By J.A. Adande
So why is it so hard to win on the road in the NBA?
“I think the court gets a little bit smaller for the visitors, perhaps,” Phil Jackson said. “It’s not quite as comfy. The bench players have more difficulty coming off and playing.”
Then he took a turn and blamed the uniforms, much smaller than those worn in football, baseball and hockey.
“You have to remember these men are out there in their underwear and shorts,” he said. “It’s not quite the old days, but they are pretty scantily clad in front of their fans. If you’re at all self-conscious, there you are.”
In addition, “There are provocateurs that yell insults.”
Provocateurs. Sounds much better than “loud-mouth drunks.”
Jackson said the one he liked the best of late was a fan who yelled to the recently married Lamar Odom, “How’s your husband?”
Even Odom found that amusing.
Jackson said that some of the biggest homecourt advantages come when the NBA team is the only major-league franchise in town or even the entire state, as is the case with the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
But give the players credit for enhancing the bond one fan at a time. Kevin Durant said he’ll open his door and answer questions from neighborhood kids who drop by his house.
At the arena he likes to get his shooting practice early, but he makes a point of sticking around the court until the fans are allowed in the building before he heads back to the locker room so he can sign autographs along the way.
“I personally know a lot of fans by name and I see them every game,” Durant said. “We tweet each other, small things like that.
“They really embrace us.”