Interview: Jameer Nelson

Interview: Jameer Nelson
Jun 18, 2004, 01:00 am
Wyndham Hotel- NBA Draft reception night.


Jonathan Givony: Hey Jameer, how you doing my man?

Jameer Nelson: I'm doing good man. How are you?

Givony: Not too bad. So how have your workouts been going so far?

Nelson: They've been going great so far. I think I'm showing them everything I need to show, jumping right in. It's going good.

Givony: How many have you had so far?

Nelson: I've had 9 so far.

Givony: Who have you gone up against?

Nelson: Telfair, Duhon, Romain Sato, a lot of others. Childress, Ben Gordon.

Givony: How was Childress looking, that was in Philly right? How did it go?

Nelson: Yeah, it was in Philly and I think it went well. I think everyone competed to the highest level.

Givony: Anyone surprise you in these workouts so far?

Nelson: Not at all. I think the guys that I'm so far ranked ahead of; I knew they would come in trying to prove themselves. So their really haven't been too many surprises.

Givony: I kind of like your strategy Jameer. You'll work out against anyone and that's a bit unusual. You see things like Iguodala not going up against Deng or vice versa, Howard won't play against Okafor, stuff like that. But you go up against everyone. What's your strategy regarding that?

Nelson: Well that's what I do, I compete. That's a part of basketball. I'm a man and hopefully so are the guys I'm going up against. I'm not scared or intimidated by anyone, that's not a decision that is going to hurt me because I know what kind of player I am. Eventually the truth will come out, sooner or later. I'm the type of person that is always going to want to face a player that is supposedly better then me, so I'm not going to turn down players ranked below me either. That's just what I've always found to be the best way to go, and I'm not going to change things now.


Givony: What area of your game do you think will help you out the most in your first NBA season?

Nelson: Physical toughness, mental toughness. I know how to win. Things like the money, that's just extra incentive for me. I've been playing basketball for free all my life. I think the passion for basketball is there for me and the love of the game.

Givony: What about your tattoos Jameer, do they have any special meaning for you?

Nelson: Here (left lower arm) is from Pslams. Above that it means no fear. Here on the right is for my Grandmom. I'm on like this no fear thing. That's my life, you know what I mean. I feel as if my struggles have already come.

Givony: The Elite Eight game in the NCAA tournament. Looking back at that, what kind of memories you have from that game?

Nelson: It's a good memory. I feel like that might be one of the best college basketball games of all time.

Givony: Well that was my original question actually. Probably one of the 10 best basketball games I've seen all year. What was it like to actually play in it?

Nelson: It was great. Yeah, I think we put on a pretty good show. Even though we lost, we competed till the very end.

Givony: What about little man Chris Paul? What did you think of him?

Nelson: He didn't play too well against us, but I like him because he has a lot of guts. A lot of heart.

Givony: He's kind of in a similar situation to you, he's not 6-4 or anything like that. Next year, if he's ranked as a top 15 pick or something would you advise him to come out, or stay for four year?

Nelson: Well normally I would tell him to stay for four years. Because college is the best years of your life. College is when you mature as a man and as a basketball player. I mean everybody wants the money, everybody wants to play in the NBA, but if you go to the NBA after your sophomore or Junior year, why not wait until your senior year? It's not going to do anything but make you a better basketball player.

Givony: So have you played against any NBA players recently and have they given you any tips about your game?

Nelson: Well where I work out at in Philly we have some NBA guys coming around once in a while. Doug Overton is my workout partner, and Aaron Mckie just started showing up for the conditioning sessions.

Givony: Do you think that David Stern should try to make a 20+ rule next year? Would that be a good thing for the league?

Nelson: I think that would be a good thing for college and the NBA. You'll have that talent in college and it would help teams gauge who can make then stronger. Then in the NBA you won't have guys just sitting.

Givony: Are you angry at all about the fact that 2-3 high school players being ranked ahead of you even though they aren't proven, they haven't done anything in their career and you won the Wooden and all and might get drafted behind them. How do you feel about that?

Nelson: I'm definitely not jealous or anything like that. I'm happy for those guys. Especially Sebastian, he's a little guy like me, it's just that much harder to prove yourself in high school. They are in a position to leave, and teams want them, there's really no doubt that they're good.


