By Ace Torres
Recently, Ace Torres had the opportunity to talk to Warriors legend and Dunk Contest Ambassador Jason Richardson.
How’s life after basketball treating you?
Trying to stay busy! Working with the NBA Cares program across the globe, been to India, China and going to Spain next month. It’s a great opportunity to learn different cultures, meet new people, and help spread the NBA brand. I’ve also been spending time with my family and making up for all the time I’ve missed during my career. Going to PTA meetings, practices, recitals and all the activities my kids take part in throughout the year.
Born and raised in Michigan and playing your college ball at Michigan State University, how was the transition coming to Oakland?
When I got drafted, I didn’t even know where the Warriors played. But from the moment I stepped foot in Oakland, everyone treated me like family. There’s a special energy in Oakland that I came to appreciate during my time with the Warriors. The residents in Oakland and Warrior fans in general always show love to their own and you can tell it comes from a genuine place. Oakland will always be near and dear to my heart.
You came to the Warriors in arguably one of the most talented draft classes. How was it coming into the league with Troy Murphy and Gilbert Arenas?
We all worked out together before the draft because we had the same agent at the time. Being around each other and working out together gave us an opportunity to develop chemistry and get to know each other. After I got drafted and the Warriors took Troy Murphy, we thought it would only make sense if Gilbert somehow ended up in Golden State too… and crazy enough, that’s exactly what happened.
We all had chips on our shoulder coming in, I wanted to prove that I was an all-around player, Troy wanted to prove he was tough and built for the league and Gil wanted revenge on everyone who passed on him in the draft.
Looking back on it now, things might’ve been drastically different for the Warriors had Gilbert not left for Washington.
I just had this conversation with Gil when I ran into him in Las Vegas recently. We talked about how things would have gone if we stayed together in Oakland and continued to build on what we had. Gil is the hardest working guy I ever played with in my career. He stayed in the gym and dedicated himself to getting better everyday. Easily one of my favorite teammates.
Where were you when you found out the Warriors had traded you to Charlotte?
I was in the car and my agent called saying the Warriors aren’t answering the phone and they might be looking to move you. I pulled over at a restaurant and was watching the draft and found on like everyone else did on TV. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. It is definitely one of the toughest moments of my career. I wanted to finish my career in Golden State and right when we had turned things around, I was traded to a team who was still developing. I wish we could’ve gotten another season or two in Golden State with the same crew from the “We Believe” playoffs.
Being a Saginaw native and MSU alum, did you ever think Draymond Green would become the player he is today?
Honestly, I didn’t. Draymond was always the gritty player who gave it a 110 percent and played with more passion and heart than everyone on the court. He was also the smartest player on the court. It’s a testament to his work ethic to see how he’s developed and is redefining the game at his position. He’s arguably the best player at his position. I’m happy for Draymond because he’s a great guy and has worked extremely hard for everything.
Talk to us about your partnership with Dunk Contest…
Dunk Contest is a great idea and an incredible opportunity to create merchandise to commemorate past dunk contest contestants and moments. I think it’ll be a big hit with the fans because we got great designs, color ways and ideas coming. Every time you see one of our shirts it’ll take you back to the moment when that specific dunk contest happened and you can relive it over and over again.
Thoughts on the Warriors signing Kevin Durant?
It’s basically an All-Star team; the fans are going to be going crazy all season long. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be fun watching this group of talent play on a nightly basis. Adding Kevin Durant to the team is incredible. How do you guard them?! You can’t double team or send help versus anyone; it’s going to be a nightmare for the NBA.