Since I’m out at the U.S. Open, our Jimmy Durkin held down the fort at the Warriors’ workouts Thursday. Here is Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger keeping it real about his lack of athleticism.
What do you need to show teams?
“Just I can play. Pretty much just show them that I can play with length, play against length. Just show them that I’m a basketball player.”
Would you fit in with the Warriors?
“Any place I feel like I can fit in because it’s the NBA. You want to get to that spot so you’ve just got to find your niche. But the Warriors have two veteran bigs in David Lee and Andrew Bogut. I’d love to pick their mind and learn how to play in the post in the NBA.”
Do you hear the whispers about your athletic ability?
“I hear it all the time. I was hearing it when I was in college, I was hearing it in high school, I was hearing it in middle school. I could care less. I’m just one of those type of guys that’s never going to be athletic. Athleticism does not bother me. I don’t need it to be good. You’ve just got to find other ways by being fundamental, find other ways to score. Maybe it’s up fakes, making moves off contact. There’s just other ways you can score.
Everybody’s not going to be athletic. I’m just one of those guys that’s never going to be athletic. I’ve learned to accept it. I just wish everybody else would.”
Do you have a hard time hearing that?
“I have no hard time with it, I just think it’s funny. Everybody’s like ‘I can’t score, I’m not athletic enough to play in the NBA.’ You look at Kevin Love, he’s not that athletic. You look at Zach Randolph, he’s not that athletic. It doesn’t matter. If you can score in the post, you can score in the post. It doesn’t matter if you’re athletic or not.
If you want to draft somebody that’s stupid athletic and is able to touch the top of the backboard but has no skills or is just raw with talent, by any means take that. I just accept the fact that I’m a below the rim player and I find other ways to score. I know the game. I don’t have to rely on athleticism. I use my basketball IQ to play this basketball game.”
Have you always been like that?
“Growing up I was always a step slow in everything in basketball. So I just learned the game. There were certain rebounds I couldn’t go for at an early age. If it was me looking at the defensive play ahead of time or me just finding other ways to score, I just learned the basketball game at an early age. Being a son of a coach, you listen to everything he says. Even though at the time you don’t want to listen, but you’re hearing everything he’s saying to you and you just kind of pay attention later on in life.”
What did the extra year at Ohio State do for you?
“I got experience. I learned how to be a leader. I got myself in better shape. I learned how to handle losing. To me I feel like we failed because we lost nine game this year and I’m not used to losing that many games in a season. I just learned how to cope with losing. And with the experience of learning how to be a leader and all that stuff, helped me out big time.”