Interviews with Sacramento Kings Jason Thompson, Kevin Martin and Assistant Coach Shareef Abdul-Rahim
Just some short interviews I felt were timely because of the Kings 143-141 loss to the Warriors. Kevin Martin tossed in a career high 50 but was offset by Monta Ellis’ career best 42. I’ll start off with Kevin Martin. What fans don’t see is his attention to off the court responsibilities. Kevin has a hand in all kinds of charities and is one of the few who does so much around the league. His are the eyes of a killer on the floor. He just has that knack for scoring. Some players have it, some don’t. He’s had his share of injuries this year, but last night will go a long way to showing NBA fans this cat is a true fire starter offensively.
Michael Tillery: Kevin, since you grew up in Ohio and besides the obvious, why Michael Jordan?
Kevin Martin: He’s one of the best to ever play the game. We all wanted to be him growing up.
Mizzo: What aspect of his game did you admire the most?
KMart: How good he was. How he stayed so disciplined despite other things happening in his life. He remained passionate.
Mizzo: I see you majored in sports management. Something to look forward to in the future?
KMart: Yeah maybe. I have a lot of options.
Mizzo: What kind of options?
Mizzo: Coaching? Word? Good for you. I see you are heavily involved with Basketball Without Borders and doing stuff with kids. When and where was this priority set?
KMart: My parents and grandparents. They always made me feel fortunate. I’m in a position to help others feel the same. It’s just in my heart and is something I feel very very strong about. The Basketball Without Borders was a great experience. Nothing can compare to what they go through over there. Our worst over here is nothing in comparison.
Mizzo: You are very adept at scoring the rock. When did that particular dynamic become such a huge part of your game?
KMart: I don’t know. It was just something I could always do. We all have our unique talents.
Mizzo: Whassup with the Chinese food?
KMart: You know a lot about me don’t you?
Mizzo: That’s my job bruh. You need to read your bio more (We crack up).
KMart: It’s just different. I like to experience all the world has to offer.
Jason Thompson is averaging 10.7 points and 7 rebounds in his rookie year. He had 14 points, 19 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals in 35 minutes during last night’s wild contest before fouling out. He’s from nearby New Jersey, attended Rider and the fans really came out to cheer the young fella. Crazy, but they were even cheering his fouls. Ah, the life of a budding star…
Mizzo: Dude you had like 10,000 people here.
Jason Thompson: It was a good feeling to have a lot of support. A lot of people respect me as a player but also as a person as well.
Mizzo: Man they were cheering your fouls and everything. Press row had a collective chuckle.
JT: Yeah I heard. A lot of them are getting the NBA package to check me out on TV so it’s great. My teammates were giving it to me a little bit when they heard the crowd cheering after the fouls though.
Mizzo: A lot of them were from Rider. Did you have this type of following when you were there?
JT: It was good to see over the years there. They really supported me. I’m very humbled by all the appreciation. It’s also helping us pull in some recruits (because of the exposure) and that’s always cool. The recruits say if I can make it, then maybe they have a shot.
Mizzo: This is for the people who don’t know you outside of Rider or the Kings. What would you like to tell the fans of the NBA who don’t know who Jason Thompson is?
JT: I’m a guy who has always been a late bloomer on every level. I’ve always wanted to get into the league as a kid. Who would have thought during my senior year at college that I would be where I am now? It’s been a lot of hard work and never stopping.
Mizzo: This is a typical question but I’m asking it anyway, what’s the biggest adjustment to the pros from your days at Rider?
JT: Everyone is bigger, stronger, quicker but I feel like I’ve prepared myself. It’s not like I’m just coming from the MAC blindly. I had a chance to work out with some NBA guys over the summer. In college you have a couple of scrimmages and then you go right into the season. In the NBA, you have 8 preseason games which got my feet wet and made it easier. In college you can look at a couple of games and see success, but here you have to keep it moving. There’s no time to look back on happy momments.
Mizzo: What are you learning from your coaching staff? There’s a couple of prolific scorers at your exposal.
JT: Yeah, they are really helping me as a rookie. Especially Shareef who is making my job a little easier.
Mizzo: When you get the ball, you seem like you wanna go…go…go. What’s the thought process to slow the game down to where the flow is at a speed where you can be consistently successful?
JT: It slows down every now and again. It’s really up to me to speed up my learning curve as a player so I can contribute in a much bigger way night in and night out. I wanna be really good in this league. Sometimes I slow it up and sometimes I go really quick.
Shareef Abdul-Rahim was a standout during his 12 year career with the Grizzlies, Hawks, Trail Blazers and Kings. He scored 15, 028 points and amassed 6,239 rebounds during that span. It’s funny seeing an athlete not so far removed from his playing days transition to team building as a NBA coach.
Mizzo: Shareef, I know he’s a rookie, but where do you see Jason Thompson right now in terms of progress?
Shareef Abdul-Rahim: Like you said he’s a rookie. He’s learning and like everybody, it’s a learning process for him. He’s really doing a great job. He’s a great kid. He plays hard and wants to learn and do really well. You see it in his performance. He’s soaking everything up. You can’t say that about everyone. He works extremely hard and the sky is the limit for him. He has a ton of talent already and he’ll determine how good he potentially can become.
Mizzo: The player to coach transition. What’s it like?
SAR: It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it.
Mizzo: Head coaching aspirations?
SAR: We’ll see what happens.