NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Horford explains why he left Hawks for Celtics — At his introductory news conference with the Celtics, center Al Horford was understandably excited about the new opportunity and NBA world ahead of him in Boston. That said, though, Horford was leaving the only NBA team he’d known — the Atlanta Hawks. Why did Horford decide to stay in the Eastern Conference? What led him to make his decision? What were his thoughts on Atlanta? In an interview with Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Horford answered those questions and more:
Q. In the end, what did it come down to for you to leave?
A. It was extremely difficult but at the end looking at the future of the team and having an opportunity to win in a different scenario for me. It wasn’t an easy decision for me but I think at the end Boston just felt it was the best fit for me when looking at everything from their players top to bottom, the amount of players they had and the potential there.
Q. When you said opportunity to win, did that mean not with the Hawks?
A. No, in Atlanta for many years we won and were able to be real successful. I think that in Atlanta I was hoping that things would have worked out. Once I saw that things weren’t going to work out, I saw what was going to be the best situation for me to try to win an NBA championship. Like I said, I would have liked for everything to have worked out in Atlanta but it just didn’t happen that way. This is a big opportunity in front of me in Boston.
Q. Were you still with the Hawks right up to the end?
A. At the beginning my plan was to stay (in Atlanta). I started to see that when the team stepped up and did what they had to do, I didn’t think we were on the same page. That’s when I was forced to start looking at other options.
Q. Are you talking about the Hawks signing Dwight Howard?
A. No, it was more from a financial standpoint.
Q. I talked to Kyle (Korver) and he said you reached out to him a little bit. Who else did you talk to or rely on during the process?
A. I talked to Kyle a little bit. I talked to Kent Bazemore. Both of those guys over the years I’ve grown close to, especially with Kyle. At the beginning we were all hoping it was going to work out (in Atlanta) and everything was going to be fine. I know the Hawks were trying to make it work. They were trying to make an effort. I was hoping we could have come to a happy medium and it just didn’t happen.
Q. You’ve had some time to reflect and process it all. When you look back on your time in Atlanta, what will you remember most?
A. It’s more the relationships that I’ve built here – the people, the city. They’ve always embraced me. I really care for them. They embraced me and my family. It’s something that I’ve always been very appreciative of because I’ve always known they’ve embraced me and my family. I’ve always been very happy with that because I know that’s very rare in professional sports.
Q. So you are not leaving bitter?
A. No, no no. I love the fan base here. I thank coach (Mike Budenholzer) for giving me an opportunity to grow as a player and develop. He always had that confidence in me. I know it’s extremely hard for him. This was a hard decision for me.
Q. There are a couple reports out there that I’d like to get your response or to clarify. One was that you didn’t like Dwight, you didn’t want to play with Dwight. True?
A. No, no, no. Not at all. I don’t have a problem with Dwight at all. I think that he is a great player and he has a lot of ability and a lot of potential. It has nothing to do with not wanting to play with Dwight. I don’t know if you remember but there was a time when I wanted to play power forward. With a guy like him, that would have been easier. It had nothing to do with Dwight. He’s a good guy.
Q. Another thing was your dad said some things about one of the reasons you wanted to leave was the fans in Atlanta were not as good as the fans in Boston. Was that true?
A. That made me really upset. I was angry when I heard about that because I never felt that way. I’ve been here a long time. I’ve actually gotten to know a lot of our fans, a lot of our season-ticket holders with the Hawks. They’ve always been great to me. I’ve always been very content and happy with the way they’ve treated me and my family. Parents are sometimes a little more passionate about their sons and daughters. I can relate because I have a son now. So my dad, with him, sometimes he would come to the games and get frustration. His frustrations don’t reflect on me with the fan base.
No. 2: Kidd regrets not joining Spurs as a player — In the summer of 2003, then-New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd was one of the top names on the free-agent market. Kidd had just led the Nets to their second straight Finals berth, where they lost to the Tim Duncan-led San Antonio Spurs in six games. At the time, the Spurs were unsure if second-year point guard Tony Parker was their point guard of the future. With Kidd entering free agency in 2003, the Spurs had interest in him. Ultimately, Kidd re-signed with the Nets. But now, 13 years later, Kidd reveals how he wonders how his career would have gone had he chosen otherwise, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com:
On the day when Duncan announced his retirement after one of the all-time great NBA careers, Kidd revealed Monday that he actually told the San Antonio Spurs he would team up with Duncan when Kidd was the most sought-after free agent in 2003.
