Players Talk: Iguodala, Dudley, Young, Hayes, Barton
By Ben Golliver
Five players — from veterans to rookies, Eastern Conference to Western Conference — tackle five questions.
1. When was the first time you dunked?
Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets: I was 16. Summer going into my sophomore year of high school. I was like by myself, two people in the gym. I was like, “It’s about time. It took me long enough.” I wasn’t trying too much [beforehand], though.
Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns: I dunked my freshman summer. It was in a summer league for my high school team in Scripps Ranch [in San Diego]. A one-hand dunk. I definitely screamed, I was excited. For me, it took a little bit longer because of my body, but it was definitely worth the wait.
Chuck Hayes, Sacramento Kings: A three-on-three tournament when I was in eighth grade. I was in Turlock, Calif. I didn’t dribble the ball, I just palmed it, went up and dunked it. It wasn’t a big reaction.
Nick Young, Philadelphia 76ers: The summer going into ninth grade. They didn’t think I could do it. It was at the park, playing against the older kids. The first time I had a chance to be out there with them, I just went up there and dunked it. Down in L.A., Robertson Park. It was on my older brother. My brother didn’t think I was going to dunk it. I don’t know what made me jump so high. People started going crazy, I started going crazy because it was my first dunk. I’m yelling at my brother. He was like a park legend. Everyone knew who he was. For me to do that, it was kind of crazy.
Will Barton, Portland Trail Blazers: I want to say I was 13 — no, 14. I was in the rec center, catching lobs at practice. I was just excited, running around like, “I can’t believe I dunked.” I was getting close, missing, missing, finally I made it. I was happy.
2. What’s your favorite look from all the new jersey designs around the NBA?
Iguodala: I haven’t paid too much attention to it, but the Christmas jerseys are cool. The Thunder, New York, Boston’s, they’re different. Ours are cool, too.
Dudley: The Brooklyn Nets’ new uniforms look nice. The black one. I can’t wait to wear our throwbacks. Those have been one of the best. Miami Heat, the black ones and the red ones are both good. Any time you have good colors it’s better suited for you. I love all the throwback looks.
Hayes: The Denver Nuggets have the best jerseys. All their looks. I like the color combinations.
Young: Oh, man, I like the Bulls’ Christmas jersey — all red, that was pretty dope. I like colors. Even though it was all bright, I kind of liked the orange Knicks [on Christmas]. I hope we get one of those old-school looks. I like OKC’s blue-and-white ones. Everybody’s got something different. We need to do something. We need some old school here. If I were designing it, it would be crazy.
Barton: I like our jerseys, first of all. All of them. The best jerseys, though? I like Brooklyn. The black and white. I like the Heat Christmas jerseys. Yeah, that’s probably it right now.
3. Which NBA player is your favorite to watch when you’re not playing?
Iguodala: That’s a good question. I like watching [Rajon] Rondo play. I’m a Rondo fan. He thinks the game. He’s never really reacting. He’s always there before anyone else. He sees things ahead of time. His ability to do certain things in transition or in the half-court setting. Defensively, he knows a team’s plays, he knows where to be. He’s a student of the game. He looks like the smartest guy out there all the time.
Dudley: LeBron James. If D-Rose [Derrick Rose] were healthy. I love to see the Clippers. They are the most exciting team right now with “Lob City” going on. Any time you have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the same team. As a basketball player, you’re still a fan and you want to see the best people at your sport play.
Hayes: I don’t care. I watch games, but there’s not any one guy I’m looking out for. I don’t tune in for the players.
Young: Right now, I like how the Clippers are playing. Lob City. I’m seeing [Eric Bledsoe] catching lobs, that’s crazy. I like watching New York. I look forward to [Carmelo Anthony] playing. He’s just playing with a chip on his shoulder. You can expect great things out of each game they’re playing. J.R. Smith playing great. That whole team. [Tyson] Chandler blocking shots. The way they get up and down the court, everybody hitting threes, it’s fun to watch.
Barton: Kobe Bryant. My favorite player. Ever since I can remember. It’s crazy how talented he is, and usually guys that are talented maybe don’t work as hard and take the game as serious. That’s what impresses me the most about him. To me, he’s the most talented player on the court 100 percent of the time, but he works the hardest at the same time. He takes the game real serious. He’s all about winning. I love his demeanor and his approach to the game. I watched a lot of his film. I try to take things from him, his demeanor, moves he does. He’s still my favorite player.
4. If you were commissioner for a day, what would you change?
Iguodala: Nothing. That’s the politically correct answer. I can’t think of anything honestly right now. We’re in a good position, we’re blessed. The one I want to say I can’t say.
Dudley: My whole thing would be the relationships between refs and players and what they are looking for and how. More communication just because sometimes certain refs have certain ways of calling games … There should be a certain standard where it’s a [communication] flow: “We’re going to let you play down low, up top, hand-checking, technical foul.” Maybe on technical fouls, if you curse it’s a technical and if you don’t, you let certain stuff slide. It seems like every ref has a different personality and they call it differently.
Hayes: No games on Sundays during football season. I want to watch the Raiders.
Young: Days off! Spread out the schedule a little bit more. I would have it where we get like two days off [in a row], go home or something. Probably once out of the month, at least two days, go home, see your family and chill for a minute. Every month, though. Every month!
Barton: I’d raise the pay! For everybody. Everybody getting bigger money!
5. What are you going to miss the most about the NBA once you retire?
Iguodala: Just hanging out with the guys, plane rides, joking with the guys before and after practice. That’s probably the best part. I’m not retired yet.
Dudley: Hanging with the fellas in the locker room, the airplane, the bus trips, traveling. It’s like a family away from your family that can’t be replaced. I try to keep it loose, have a good time. The happier you are, the better you play, the better the team is. Losing, a lot of bad morale is around and little things can bother people; when you’re winning, it’s all good. I try to keep it as lighthearted as possible. We’ve got Sebastian Telfair, he’s definitely a jokester. P.J. Tucker is pretty funny. We have a lot of people who don’t like to clown but like to laugh, a bunch of side-laughers on our team. P.J. Tucker has been playing in Europe, he’s been coming over with these tight European clothes, these bright colors, he doesn’t care. He’s been wearing a low, low v-neck, the kind that females wear. We’ve been getting on his case about that.
Hayes: Being in the locker room. Hanging out with the guys. Our equipment manager Dwayne [Wilson] is the funniest guy.
Young: Just playing basketball on TV, where it’s a dream. I dreamed of playing in the NBA. To see it come true, to see how the older guys feel, being around them, seeing how they tell me not to take it for granted. You gotta just enjoy it while it’s here.
Barton: Just competing. I’m a huge competitor. Going up against the best in the world, you can’t beat that.