Posts Tagged ‘Scott Brooks’

The NBA on Christmas Day: Talking with Kristin Chenoweth


ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.

To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. We’ve already spoken with John Leguizamo, Mario Batali and Anna Chlumsky, and today we wrap up by talking with Emmy and Tony award-winning singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth. An Oklahoma native, Chenoweth has starred on TV in shows such as “The West Wing” and “Glee!,” in movies like Rio 2 and on Broadway in shows including “Wicked” and “Promises, Promises.”

Chenoweth will next be seen on-screen in the Universal film The Boy Next Door, alongside Jennifer Lopez, and in the animated Lucasfilm fairy tale musical Strange Magic, both set to be released on January 23. She’s also completed production on an indie teen drama entitled Hard Sell and the Disney Channel’s live-action original movie “Descendants,” in which she will play the classic Sleeping Beauty villain Maleficent. Chenoweth will also return to Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Company‘s 20-week limited engagement of “On the Twentieth Century” in early 2015.

Christmas2014ME: Hey Kristin! So I just wanted to talk basketball with you. You probably don’t get to do that that much, right?

KRISTIN: (laughing) Nobody thinks that I can talk basketball. This is a very good gift of a call for me to have.

ME: I know you’re originally from Oklahoma, but were you a basketball fan before the Thunder were there?

KRISTIN: I think I should tell sort of how it came for me, like, this love of basketball. I was always scared of basketball growing up. I was a cheerleader, but I knew I could never play basketball because I’m 4-11. But I always liked cheering at basketball games because they were exciting. I loved the game in and of itself, but I never played, and we never had a professional team, as you know. So, I started dating someone a few years back, six years ago, and he was a humongous L.A. Lakers fan. And I knew that I had to start watching the Lakers. So I did that so I got to know who he was talking about, and I started to fall in love with the players. I really liked Pau Gasol a lot. He’s no longer there, but anyway, we got the Thunder right after that. And my boyfriend was such a big basketball nut he would watch with me, and started to like the Thunder. I started to fall in love with Westbrook and Durant, and I’m still not over Harden. I feel a little bit badly about it, but my Dad tried to explain to me about it being a business decision, and I get that, but I don’t know, it was a little heartbreaking to see him leave. But since that I’ve become an even bigger fan and bigger fan, and I’ve really enjoyed watching basketball.

ME: Are you a Thunder loyalist?

KRISTIN: I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of a lot of teams, because I’m very loyal to my Thunder, but I have a little bit of love for the Spurs — a little bit, even though they’re in direct competition with us. I’m not really loving the Heat, and I’m a little torn about how I feel about LeBron. He went to the Heat and now he’s back in Cleveland, God bless him, but I’m not really a fan of the Heat. I’m not really a fan of the Nuggets. I can’t tell you why, either, other than I just feel like, No. I like the Clippers and the fact that we have an Oklahoman on that team — Blake Griffin. I’m just proud of the Thunder. I’m proud that Oklahoma has such a good team. The beginning of this year did not look good, and we had a lot of injuries and we’re kind of overcoming that. I think Coach [Scott] Brooks is very smart and is grooming the younger players. I’m pretty impressed with Reggie Jackson — I love him and Ibaka, and I love Perkins. Of course I love Westbrook and Durant, but I gotta give love to the entire team, because I see them coming together, and in the beginning of this season, even though we were losing without our guys, I was so proud of how they were learning and how quickly they were learning. To me, that’s the definition of a team, and I think that’s where Scott is so good. Even though he’s a California boy, I’m glad he’s embraced Oklahoma.

ME: I was wondering, because I know you spend a lot of time in New York, do you follow the Knicks as well?

KRISTIN: The Knicks are another team I have love for, because I’m a New Yorker as well. I live in New York and L.A. both, but I’m always gonna follow the New York Jets, Giants — even though that doesn’t really work for a lot of people — Yankees, Mets and Knicks. I’m always gonna do that — New York is like my second home. But if I had to pick, there’s no competition.

ME: You mentioned being 4-11, which made me wonder: Is Nate Robinson your favorite Thunder player of all-time?

KRISTIN: How tall is he? Isn’t he like 5-10?

ME: No, he’s like 5-8, 5-9.

KRISTIN: Nate Robinson is that short? Didn’t he win the dunk contest? Yeah, I loved him. What happened to him? Where is he now?

ME: He’s on your not-favorite Denver Nuggets now.

KRISTIN: That’s! Right! That is right! I still have love for him. He’s short — well, for a basketball player. But it just goes to show, to me, that it doesn’t matter how tall you are. He has the heart of a basketball player and he’s so good. I’m sad to see him with the Nuggets, but again, you lose some and we’re training these awesome players. Like Jeremy Lamb, he’s a baby, but in five years what’s he going to be doing? I’m excited to see.

ME: So do you feel like this is the year for the Thunder to finally break through and win a title?

