It probably goes without saying that this post can be filed under "Reading too much into just about everything" but then again, it's not like there's much else to talk about at the moment. Before we get into the meat of the press conference (all of which can be seen here), let me address a couple of things from Ernie Grunfeld's opening statements.
- He started off by saying "This is the start of a new beginning." My question: Aren't the words start and beginning interchangeable here? If he had said "This is the beginning of a new start" would anyone have interpreted his sentence differently? I know that's a bit random, but this is the kind of stuff that keeps me awake at night.
- Grunfeld said the team was looking for someone with "credibility, an NBA backgroud with experience, a winner, not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs." It could be argued that he was taking a couple of veiled shots at some of the candidates in the running for the other head coaching vacancy in the NBA right now. Sacramento is rumored to be looking at Ettore Messina (lacking an NBA background and experience) and Eddie Jordan (who it could be argued hasn't done enough to be considered a winner at the playoff level). More likely he was just highlighting Flip's best qualities, but interesting nonetheless.
- Grunfeld made it a point to say that Flip is "underrated on the defensive end which we all know we want to make some improvements in.' The proof will be in the pudding, but it's nice to see that they're not treating the team's defensive problems like the elephant in the corner from the get-go.
- Flip opened by saying that this was a "unique" situation, obviously referring to how the team went through such a tough year with all the injuries, but seemed to be excited about the talent on the team. He added that winning a championship "takes a lot of hard work, but you also have to be lucky." Translation: If everyone gets hurt again next year and we don't do any better than we did this year, please don't blame it on me.
- Later on, Flip added "Every team is this league is about one play or one injury away from being very average and if you have two injuries you're going to be very bad." If you didn't nod your head as you read that you haven't been watching Wizards basketball for the last two years.
- He said that he's studied the team, but it's been hard to make a lot of judgments because the injuries have taken so many players out of their natural roles. Hard to argue with that.
- There was some discussion about his relationship with Gilbert Arenas and Flip said that he was impressed with his competitiveness. He also talked about how he wants to develop Gilbert into a leader. Gilbert talked at the end of the season about seeing the light and how he's going to be more serious next season. Taking the leadership role would be a good step in the right direction on putting action to those words. Even though Antawn and Caron have been the captains of the team, I've always felt that Gilbert was the player that everyone on the team followed, for better or worse. If you don't believe me, look at the players on the team and ask yourself which player of the Big 3 they emulate the most. I firmly believe the person that you emulate the most is the one that you're the most likely to follow and in most cases, the person that you currently are following. Maybe some of you will disagree with me on this but the player I see emulated the most on this team is Gilbert Arenas. There are bits and pieces of Caron and Antawn sprinkled in, but when I look at this team I see a goofy team with good chemistry that can dazzle at times and baffle at others. Doesn't that sound like a Gilbert Arenas to you? Flip seems to get this as well and if he can get Gilbert onboard as a leader, the rest of the team will follow his lead.
- Flip Saunders said he believes in the hockey assist. Amen to that.
- "There's a committment you have to make not only on the floor but off the floor. I firmly believe that how you carry yourself off the floor also reflects how you play as far as on the floor." I'm sure you all have a certain player in mind when you hear that quote.