Hollinger On Grizzlies, Reaction, Hollins

December 19 2012 at 9:59am CDT By Zach Links

Late last week, the Grizzlies made headlines when they hired ESPN’s John Hollinger as their new Vice President of Basketball Operations.  The move was significant for a couple of reasons.  Hollinger is making the rare leap from journalist to front office executive and is doing it thanks to his analytics background.  The world of baseball has been aware of the power of analytics for quite a while, but it wasn’t until recent years that the NBA caught up.  Hollinger spoke with 92.9 ESPN in Memphis to talk about the transition and Eric Schmoldt of Sports Radio Interviews has the goods..

On the reaction from old-school basketball people and players:

“So far, so good. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with the players yet because the first day of work, you spend a lot of time just filling out forms, random stuff like that, and just meeting lots of people. … So, I’m hoping in the next couple of days, to really do that. I met some of the coaches today at practice, and that was great. … It’s something I’m looking forward to over the next couple of days, but as far as how I’ve been received, so far everything’s been really great. If anyone has any grievances about it, they’ve kept it well-hidden.”

On how he’ll have to adjust his commentary on basketball:

“That’s going to be really interesting. I really want to keep up some kind of dialogue with people and use [my Twitter] account to do that, but I can’t do it in the same way that I did. The biggest thing is I just can’t really talk about players on other teams. That’s the biggest limitation. It kind of changes things, somewhat, and I’m still learning, I guess. … I’m still figuring out how that voice is going to work, but I’m still going to be out there on Twitter somehow and having that dialogue with people.”

On his notoriety in basketball:

“I would say it’s mostly coaches and executives. There are some players who do know me, and I know because they tell me. … But, I think a lot of them, you’re right, just haven’t been following me, and that’s fine. It’s not their job to follow what I’m saying. It’ll be interesting as we get into it, but I don’t know that it’s really going to affect anything. Even players that are aware of you and might be following you, their day-to-day interaction isn’t really with me, it’s with the coaching staff.”

On being a new-school guy working with a coach in Lionel Hollins that appears to be really old-school:

“I think the biggest thing to look at is that people will always want to make the strong-man argument, that you’re trying to replace the previous knowledge. That’s not the case; you’re trying to add to it. If I can add things to what they already know, then that becomes really helpful. I think the biggest thing is, you have to kind of build the relationship and build the trust and kind of start with things that are more easily grasped and then try to move on from there. I’m definitely going to be available to help them as much as I can, and we’ll just see how it goes from there. He’s had plenty of success without me, but at the same time, I think there are probably ways that I could potentially help him, and once we start really working with each other, we can figure out where that balance is.”

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