KRISTIN: Well, that’s a tough one. Because I’m always going to want to say yes. I think there’s still time to prove ourselves, yes, I do. I think that we have to overcome a lot. I think we have to overcome injury. If we can do that, and we don’t lose anybody, then yeah, I think we have a shot. The Spurs are making me nervous. Of course, any team that LeBron plays on makes me nervous. Two years ago was really painful. And I was on tour and they had said if we make it to the Finals will you sing the National Anthem? And I had said, ‘Hell yeah! I’m in the middle of tour but I’ll move a show.” I might have cried, I’m not going to say. But I have these really high heels, these Oklahoma City Thunder pumps, but I wore them on stage, just to show my love. I think like three of my shoes could fit in Kevin Durant’s shoe.

ME: So let’s get your Christmas Day picks. First game is Washington Wizards at New York Knicks.

KRISTIN: I’m gonna have to go with the Knicks.

ME: Second game is Oklahoma City Thunder at the San Antonio Spurs. No contest here, I’m guessing.

KRISTIN: The Thunder all the way. We’re gonna kick San Antonio’s [butt]. I predict it. Take that, San Antonio [laughs].

ME: Cleveland Cavaliers at the Miami Heat?

KRISTIN: Oh man, you know I’m watching that game. Um, I’m gonna have to go with the Cavs. A) I’m not a fan of the Heat, and B) LeBron’s on the Cavs.

ME: Two more. The Los Angeles Lakers at the Chicago Bulls?

KRISTIN: The Bulls, they’re gonna win. They’re having a good year, I forgot about them.

ME: And then the last one is the Warriors against the other team from Los Angeles, the Clippers.

KRISTIN: I like the Clippers, I like the Clippers. By the way, the first game you mentioned…

ME: Wizards at the Knicks?

KRISTIN: The Wizards are better than I thought they would be. Is that new this year?

ME: They were pretty good last season, made the second round of the Playoffs, but this season they’re better than they’ve been in a long time.

KRISTIN: I know, right? I caught a little bit of their game and I forget who they were playing, but I was like, What the hell is going on here? They’re not bad, not bad. Well, let’s see how close I get, I may have just called all five games.

ME: You did pick the Knicks.

KRISTIN: I know, I know, but I did that out of loyalty.

ME: Understood. Last thing: On Christmas Day will you actually sit at home and watch the games?

KRISTIN: I’ll watch the Thunder because I’m going home to Oklahoma, and everything stops in Oklahoma when the Thunder play, as well it should. So I’ll be watching with my Dad and my cousins and everybody. And I really want to see the Cavs/Heat game.

Steven Adams: Eating Never Stops

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On Saturday night in a game against the Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder rookie big man Steven Adams sprained his ankle. Now, a sprained ankle has kept many NBA players out of many games, but less than 24 hours later, Adams was ready to go for the Thunder against the Celtics. And as Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the Celtics game, Adams has a unique brand of toughness.

We knew basketball was important to Adams — he’s a professional basketball player, after all — but the food stuff is worth exploring. Perhaps we should’ve known Adams had a predilection for preparing food when we spoke to him back at the Rookie Transition Program, and I asked all the rookies what they would make if they were on Iron Chef. While I got a lot of ramen and cereal answers, Adams came with Beef Wellington and creme brulee.

VIDEO: NBA Rookie: What’s Cooking?

After being drafted, Adams said he went out and bought a huge steak to celebrate …

VIDEO: Steven Adams Dinner

And digging deeper, we learned from a long feature this summer in The Oklahoman that for Adams, really just any food is important …

Food is one of his biggest fetishes.

“He loves food,” said Liggins. “He goes crazy about food. Any food. He wants food.”

Less than three minutes after Liggins revealed that information, Adams walked around the corner with a plate piled high with food. He was the only Thunder player to emerge from the locker room with a plate.

“Food is amazing,” Adams said. “I love food. It’s good. It’s from my family, I guess. My family is quite big and we all eat a ton so I think that’s where it came from.”

In the days leading up to the draft, Adams devoured a 48-oz steak. He had his first hot dog last Saturday in Orlando. He didn’t see the big deal.

During the draft combine, former Louisville center Gorgui Dieng, now with Minnesota, suggested Adams get a shirt that reads “Eating Never Stops,” a play off of Nike’s slogan “Basketball Never Stops.”

“I’m just a New Zealand guy,” Adams said.

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Jeremy Lamb

By Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder

When I first found out I was getting traded from Houston to Oklahoma City about a month ago, it was a shock and definitely unexpected. I played summer league and preseason with the Rockets, and when I found out I was getting traded, I knew I was going to have to learn a new system, a new coaching staff and new teammates.

I had no idea the trade was coming, and wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. But both teams talked me through it. First, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey talked to me about it. About 30 to 45 minutes later, Thunder general manager Sam Presti called me to tell me I’d be going to Oklahoma City and that they were going to fly me out the next day and get started right away. Coach [Scott] Brooks also called me that night.

