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Kevin Harlan Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
September 25, 2020 5:57 pm

Kevin Harlan Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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The great Kevin Harlins now with us on SportsHub Triad. You know him from the NFL on CBS. Monday night football on SportsHub Triad in Westwood One.

And of course, the NBA on Turner. Kevin, the times appreciated, but before we get into basketball and football, I've just been reminded because Sawyer's been playing Justin Timberlake songs all day that he rides and dies with JT. I'm a big Coldplay fan.

I don't know why I'm bidding that publicly. So I wanted to ask you this because I asked Joe Person earlier. Who's the artist Kevin Harlin has always been a fan of? Like through the thick and thin, Kevin Harlin rides or dies with artists? Who is it? I don't really have.

I feel bad seeing that. It kind of sounds like I'm a shallow guy, doesn't it? No, I really don't have a go-to. Sometimes I'll even be checking in a hotel and they'll be playing music.

You know, try to Shazam it or whoever. Just watch my kids laugh at it. No, I really don't think I've got a go-to. But I appreciate all kinds and like all kinds and will not turn off anything readily.

I'm open to everything. Hold up, is Kevin Harlin a country boy? I know you went to Kansas and spent time in Kansas City. Country music fan, is Kevin Harlin a country boy at heart? Well, a little bit, yeah.

No, I mean, I think my wife is kind of guess she's from Oklahoma, Texas. So she kind of has got me a little bit into that either. You know, I kind of like everything. So I really, even though I can't even name any, I mean, I could name them if I thought. Sure, sure.

And I'm driving as we're doing this. I can't think right now, but Casey Musgraves, I kind of like her. And she has a couple songs I like. No, I truly like everything.

I cover it all. I like Diana Krall who kind of sings old classics and a lot of Frank Sinatra. And then I like Coldplay.

I'm good with Coldplay and I mean all of it. I will tell you that I like it all. Let's get to your area of expertise thing.

Kevin Harlin spending time with us here on Sports on Triad. So you were in the bubble for quite a bit. So what was, how did expectations meet reality for what it actually was?

Well, I thought it was much better than I was expecting. Hotel we stayed at was nice and we couldn't leave the grounds, hotel grounds because of quarantine. But, you know, food is readily available. You can just order off Uber Eats or Postmates or whatever.

And DoorDash, that's all, we all use them all. Like I said, the hotel was terrific. There was a golf course right by. Some guys played a lot of golf. I had so many games to do and a lot of NFL work to kind of catch up on that my days were spent pretty much in the room. Then you take the bus over to the arenas and do your game and get back on the bus afterward with about a 15 minute ride to and from.

But there wasn't a lot. One of the nice benefits is I had a lot of lunches at the hotel with some of my buddies who I don't get to see that much like Mike Breen and Dave Pash and Ian Eagle and Spiro Didis and others. So it was really it was really a nice opportunity really to get to spend time. Brian Anderson, guys. I don't see very often because we're all doing games and never travel in the same direction.

We're all going in 18 different directions. But that was fun. And the games are great. And the broadcast facilities were terrific. We're not on the floor. But we were up in a mezzanine level and glass enclosed, plexiglass enclosed little broadcast booths and individually. And that was fine.

I thought it was great. And for what they had to work with, it's like a big TV studio that made the game seem as real as possible. And I commend the NBA and all the smart technical people at Turner and ESPN for what they did, because they made it about as perfect as you could possibly hope under the conditions. When you look at tonight's action, the Heat look to advance to the NBA Finals.

They're up three games to one on the Boston Celtics 830 tip for that game. And when you look at the Miami Heat, do you see an organization with a roster building template that can't really be replicated elsewhere because not everybody has Pat Riley or Eric Spolstra? Or do you look at it on the other side of the coin as a team whose core players aren't really guys who were drafted in the top 10 of the draft that should give every small market team, maybe even like the Hornets and Charlotte, hope that they can build a team the same way? Well, I do think their culture in Miami with the Heat organization, you mentioned Riley and Spolstra, that is a big, big part of their success.

There is no doubt about that. And they are very patient. They're big in development. They're big for getting value at a later pick in the draft. They are not afraid to go after robust free agents.

And that has been evident. They can make a trade with the best of them. They just seem to check every box.

I think that any organization could do that, but I think it, again, puts a premium on what the culture is, who's making those decisions, what's the chain of command. When you bring them in, how do you get them ready? How do you teach them?

Do you have a style? Is there continuity? And is there a method and a process which, if followed, has proven successful? And so it takes people in management with great conviction to go ahead and make those decisions and follow a plan and not sacrifice or succumb to pressure or something that may be tantalizing, but you know long-term doesn't necessarily fit. So they have a certain kind of guy they go after. They know the style of play they want to go after and players that will fill it.

