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TERRY PORTER

Zdjęcia: gettyimages

Przemek Opłocki:

I must admit that Portland Trail Blazers is one of the best memories from my childhood. I spent many hours playing NBA Jam at Super Nintendo as Blazers, with you and Clyde Drexler what was one of my favorite teams. Both dunking, shooting 3pts, or alley-ops, especially Drexler to Porter. Did it ever happen in real life, for example during training game?

Terry Porter:

No, that was stress for me to dunk. I only passed the ball, alley-op to Clyde. I can’t jump. I was challenged regularly that way by other players.

PO:

Let’s come back to early 70s, you were 8 years old kid when Milwaukee Bucks won their first, and so far the only one, NBA championship. Lewis Alcindor (day after the Bucks won NBA championship we changed it into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Oscar Robertson, Bod Dandridge. Who was your favorite player from those team?

TP:

First of all, the city was so excited about their journey in playoffs and win championship. I remember parade. I was only 8 years old, but as you could imagine, our teachers talked about it, our principals talked about it, we had a prime day for Bucks, my parents talked about it at home. We wanted to show colors of our team, and support them. I liked Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, personality of both of those guys. They both were the best players, but I just loved Oscar Robertson versatility to be such a great scorer and a great passer, so I liked watching him. He did so many good things on the basket court.

PO:

18th June 1985 was a special day for New York Knicks which with 1st pick selected new leader, Patrick Ewing. It was also unique day for you – Portland Trail Blazers used their 24th pick and chose you. How do you remember those day?

TP:

It’s weird, people find it interesting, but when I was growing up basketball wasn’t my dream. I dreamt to be a professional football player. I had a lot of guys in neighborhood playing football, and it was even more interesting sport than basketball. And then I realized as I went to high school, that I wasn’t good at football (laugh) I had to turn on my attention and energy to something else, and it became basketball. I focused on it, played more basketball, in high school, and colleague. I was very fortunate and blessed. When I was in colleague they gave me opportunity. Being drafted in 1985 was one of the proudest moments for me. Someone, who put a lot of time and energy in playing basketball got the ultimate award by getting drafted in the first round of NBA. It was something I didn’t dream off. It wasn’t something that even city Milwaukee was doing that time. We didn’t have a lot of basketball players got drafted in NBA like the biggest cities, like Chicago or Los Angeles, so it was very exciting for the city, for the Wisconsin University I went to, and all my friends and family.

PO:

In 1985-86 Blazers roster were players who would play crucial roles in successful future of team from Oregon: you, Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey. Jerome was even inspiration for our V-ce Editor-in-Chief to launched a Mercy Mercy Jerome Kersey blog showing cards with NBA players and their stories. It’s called. What was so unique in him, as a player and person?

TP:

He was one of those basketball players that had just a tremendous motor, and he was a great athletic, and his will to win, was like no other players had to face. He, like me, came from a small school, Longwood University, which is not like Kentucky, so we both hit it off right away, and we were overlooked. He was determined just to outwork anybody who played in his position. That is one thing that I admire about him: his work ethic and willingness to play at such a high-level. He played 110%, just as in the way he dunked, with force.

PO:

Did you, as Portland Trail Blazers, have a team or players from opposite clubs, for matches with which you were more motivated? I don’t know, John Stockton and Utah Jazz, or Michael Jordan and Bulls?

TP:

When you play in NBA you are motivated to play against the best players every night. That time in the West on my position we had a lot of great point guards. So my motivation was to make sure that I try to outperform them every night. Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson, John Stockton, Magic Johnson. I am even not including East Coast, Isiah Thomas, Mark Price, or Derek Harper. You have your work to do every night, come ready, and be on really top of your game, otherwise you will be outperformed by one of these guys.

PO:

At the turn of 80’s and 90’s Portland was at the top. Twice in NBA Finals, three times in Conference Finals. You were close to win NBA championship. If you compare those two finals, with Pistons and Bulls, which was more difficult?

