Earl Watson: Fantastic Interview Bits
First Time Playing Against John Stockton
First time I played Stockton was in Utah…the atmosphere was great, and I couldn’t wait to see if his shorts was really that little. I was a rook, I was like this guy wears the smallest shorts but he always put in work. This guy’s unbelievable. Growing up as a kid, you notice everything. You notice his shorts, you notice the shoes, the socks. You notice things that most fans don’t really notice when you’re a kid.
I remember picking him up full court, and that was always my thing. I’m gonna pick everyone up full court no matter what. And I remember just getting lost looking at his whole attire from the shorts to the socks to the shoes. I think he wore the same shoes his whole career.
And as I’m looking at him, he zoomed a pass right by my face. Sometimes the ball can pass you so close that you feel the wind almost smack you in the face. I was like, “Wow. I need to wake up. This guy’s legit. He’s serious and he’s trying to win.” But he was very tough, very focused, very determined and he saw the game before it happened.
The Art of the Lob
For me, I never really look at Jeremy…I most likely look at the defender’s eyes, and if I can see Jeremy is behind him good enough, I just put it up there high enough to where if the defender jumps, he has a chance of getting dunked on ’cause Jeremy jumps on a whole ‘nother level. It’s a play that can change the game and change the momentum of the game even though it’s just two points.
First Time with Jeremy Evans
[UDQM Alert] When we first started doing it, I wasn’t really sure if Coach Sloan would allow it. I think the first time we done it, it was in Atlanta and we were on an amazing trip.
We beat Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, and Charlotte. The game, we was losing, and they was really into all our plays and denying everything, and I just told Jeremy–he was a rookie at this time and scared out of his mind not to mess up–I was like, “Hey, just spin and go backdoor for a lob.” He looked at me like I was crazy. I was like, “Trust me. If it’s not there, I won’t throw it.”
So we ran it and it was open and Coach Sloan looked at me and pointed and said, “Do that lob thing again.” I was like, “All right, Coach.” So I feel lucky to be one of the few players Coach Sloan allowed that to happen.
Is today’s NBA as talented as ever at the point guard position?
I would say no. I think when I first got into the league, it was the most talented. I came into the league with Gary Payton, so I saw that every day. It was just unbelievable. And you still had a young Baron Davis…one night we played John Stockton, which to me was basketball heaven. Turned around and played Mark Jackson, which to me was basketball hell.* And then I had Nick Van Exel, which was out of this world.**
[We were] playing Nick Van Exel in Seattle. He has 20 points in the first quarter. I check in for Gary Payton, looking at Nate McMillan asking him, “What am I supposed to do? He already has 20…he’s on fire, I can’t slow him down.” So I think the league back then, you had a lot more point guards on teams who could take over games and just close games out.
* I may or may not have been editorializing there.
** Get it? Because he looks like an alien?
Impacting the game without scoring
I learned how to affect basketball games without scoring by playing pickup at UCLA with the pros and ex-pros who attended UCLA because they would never pass me the ball in the game. So I’m 17 years old and I would play everyday. I was the only player on my UCLA team that would play there everyday…and they would never pass me the ball. So Magic was running the games, and he had so many great players and I just learned how to play defense and make plays and how to affect the game without scoring. I think it carried me over to my whole career. It’s really been a very valuable tool that I use now. (KALL)