Notes from Today’s NBA on TNT All-Star 2016 Media Conference Call

Editor’s note: For a full audio replay of today’s media conference call click on these links – Part 1 & Part 2
For additional information on TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage –


TNT will exclusively present live coverage of NBA All-Star 2016 marquee events from Toronto, Feb. 11-14, including more than 26 hours of All-Star programming.  The network will be home to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 12, at 9 p.m. ET, State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. and the 65th annual NBA All-Star Game presented by Kia on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 8:30 p.m. (with pre-game coverage beginning at 7 p.m.).  The NBA All-Star Game – called by iconic play-by-play announcer Marv Albert and analysts Reggie Miller and Chris Webber – will be simulcast on TNT and TBS beginning at 8 p.m.

Earlier today, Albert, Miller and Webber, along with Craig Barry, EVP of Production & Chief Content Officer, Turner Sports, shared their thoughts on NBA All-Star 2016, Albert’s long-term contract extension and other NBA storylines:

Barry on Marv Albert’s contract extension: “He’s been a true icon in the industry.  He’s been associated with the NBA for nearly 50 years and this year marks his 21st providing commentary for the NBA All-Star Game... I couldn’t think of a more appropriate stage to announce his contract extension.  Not only has Marv been the voice of the NBA for past generations of fans, he’s evolved as a talent and continues to be relevant to the present and future generations to come.

“I can’t recall a play-by-play announcer as closely identifiable with a league as Marv is to the NBA.  He’s a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge that he shares with our audience on a nightly basis but, more importantly, he is a true fan.  Our shows are better because Marv is on them.”

Albert: “Thank you, Craig, that was very kind.  You mentioned I was closing in on 50 years and I did want to say that I started at the age of nine.  I am obviously thrilled about the new contract extension.”

Miller on the excitement of All-Star in Toronto: “Their knowledge of the game is growing. It is usually a hockey town but they have really jumped on the bandwagon of the Raptors. It is a growing culture and they are starting to understand the game. To have the greatest players on the planet now all convene in Toronto and a chance to see the guys up close and in person, it has to be a treat for the entire city. It is going to be fun.”

Webber on the Toronto fans: “What I love about them is their enthusiasm. They bring that hockey enthusiasm. Toronto is not only a wonderful city to hang out in but is a wonderful city as a sports fan. The Toronto fans are going to give us one we are not used to because they haven’t had a chance to show it.”

Albert on Toronto having the ability to host NBA All-Star: “Things have really changed in Toronto for basketball. There is so much interest. I think it will be just a great scene there. We have been fortune in recent years – despite the highlight school yard play early on [during the game] – we’ve had some good games and that’s what we hope for.”

Webber on what Kobe Bryant’s career meant to him as a player:  “His career meant a lot of things to me. I love the competitor that he is. His legacy will actually grow [once he leaves the game].  I didn’t have a chance to win a championship because I played against great Hall of Famers and a great Hall of Fame coach. I saw him get better and work on different things every year. It is a great time to celebrate the legacy of a great player on the court. It will become even clearer in the future how great a player he was. It was an honor to battle against him.”

Miller on his admiration for Bryant: “I love him, I hate him and I respect him. I love him because, when you come in at 18 and you play 20 years at the shooting guard position… that shows me his love for the game. I hate him because, in 2000, when we battled for a championship, he was just too good. That Laker team denied me from the ultimate goal of winning a championship. I respect him for what he is doing now. Father Time catches up to all of us. To be able to pass the torch to D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, it is tough for superstars to give an inch. And Kobe has had to take a step back and see what it is important to him. I respect him for giving back to these young guys and to see what will make them successful in this league.”

Miller on playing in his first All-Star Game: “I was so nervous, just walking into the locker room there was Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan and here I am in my third year.  I went straight to the corner, I kept my head down. Even though I had gone against these guys… to be in the same locker room as these guys was like a dream come true. You just don’t believe that you are playing with the greatest players of that time. It was just surreal. You have to soak it all in, be in the moment, play hard, but at the end of the day, you have to enjoy it.”