And you're right. Really, it's not a superstar-laden team by any stretch. Jimmy Butler is probably their most known commodity. They're thriving on three young players, two rookies and a kid who's in his second year, but only played 10 games as a rookie, so really his first full season in the NBA.

So I commend him. I think this is the way I'd love to see it. I am not a fan of outbidding and getting a high-priced guy and thinking that's going to change culture, change everything about what you've been and what you hope to be. It begins really in small moves, and they've made them, and they've been successful.

I am a huge, huge fan of Riley and of Spulstra. They get it right, and they follow a plan in the process which has served them well. And look at the teams that are remaining here. I mean, the Denver Nuggets, even though they're down three games to one, a really homegrown team with Jokic and Jamal Murray, and the drafting's really good in the culture Mike Malone's built. I mentioned Miami, but even going back to last year, Toronto, they didn't have any lottery picks in that rotation, and they won a title. So I think the league gets this perception, Kevin, that, oh, it's the big markets that dominate, and on top of that you have to win the lottery, essentially, in order to have a chance to win big if you're a small market team.

We just haven't seen that the last two years. I'm hoping that Anadokumbo will stay in Milwaukee. It's good for the NBA that some of these middle market, small market franchises are able to keep big name players. Oklahoma City couldn't keep Durant, and they couldn't keep Harden, and couldn't keep Westbrook. We saw them all get traded or knew that they couldn't be resigned, so the trade was made.

I like that story so much. It sometimes seems like the easy way out, to be quite honest, when it is not homegrown, and you don't draft them, and you don't develop them, and you don't play them, which is the hard part, and the part where patience and foresight are needed. It's easy to go out and sign a guy for the max.

It's easy to do because you've got big pocketbooks, but not because you've shown any kind of acumen to drafting, developing, teaching, training, and developing a culture that surrounds one of those, as you call them, thrones. I want to close things out on this, because I don't know if you know this, Kevin, but 20 years ago today, Vince Carter completed what many believed to be the greatest dunk in the history of basketball, maybe, when you're talking about jumping over a 7 foot 2 center in the Olympics 20 years ago today. You covered Vince for a long time. It's crazy to think that until two or three months ago, or I guess it would be six months ago now, March, there was still a lineage back to Dean Smith in the NBA, somebody who was coached by Dean Smith playing in the NBA, and it was Vince. What's your favorite memory of Vince Carter in all the years you covered him? Well, I've always admired the professional he was, how he embraced the Tar Heels system, and really you've got two schools in that state with Duke that have produced a long line of very successful NBA players. But Carter in particular, who's from the state of Florida, went up to North Carolina and played and starred and was terrific, and you know, this great appreciation for training and treating your body the right way, thinking the game through, changing his game as he got older, and was always a contributor in whatever situation and on whatever team he played. Now he's going to play in a new team at ESPN as a broadcaster, and my guess is he'll be just as successful there as he was as a player. But I think you always appreciate guys that have the God-given gift to sustain that kind of length of a career at the professional level.

Hard to do. Some guys have all the right intentions, and they still aren't able to because their body just quits on them. He was blessed with a body that kept them very prominent and alive and in the game for many years, longer than most. And so I'm sure he shows great appreciation for what he was blessed with initially, but he had to think the game through, he had to be that leader, he had to be a commodity that teams wanted, and certainly most of all those traits, a lot of what he was, began under Dean at Carolina with the Tar Heel program. And if that is one of the other many, many attributes of Dean Smith and what he made happen, then what a great testament to what kind of coaching man he was, and certainly what Vince Carter became after he left that program. It's a great story all the way around.

Yeah. Just a few years ago, somebody tipped me off to the fact, hey, Vince is going to be awesome at this television thing. And then he did a podcast, did some work in Atlanta when he was with the Hawks for TNT, I believe. And then now he's at ESPN, so we wish him the best of luck. I wish you the best of luck, Kevin. I know your schedule is just insane.

It always tends to be. Thanks for spending the time in the Triad where, again, you are somebody who's respected all across sports, but in Winston-Salem, you were named the national sportscaster of the year by the NSMA. So we need to get you down here sometime soon. I'm going to be down there next summer and hopefully before that with the Panther game or a game with your NBA team there in downtown Charlotte. Wonderful building. In fact, both buildings, the football stadium and the arena are first class, and it's always great to get back there. Love Charlotte. Love the Carolinas. And you're so nice to have me on, Josh. Privilege is mine. Thank you so much.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-12 04:15:45 / 2023-02-12 04:20:57 / 5

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