On Sports

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Kobe Bryant is a Quotable All-Star team member, too, whether he's speaking about Paul Gasol, Smush Parker or other players. Sometimes I wish I had a video vault on Mike Rice. The Trail Blazers’ TV analyst is like everyone’s eccentric uncle, cracking wise and slipping up with mispronounced names and malaprops and occasionally getting off an intended one-liner.

“The Best of Rice” would be epic.

I’ve featured the former Duquesne and Youngstown State mentor before in my annual NBA Quotes of the Year column, but why not again? Let’s toss my zany pal the spotlight once again this year.

“You can bump a guy in a red uniform, but not one in a gray.”

— On Phoenix center Robin Lopez, suspended one game for bumping a referee.

“His shot always looks like it’s going to be short, but it’s just short of magnificent.”

— On Dirk Nowitzki.

“Five seconds left. Be a shooter. Grow some.”

— After Portland’s Luke Babbitt passed up an open shot to drive with five seconds remaining on the shot clock, causing a violation. (But Mike — grow what?)

by: RYAN PROUTY/TRAIL BLAZERS - Mike Rice (right), at the courtside microphones with Trail Blazers broadcasting legend Steve Jones, has become a legend of his own with his memorable commentary during NBA games and shows.“How many offensive rebounds do they have — 22? Nice round number.”

— During the Blazers’ summer league game versus the Houston Rockets.

Here are some other top things said around the NBA in 2012:

Do you remember the Kevin Love/Luis Scola incident last season? Love was suspended for two games for stepping on Scola’s face.

“I got size-19 feet,” Love told reporters after the game. “He just happened to be there.”

A week earlier, Scola had thrown a ball into Love’s private parts while trying to save a ball out of bounds.

“I just kind of tripped up,” Love added of the incident. “It happened to be his face, just like in Houston, where it happened to be my groin.”

by: COURTESY OF KEVIN LOVE - Kevin Love, the former Lake Oswego High star, is near the top of the NBA both as a player and as a quote.Love, the Lake Oswego High grad, is one of the better interviews in the league. The All-Star forward with Minnesot a is good with the quip, too, such as, “A slump is like a comfortable bed — easy to get into, hard to get out of.”

Kobe Bryant is a rather quotable gent, too. Among his gems, I offer these four:

“It obviously starts with myself and Pau (Gasol) and the emergency of Andrew (Bynum).”

— On the Lakers’ title chances in 2012.

“It felt like a sauna on my face. I was drinking my own sweat.” — On wearing a mask to protect a broken nose.

“I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team. I was shooting 45 times a game? What was I supposed to do — pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?”

— On the Lakers during the 2005-06 season.

“He shouldn’t have been in the NBA. We were too cheap to pay for a point guard, so we let him walk on.”

— On Parker after the ex-Laker guard fired back at him.

Elsewhere in the NBA

Let’s get to the rest of the league, and some of the premier quotes in the year 2012:

“He’s not a great leaper, but his timing is just like out of this world. Kind of reminds me of me.”

— Former Charlotte coach Paul Silas on Love.

“I wanted to feed them. I was more thinking about it selfishly. I wanted to make it, but I also wanted to give them some Taco Bell.”

— Portland reserve Luke Babbitt on sinking a 3-pointer on Portland’s final possession of a home game. The basket pushed the Blazers over the 100-point barrier, meaning each fan got a coupon for a free chalupa.

“That’s crazy. I wish I’d have shot one. I’d have probably made it.”

— Portland center J.J. Hickson after the Blazers set an NBA record for futility by going 0 for 20 from 3-point range in a win over Toronto. Hickson is 0 for 8 from beyond the arc in his career.

“If this is a contract year, he just got a nice one off of us.” — Chris Paul, after Hickson put up 29 points and 13 rebounds in a 98-97 loss to the L.A. Clippers.

“Is that a misprint? I’m speechless on that.”

— Portland coach Terry Stotts, after the Blazers outscored the Raptors 54-26 in points in the paint. Portland ranked next-to-last in the NBA in the category at that time.

“We have one of the more amazingest crowds in the NBA.”

— Forward Gerald Wallace, before being traded by the Blazers to the Nets.

“He was talking to me. I was trying to understand what he was saying, and the ref said, ‘Quit looking at him.’ I didn’t know I couldn’t look at a human being. Can’t touch him, can’t look at him — what’s next?”

— Joel Przybilla, while still with Portland, after getting into a lively conversation with LeBron James.

“I’m sure it is. I’m riding him like freaking Secretariat.”

— Mike D’Antoni, then New York’s coach, asked if fatigue played a factor in Jeremy Lin committing eight turnovers in a game.

“It’s up to the organization to say if they want to match that ridiculous contract that’s out there.”

— New York’s Carmelo Anthony on Houston’s three-year, $25 million offer sheet to free agent Lin.

“I have no problems with Mike Brown at all — I just have to be patient.”

— Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss, on rumors coach Mike Brown’s job is in danger after a 1-4 start. A day later, Brown was fired and D’Antoni hired.

“I kind of feel like a cougar — not too old to draw interest (from NBA teams), but maybe overlooked because of my experience and age.”

— Steve Nash, before signing a free-agent contract with the Lakers.

“I cut the trophy in half. Now I use it for a salsa bowl.”

— Former NBA player Brent Barry, on winning the slam-dunk contest during NBA All-Star weekend as a rookie with the Clippers in 1996:

“I live in D.C. It’s a shame the president isn’t going to get a chance to meet me. I’m the president of my house.”

— Delonte West, then with Dallas, prohibited from attending the NBA champion Mavericks’ visit with President Obama at the White House because of a weapons conviction.

“You can’t guard me. That’s not trash talk. That’s a fact.” — Golden State coach Mark Jackson, when asked what Michael Jordan used to say to him when they faced each other as players.

“His breath smelled like Similac.”

— Cleveland coach Byron Scott, on the youthfulness of rookie guard Kyrie Irving when he arrived at training camp.

“At this point in the game, you don’t want to have accidental contact, if you didn’t mean it.”

— Hubie Brown, analyzing a Miami-Indiana playoff game.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team. If I have to go kill someone on the court, I’ll kill someone on the court.”

— Darko Milicic, after being signed by Boston. Three weeks into the regular season, the Celtics waived the 7-foot center.

“Up top, the screws are a little tighter.”

— Adam Morrison, asked how the Morrison of today is different than the Morrison as a rookie out of Gonzaga.

“We’re not buried, but we’re five feet under.”

— Toronto guard Kyle Lowry after the Raptors had lost six straight games.

“I don’t know what happened with Amir. He kind of lost his mind there a little bit.”

— Toronto coach Dwane Casey on forward Amir Johnson, suspended for a game for hitting referee David Wood on his back with a mouthpiece after being ejected from a game.

“It’s going to be very tastefully done.”

— NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, on his plans to form a Stripper Basketball League, with the dancers running the court with tassels on.

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