Calling it “the biggest disappointment,” Kidd said he still has nightmares about his decision to stay in New Jersey and sign a six-year, $103 million deal with the Nets, who were shortly later broken up by new ownership despite having a roster featuring the key players from two consecutive NBA Finals.
“I thought I was going to be a Spur,” Kidd, now the Milwaukee Bucks coach, said while watching his team during the Las Vegas Summer League on Monday. “I committed when I was down there on my visit (to San Antonio).
“On my flight home, I think I got cold feet,” Kidd continued. “And sometimes I have nightmares about that. Maybe I could have won a championship or two there. But I got really lucky with Dallas and won a championship.”
The point guard and his then wife, Joumana, were blown away by the Spurs’ first-class recruiting pitch. Duncan spent time with the Kidd and tried to convince the All-Star point guard that the Spurs would make things work despite already having a young and talented point guard in Tony Parker.
By the end of the trip, Kidd told Gregg Popovich he was a Spur. But his family ultimately wanted to stay in New Jersey. It had been previously reported that Kidd was leaning toward or was ready to join the Spurs before making up his mind to stay. The Nets would sign Alonzo Mourning to a four-year, $22.6 million deal to help sweeten the pot for Kidd.
“Yeah, there was turbulence on the airplane,” Kidd cracked of what changed his mind. “I wanted to go to San Antonio, I told them I was coming. I had to tell them that I was changing my mind and staying with the Nets. It was a day later when I had to tell them but when I got back to Jersey, when I started thinking about the process, I felt a little more comfortable staying home.”
Kidd, though, would regret that decision after the Nets were sold to new owner Bruce Ratner, who opted not to re-sign Kenyon Martin a season later and reduced payroll with the main goal to move to Brooklyn.
“He was unstoppable,” Kidd said of Duncan during that 2003 NBA Finals win over the Nets. “You talk about Shaq, I would put Tim Duncan in that same category. Mr. Fundamental, just kept things simple, he is a great teammate, a great player and a great person. When you have those ingredients in a champion, you just want to be a part of that and have an opportunity to play with him.
“But I only got to play with him in All-Star games and with Team USA. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play with him with the Spurs.”
Kidd wonders what could have been.
“It is something that I sometimes regret,” Kidd said. “I wanted to see if I could win a championship in San Antonio.”
No. 3: Lin not looking to recreate ‘Linsanity’ in Brooklyn — The early months of 2012 were a banner time in the life of then-New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. His meteoric rise from little-used backup to sudden superstar and catalyst to success in New York birthed a worldwise craze often dubbed “Linsanity”. Lin is many years removed from that time, but his decision to sign with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason had some hoping perhaps “Linsanity” would be born anew. That’s the furthest thing from Lin’s mind, though, reports NetsDaily.com:
In a video of his extended comments from Saturday’s media scrum, Jeremy Lin spoke about what he liked in the Nets pitch to him last week. While others may be scared off by the changes in the organization, Lin embraced them.
“We talked a lot about culture and establishing a kind of identity and work ethic,” Lin said of his talk with the Nets brass. “And I just want help in terms of that and … it’s kind of a blank slate for the organization in a lot of ways, bringing in a new GM and a new coach and I want to be part of that.”
Lin also said he will not be driven by others expectations, particularly those associated with LinSanity.
“I’m so far past that,” he said of his 2012 run as a New York Knick. “From the outside, really during the season, I don’t read anything, tweets or comments or articles or what this commentator said. So expectations are going to be the same for me. And I’m going to go in and keep my mind right. Play for God and I think the last couple of years, I’ve been able to live with the results.
“I played, I think, the right way and that’s the way I want to play in Brooklyn.”
On his role as an Asian-American player, Lin said that if he does well, people “won’t be so quick to discount Asian players in the future.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Houston Rockets star James Harden penned an open letter to the team’s fans … Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert plans to suit up for his homeland of France in the 2016 Olympics … After they had their offer sheets for Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson matched, the Brooklyn Nets are shifting their attention to other players in free agency … Young big man Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets is putting in serious summer work with John Lucas …