TP:

I think that both journeys were very difficult. In 80’s, in 1989, when we got the Pistons, the very first final we faced, we had some injuries along the way. Buck (Buck Williams) was injured, Duck (Kevin Duckworth) got injured. Some of those games we had to start with a young players, like Cliff Robinson, he was a rookie at that time. We had a little more challenges, and nobody expected that from that particular team, we were just coming together, as a group. The team made a trade that year, traded Sam Bowie to New Jersey Nets for Buck Williams, and Buck was this piece of the team who helped us with a great run, made us stronger and helped winning to the playoffs. It was his physical presence and willingness to sacrifice his scoring and offence, because he was 20-10 guy in New Jersey, but when we got him he changed and became a 10 pts player. He focused on defending, rebounding, and doing the dirty stuff. He made us a complete team, and we had a Championship caliber type of aspirations. Then in the 90’s, that year it was just some for us and after the taste of first time we were determined, wanted to come back and try to win the title. We had some great run, and in 1991 we lost with Lakers in the Western Conference Finals (2-4), in the year when we had the best record in the league, and then in 1992 we lost in NBA Finals with Chicago (2-4), which was one of the best matchup for us. Both were different type of runs for us. Bulls had a group of young men, who were determined and focused, collectively try to reach something special.

PO:

It would be tactless forget about you coach, Rich Adelman. What was his coaching style: like father, like sergeant, like pal, or other?

TP:

He was more like a father. He gave you tough love when you needed it, also gave you encouragement, when you needed it. He just knew how to allow us to play within the structure to have a freedom, but also hold us accountable for what we didn’t execute or do the things that we need to do to make us successful. When someone didn’t execute an offence event he would bring that up, and make a sure everybody is aware of that. When there was some type of breakdown in defense event he would be persistent in regards to make you sure we made corrections.

PO:

As usual, there is a time in life for changes and you went to Minneapolis. During time spending in Minnesota Timberwolves you were mentor for Kevin Garnett and Stephan Marbury. Both had a chance and talent to be All-Star format players. Both did it, but Kevin became leader and earned future Hall of Fame nominee. Did you treat your relation with them as mentor – pupil?

TP:

At that time they both were rookies, just coming to the league, didn’t know anything about the league. Kevin Garnett was one of the first high-schoolers who got drafted. He had a lot to learn. Stephan Marbury played one year in the colleague, then he came to the league. They both were very young, and my role was to mentor them, allow with other veteran players, teach them the pro game. I love both, because both had great basketball mind, but they always wanted to know what they could do to get better, how was it playing in NBA Finals, and what is playoffs like. We spent a lot of time when we traveled on the road, and guys asked me questions. Kevin about players, teams. Stephan always about point guards, and what makes them great in today’s games. There were two young mans, very excited, and had a great thrust for basketball.

PO:

Both, you and Jerome, had an episode in San Antonio Spurs. Not in the same time, not with the same result, but I guess it was a good coaching lesson for you. What makes Spurs outstanding organization?

TP:

: I think what makes the San Antonio Spurs kind of the golden standards in the NBA: is the leadership, from ownership, Peter Holt, Gregg Popovich and R. C. Buford. I think all three of them had a vision and also were committed to that vision. Each of them had a role and each played a good job in this role. Three minds try to establish character, being something important to players they bought there. High IQ basketball guys, and they were very talented. In coaching it’s all about the team, more than it’s about the individual. Pop is always locked on a ball. I think they’ve got the ability to get their roster with the first pick they got Tim Duncan, and other picks they got Manu Ginóbili and Tony Parker along the many years. They were able to build great team around corner stones and talent. The guys who didn’t want to be in the big cities, like LA or Chicago, they were very happy in the small market like San Antonio, with coaching Staff and Championship pedigree, and continuing to build a great tradition. Pop, and regards what he does, he has a military background, so he know what he expected and how everybody has to play their role, and if you didn’t you heard about it immediately (laugh).

PO:

In 2003 you came back to Milwaukee, this time as a coach. How could you describe your style and relations with players?

TP:

First of all, when you have the opportunity to play the game you could see the game in the players eyes. Coach – player relation is very important, especially at NBA level. I was a part of NBA caliber championship team and I know how those teams were built, what made those teams special. You have to be able to relay it to your players, and Milwaukee group had a lot of young players, but also had some guys who were very thirsty. One of this players, Michael Redd, has played smaller role before I got there, and we really thought it’s time for him to take a better role. Other guys played roles that were called upon them, and that is why we had some success. We made a playoffs when nobody expected it from us.

