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1999 NBA Playoffs

Talking to the 'Dog'

CNN/SI's Vince Cellini chats with Mario Elie after Game 2

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Posted: Sunday June 27, 1999 07:16 PM

  Elie is hoping to win a championship in his home town of New York. CNN/SI

SAN ANTONIO (CNN/SI) -- David Robinson and Tim Duncan are the high-profile Spurs, but the emotional leader for San Antonio is Mario Elie. He chipped in and supported the big men with 15 points in Game 2 and the "Junkyard Dog" was barking -- both during the game and afterward when he sat down with CNN/SI's Vince Cellini.

Cellini: Mario, congratulations on another win. You were doing a lot of woofing out there early in the game. Talk about the emotion and the Knicks coming in and challenging you guys here in Game 2.

Elie: The Knicks are a terrific team. I underestimated them. I thought we could run through them, but these guys never quit. Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston are coming at you full force. [Marcus] Camby and Kurt Thomas are very physical and they are a very underrated defensive team. I thought with the crowd going, I felt the game was going a little dull and that it was my job to get everybody going. So I got a little lane and got a little dunk and got everybody fired up. The fans seemed to go crazy.

Cellini: The was a big dunk. Look at you, you can still get up there.

Elie: Exactly. I'm 35 but I still have a lot left in these legs.

Cellini: Tell me what this kind of a win does and what kind of a statement this makes. Mario, we may have seen what the Knicks have to offer in this series, simply because of their situation.

Elie: Absolutely, they're short on bodies and they need a third or fourth scorer to step up. Spree and Allan are carrying a large load and I have the luxury of having two 7-footers back there. I think Sean and I are doing a terrific job making Spree and Allan work for every basket. But if they can get another guy to score and step up for them, maybe it will be a different series.

Cellini: You watch Tim Duncan on a daily basis in games and in practice. Now the world is watching him on a national stage. Can you tell me about this kid and what makes him so special?

Elie: He's just a terrific kid. He's a superstar that listens to veteran players. He's not one of those guys that brushes you off. When he misses you on a pass, he comes up to you and let's you know. He always wants to get better. He's the first guy at practice and the last one to leave. He always working on his game. He's a very dedicated young athlete. I think him, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter are going to take this game to another level.

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