Who do you feel are the top players in this draft?
SC: Me. (Laughs) You have to go with Hasheem Thabeet. Some guy named Blake (Griffin). I really like James Harden. With his size and the way he handles the ball and can shoot it. It’s pretty even after that.
Growing up, I’m sure there were always people dismissing you as just the son of a former NBA player (Dell Curry). Was there a moment when you realized you were your own player, with your own skill set and that you belonged in the NBA? Or did it gradually come?
SC: It gradually came. In high school, fans would chant ‘you’re not better than your father’ or stuff like that and try to get in your head. Actually, I knew early on I was a different player than my father and I had point guard skills. He was a great shooter, but I do some extra stuff. I was pretty confident in my game early and I knew I could be a great player. I just went with it.
"You mean as opposed to Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony or Kobe Bryant," a smiling Stern said. "None. We have nothing but stars. We should be called NBS instead of NBA, and I don't do justice to the squads because in Sunday's Game 7s, the two players who got the most ink were Mr. [Hedo] Turkoglu and Mr. [Pau] Gasol, so the international element of the NBA makes us stronger and is beginning to catch the attention of the press."
"I've had my fair share of trials and tribulations," Anthony says as 2-year-old son Kiyan, born to fiancee and TV host LaLa Vasquez, sits on his lap. "I don't want (Kiyan) going to school and (hearing), 'What's wrong with your dad?' He changed my life completely, my thought processes. It made me grow up overnight. If it doesn't, something is wrong.
"After my last incident (a DUI arrest in 2008), I was like, 'All right, man, this is it.' I was scared. At that moment, it felt like it was me against the world."
As a player, "I wanted to be a leader, but didn't know how to be one. I was going through so much, so nobody looked up to me. I said one thing and went out and did another. I'm putting positive people around me now. But it starts with me. If it doesn't, nobody's going to follow."
Lastly, a sit-down chat with Michael Jordan after the Olympics cemented Anthony's reformed attitude.
"MJ said, 'I'm not telling you what to do, but this is my suggestion,' " Anthony recalls. "His (advice) was to control my own life. Did I want to be a good player ? or the best? I said, 'OK, I'm going to do it.' I know I can control my destiny. It took me some 'me time' to sit down and figure out what I wanted to be."
"As my name was getting passed, I couldn't even take it no more and I had to leave and go to the restroom because I didn't want nobody to see how hurt I was. So I started crying in the restroom while nobody was around.""Veron Maxwell, Sam Casell, Hakeem Olajuwan, Robert Horry ... I could go down the list," said Lewis. "I was a big fan of the Houston Rockets. I'm still a fan of basketball and the Rockets are still one the of the teams I'm a fan of regardless of the situation that happened. There's no bad blood held. I was upset at first, but I've been in the league for 9 years."
“We didn’t talk much about it,” Magic PG Rafer Alston said. “This whole guarantee thing has been going on before I got to this NBA. I remember growing up being a Knicks fan and Patrick Ewing kept guaranteeing things. I’d be jumping up in my room and it went from jumping to crying. It’s a confidence and a belief that he has and he gets it from his himself and his teammates, but if he wants to go out and guarantee it ? that’s pretty strong.”
Coach Stan Van Gundy was similarly subdued.
“I think a lot of times that’s a little bit overstated and overplayed. I mean, if you asked any player on both teams who is going to win the series ? I’d hope they would say ‘yes.’ If that makes it a guarantee, it makes it a guarantee, but I’d be a lot more concerned if I had a player who said ‘Well, you know, I’m not really sure. They seem to be a lot better than us.’ That would concern me.”
“Now if a player steps up at the podium after a game, no questions asked, and announces it that would be a little different.”