Scott: “I was truly surprised. To be with one franchise for seven years and they draft you as the fourth pick and all the things that we went through as a young franchise and being a part of the team that went to the [1995] Finals? With all of those things that went on, you stay in the moment. You’re not thinking you’re doing all of these things to one day be in the Magic Hall of Fame. I forgot how much fun we had and what we had done. I showed a genuine response when they got me live on NBA TV. They got me good (laughs) because I didn’t know what the heck was going on. My wife and my son and daughters were there. I was like, ‘What are you all doing at work? What are you doing here?’

Dennis Scott delivered the evaluation with as much confidence as when he shot 3s with stunning accuracy.

 

“I still believe I’m one of the greatest shooters ever to play the game,” Scott told Sportskeeda.

 

Scott, an analyst with NBA TV, spoke with Sportskeeda on numerous topics, including his top 5 3-point shooters, getting inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall-of-Fame and favorite Shaquille O’Neal stories.

 

Dennis Scott Interview (Exclusive)

 

Scott also dished on the NBA’s In-Season tournament, which will feature the quarterfinal matchups between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics (Monday, 7:30 pm ET, TNT) and the Sacramento Kings-New Orleans Pelicans (Monday, 10 pm ET, TNT). TNT will also showcase two more quarterfinals games on Tuesday between the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks (7:30 pm ET) and the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns (10 pm ET).

 

Scott: “I was truly surprised. To be with one franchise for seven years and they draft you as the fourth pick and all the things that we went through as a young franchise and being a part of the team that went to the [1995] Finals? With all of those things that went on, you stay in the moment. You’re not thinking you’re doing all of these things to one day be in the Magic Hall of Fame. I forgot how much fun we had and what we had done. I showed a genuine response when they got me live on NBA TV. They got me good (laughs) because I didn’t know what the heck was going on. My wife and my son and daughters were there. I was like, ‘What are you all doing at work? What are you doing here?’

 

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Scott: “Yeah, I was trying to process it. You know how that team was with Shaq, Penny [Hardaway] and Nick Anderson with being the young guns and we were winning. I thought this is perfect. Then the history happens. We lose. We break up the team. I think that’s probably why I was surprised. So much time has gone about, and I never thought about it.

 

Shooting 3s was your thing. But specifically in that 95-96 season you got the single-season record (267), single-game record (11 vs Atlanta on April 18, 1996) and your 7 3s in Game 2 of the 1995 East Finals. What do you remember what went into having those performances compared to your other seasons?

 

Scott: “It was the unwavering confidence. When you go through your career and go back to college and you go back to high school, you ask yourself what made you great at what you did. It’s the confidence. To this day, I still believe I’m one of the greatest shooters ever to play the game. That’s the way I always thought. During those times I was around Shaq and Penny, I knew I wasn’t the best athlete on the floor. But I always knew I was the best shooter on the floor. I knew that created space and that made value to the team with so many dominant players with Shaq, Penny and Nick Anderson that were so athletic.”

 

In this era, you would’ve taken and made even more 3s. So I looked you averaged just under five attempts a game and shot under 40% in your career for 1,214 total 3s. Given that, how many 3s do you think you’ve had if you played 10 seasons in this era?

 

Scott: “We’re talking numbers that probably don’t make sense. It’s why people are marveling over Steph [Curry], Dame [Lillard] and James Harden with how many 3s they’re taking. If you take the night that I broke the record when I went 11-for-17, I don’t think I played the last nine minutes of that fourth quarter. I always tease [former Magic coach[ Brian Hill, ‘Do I make 13, do I make 14; do I make 15?’ I made 11. There’s nine minutes and 30 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, and it’s only an 11-point game. Brian Hill takes me out of the game out of respect for Lenny Wilkens being the head coach. Steve Smith and I have talked about that with both working at NBA TV. They cut the lead to seven. We call timeout and somebody hits a shot to win the game. But that’s a situation where I don’t know how many more I make that game because there’s still nine minutes to go in that game, and I’m cooking!”

 

Did you plead your case to stay in?

 

Scott: “I just rolled with the flow. They took me out of the game. My mom was there, and all my family was there. It was one of those things where you just stayed in the moment. I reminded myself that I wasn’t’ chasing [the record] that night. I was never chasing it. I just always played the game the right way. But everyone knew that my specialty was shooting the basketball. Matt Guokas and Brian Hill and all my coaches had said, ‘We know what you do, just make sure you do it consistently on a high level.’ That’s how I got the name, 3-D.

