Steve Clifford Rumors
Nick Friedell: As somebody who has been around the game as long as you have, who is the most prepared player you’ve come across in your time? Steve Clifford: Kobe. Kobe watched film on every opponent. Because being such a prolific scorer for such a long period of time, he knew that within most games [other teams] were going to try defend him more than one way. He watched film on every team — how they defended him the last time we played them. So he was, to me, as prepared as you could be, or maybe even a step ahead in all situations.
You obviously work for now arguably the best of the best in Michael Jordan. I was talking to Frank Vogel about this last year when he was still the coach of the Pacers. He said there were times when he looks over and still can’t believe he works for Larry Bird. Are there times when you look over and say, “I work for Michael?” Steve Clifford: I get asked this all the time, other coaches even ask me. Look, he is obviously highly competitive, and he’s disappointed when we don’t play well. But I would bet that day-to-day, and overall he may be one of the easiest owners to work [for].
Really? Steve Clifford: Simply because he understands, he truly understands. Not that other owners [are] different, but I think what happens a lot in this league is we’re all fans. And then all of a sudden you watch a thousand games and you think you know. Look, I watch NFL football, I love NFL football, and like you know the Panthers are great. And I’ll sit there and watch an NFL game and [think] “Geez, why aren’t they running?” I didn’t even play high school football. I don’t know anything about football. It’s just the nature of our business. You’re going to be second-guessed.
Steve Clifford: The difference with him is he watches every game. He watches it closely. He knows our team. He knows our players. And he has a vision of how he wants us to play. We’re in contact all the time. And he gives me great feedback. And we have the kind of relationship where he tells me when he doesn’t like something. And he also knows how it can happen. I could give you so many stories of times when I thought he’d be upset and he’s supportive. I’ve been so fortunate with the experiences that I’ve had.
You might be better equipped than most to answer this then: As far as NBA comparisons go, who would be the NBA comparison for Ronaldo? Steve Clifford: Ronaldo would be like … he would be LeBron. Or Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. He’s the best player — now I would say from a money standpoint and everything and endorsements, I don’t know how much he makes, but I’m sure it’s pretty incredible. What about Messi? [Lionel] Messi, to me, that’s a better one [to compare]. I would say Messi of the current players would be more like Steph. You know, totally skilled-based. Not as physically imposing. I would say Ronaldo would be more like LeBron. Obviously a great skill level, but also Ronaldo’s speed and strength is also so exceptional.