.
“It’s definitely a difficult transition (from college to pros). Most guys don’t come into the NBA and then given a ton of playing time right away. Usually it’s just a few select guys a year that get that. It’s all about working hard, staying up, staying positive. Working hard as you can, and when you’re given your opportunity, go out there and show that you can play. I think the biggest thing is that you just keep working hard and control what you can control. There’s not a lot of things that you can control in this league, and you just work as hard as you can and control your attitude, control how you’re working and those are the things you can control. Don’t worry about the rest.”
“It may seem hard to believe now, but the top universities didn’t invite me to play for them. In fact, none of the big basketball programs offered me a scholarship. Not even Virginia Tech, the college where my dad, Dell Curry, had played before his career in the NBA.”