HoopsHype.com Interviews

Richard Jefferson: "They can boo me all they want"
by Brad Gagnon / April 24, 2007

You might be the least noticed guy in the Big Three.

Richard Jefferson: Well, that’s probably two future Hall of Famers so I really don’t mind that too much. They’re a little bit older, a little more veteran. We’re talking about Jason Kidd, who’s probably the best point guard in the game and Vince, who’s one of the most exciting players ever. So I really don’t mind that role.

Do you think that Game 1 awakened the Toronto fans?

RJ: I wouldn’t say that. We’ve been in the playoffs since I’ve been here – for six straight seasons. I think when people talk about New Jersey, they talk about our fast break, myself, Jason, and it’s been like that since as long as I’ve been here. I probably won’t get the recognition like some of those guys, but I think around the league I get enough respect.

I have to ask you about the sea of red comments following Game 1. I know you were probably joking around but a lot of Raptors fans are saying it’s not only Vince, but now it’s Jefferson, and they have to boo him, too.

RJ: I don’t mind, they can boo me all they want. People don’t understand, I’ve been playing in front of large crowds – like most these guys have – ever since I was in high school. When you’re playing UCLA on Saturday morning on CBS, their crowd is louder than it is here, and you’re 18-years-old at the time. So, right now, if they want to boo us, if they want to do anything they want to, it doesn’t matter.

So this is not new to you?

RJ: No, this is not new to anyone. It’s not new to all these guys. Cliff (Robinson) has been in the playoffs for 15 years. You look at Marcus Williams and Josh Boone, they were playing in the national championship a few years back. So for them, the pressure situations aren’t that big of a deal.

You don’t say too many things outwardly in the public, and that comment was you having fun. I know you were joking around, but talk about what you were thinking when you said it.

RJ: Well, it was more just lighthearted and funny, just joking around. Anyone that understands the game of basketball probably understands that it was a joke. If you took that comment seriously, then you probably take yourself too seriously anyway.

With the crowd the way it is in Toronto, is it disappointing the Nets haven’t sold out their home playoff games yet?

RJ: Not really. As long as I’ve been here in New Jersey, we’ve never had a ridiculous home court when it comes to fans and stuff. But for some reason, outside of this year, we’ve always had very good home dominance and played extremely well at home, even with the stands being half-filled.

I have a stat for you. You guys have about a .400 winning percentage when you’re not in the lineup, and close to .550 when you are in the lineup. This team needs Richard Jefferson.

RJ: I just think this team is built around our perimeter players, I’ve been saying that all year long. It would be similar if Vince wasn’t playing or dealing with injuries all year long, or Jason Kidd. When you have a team that’s primarily built around your perimeter players and one of those pieces is missing, you’re going to struggle. And when those pieces are together and healthy, your team is going to play well. We’ve shown when we’re healthy and have experience playing together that we’re one of the better teams in the league. When we’re not, we’re average if not below average.

Brad Gagnon is a freelance reporter from Toronto

Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com