By the end of the 2015-16 season, JaVale McGee‘s career was at a crossroads. Then he got a training camp invitation by the Warriors, earned a spot on one of the most talented rosters ever assembled and now he’s an NBA champion. The 29-year-old center will likely have more options in free agency this time around.
What’s been the key for you to make an impact this season?
JaVale McGee: I mean, it’s just really playing my game, staying positive and making sure I’m working hard. That’s all I really can do.
You played for three teams in three seasons before signing with the Warriors. Did you worry at one point that maybe your NBA career was in danger?
JM: Yeah, definitely. It felt like it. But I had people in my corner making sure that I was working hard and believing in myself. So it all worked out for me in the end.
Do you feel that after winning the title with the Warriors now you’re again a respected basketball player?
JM: I definitely feel like a well-respected organization like the Warriors saying good things about me definitely erased some doubt in people’s eyes of the stigma that I had on me. That I was like a bad guy, like I did something wrong.
And now that everyone is on the McGee bandwagon, I’m sure you know the people that were by your side those tough years, right?
JM: I definitely see the snakes in the grass, the people trying to jump on the bandwagon now. That was the same people that doubted me from the beginning.
What have you learned about this whole experience with some people from the media, especially with your issues with Shaquille O’Neal?
JM: I just learned that the media reports on what they want to report on. They want negative stories rather than positive stories.
How do you feel now as a soon-to-be free agent?
JM: I feel great. I’m just trying to stay in the gym, staying focused, making sure I keep my mind on the task at hand.
If there’s a great offer somewhere else and you decide to take it, how painful would it be to leave this championship team?
JM: Oh man, it would be horrible to leave here. This is the best situation I’ve ever been and I love it here. But I definitely have to make the best decision for my family, I guess.
This is your third annual charity #JUGLIFE softball game. What’s the goal for this one?
JM: The main goal is to get everybody in the Bay Area to come and have a good time.
Any other project for the future?
JM: Well, same old same old… Turkey drives, Christmas giveaways… That’s all I really have right now.
A lot of Warriors teammates are supporting you. Who is the best and who’s the worst at baseball?
JM: I don’t know who the worst is, but I know Klay [Thompson] is pretty good and Matt Barnes is pretty good, so I’m really excited to see them.
You threw the first pitch at the Oakland Athletics game last Monday… Did you like the way you threw the ball?
JM: Yeah, I felt like it would have been a strike. It was more of a slider.
G-Eazy, Marshawn Lynch and Amber Rose will be there too. How did they get involved in this?
JM: Well, I know them personally so it wasn’t too hard to convince them to come to the game, so it’s really a positive thing.