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When athletes talk, we have to listen

On the NBA
by: Jesse D. Garrabrant, If he can’t play, new Blazer Greg Oden may as well talk, sharing insights about everything from fedoras to SpongeBob.

It's always a good thing to look back on the year in the NBA in quotes, especially if there are some local contributions.

And in 2007, the Trail Blazers came through.

It was a big year in Portland in a lot of ways, starting with some luck in the lottery and the chance to land the No. 1 pick in the June draft. That got owner Paul Allen's juices flowing, and before you knew it, new Blazer General Manager Kevin Pritchard was wheeling and dealing - with Allen's money, of course.

Some priceless Pritchard:

Joking after a phone rang during the postdraft news conference: 'That's Paul; he's ready to buy another draft pick. He thinks there's going to be a third round.'

Revealing to the media the Blazers were still working to complete another trade on draft night: 'I'm probably going to get fined. Paul says he pays for the picks; I pay for the fines.'

Oden on Oden

Portland's No. 1 pick was Greg Oden. Even though the 7-foot center had to sit out the season after microfracture knee surgery, he contributed in other ways.

Cracking wise on himself following his surgery about his 'mature' appearance: 'I'm 19 years old - going on 52, but I really am 19 - and I have young bones. I can recover from this, I know I can.'

After wearing a fedora in an ESPN the Magazine cover shoot: 'I'm a very handsome man. I always say, only me and Dwyane Wade can pull off the hat.'

And admitting his affection for cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants: 'I can't help it if I love SpongeBob. When I turn it on, I'm interested.'

Around the league

• Milwaukee rookie Yi Jianlian, offering this observation: 'Las Vegas is the most beautiful city in the world - especially at night.'

• Center Jamaal Magloire, with no false modesty after signing with New Jersey: 'I bring a toughness that I haven't seen in this league very often.'

• Washington's Gilbert Arenas, on which feels better, a buzzer-beating shot or having sex: 'A buzzer-beater, because it's harder. You can get sex every day.'

• Zydrunas Ilgauskas, after Cleveland teammate Donyell Marshall was temporarily stranded in China when the Cavaliers misplaced his passport in the preseason: 'If they'd lost mine, I'd probably still be over there. I don't know where the closest Lithuanian embassy would have been.'

• Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo, on the three Sonic point guards battling for playing time: 'We have to find out who we're going to start, who we're going to use as a backup and who we're going to screw.'

• San Antonio's Brent Barry, on the Spurs' chance to be repeat NBA champions: 'This whole subject of repeating is already getting repetitive.'

• Boston's Ray Allen, leaping into 6-9, 300-pound rookie teammate Glen Davis' arms after hitting a game-winning shot against Charlotte: 'I told Big Baby to carry me home.'

• Allen, asked if he would return the favor were Davis to make a game-winner: 'Not a chance.'

• The Lakers' Kobe Bryant, on buying Michael Jordan's home in Chicago: 'I thought about it, but decided against it. I like Oprah's penthouse better.'

• New York's Quentin Richardson, before playing the team with the NBA's best record, the Boston Celtics: 'We're not in awe of them. They ain't won no championships.'

• Richardson, after the Celtics beat the Knicks 104-59: 'I still don't think we're in awe of them. I know I'm not.'

• Golden State guard Stephen Jackson, after fouling out on a night when he made 3 of 15 shots, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range, against the Blazers: 'I'm still trying to figure out what's considered a foul and what's not. I have to read the players' manual.'

• Detroit's perennial technical fouls king, Rasheed Wallace, casting aspersions on the referee crew after a narrow loss to Houston: 'We're going to bust (the Rockets') butts next time. They aren't going to have Dick Bavetta and those cats to help them.'

• Wallace, getting another dig in at an official: 'I told Leroy (Richardson) my son could fool him and it ain't even Halloween.'

• Toronto's Kris Humphries, after Dallas fans derisively chanted his name, asked if that had ever happened before: 'Sure, man. What do I look like, a bum?'

• Referee Gary Zielinski, to a fan after a ball bounced into his seat, upsetting a beer: 'If you're going to sit in those seats, you're going to have to either catch the ball or save the beer.'

• Laker coach Phil Jackson, with a well-placed barb at TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager's clownish sports jacket: 'You need sunglasses to talk to him.'

• Boston coach Doc Rivers, on the intrusion of microphones and cameras in the team's locker room for national TV games: 'That's like having a camera in the boys' bathroom.'

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