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Oklahoma City Thunder: Rockets' Kelvin Sampson says he won't talk to anyone about openings until after Rockets series

BY JOHN ROHDE Modified: May 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm •  Published: May 3, 2013
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“It's been fun to watch. Your core principles, you always believe in. When I thought we had good enough players at Oklahoma to run, we scored a lot of points. If I didn't think we did, we didn't (run). You can run all day with guys that can't score, but that's just more misses.”

You came back from being down 3-0 in this series. How much of that is about emotion as much as execution? Your guys seem more relaxed, more confident each game.

“A lot of it has to do with Kevin's mentality, too. Kevin does a great job with this team in not putting any kind of pressure on them one way or the other. He's one of those guys who is so positive and so reinforcing. I don't know if I've ever heard him say a condescending word to any of them. I'm probably the bad cop and he's the good cop, which is kind of different with a staff. Kevin is perfect for this team. We've got so many young guys and he just builds their confidence. We've had some rough shooting nights because of the way we play … but we're never out of it. If you notice, when we get big leads, you're never out of it, either.”

Did you have a previous connection with Kevin McHale?

“Just (in) passing. I interviewed for the (Houston) head job and in the same breath (Rockets officials said), ‘We're going to go in this direction, but we'd really like to talk to you about (being the) associate head coach, lead assistant and all that.' At that time, I wasn't in the mood to hear that. That's just being honest about it.”

How did you end up in Houston?

“Kevin called me when he knew he had (the job), but it wasn't announced. I was still (an assistant) in Milwaukee. He said, ‘Let's get together.' So I flew up to Minnesota. He picked me up at the airport. I think he was helping re-roof his brother's house. That's when I knew I liked him. I think he had on Converse (shoes), circa 1987. I think they were green, too. I knew that he kept them. … He had on shorts, way too short; dirty socks; a 1998 old Tahoe Suburban; bottles; cups; I thought it was the construction guy's (car). I thought, ‘This is my kind of guy.' ”