I left around 4 p.m. the next day, so there was very little time to say goodbyes. I had a chance to talk to some people, including Coach [Kevin] McHale. I liked him a lot, as a coach and a player. He’s a good coach and I enjoyed talking to him. I was glad I was able to say goodbye to him, as well as to some of the other rookies like Scott Machado and Terrence Jones. I spoke to Toney Douglas, who told me, “This is a business. I’ve seen firsthand that side of the business early on in my career, too. Go ahead and do your thing, be aggressive, and work hard.”

I’ve definitely seen the business side of the NBA early, probably before any of the other rookies. But that’s not a bad thing, just something I had to go through. Everything happens for a reason, and I was blessed to play with Houston.

I am adjusting now, so everything is going good.

OKC, Here We Come!

I like it here in Oklahoma City so far. It’s a good city with real good fans and nice people. There’s not much to do, so you can really focus on basketball, which reminds me of Connecticut.

I’ve been living in a hotel since I got to OKC. About a week ago, my mom and someone from my agency came here to help me find a place, and I’ll be moving in in about a week or two. My Mom, Dad and sister are still living in Houston, but they will be moving out to here in a month or so.

We were on the road for Thanksgiving. This was not the first time I wasn’t with my family for the holiday, so I think I’m kind of used to it by now. Growing up, we used to go to my Bishop’s house in Atlanta; cook some good food and have fun. This year, we didn’t do anything as a team, but some people had Thanksgiving food before we got on the plane.

Christmas is the only holiday where I really wish I were with my family. Last year, when I was playing with UComm, we had practice on Christmas Day because we had a game the next day. This year, we will be playing the Miami Heat in Miami on Christmas Day. That will be exciting!


A lot of my teammates, especially Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook, have taken me under their wing. Right when the trade happened, KD and Perk texted me saying they were glad to have me and to come in ready to work. I’ve been putting in extra work with KD; Perk has been helping me out; and Russ has been working with me from day one. I’m playing with a lot of great players here who are really teaching me. In Houston, there were a lot more rookies and guys my age, but here in OKC, there are more veterans.

I have one rookie teammate, Perry Jones. That’s my man! I chill at his house and we eat together sometimes. He’s a cool dude, and since he and I are both rookies, I’m thankful we are going through our first season together. It’s nice that there’s another guy to look up when someone yells “Rook!” and somebody who else who has to do rookie chores.

Coach Brooks is a real good coach. He really pushes me and challenges me in practice. He has a good personality, and I like him as a coach and as a person.

It was tough learning the new system, the plays, defensive schemes and all that at first. It took some time to get used to, but I’ve been here a little while, so I’m getting used to it.

I am working as hard as I can. When the opportunity presents itself, I can come in the game and give my team a boost; play hard on defense, score, rebound.

Jeremy Lamb is a 6-foot-5 guard from the University of Connecticut. He was picked 12th overall by the Rockets in the 2012 NBA Draft, and traded to the Thunder on Oct. 27 in the deal that sent James Harden to Houston.

Follow All Ball all season for more NBA Rooks: Diaries …

Conventional wisdom: May 20th

by Micah Hart

Each day until the end of the NBA Finals, we’ll be taking a look at the conventional wisdom of the moment — which team is currently the favorite to win it all, and which team should be ashamed to still be putting on its jerseys.

Here’s how it looks on the morning of Friday, May 20.

Start planning the parade:

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder sat a second-team All-NBA player for the fourth quarter of Game 2 on the road. In the team’s biggest game of the season, with the possibility of going down 2-0, OKC coach Scott Brooks sat Russell Westbrook for the final 12 minutes. And the Thunder won.

Talk about cojones.

A lot is being made of Westbrook’s benching today, but what is being overlooked is what really allowed Brooks to make the call — the play of James Harden. Eric Maynor was steady in Westbrook’s spot, no doubt, but without Harden providing essential non-Kevin Durant offense, I imagine we’d have seen Westbrook return.

Durant and Westbrook were already a nearly unstoppable combo, but now add in the firepower of Harden (who is a better perimeter threat than Westbrook, and probably a better passer as well), and you have a championship-caliber threesome.

Thunder up.

Give it up already:

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs barely won Game 1, needing a historic offensive performance from Dirk Nowitzki to hold off the Thunder. Now they lose Game 2 with the opposition’s second-best player sitting out the final stanza? It doesn’t bode well.

The playoffs are a marathon, and the Mavs’ most important players have a ton of mileage on their legs. Oklahoma City is younger, faster, and more athletic. At this stage in the game, that can’t help but play a large role in determining who will advance to the NBA Finals.

With last night’s loss, the Mavs’ home-court advantage is gone, and after a few more games, so too will be their title hopes.

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