Vandeweghe: I love these kids playing the game now. I think they're great kids, and sometimes they get a bad rap.
Bird: You can't afford to look at the negative. I always look for guys who, even though they might play an individual game, can fit into a team. Can they turn their games around? If you help them with their shots, will they get better? You look for players who want to work hard. We have some on our team. And we have some of the other kind too.
Mullin: I'm not as critical as a lot of other people, because I prefer to think about players like Peja Stojakovic, who can shoot the ball and play fundamentally. There's just not an abundance of them. I guess the most surprising thing is how many accomplished European players there are. They're doing the things Americans used to do.
Ainge: I think today's players are every bit as hardworking as the players of my generation. They're just younger and not as ready to come into the league.
McHale: When I first got this job, a coach or a scout would tell me, "This guy plays hard." I would look at them and say, "Isn't playing hard a given?" Well, it's not a given anymore. Playing hard is considered a skill, just like running and jumping. Somewhere along the line we forgot about skills like shooting, passing and court vision.
Will the championship won last season by the Pistons, a true team rather than a collection of individuals, have a lasting effect?
Dumars: Anytime a team wins the ultimate prize and does it differently, it opens up a new way for people to think. You'll see teams get away from the two-stars-and-a-supporting-cast approach, and that may bring back the idea of playing the game the right way.
Bird: It has to come from the best players. LeBron James and guys like him have to want to change the game for the better, get back to fundamentals and team play. What Detroit did last year was really important.
Ainge: We played in an era when we used to discuss with the coach how we were going to defend a certain player or attack a certain defense. But now the players are so young, they don't have that kind of basketball sense. It doesn't mean they're dumb; it just means they're young. So the coach ends up not trusting them, and we're back to playing "coach-style" basketball.
Mullin: Get a group of guys who feel comfortable with each other and want to win. I think Memphis has it too. So did the Argentineans [who won Olympic gold in Athens]. Maybe we all believed that was the best way, but Detroit's championship gave people hope that it can be done that way.