Friday, February 15, 2008

Rookies Practice

After finishing up with their NBA Cares project, the Rookie Team headed to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to practice for tonight's T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. When I arrived, the Sophomores were just finishing up on the court. Boston Assistant Coach Tom Thibodeau, who will coach the Sophomores, put in some plays.

At 10:30, it was time for the media to rush on to the court for a half-hour of interviews. The Rookies and Sophomores don't draw quite as much attention as the All-Stars, so there was a chance to get one-on-ones with most players. The international media contingent, however, was most definitely out in full force (I rode over to the Convention Center with two French journalists). Kevin Durant did a brief segment live on NBA TV.

Here's some video of Durant and Jeff Green meeting the press (the audio is a little weak, so tune up your volume).

As for practice, there wasn't much of that for the rookies, coached by New Orleans Assistant Coach (and one-time Kevin Calabro partner) Darrell Walker. They split into two teams for some shooting drills and that was about that. So Thibodaeu, from the Jeff Van Gundy school of heavy preparation, seems to be taking a different approach from Walker.

Make no mistake, though, these guys are here to have fun but they do want to win.

"Hopefully we can pull out a win," said Green. "The rookies haven't been winning as of late, the past five years, so hopefully we can come in and get a victory."

This weekend is also about fun, and while both Sonics rookies have jam-packed schedules while in New Orleans, they've enjoyed the experience. Durant and Rudy Gay played pool against Chris Tucker (apparently not very good) and Green has enjoyed meeting some of the All-Stars, including Caron Butler, and hanging out with his fellow rookies.

Listen to audio from Durant and Green. Interesting note: When I asked about which rookies they were excited to play with, both Durant and Green cited Sprite Slam Dunk participant Jamario Moon of the Toronto Raptors. They'll be looking to get Moon some lobs at the rim.