Q&A: Bob Ryan

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of Charles Curtis 

NJ.com: Is president Phil Jackson the Knicks' savior?
Ryan: I don’t think there’s such a thing as "the savior." He’s intelligent, he’s coached, but he’s never done this. I find it difficult to believe that Phil Jackson is going to go to college teams and actually look at people which [Celtics GM] Danny Ainge does and [Warriors board member] Jerry West did for all those years and all that legwork. If he thinks he’s going to do it from the seat of his pants and from the office in New York or Montana or Los Angeles while he’s having lunch with [fiancee] Jeanie Buss, he will fail. If he can beat them at their game doing it any other way other than the conventional way, he is a genius. We’ll see if he has a sufficient attention span, cause there are 12 million reasons to do it right. I’m very fascinated by this, I know how smart he is. It’s not that simple, you do have to work. 

NJ.com: Do the Knicks have the right roster for the triangle offense?
Ryan: If the players buy in and accept it can work and want to do it, I don’t think it’s a matter of physical basketball aptitude. It requires self-sacrifice and it does require a level of basketball intelligence with decision-making. Let’s face it: there’s one key guy. If Carmelo Anthony doesn’t buy into it, it’s going to fail. So he’s got to buy into it.

NJ.com: Can he buy into it?
Ryan: He’s not [Cavaliers forward] LeBron James. He’s not [Lakers guard] Kobe Bryant. He’s not Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Michael Jordan. He’s a scoring machine who also rebounds. That’s who he is. He’s the second level of superstar. He’s a star, he’s a specialist, that’s what he does. He’s a lesser version of Kevin Durant. Here’s where he’s great: The 2012 Olympics. They’re in trouble, sputtering against Spain. He comes off the bench, bang, bang, bang, bang. He’s a great scorer and an excellent rebounder. But he thinks he’s better than he is. 

NJ.com: Were you surprised by Jason Kidd bolting the Nets for Milwaukee?
Ryan: No, not shocked. Frankly, everybody looks out for number one, you and me included. He saw a deal with his buddy in Milwaukee. He knew last year was a one shot deal with the Nets and failed. He’s more comfortable there than he was in Brooklyn. 

NJ.com: Are the Nets still a playoff team?
Ryan: There are five locks in the East. Then we’ve got some spirited compettion for 6-7-8. The eighth spot, believe it or not, might be the Boston Celtics. They have a lot of components and they have a lot of depth. Remember when Philly got that great start a few years ago, they were like gnats flying around? They did it with a lot of help from a lot of people. The Celtics will come at you with a lot of players. 

NJ.com: Speaking of the Sixers, what do you think of their long-term plan?
Ryan: They took all the heat for what they did. They’re going to have to have patience. They could have a modern version of the twin towers. How soon that could happen, I don’t know. If they do, it’s the reincarnation of Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, they could be a 21st century version. 

NJ.com: Does James win a ring this year in his return to Cleveland?
Ryan: I don’t think so. They’re favorite barely over Chicago and if Derrick Rose is healthy, they can stand in the Cavaliers' way. Some of the teams in the West will be equal to them. My biggest thing: Will coach David Blatt recognize the opportunity he has? Because he has the last active user of the fine art of the outlet pass in Kevin Love. If he doesn’t take advantage, shame on him. 

NJ.com: Last question: Will professional basketball ever step foot into New Jersey again?
Ryan: As a Trenton guy, I know we don’t need a team. You’ve got Philadelphia, you’ve got New York. They come to us for our beaches, we go to them for our games. I’m the guy who nicknamed them the Exit 16W Nets, that’s going on my tombstone. There was a reason for that — there was no "there" there, there never was a "there" there. It was ridiculous, I don’t expect to see a team in New Jersey again.