Trent Tucker was the best long-range shooter any of us has seen play basketball for the Gophers. Those weren’t credited as threes when Tucker was starring for the 1982 Big Ten champions, but they were 26-footers.
“We were running our offense in practice when I first was here,’’ Tucker said. “I took a couple of shots from way out there and Dutch [coach Jim Dutcher] started to say, ‘Hey, Trent, that’s not …’
“And they went in and he said, ‘OK, I see. Go ahead, Trent.’ ‘’
I asked Tucker for his scouting report on Stephen Curry, the current sensation of the NBA for his ability to make shots consistently from incredible distances.
“I’m amazed at his strength and conditioning,’’ Tucker said. “That display he put on in overtime against Portland … to be making those shots with full confidence at the end of an extra-long night is something you don’t see.
“You noticed Damian Lillard was trying to go head-to-head with him, but he was starting to lose his legs. Not Steph.’’
What has stunned me is the quickness of Curry’s release on those mighty jumpers. Tucker enlightened me.
“On his last dribble, when he’s getting ready to shoot, he’s cupping the ball and already starting his shooting motion,’’ Tucker said. “He doesn’t have to load up to take his shot. The ball is almost gone before a defender realizes Steph is going to shoot.
“I’ve only seen a few players who could make shots consistently with that move off the dribble. Steph’s father, Dell, was one … and we all know how great he was as a pure shooter.’’
Tucker was the sixth overall choice by the Knicks in the 1982 draft. He played nine seasons there, was lightly used in San Antonio in 1991-1992, and then was part of a Bulls’ championship team in his final season in Chicago.
Players from that era have consistently tried to downplay Curry’s brilliance by pointing out two things: A), the cheap shots that great shooter would have suffered in the ‘80s and ‘90s are gone; and B) the hand check is now consistently called as a foul.
“I look at Steph as someone who would have been a terrific player in any era,’’ Tucker said. “That said, the game is definitely different than when I came into the league. It wasn’t hand checking; you could get away with grabbing on defense.
“And if you were a young guy and made a couple of long jumpers, you were going to get knocked on your rear end.
“Early in my time with the Knicks, we were playing Washington, and Ricky Sobers was a mean veteran guard. I made a long jumper over him and he started cursing, telling me if I did it again I was going to get knocked to the floor.
“I made another one and he knocked me to the floor. We had Truck Robinson, maybe the toughest guy in the league. I looked at him and he said, ‘That’s the way it is, kid.’
“But Truck also said: What you do the next time Sobers is guarding you, run into a screen set by me. I did that, Truck flattened Sobers, and that took care of that.’’
Tucker has been the athletic director for the Minneapolis public schools since 2013. It is always a battle to fund activities for those schools.
We were on a TV show together last weekend and I made this off-air comment:
“The City of Minneapolis will be spending $52,000 a day to fund Zygi Wilf’s football stadium starting in 2021. The Vikings will be making enormous profits, $150 million a year or more.
“I think it would be a class move for the Vikings to pledge $1 million a year – or more -- for activities at the Minneapolis public schools.’’
Tucker smiled and said: “That would give them a lot of good P.R. in the city.’’
The Vikings are set to make a large investment in Eagan by moving their headquarters, practice facility and creating other development there. Included will be a stadium seating up to 10,000 to which high school teams allegedly will have access.
If the Vikings are going to build a stadium in the suburbs, where there’s really no need, my stance is they should be willing to pledge a sizable and sustainable gift where it’s needed:
For athletics and other activities in the city will be paying through the nose for three decades to create an incredible profit center of the Vikings and the NFL.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Three important factors in the Twins’ train wreck:
*Byron Buxton’s inability to hit took away great center-fielding and made the outfield a nightmare.
*The on-field staff was confident Trevor May would be dominant in bullpen. He hasn’t been.
*Brian Dozier's continued subpar play from the last 2 ½ months of 2015, rather than a return to All-Star form.