Webber on the excitement of his first All-Star game: “I was more nervous at my first All-Star Game then my first NBA game. I can probably recall every All-Star moment since I started watching. The biggest thing about the All-Star Game was [that you would say to yourself], ‘Wow, I made it and here are my favorite players in the world I get to be around them.’ I remember meeting all the greats I had grown up with more than playing the game.  It is one of the most humbling experiences for a player and one of the most special moments that I can ever remember.”

Miller on playing against Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in the 1998 All-Star Game: “Having the chance to be on the court and play extended minutes with the greatest of my generation – Michael Jordan – was an honor. It was also good to see a young Kobe [especially at the time, what we thought was the last All-Star Game for MJ.]  It was just cool to sit back and watch.”

Webber on frontcourt players participating in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge: “The actual skill [level] of the big man has gotten better. I think DeMarcus Cousins can dribble just as well as some little guys. Porzingis can one day be in the skills completion.”

Miller on the big men participating in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge: “I love the new twist in the skills challenge. The landscape of the NBA has changed where your frontcourt players are doing more. I would have paid money to see a player like C-Webb dominate a Skills Challenge. We saw them do it in the course of the game, but to put them in a setting like this is great.” 

Miller on where the Knicks turn following the firing of head coach Derek Fisher: “To see him get [fired] is unfortunate. I understand it is a business but it makes you scratch your head. The coach with the best record in the Eastern Conference gets fired but the worst coach in the Eastern Conference gets a two-year extension.  I never thought the Knicks were going to make the playoffs anyway, but I don’t understand the objective of letting him go now. If you let coaches go, then I would like to see more general managers be on the hot seat as well. I think some GM’s need to start looking in the mirror.”

Albert on the state of the Knicks: “I thought Derek was in a very serious situation. He took over a team with very little talent. They became overhyped in the New York area because people were so excited for things to come.  This is a team that consists of an All-Star [Carmelo Anthony] and a rookie [Kristaps Porzingis] that someday will be good. It’s a team full of backups. I thought Phil Jackson did a good job of getting to this point.  Derek, as a player, was so different. He changed. You could feel there was so much pressure. I don’t know if he was the same way with the players but he’s a different guy. It’s tough. I just hate to see it.”

Webber on Tyronn Lue being hired by the Cavaliers: “If you talk to most guys that played against him in the league, he was respected. It was because of his work ethic. When he played, you can say he was akin to Brian Shaw in that Lakers locker room. He earned his respect on the court and you would think that is why LeBron [James] respects him.”

Miller on who is more valuable to the Thunder, Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant: “To win a championship, they are going to need one another. It would be too easy to say without Durant, Westbrook’s numbers would be better and vice versa. This is a team game at the end of the day. Right now, Oklahoma City has two of the top 10 players on their roster. They are going to be a load come playoff time. That’s not fair to them to say who is better.”

Miller on Klay Thompson and his role as the second option to Stephen Curry: “It is all about understanding your role. He plays Robin the best as any ‘Robin’ in the league right now. He understands the bread and butter is served from Steph Curry. He has a fire burning inside of him because he plays so hard at both ends. That’s the luxury Coach [Steve] Kerr has… to have players that understand their roles so well. They feel like they are No. 1 on this team but they play their roles as well. They play just as hard for them to be successful. I knew he would be a great pro because of his size and shooting ability. It is a perfect mix in that backcourt between those two players.”

Webber on the Warriors: “When Draymond [Green] isn’t in the game, Thompson is the best defender on the check. He plays the perfect role. What coach would be better to relay playing with the one of the best players in the world than Kerr? He can give that message more than anyone. When I look at that team, I see it as a reflection that they are the best individually and at understanding their peg on the totem pole. The most impressive thing about them is their attention to detail, guys sacrificing for others but embracing their role no matter how large or small. It makes them even more enjoyable to watch.”