PO:

It was completely different Bucks roster. Without Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Gary Payton, Anthony Mason. With a new leader, Michael Redd. In 2000 he was selected with 43rd pick, in second round. With you as a coach he became an All-Star caliber guard. What was special in him, that he turned into top league scorer?

TP:

I think that at NBA level it was his ability to shoot a ball and shooting with a great success, catch a shoot, ability to drive, to create the space and get a shoot. He was a scorer, and he was blessed to be able to be around Ray Allen, he saw the daily base, and played against him. Also played with Sam Cassell and Gary Payton, and learnt from them how to play the game. When he was given an opportunity, when we decided to rebuilt and start with a young group, a fresh team, he was able to take what he learnt from those guys and apply to his game, and really become an All-Star. Players always want to be the best. When you reach an All-Star for year, for how many you reach it, you feel like you achieve that level by accomplishment, and he definitely worked extremely hard for that. Nothing comes easy. He was this type of guys that love the game, had a high-basketball IQ, and that was made him great.

PO:

In 2008-09 you came back at bench as a coach, this time in Arizona. Suns had in team Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Grant Hill, Shaquille O’Neal. It was almost like being coach during All-Star Weekend. Shaq was my favorite player. Ever. He and Orlando Magic were my first steps in NBA. He was and is showman. It was possible to tame him at all?

TP:

Shaq was enjoyment to coach. He was a funny guy, but he was also serious. He had some difficulties that time regarding the pick & roll, but he was for secure the rim defensively, and he still was very effective offensively. He was still very difficult for teams to guard him. We had All-Star, MVP candidate, Steve Nash, who was so great in passing the ball and controlling the game. I love Shaq’s humor every day in practice, keep everybody loose, but when he needed to be serious he focused on his job.

PO:

Now you are with university team. How different is it when you compare coaching in the NBA and at university?

TP:

The biggest difference is profession. You have a lot more things at a colleague level. You have to manage as a head coach, you have academics, the books that should be on top of that, the ability to communicate, and blend in with the rest of student body on campus, make sure that they are young me with a good character, they treat people with respect, they care themselves in the way that make program very proud, and then as a coaching staff you have to deal with Athletic Department, make sure everybody is on the same page, and on the pro level you won’t have all those other variables, and all you have is coaching. That’s a 100% what you are doing at the pro level is coaching kids, coaching young men, and try to have them more into it. What you feel is very important, you have to try them be able to form a team has Championship capabilities. At the colleague level you have got high-school kids, and have understand and teach them so many things.

PO:

What are plans and goals for 2019-20 season?

TP:

I think our team is in the building mode. We give those guys opportunity to play basketball in the right way. What we are working on this year is to be able to compete every night, put ourselves in position to win games, and feel that all in all some of our guys will step up and take more leadership role for this year, both offence and defense.

PO:

What should I wish you: back to the NBA as a coach, more top assets in your university team, other challenges?

TP:

Coaching doesn’t matter what level, there are always challenges, how you try to put together team, how you set the team on importance of competing, and have them understand importance on how blessed you are to play basketball, at pro level you play to establish the lifestyle for your family and yourself, and success. At the colleague you try to prepare for the future, getting a college degree, and become colleague graduate, and be able to prepare yourself and set yourself for the life. If you work hard, and you become a good enough player, and mainly have some perspectives, but that’s not the main goal here. We are aware to prepare kids to be a great leaders and impact for country and the world in the proper way.

PO:

At the end let’s come back for a while to NBA JAM. If you could create your own team for video game, who would you choose for 2nd and 3rd player?

TP:

And I get to pick any players with many generations?

PO:

Yes, you have a time machine.

TP:

Time machine, I love that. I will have Michael Jordan… and Kobe Bryant.

PO:

So you have got small ball team.

TP:

I will pick up some big guys on the way, but those two guys be in my team. It’s a new NBA.

PO:

And who would be in the three with whom you would face.

TP:

I would like to play against Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Kawhi Leonard.

PO:

Coach Porter thank you very much for the interview.