DeShawn Stevenson is one of the more intriguing NBA characters in recent years. Coming into the NBA out of high school, he drew some comparisons to Michael Jordan. He proceeded to play 13 seasons in the NBA, suiting up for the Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets and Atlanta Hawks throughout the course of his career.
He became known for his gritty defense and toughness. He won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, earned over $27 million over his 13 years in the league, and made national headlines for beefing with LeBron James during the playoffs.
Most recently, Stevenson decided to enter the BIG3 – the 3-on-3 league started by Ice Cube. Stevenson was the 11th overall pick in the BIG3 Draft, joining the team named Power that also features Corey Maggette (the squad’s captain), Cuttino Mobley, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Moochie Norris. NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler will be the team’s head coach.
HoopsHype recently caught up with Stevenson to discuss his BIG3 squad, his beef with LeBron James, that pre-draft comparison to Michael Jordan, his thoughts on today’s players, the ATM machine he had in his house and much more.
What drew you to the BIG3 and how excited are you to get back on the court?
DeShawn Stevenson: What drew me to the BIG3 is the whole concept of a 3-on-3 league with the kind of high-caliber players that are in it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play basketball anymore, but this was an opportunity to be a part of something that I think is going to be big and I think it’s a good situation for me.
You’re playing with Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Moochie Norris. What do you think of the talent on your squad and your team’s chances of winning it all?
DS: Cuttino and Corey were always great scorers and JYD – Junkyard Dog – was always a person who worked hard, rebounded and screened. I was known as a good defender who could knock down some threes and do other things. We have a good squad, a really solid team in my eyes.
Have you guys started working out together or practicing as a team? And how have you been training on your own?
DS: We were going to all go out to Vegas to train – I was actually supposed to leave [Wednesday] – but some people couldn’t make it [so we pushed it back]. But, individually, I train every day. I run in the morning, about 10 miles each day, and then I go shoot and work on one-on-one in the afternoon. I’ve been doing two-a-days, training in Orlando.
Clyde Drexler is your head coach. How cool is it to have an NBA legend coaching your team?
DS: It’s really dope. When I was coming out of high school, Clyde Drexler was a big recruiter, trying to get to me to go to the University of Houston, so I kind of have [history] with him and a relationship with him. To be coached by a Hall of Famer is just a blessing.
This is the first season for the BIG3, but what do you think of the league’s long-term potential?
DS: I think it’ll grow to be really big just because there are a lot of players who still want to play after their out of the NBA. It’s kind of hard. You see now that most NBA teams are trying to go young, so there are a lot of guys who can still play that are out of the league. I went to the [BIG3] Combine and some of these can guys can still really play; they could go out there and do well and play big minutes. The BIG3 is getting good players who are done with the NBA, but then they’re coming right to this league and still playing at a high level. I think it can be pretty big.
You were part of the Dallas Mavericks’ team that defeated the star-studded Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. What does it take to beat a super-team?
DS: To me, you have a certain type of people on your team. You need believers and players who aren’t afraid of the super-team – or certain stars on that team – and who won’t back down. On our Dallas squad, it was me and Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler [who wouldn’t back down]. We had other people who could put the ball in the basket, and then we were defending and blocking shots and making it tough [on Miami].
I don’t see that a lot in the NBA anymore; I think everybody wants to be friends. I like PJ Tucker and his attitude, but I’m used to the guys like myself and Stephen Jackson. Yeah, we were cool with some people, but then we went out there and played. A lot of these guys train with each other or play together or try to get on the same team, so there’s never that bad blood. And, look, there’s a difference between bad blood and going out there and trying to hurt somebody. I just don’t see the bad blood as much in the NBA.
You mentioned guys not being friends, so I want to ask about your public beef with LeBron James a while back. Have you guys talked since then and was that real beef or you trying to get into LeBron’s head? Take me through what went down with that.
DS: There was something personal that was said in the locker room that got back to me, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m older now. And it wasn’t a beef where I wanted him to be harmed in any way or involve his family or anything like that obviously. Honestly, I feel that because we both came to the NBA straight out of high school, we share something. When you’re in the league, a lot of things are said and we were all young then. At that moment, I was a young guy and I wasn’t standing for it. Now, it’s just about peace and love.
Jay Z dropped a song and it made national headlines. Were surprised with how that situation blew up?
DS: Yeah, personally, I was shocked! Just because I wasn’t doing it for that; I’m not the type of guy who does something like that for attention. Now, a lot of people will do stuff for social media or whatever, but back when we played, we didn’t really have social media. It was just about something being said and it getting back to me and I was just hurt. I feel like it kind of went left.
How did you feel when your NBA career came to an end?
DS: I wanted to play one or two more years, so it definitely caught me by surprise. But you see what’s going on nowadays with the league, the trend that when players get up in age, teams will move on and go with the young players. If you don’t have a lot of clout like a Vince Carter or a Jason Kidd or someone like that, you aren’t going to be able to play 20 years in the league. If you look at the NBA, teams aren’t doing that anymore.
I always felt like you were somewhat underrated throughout your career. Did you feel like that and did it motivate you?
DS: Yeah, I feel like that’s the story of my life though. If you look at my stats in high school or what I did in the McDonald’s All-American game or how highly I was recruited out of high school or how I won an NBA championship or how I played 13 years in the league without being a superstar, I feel like all of those things get overlooked. But that’s the politics. That’s why I would just stick with it and not listen to what people had to say. A lot of people would speak differently about my career, but if you look at what I’ve done and what I brought to the NBA, it was a lot.
When you were entering the NBA straight out of high school, NBADraft.net compared you to Michael Jordan and head coach Roy Williams described you as his “most gifted recruit ever.” Did you see this stuff and what was your reaction at the time?
DS: Yeah, I saw all of that stuff. Now, looking back, it was a blessing to even be mentioned like that. I think going to the Utah Jazz and playing in that system under Jerry Sloan kind of hurt [my career] and went a different way because they don’t iso and they do different things. But a lot of the things I learned and did for Jerry Sloan were what kept me in the league for 13 years. So there was some good and some bad.
I have to ask about this: You had an ATM machine installed in your house a few years back. Do you still have it and use it?
DS: I still have the ATM machine! Do I still use it? Nah. I don’t use it, but it’s still in my house. I didn’t even buy the ATM machine! It was something that my financial advisor and best friend bought for me on my birthday as a joke, but it really worked. It was something given to me that I didn’t even ask for and it got a lot of publicity and spread on social media (laughs). It had my name on it and everything, so I kept it!
Interview, Top, Clyde Drexler, Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Kidd, Jerome Williams, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards