On Tuesday, Metta World Peace said while he was playing for the Sacramento Kings in 2007, he politicked for then-assistant coach Scott Brooks to take over as Kings coach.
Brooks said he never knew such was the case.
“I appreciate the love that he gave me,” Brooks said before Game 2. “Little does he know, if I would have got the job, I was going to ask for him to be traded. I'm just kidding. Maybe that's the reason I didn't get the job, that he was fighting for me. I had a great relationship with him. At that time, he was … maybe third-best, two-way player (behind Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant), and you like guys like that. You like guys who are going to play both ends of the floor.
“Ron Artest (now World Peace) was one of the best two-way defenders. You knew every game that at end of the night his plus-minus was probably going to be 12 to 15 points. He was scoring 20 points a game, and his opponent was getting four or five. He was great. I loved coaching him."
Indiana general manager Larry Bird was named NBA Executive of the Year, becoming the first person in league history to win MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti received one first-place vote and finished tied for eighth.
“I'm really happy for Larry,” Presti said. “He's done some great things for that organization.”
Despite the Thunder's rapid advancement to the upper echelon of the league thanks to an array of deals, draft picks and free-agent signings orchestrated by Presti, he has yet to be named Executive of the Year.
“I don't concern myself with those type things,” Presti said. “How can I ask our players and coaches to keep the team first and not concern themselves with individual accolades and then not hold myself to those same standards?”
PRESTI ON BOARD
Presti has been named to the NBA's new competition committee.
Last month, the league's board of governors voted to change the composition of the committee to include two owners, four general managers, three head coaches and one representative from the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). Previously, the committee included the general manager from each of the 30 teams. That committee has been reconstituted as the new general managers committee.
Presti said he is still awaiting the exact details of his appointment. “When an opportunity like this comes your way, you're definitely honored by it,” Presti said.
Also in the new competition committee are owners Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Joe Lacob (GoldenState); general managers Bryan Colangelo (Toronto Raptors), Mitch Kupchak (L.A. Lakers) and Kevin O'Connor (Utah Jazz); coaches Rick Carlisle (Dallas Mavericks), Lionel Hollins (Memphis Grizzlies) and Doc Rivers (Boston Celtics). The NBPA will designate one of its members to serve on the committee.
The Thunder coaching staff has added a few variations to the playoffs, and Bryant said he saw some wrinkles in Game 1.
“Yeah, he saw a lot of them,” Brooks said, playfully rubbing the “wrinkles” around his eyes. “I need some Botox. That's not right. I'm 46, but what do you expect? It's stress.
“We're going to throw different things out there. That's what good teams do, and I'm sure they're going to have things out there that they're going to throw at us that we didn't see the first game. But when you have a group of guys that they have that have been together for a lot of years, you can throw things at them. They have a lot of space in their memory bank.
“Our guys have done a good job with that also. Three years ago, we had to keep it very simple. It's not quite as vanilla now, but you can throw things at guys and they pick things up and they remember what we've done four or five months ago and we can just throw it out there.”
BIG IS BIG
Bryant said the matchup is what it is against the Thunder. The Lakers can't magically get any younger and match OKC's “youthful exuberance.”
Brooks countered with: “They can't get any bigger, either. They're 7-1, 7-1, 6-8, 6-6 and 6-3 (in the starting lineup). They're a big team. You can win many different ways in this league.”
When reminded that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are both listed at 7-foot, not 7-foot-1, Brooks smiled and said: “They're like 7-2. All bigs never want to give their exact height, and all sub-6-footers never want to give their exact height. That's why I was 6 feet."
Bynum and Lakers forward Devin Ebanks were fined by the NBA for separate violations.
Ebanks was fined $25,000 for actions before and following his ejection from Game 1 on Monday. Bynum was fined $15,000 for failing to make himself available to media following Tuesday's practice.
“I guess I look at it this way — stuff's going to happen, the guys paid the price and you move on,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said.
Several players from the Oklahoma City Barons took in Games 1 and 2 as they prepared for their American Hockey League Western Conference Finals series against Toronto, which starts Thursday at 7 p.m. across the street at the Cox Convention Center.
Rookie center Tyler Pitlick was one of the players at Game 1.
“It was awesome,” Pitlick said. “I haven't seen anything like it. You get in there and the place was packed, it was sold out, it was so loud and they put on a good show. I was impressed, real impressed.”