Jaber Rouzbahani: "I hope to make the NBA popular in Iran"
How did everything start for you in basketball?
Jaber Rouzbahani: When I was 14 my P.E. teacher gave me a basketball. When the ball first came into my hand, I fell in love with basketball.
How was life for you back in Iran outside basketball?
JR: Very difficult, because my family is not rich and I have three brothers and five sisters. But other than that, I spent most of my time playing basketball and hanging out with my family.
What was you idea of the U.S. before coming here?
JR: I thought that there was a nightclub on every street and everybody was rich and had a Benz.
What has surprised you the most about the country?
JR: Everybody here loves basketball, not soccer like in Iran.
What are the main differences between your life in Iran and the U.S.?
JR: In America I can play basketball every day and work on my game. In Iran I could not get the personal attention to become better. Also, in Iran I could see my beautiful city of Ispahan and eat my mother's food. I miss that here.
How popular is the NBA in Iran? Do people know about it?
JR: Not that popular now. I hope to change that.
When did you first think you had a chance to play in the NBA?
What is your daily routine here?
JR: I lift weights with my weight trainer Ron Puckett for two hours. Then I go to Contra Costa College to work on my game for two hours with Ansar Alameen, who trains NBA players like Shareef and Drew Gooden and Carmelo Anthony. After this, I play with some of the best street players in the Bay Area. They are making me tougher and stronger and teaching me American basketball culture. Even Oakland basketball legend "Hook" Mitchell comes and works out with me.
What are the areas of your game you are working on the most?
JR: Defense, blocking shots and a skyhook. My coach has me watching videos of Bill Russell for rebounding and blocking shots and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the skyhook. And Shaq for dunking, power and intensity.
Other than your size (7-foot-4), what do you think NBA scouts will like more about you and your game?
JR: Defense. I love to block shots.
Do you think you have a real shot at being drafted in the first round?
JR: If I work hard, yes. But to me, what is more important is to get better and one day make an impact in the NBA. The draft is part of that process. I would love to be in the first round, but if I am not I will not let that deter me from my dream.
What would be the first thing you'd buy with the money of an NBA contract?
JR: I would buy a big house for my family and get a driver's license and buy Hummer for me.
In case you are not drafted or signed by an NBA team, what would you do? Would you go back to Iran or is Europe an option?
JR: I'll think about this if it happens. Right now, I have a good chance to make it in the NBA. I want to stay focused.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com. Hashim Alauddeen, Jaber Rouzbahani's manager/agent, helped conduct the interview by translating HoopsHype's questions and Rouzbahani's answers
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