What's the Spanish phrase for "dunk contest champion?" When I arrived at practice, Rudy was showing off one of the most popular soccer tricks around -- the rainbow -- a move where you roll the ball back against your heel and then flick it over your entire body. Here's what it looks like.
So I walk into the gym and see Rudy (in a group with Coach Monty, Travis and Nic) shooting his post-practice shots and rainbowing a few times. He then pantomimed catching his own alleyoop pass off of a backheel rainbow and throwing down a two handed reverse slam. Um... please do that in the dunk contest. Please. That would be sick. I give it a 10!
I think we might have underestimated Rudy as he was also kicking the ball from the free throw line off the backboard, perhaps setting up another soccer-inspired alley-oop look.
Not to be outdone, Sergio sent a laser volley from halfcourt that looked like it would find the bottom corner against most keepers. Crazy Spaniards. With their ...crazy... Spanish... skills.
Here's the rest of your practice report.
If Nate says the words "deep post position" one more time I might completely lose my mind. Adding to the 25 times he said the words yesterday he said that phrase about 235 times today. But let's just say that the message got through to me even though I'm totally sick of it. I have a good feeling Greg Oden feels the same way.
Nate also continues to harp on "carryover" from Greg and told reporters that he advised Greg to look at his gameday routine yesterday to see if he could find anything that helped get his energy going. He was happy with how Greg "played with his feet" ... being active, quick and rotating well.
Nate said Batum will probably get the defensive matchup against LeBron, which should come as no surprise. However, he said it will depend on matchups and that Brandon might end up checking him if LeBron is guarding Brandon on the other end.
Nate talked at length about his experiences with LeBron in the Olympics, marvelling at LBJ's use of a personal trainer, disciplined weightlifting routine, etc. Nate called out LeBron, Kobe and Jason Kidd as the 3 that impressed him last summer with their dedication.
As far as injuries go, pretty much everyone was back at practice, Blake was in the building but I don't think he was going through the drills. When questioned about Martell's timeline, Nate got a little bit dodgy... so in Nic we Trust.
Nate's thoughts on Obama: "the future is going to be bright, I think everybody is looking for change."
After practice, Bayless was working on his 3 point stroke, first with passes from Sergio and then with passes from assistant Joe Prunty. Prunty is not a guy that I've written a lot about but his joy for the game came out today at practice. The kind of coach you get the feeling you could call at 2 AM to shoot extra jumpers and he would be fully dressed and at the gym in less than 15 minutes, ready to go. Anyway, he was keeping track of Jerryd's jumpers as he rotated around the 3 point line, shooting 5 shots from each of 5 spots. Jerryd's total tally according to Prunty: 52 for 75. JB must have started slow because the final round of 25 that I watched, he hit 20.
Brandon on LeBron
Sports Illustrated is back in town again as they follow LeBron around the country or something. Anyway, this led to an extended series of questions to Brandon about LeBron. Brandon said that LeBron is "one of the best straight up defenders in the game" -- by that he meant LeBron moves his feet and possesses quickness,and doesn't over-rely on getting physical with the man that he's guarding. Brandon had about 5 minutes worth of nice things to say about LeBron (no exaggeration) and said that, if he could take anything from LeBron's game, "I'll take his body" because "nobody physically matches up with him."
Brandon was also asked about the inauguration. Brandon said he watched with his son and "was wishing I could be there." Normally a rambunctious speaker, when talking about Obama, Brandon's voice dropped a few octaves, quieter, gentler, almost as if he was talking to his son. I can't say either way if this was intentional but I take it as a sign that Brandon holds the new President in the highest regard.
Greg was also asked whether he saw the inauguration this morning. He said "I woke up and saw probably like five words of it..... then I woke up again." Greg is too funny sometimes.
Holdover Note from Last Night
There's a TV crew from Indiana in town doing a piece on Greg Oden. They interviewed Nate, LaMarcus, Greg and Brandon. Brandon mentioned last night that Greg "has a high IQ which people don't see" sometimes and also that he is generally really happy to see Greg step up like he did last night, because it makes Brandon's life easier.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)