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J-Rich Speaks

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I had a long conversation with Jason Richardson on Tuesday. I talked to him on Thursday, but he said he needed time to get his head together. I’ll tell you what, he was shaken up by this trade, totally blindsided. We’ve talked about trade rumors involving him before, and in the past he’d acknowledged that he might be the odd man out. Still, this came as a total stunner. He was pretty broken up about leaving the Bay. He kept saying the fans deserved more and he wanted to give it to them.
You can read all about it in today’s Times. (http://www.contracostatimes.com/sports/ci_6293697) But here are some quotes and topics I didn’t get in:

*He said he wanted the Bobcats to re-sign Gerald Wallace, who is a free agent. Though they somewhat share positions, Richardson said he thinks Charlotte will be better if they lock down the SG and SF positions. That would mean Adam Morrison is coming off the bench. If Wallace signs elsewhere, I think Morrison starts at SF.
“I hope we get Gerald back,” Richardson said. “Two athletic guys from the wing who play hard, that’s going to be crazy.”

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*Richardson loves the underdog role. And he heard everyone who said the Warriors did good by getting rid of him. He especially heard Stephen A. Smith, who, let’s just say, has an adversary from Saginaw, Mich. with his criticism of Charlotte in making the deal.
“All that is another opportunity to silence my critics. I’ve always been a critic buster,” Richardson said. “When they came into the league, they said I couldn’t shoot. I learned to shoot. Then they said I couldn’t play defense. I worked on my defense and learned to play defense. They said I couldn’t dribble. I improved my dribbling.”

*At first, he did not want to go to Charlotte. Seriously. After getting a taste of winning last season, he wanted to go to a contender. Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, San Antonio, Cleveland — any playoff team that needed a shooting guard. I don’t think Charlotte is that bad. They regularly have one of the worst records in the East, which is pretty bad. But they aren’t that far off. They have some nice young pieces. Richardson’s one gripe is that he didn’t want to start over and try to take a young team into the playoffs. He wanted to help a veteran team get go deeper into the playoffs. But the one saving grace to him, he said, was that he has some guys who are going to play with him. One of Richardson’s problems in the past was that some of his teammates didn’t play hard. He doesn’t expect to have that problem in Charlotte.
“I play hard just like the rest of them on both ends of the floor. My thing is do whatever it takes to get this team to the playoffs. This team is just a piece away. It can happen fast. They were only five games outside of the playoffs. They’re young, but they have some guys who can play. All they need is some leadership and experience. I hope I can bring both.”

*Another bright spot is that he has a much better chance of getting the All-Star nod out East. With the Warriors, he wasn’t going to beat out Baron for the last remaining guard spot behind Kobe, Nash, Tracy McGrady and Tony Parker. In the East, Dwyane Wade is the obvious starter. For the second two-guard spot, Richardson just has Vince Carter, Richard Hamilton, and now Ray Allen as his competition for the second two-guard spot. Vince and Rip made it this year because there was no one else to consider. If Richardson has a year like he did in 2005-06, he’s almost a lock.
“There’s a chance,” Richardson said. “There’s always a chance. With the West, it was always loaded with guards. It’s a tough conference. Not that the East is a pushover conference, but this is another opportunity for me to prove myself — again.”

Anyway, I certainly am going to miss JR, though I think it was a smart move by Mullin. J-Rich was my guy, as the other media members liked to say. I was the butt of so many of his practical jokes. He never got too big headed. He was always down to earth. He never shunned us, no matter how bad he played or the team played. He was there to talk to us, win or lose. Plus, you could always go to him and just chop it up about anything. You can’t do that with Baron, or most stars in the league.
I’ll certainly miss JR’s locker room presence. With J-Rich and Troy Murphy gone, the Warriors locker room just won’t be the same. Thankfully, we still have Stephen Jackson.

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Marcus Thompson

  • zgreat

    Great article Marcus!

    It’s a refreshing change to get a player’s honest viewpoint in regard to trade.

    As sports fans, we usually only get management’s spin of the story (although in this case, JRich is such a class act, they didn’t have anything negative to say about him).

  • commish

    You were lucky to know him so up close and personal. All the Warrior nation will miss him, even those of us who felt it would potentially better for the team long term to trade him now.

    The one thing I wondered about is if he heard–and if he did–how did he feel about that many people were saying he had hit his ceiling in terms of his ability and upside. Although eveyone agreed he had a great work ethic and improved every summer in a skill area, he does not have the wheels he used to have to slash, drive and dunk. He was another Dub shooting threes and twos from the perimeter. That is not what we need because we enough of those guys with Jax, Harrington, MP, and even Baron. So in some ways he had become redundent to our offense since his injury.

    The other thing I never understood was why he waited so late to get his knee surgery. It left him unready to play at the beginning of the year and if it hadn’t been for the freak hand injury, he may never have gotten into playing shape and risked re-injuring his knee because it never would have healed.

    All that being said, for a long time he WAS the face of the Warriors and as far as I’m concerned we should retire his number for his six years of service.

  • Marcus Thompson

    He was pretty upset about all the negativity about his game. Obviously he doesn’t think he’s maxed out. He said he is motivated more than ever. He was really motivated by Stephen A. Smith’s comments about JR being overpaid and overrated. He said he’s going to work harder than he ever has to prove his doubters wrong.
    He waited to have knee surgery because he didn’t think he was going to have to have it. JR is a workaholic. He knew knee surgery would kill his offseason workout and he would be out of shape come camp. He was hoping some rest would heal the knee, and he would only be a little bit off schedule. I just think he underestimated how serious his knee problem was, and he was the kind of player that thought he could tough anything out. It backfired.

  • BenCeezy

    Overpaid and Overrated…? Truthfully, sounds like Steven A. Smith as an analyst.

  • EJ

    Marcus, have you had the chance to get any reactions from the rest of team? I’m mainly interested in Baron’s take on the situation and how that impacts him resigning at the end of the season with the Warriors. I know him and Jason were close. Has the team’s perception of the front office changed? While they didn’t gut out the nucleus of the team, management did take away part of its heart and soul. The trade was part of a move to acquire KG, not necessarily because they eyed Wright the whole time. If they don’t end up getting KG, what happens to the roster? I can’t imagine Wright and Biedrins playing on the floor together; they’re very similar. Is Yi still in the plans as a second option to KG?

  • http://www.cctextra.com/blogs/hoopjunkie/2007/07/jrich_speaks.html JJ

    Marcus,

    Thank you greatly for the article, and the follow-up post in your blog.

    Like EJ above asked, how is the remainder of this team reacting to the news? How is the mood following this trade vs when Dunleavy/Murphy were traded? I wonder if guys (BD especially) are heartened at all by the fact that this demonstrates management’s intent to be a serious bidder for KG’s services.

    Thanks again!

  • Marcus Thompson

    Matt Barnes, Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson all told me they were shocked. None of them were mad, they expected someone to be gone, but they were shocked it was Jason Richardson. I haven’t talk to him yet, but I heard Baron was pretty upset, and from a reliable source. He wanted for him and Jason Richardson to get a chance to play a whole season together. Both felt like they could be the best backcourt in the NBA, but injuries never allowed them to play together for a whole season

  • Rob Broe

    Thanx Marcus for the insight, I wanted to know what Mullin’s reaction was to J Rich’s claims of betrayal over the way the trade was handled?