 

When you take all into account the talent and the era, who is in your top 5 of all-time 3-point shooters?

 

Scott: “Obviously Steph is No. 1 because he has always shown us all the way back to his Davidson highlights and his early years when his ankles were messed up. It’s his movement. His movement always separated himself from all of us. Reggie was great with moving without the ball. Ray was great moving without the ball. But Steph took it to another level. Then, he could shoot with either hand off-the-dribble. That’s why it’s so much fun watching him operate. So, he’s No. 1. You can flip flop Ray [Allen] and Reggie [Miller] at 2 and 3. I’m going to take four (laughs). I’m going to take the fourth spot.”

 

“Then with the fifth spot, I want to go back in time a little bit for the younger generation. This is no knock to what Dame Lillard is doing and no knock to James Harden. When they’re done playing, I may change my list because those guys are so good and Lord knows where they’re going to be four or five years from now with attempts and makes. So with that being said, I want to give Dale Ellis the fifth spot. People of this generation don’t understand how quick of a trigger he had and the range he had. People feared Dale Ellis when he was at the height of his career with how he shot the basketball.

 

Scott: Larry Bird is easily sixth. But Larry Bird easily could be three. We as people and as basketball players marvel at who Larry Bird was before the back injuries. But when we talk about range and the way we shot it every night, you don’t put Larry in that category. But if we’re just talking about pure shooting percentage and how he won the 3-point contest, that’s legendary. But even Larry has admitted he wasn’t taking 10, 12 or 15 3s. I don’t think Larry ever had a game where he took nine a game. So for me, Larry never took enough.

 

He would’ve taken more in today’s game.

 

Scott: “That’s a good debate because if Larry took more 3s, would he be Larry Bird? Larry would take you in the post and punish you. There’s an infamous story with me. He would say, ‘Hey, Rook, I’m going to go in the post. I’m going to catch it, pump fake and you’re going to reach in and foul me. I’m going to score on you. Next thing, you’re going to be on the bench. Next thing I know, I reached out, I fouled and I’m sitting on the bench. Then he says, ‘I’ll see you in the second half.’ The legendary Larry Bird trash talking stories are real. That’s how good Larry is. But if we’re just talking 3-point shooting, that’s what separates, in my opinion , the rankings as a shooter, Larry didn’t take as many 3s as we did. That’s the only thing. So for the Larry Bird lovers, I’m not saying Larry is not at that level. He just didn’t take enough 3s.

 

You alluded to it, but is that your favorite Larry Bird trash-talk story?

 

Scott: “That was my story. I’ll never forget it. I checked in the game and he said, ‘What’s up Rook?!’ I’m doing well and off to a great start. But he says, ‘I’m about to catch it in the post. I’m going to give a little pump fake. You’re going to reach in.’ I reached in because I was one of those guys that tried to use my fast hands to get the ball before it went up. I came down the court. Scott Skiles hits me and I knock down a 3. I was like, ‘Yeah, I got him back.’ Then Larry comes back and catches the ball right back in the post again. I reach in again and get a second foul. Then he says, ‘See you in the second half, Rook!’ Those stories are infamous. It’s fun. Larry is one of those guys that’s like the Joker [Nikola Jokic]. They play to their speed. He wasn’t super athletic. But he was smart as hell, played the right way and was an elite passer. If you didn’t force him to do something difficult, he would make an open shot.”

 

 

What makes you conflicted on where to rank Reggie and Ray against each other? Two great shooters, but how would you explain what makes it difficult to choose who’s at 2 and 3?

 

Scott: “If we’re just talking about flat-out catch-and-shoot dagger, then I’d probably lean toward Reggie. But I personally like the Ray Allen in Milwaukee. He’d take you off the dribble and dunk on your head. That’s the Ray Allen that I love. The Ray Allen in Boston that was knocking down 3s and making the step-back 3 in Miami to win the championship, that’s catch-and-shoot at its finest. But the young Ray Allen in Milwaukee was must-see TV and you had to get your popcorn. You had to see it. He may have seven or eight 3s and then six or seven dunks on your head. If it’s that Ray Allen, I would choose him at 2. There’s nothing wrong with the catch-and-shoot guy. But the other Ray Allen in Seattle and Milwaukee, good gracious!

 

Going back to the Magic and your Hall-of-Fame induction, to what extent do you have the what ifs on knowing that team did some special things, but also had unfinished business?

