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Get to Know: Earl Watson

December 3, 2012
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From David Locke’s “Get to Know” series with Jazz players.

“Earl Watson, 6’1″, UCLA.”

I get my fire, and my passion, from my mom. A lot of people always think it’s your father, but it’s my mom who’s the one always yelling in the stands. So you hear anyone next to you yelling at the referees, it’s probably my mother.

[Locke: She was a lover, she was a tough lover, she was a…]

Very, like, motivational and inspiring, but at the same time we was told if we lose, not to ever come home.

It was a good day in the home when…
When you heard the basketball bouncing in the backyard early in the morning, which mean most of my brothers were outside in the back playing basketball. I was the youngest, so when I would get out there, they’d make me just sit down and watch, and every chance I got I’d get on the court, but they would, like, throw my ball off the court. Make me run and get it. So I guess [that’s] why I’m good at transition D.

What Black History Month means to you
Just civil rights, and you know, that goes beyond race; that goes beyond color. Just human beings and being able to love each other as one, and realize that after all the finances and religion is thrown away, you really have the same obstacles every day in life. And that’s continuing to get better, and grow as a people and live life with a lot of love. And once you do that, then everything else falls into its place.

Growing up mixed
My mom is Mexican-American and my dad is African-American…I think the difference between when I grew up to now is, you see more mixed race kids. I remember my second grade teacher asked me to bring my mom to class for show and tell, because I was the only mixed kid in school. So I didn’t even know I was mixed until she told me. I didn’t know we was different, you know. My best friend growing up was white, so I didn’t even know the difference until she actually brought it to my attention, and that was my introduction to being mixed.

Greatest high school sports moment
Playing against a rival school, a school that I had transferred from my freshman year. Playing against Andre Williams, who started [at] center at Oklahoma State. He was 6’10”. And it was unfortunate, which became fortunate for me, because most of our big guys had transferred. So I had to play point guard on offense, center on defense. And here I am, probably 6’1″, 150, guarding this guy, 6’9″, probably 230. And we won the game, and we won league, and I had, like, 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 15 assists. So it was a great night.

First teacher/coach/mentor to see something special
Ruth [something]. She was my guidance counselor. I went to a school where, my high school was kind of rough. You know, anything went. You seen so many violent things happen in class, in school. It was almost like, you know, you had to be careful everyday. And my guidance counselor took me into her office and told me I had a special gift of playing basketball and she really, you know, someone outside of my family acknowledging it made it even more special.

And she put me into the peer program, which means I had to donate all my free time to helping the community. Ronald McDonald House, and battered women shelter, teaching at middle schools, and you know, it made me become the person I am today, instilled in me giving back to the community. She put me in all the right classes, all the prep SAT courses, in order to get to school. So Ruth [something], she saved my life, and she took me out of a bad situation and kind of protected me the best she could.

Rapid fire
** First pair of basketball shoes: Some Pro Wings. Definitely wasn’t one of my best shoes, but when I got Nikes, I thought I was really Michael Jordan.

** First car you ever drove, and how old were you: I was 14 years old. I can’t even tell you the name of the car, ’cause I don’t think the name was on the car, but it was brown, and this is the true story. I wanted, I wanted to have loud music so bad that my mom would say I stole it, but I snuck her house speakers out of the house, and put big house speakers in the trunk, and I could not understand one word because it was all bass.

** First car you ever owned: When I got drafted, I bought a Escalade. I still have that car to this day, so it’s special.

** Favorite meal: It changes over the years. Growing up, it was obviously French fries and cheeseburgers, but at this point in my life right now, it’s pasta and seafood.

** If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be? I would love to meet Martin Luther King. Let me see who else. Jesus. And I want to put a female in the mix. Maya Angelou.

** What was on the walls of your childhood room: A lot of basketball prints from me bouncing the ball up against the wall. Which mean you’ll probably see a lot of belts lying around my room, my mom came in the room to whip me. I, she would take all the basketballs out of the house, and I was a creative kid. Like, it wasn’t gonna stop, I was so determined. So when she would take all the basketballs out of the house ’cause I was tearing up the house, I would take as much toilet paper as possible, and put it into a ball, and take all of my sister’s rubber bands, and just wrap it as a ball and just start playing again dunking on the lamps, running around the house, and I always got caught. So I was always in trouble.

** If you were an actor, what kind of actor would you want to be? I think Imma be like dramedy. But I would, I would like to do more drama to like, kinda like Denzel. I think his roles are amazing, and they’re kinda like groundbreaking. So he’s one of my favorites. Sidney Poitier, who was actually just broke the color barrier. He’s amazing.

** Superpower you’d pick: Unlimited creativity, ’cause I think that’s the greatest gift in life.

** First video game ever played: Magic vs. Larry.

** First-ever game winner: Hit a lot of game winners, but my biggest one was, I remember in high school, was against Shane Battier. And we kinda knocked him out of the tournament in Vegas. It was a big tournament.

** First dunk: The summer going into the 9th grade year. I had to dunk, because every, everyone else on my team was dunking. I was so competitive. And at that time, I was just barely getting the rim, so when I saw them dunking, I was like if they can do it, I can do it. And it just happened. I was like, “Wow, I did it.” So, amazing.

** Worst job you ever had: I don’t know if it was the worst job. I think it was the most humbling job I ever had was, I used to help my mom clean up commercial real estate buildings on Friday nights. So I would miss the football game. My mom didn’t want me to do it, but I didn’t want my mom to do it by herself, so I would go with her…I remember how we would get treated not so good, so I always thought, like, one day Imma come back and buy this building.

** Who would you rather play with in their prime, Stockton or Malone? One of them? I’m a point guard. I’m bringing back John Stockton.

** Best Halloween costume: I was a ninja for like three years. I was the same ninja from, like, kindergarten to like the third grade.

** Best Christmas present: Doctor J basketball goal with a cardboard pole. And I tore that thing up immediately. I thought I was a dunk champ, so I kept dunking and the cardboard pole just bent, and that was a wrap.

** Best date you’ve ever been on: Taking my daughter to Vegas to go see “The Lion King.” She kept saying we was in Disneyland. I was like, “No, this is not Disneyland.” She thought every hotel was the castle. But it was the greatest Valentine’s date ever.

From a series of videos being uploaded by @da_breezman:

** Best Thing About Jazz Fans: They’re into the game. With me, I like to play with a lot of passion, so I feel like I’m not the only one that’s emotional at the game.

** Worst NBA Arena: I think the worst arena is probably the best arena I like to play in, and that’s in LA. The Lakers…Most Lakers fans like to text during the game. They don’t pay attention.

** Best NBA Dancers: I don’t know. I’m not really a dancer technique guy, so I would probably pick the worst ones…I think Enes, Ee-nis Kanter is the best dancer in the NBA, period.

** Toughest Player to Guard: Gary Payton my rookie year, in practice every day. Opponent-wise, John Stockton.

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