May 12, 2021 | 3:37 pm EDT Update
“Man, I feel like I’m the Defensive Player of the Year every year,” Holiday told Yahoo Sports in an exclusive phone interview. “I’m not joking about that. And I know this is my opinion, and other people have different opinions and they’ll probably think I’m crazy. But I think what I bring defensively on the court, a lot of people don’t really do, to be completely honest. “I feel like I should be in the conversation every year. I’m being serious. This isn’t the first year I’ve been playing defense this way.”
“I don’t know, but maybe because I’m not flashy,” Holiday said to Yahoo Sports. “I’m super low-key, and I don’t need much attention, I don’t want much attention. I don’t talk trash, and I’m not really that loud. Maybe it’s just more like a business transaction. I go out there and do my job. And then once my job is done, I go home and chill with my family. But I’m not popular, and I’m OK with that. I don’t want to be popular. If I’m not on TV a lot, and you don’t see me playing defense, you don’t see me doing what I do. The Lakers are on TV, Boston’s on TV, but when I was in New Orleans, we weren’t on TV as much as we wanted to be. So maybe that’s a part of the reason why I’m overlooked.
“Does it make me mad? No. I’m OK with kind of being under the radar. I’m not a flashy person, so these are things that I can’t control. I know a lot of guys that hoop respect my game just like I respect theirs. I feel like that means more to me. Unfortunately, the players don’t have a vote.”
Future Hall of Famer Andre Iguodala of the Miami Heat called Holiday the “best defender in the league.” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said, “To me, [Jrue’s] the best defender in the league. Like, out of the guards, I think he’s the best.” Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant praised Holiday for his versatility.
As his team wraps up the regular season with the NBA’s worst record, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta emphasized his excitement about the franchise’s future, declaring confidence in the leadership the team has in place after a year of extreme turnover. “I never thought I could feel this good after winning only 16 games,” Fertitta told ESPN, specifically citing the emergence of a young core in Houston and his faith in Rockets rookie head coach Stephen Silas and first-year general manager Rafael Stone.
“I never thought I could feel this good when I’ve been so upset about losing. But when I look at all the draft picks that we have and the future, I’m just happy. I know it’s unusual to feel this good with your coach and your general manager, but I do.”
Fertitta and the Rockets’ front office have been steadfast in their support for and belief in Silas, who toiled for two decades as an NBA assistant before Houston hired him in October, and are especially encouraged by the development of young core players such as Wood, guard Kevin Porter Jr. and forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr.
“Silas has just shown a great ability to develop these guys, and he’s had thrown at him something that’s unprecedented: To have 29 guys play for a team — and play real minutes,” Fertitta said, citing the NBA-record number of players to appear in games for the Rockets this season. “All these injuries happened this year. This will never happen again. It’s hard to believe we were 11-10 and then all the injuries started. “I think he’s handled it unbelievably. It was hard on everybody.”