 

Scott: “No what ifs. I’m not one of those kind of guys. I went with that with Georgia Tech on what if I had stayed in school and got back with Kenny Anderson? That’s just a basketball God type thing. If I’m being honest and transparent, we all have seen in sports and business. A business transaction was handled poorly when it came to Shaq. That changed history. It’s that simple. There is no gray area or lies being told. That’s the honest truth. How Shaq was handled [with his free agency]went poorly. It didn’t go well, and it changed the history of how that first team was put together.

 

And then Shaq goes to the Lakers before getting a young Kobe; and they eventually win three titles….

 

Scott: “That goes great. But business was handled poorly again. Then, Shaq is gone again [getting traded to Miami]. Some of this stuff we can’t make it up.

 

What is your favorite Shaq story?

 

Scott: “Just how naïve he was when he was young. That was the purity of who he is and why he’s such a gentle giant to this day, so jovial and fun to be around. As a kid, he drifted. But he didn’t quite believe it until he got to LA. We were playing an exhibition game in Anaheim. He always sat in the back of the bus. At the time, his agent, Leonard Armato, said, ‘Hey Shaq, I think you’re going to be the first $100 million player. Shaq goes, ‘$100 million?’ I’m going to be able to go anywhere! I said, ‘You can’t go anywhere now. What are you talking about?’ He was that naive. Alonzo Mourning gets his big contract. Shaq comes back a couple of months later and gets his big contract. The rest is history. The early Shaq was so fun to be around because he was trying to figure out how to be a megastar on the fly.”

 

 

Scott: “The safest one to tell was when the NBA was going through that transition. We used a product called ‘Flexall.’ It’s like where he now promotes ‘Icy Hot.’ Brooks Thompson, may he rest in peace. But Shaq would put ‘Flexall’ in his socks. One time we landed in Boston, and there was a whole bunch of snow on the ground. He made him take off all of his clothes, but his pants and carry the bags from the plane to the bus. It was stupid stuff like that. I would be like, ‘Stop treating the rookies like that.’ That was his way of getting them back because I was the only one that could get him to carry my bags [when he was a rookie]. He would carry my bags and sometimes I would tell him to carry the balls when we’re on the road. He admits I was the only one who had him do rookie duties.”

 

What do you think of the In-Season tournament?

 

Scott: “I like the excitement the In-Season tournament has brought. You can debate, ‘Are some of the courts bright and crazy?’ Yes, but I think that’s part of the excitement. Each team has added an extra jersey. That’s cool, too. That’s created some more BRI [basketball-related income] for the players. So far, it’s a win-win. I think it’s confusing on how they figure out the Tuesday and Friday [Group Play] games. But I think it’s brilliant that the championship game is the only extra game. So far, it’s been a success.”

 

We got Lakers-Suns, Kings-Pelicans, Bucks-Knicks and Pacers-Celtics in the quarterfinals. Who’s your favorite to win?

 

Scott: “My favorite is whichever team is the healthiest will win this tournament. That’s one thing that has been tough. The committee did a good job with bringing excitement. But if a guy is hurt, a guy is hurt. There have been a game or two where they were resting Zion [Williamson] the other night. CJ McCollum has been out with a serious injury, and he just got back.”

 

Scott: “I didn’t see them being second, but I had them making the playoffs this year. But I can’t sit here and exaggerate. I had them more like seventh and eighth. They would make the Play-In and fight their way. But I think the emergence of Franz Wagner has been …. (trails off). Wow. We know Paolo (Banchero) would be Paolo because he’s the No. 1 pick (last year). So you knew his improvement would be right on queue. The toughest decision that [Jamahl] Mosley has to figure out now is, ‘Which three guards are you going with?’ I know Franz and Paolo are the cornerstones with your forwards. [Goga] Bitadze does a decent job with guarding around the basket and a decent defender in pick-and-roll. But Cole Anthony, [Jalen] Suggs and Anthony Black are decent. He can’t shoot the ball, but he’s long and can defend.”

 

“We did the game against Boston on NBA TV for Center Court, so I got to watch them up close. They have a true and infectious chemistry that you don’t really see too often in young teams. They have a really small resemblance of OKC. They genuinely like each other. They genuinely play for each other. When Franz had 30 [points] and Cole Anthony had 30 the same night, it was refreshing to see. They really played for each other. Paulo talked about that in my walk-off interview with him.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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