ESPN's Jack Ramsay says Serge Ibaka's shot-blocking conjures thoughts of Bill Russell

Q&A with ESPN analyst Jack Ramsay: The veteran coach and NBA analyst is calling Game 6 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series Friday. Ramsay says when he sees the shot-blocking skills of Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, he thinks of Celtics legendary center Bill Russell.
By BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Columnist, btramel@opubco.com Modified: May 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm •  Published: May 13, 2011
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photo - Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) reacts to a call during game five of the Western Conference semifinals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA basketball playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman  ORG XMIT: KOD
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) reacts to a call during game five of the Western Conference semifinals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA basketball playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Basketball Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay has been involved with the NBA since 1966, when he left St. Joseph's University to become general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. Ramsay coached the Sixers, Buffalo Braves, Portland TrailBlazers (including the 1977 title) and Indiana Pacers for a combined 20 seasons. Ramsay now is an ESPN analyst and called the Thunder-Grizzlies Game 6 for ESPN Radio.

What do you think of this series?

Ramsay: “It's been a great series. These playoffs have been incredible. This series in particular. I like the way the teams compete. The way they're coached. It's been fascinating.

What are your thoughts about Russell Westbrook, who has become a lightning rod in these playoffs?

Ramsay: “He's a great talent. He's still developing. I asked Scott Brooks about him. He acknowledged there are times he probably overdoes his role. Maybe keep the ball longer than he should. Might try to get to the basket when there's no room. But that's a learning process. He's an amazing talent. Scotty does a great job monitoring him, going over his mistakes. Mo Cheeks as well. And he's receptive.”

What sticks out about the Kevin Durant/Westbrook duo?

Ramsay: “These are very, very competitive guys. Winning is No. 1 with these guys. When you want to win badly, you might overdo it. But you need that drive, and that quest, to do it.”

What are your thoughts on Serge Ibaka?

Ramsay: “Ibaka is a special guy. His shot-blocking talent is very rare. Bill Russell had that. In all the years I watched Russell, I never saw him block a shot out of bounds. He'd touch it to a teammate. He didn't go after every shot. But you didn't know which ones he wasn't going after. Players would look for him, pause, get open, look for him, and by then, it was too late. Ibaka has some of the same instincts.”

By Berry Tramel



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