Jason Richardson: "All the hard work that I've done has paid off"
You won the dunk contest in front of Dr. J last year. Any particular goals you want to achieve in front of legends this year?
Jason Richardson: Well, when we go to Atlanta for All-Star Weekend this year I want to do some of Dominique’s dunks since he was an idol of mine. I just want to impress him. I hope he’ll be a judge in the dunk contest.
You obviously had a breakout rookie season. What advice have you given to guys like Mike Dunleavy and Steve Logan as they get ready for their first seasons?
JR: I just tell them to be patient, you know? They gotta let everything come to them. I say to them that you know you’re going to hit the wall a couple of times and you gotta be mentally focused for it. When you get down and you feel like you don’t like basketball and you might want to quit, you just gotta keep on pursuing and keep on playing hard.
How much does Logan look like DMX?
JR: (Laughing) I’m finally glad that somebody else thinks that way. I always say it. I met Steve two years ago and that was the first thing that came to my head. I was like... he looks like DMX.
He doesn’t rap like him, though. What music do you listen to when you’re working on your game?
JR: I listen to everything. I like Jay-Z, Nas, you know, all the rappers today. I’m also an old school listener. I like Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind and Fire. I like the old and the new.
So, while you were listening to your music this offseason, working out, what aspect of your game were you trying to improve the most?
JR: I have been working on my ballhandling. Yeah, my ball handling and my post game as well.
Watching you play here, it seems like you’ve achieved those personal goals. What about team goals for this year?
JR: Well, I think we just want to win games. We only won 21 games last season and I think guys want to win more. Hopefully, we could double that or even go over. I think with the three new guys coming in and with the guys back from last year we could do better than we did.
Tell me how cool it is to come out of the locker room for a Summer League game in Long Beach, California and have dozens of kids run after you trying to get your autograph.
JR: It feels great, you know. To go places where people know you outside of the city you’re playing in. It just shows that all the hard work I’ve done has paid off and the kids are recognizing that my ability is pretty good and so hopefully as I continue to work hard more people will know about me.
Now, tell me how funny it was when a bunch of kids almost handed pictures of Mike Dunleavy to Troy Murphy to sign.
JR: (Laughing) Yeah. That was funny. I guess they could pass for brothers.
Coach Izzo at Michigan State said that you were the hardest worker on his team and it seems like you’ll do whatever it takes to win. What do you think that’s going to be for you and this young team?
JR: I think it’s going to take a lot from myself and some of the other guys on the team to pick up the leadership and lead by example. I think if we do that we’ll be all right.
Since the championship is the ultimate goal, let me ask you this: Would you give up your NCAA Tournament ring for an NBA ring?
JR: Oh yeah, any day. Any day. This is the highest level.
You led the Warriors in 3-point shooting percentage last year. Would it be harder to not shoot a three all season or not dunk all season and why?
JR: Not to shoot a three. Everybody comes to see me do dunks and that’s my game.
OK. I’ll not dunk all season then. Last question. After being in the league for a year, what’s the biggest difference between the NBA and college.
JR: The biggest difference is the competition. Especially at the shooting guard position. You’re playing against some of the best players in the NBA and it just seems like they always want to come at you because you’re the younger guy and they’re the veteran guy and you have to respect them and stuff like that. It is like that way, too, but the toughest part for me is going up against guys like Michael Finley, Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. It's hard, you know, playing those guys every night... staying in front of them, trying to defend them.
I bet. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
JR: No problem.
Jon Finkel is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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