Abdul-Jabbar helping out Pacers big men
Thursday, September 27th 2001, 12:00 am
News On 6
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ As a child, Primoz Brezec watched a 7-foot-2 Los Angeles Lakers center use the sky hook as perhaps the most devastating shot in NBA history.
So, when Brezec got to meet the man in person, he had only one request.
``Let me see that hook shot,'' Brezec said.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was more than happy to oblige.
Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's career scoring leader and winner of six championship rings, completed a three-day training session with Indiana Pacers centers Wednesday. He spent most of the sessions tutoring Brezec, Bruno Sundov and Will Cunningham on how to succeed in the low post through footwork and positioning
More importantly, he's back in coaching.
``This is a great step for me,'' he said. ``This is a great opportunity. I'm really thankful for it. I just want to get involved and stay involved on a regular basis. I think I have a lot of knowledge to impart. Given the opportunity, I can help some people improve.''
Abdul-Jabbar wasn't there just to teach the hook shot. He showed the three how to have success with their backs to the basket and how to play smart basketball.
``We worked on situations,'' Abdul-Jabbar said. ``We tried to explain situations to guys and what they want to get out of every situation and what helps the team the most on offense and defense.''
Brezec was Indiana's top pick, 27th overall, in the 2000 draft but played with Slovenia's B.C. Olimpija Ljubljana in the Euroleague, the top European league. He said learning from Abdul-Jabbar will help him adjust to the NBA.
``We talked about the balance in the low post,'' he said. ``I'm looking forward to working with him again.''
Those are the kind of words Pacers coach Isiah Thomas likes to hear. Since taking over last year, he has brought Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight, former NBA center Bill Walton, and his ex-Piston teammate Mark Aguirre in to camp.
``We're interested in basketball intellect,'' said Thomas, who, like Abdul-Jabbar, was voted one of the NBA's 50 Greatest. ``The more knowledge that we can expose our players to, the better they'll be as players.''
Abdul-Jabbar and Thomas talked during the taping of a Tostidos commercial in early August. Thomas said he felt Abdul-Jabbar could help his mostly inexperienced centers.
``When he gets on the floor, it's all ears and all eyes,'' Thomas said. ``All the guys have been like sponges, just wanting to be around him and listen to the things he's got to say.''
Abdul-Jabbar served as a Los Angeles Clippers assistant during the 2000 season, but found the experience disappointing.
``I was hired after the All-Star break, and they were already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs,'' he said. ``The people that they wanted me to work with did not have much incentive. The whole culture with the Clippers was not one that was conducive to them getting that fire in their eyes. That made my job very difficult. Ultimately, they let me go.''
Abdul-Jabbar plans to stick around with the Pacers. Although they have no assistant coach openings, he says he'll act as a scout, a consultant and an assistant coach for Thomas and Pacers president Donnie Walsh.
``It's definitely going to carry into the season,'' he said. ``Isiah and Donnie want me to come back and work with the guys, especially when they have a little bit of time in town.''
As for that hook shot, Brezec said he's not sure if he'll use it.
``It's easy to watch, but it's not easy to make,'' he said.