Givony: Would you trade your Wooden award for Sebastian Telfair's shoe contract?

Nelson: (laughs) Nooo, no man. Money isn't everything. I'm going to make enough money to be OK. I'll keep my Wooden. Money can't buy that.

Givony: You've been proving yourself in the NCAA for four years. Now you have to go into these private workouts and prove yourself again. What do you have to show them that you haven't already shown them in college?

Nelson: I don't know. I just need to go in there and be myself. I don't need to prove myself to anybody because I did that many times already. When I go into workouts it's just for people to see me up close and get to know me a little bit better as a person as well. Everyone knows what I can and can't do.

Givony: You already starting to think about making some teams pay for passing you up?

Nelson: Oh yeah. Sure.

Givony: If you were 6-4, do you think you would be a top 5 pick?

Nelson: If I was 6-4 I don't think that I would be me. I might not have some of the intangibles that I have. I'm thankful that I'm 5-11 1/2, it brings things out of me, I can do things that I wouldn't have been able to do if I was 6-4.

Givony: So why do you think that those 2-3 inches make so big of a difference to NBA teams?

Nelson: I don't know. If I can guard somebody, if I can score on somebody, if I can do everything just as well as a 6-4 guy, remember that they need to guard me too, then I really don't see that big of a difference. Except for the fact that they might want to post you up, which I don't mind because no one is going to push me around anyway.

Givony: Do you think the whole small school thing, is that a bit overrated?

Nelson: Oh definitely. People go there to prove themselves, because they want to be the man. As long as you go out there and compete, as long as you winthat's the bottom line. As long as you win. What school you go to shouldn't matter.

Givony: Are there any NBA players out there that you look at and maybe try to model your game after?

Nelson: I like to look at a lot of players and see how they respond to certain situations and then figure out how that relates to my game. But I really just try to be myself. I like to watch how Jason Kidd sees the floor, and how Allen Iverson scores and gets to the line, that kind of thing. You need to know how to deal with those types of things as a PG.

Givony: It seems like Bernie Bickerstaff is really fond of you, how would you like to be drafted by the Bobcats, a brand new franchise with a lot of young players and you being in charge of the marketing. Would that be cool with you?

Nelson: That would be cool. Everything is new to me as well, but I would be ready for the challenge.


Givony: What makes you happier, hitting a big clutch shot or making a beautiful assists to one of your teammates?

Nelson: Making an assist is a lot more satisfying to me.

Givony: What about Delonte? You think he's going to stay in the draft?

Nelson: I'm not sure. I haven't talked to him about staying in or going back lately. I'm going to try to give him a little guidance now regarding what I went through. I know that it's different situations, but at least we can kind of pick apart what I was thinking at the time, how I felt when I was there last year.

Givony: If he came up to you right now and said Jameer, yes or no, should I stay in? What would you tell him?

Nelson: I would have to tell him that whoever is helping him make his decisions, he has to go to that personI really don't know, I wouldn't be in a comfortable position to tell him what to do. I don't know what he's going through everyday. That's definitely a tough decision to make.

Givony: How tough of a decision was it for you to make?

Nelson: It was tough. It was really tough. Especially considering that I come from a family that really doesn't have much money, but at the same time I really knew that one more year wasn't going to hurt me. Even if things stayed the same I would end up being comfortable. And I think it helped me so

Givony: Do you think you would have been a first rounder had you stayed last year? I think people in the media kind of forget that you had a pretty decent shot at being a first rounder had you not went back.

Nelson: Ummm, there's talk, there's been some talk about that. Now, that I would have gone to a certain team, I won't mention which team, but they say they would have picked me had I stayed.

Givony: I think they are just trying to be smart, saying that they knew what you would turn into or whatever. Were you hearing that back then too from that certain team?

Nelson: Well notsort of but maybe not as much as I would have wanted.

Givony: What are you hearing about your stock right now? You have any idea about that or is it just too hard to gauge?

Nelson: I have no idea; I let my agent handle all that. I just go and work out. People are telling me I'm going this, or I'm going that, we'll see how the final situation ends up I guess.

Givony: Ballpark figure?

Nelson: 8-12, something like that. I really don't know.

Givony: Well that's about it I guess Jameer. I appreciate your time. Thanks a lot and good luck.


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