Derrick Favors talks self-esteem, reading, staying in college, leadership and Karl Malone
** Your passing is so much better than it used to be…
Actually, I always been a good passer, to tell you the truth…I could always pass. It was just, you know, I think coming into the NBA, you know, I was trying to be a little too selfish. You know how it is when you a young guy. You wanna come in, you wanna get your shots, get your numbers.
** On defense
I take my defense very personal. You know, when I guard my guy, man, I take it personal…If my guy score on me two or three times in a row, Imma tell coach, “Don’t switch me off on him. Let me guard him. You know, he ain’t gon score no more.” So, I take that kind of stuff very, very personally.
** Why didn’t you bring your friends from Atlanta out to Utah, and how hard was that?
Man, you know, I got different kind of friends, man. You know, they got they own life. You know, one of my friends right now, he got a kid on the way…My other friend, you know, he working, you know, tryna get his life together. You know, so, I mean, they understood, like, yo, you know, this your life. You know, we’ll be here in the summertime, or whenever you call us, you know, we’ll be here for you, but you know, this your life, we got our own life. You know, we gotta do things on our own. And you know, that’s why I really appreciate them. …
It was time for me to grow up anyway [when I got traded to Utah], you know? My mom was like, you know, “If you want me to come out there with you, I’ll come out there with you. But you know, you gotta be a man now. You 18, 19 years old, you know, I can’t hold your hand forever. You know, you gotta go out there, you know, and just become a man, you know? Start taking care of your own business, start learning stuff, start meeting new people, you know, and just time for you to grow up.”
** Why are you so comfortable just hanging and being by yourself?
I don’t have low self-esteem. You know, I’m cool with myself. You know, I got my friends back in Atlanta. You know, I know I got a strong family. I got a strong support system. And you know, I’m comfortable with myself, you know, I know my limits or whatever. You know, and I know what I can do. You know, just comfortable with myself. That’s how I grew up.
** Has the season gotten in the way of your history reading?
It’s kinda tough, man, ’cause when you read history, you gotta be really paying attention. You gotta have your whole focus into it. So it’s been kinda tough during the season. But you know, during the summertime, and before the season, man, I try to read history books and look at the History Channel. Just read stuff so I can just learn.
** Is not getting invited to join the USA team motivating you?
Tell you the truth, man, I was kinda heartbroken…’cause I really wanted to go back. You know, I knew I had a bad showing last time, ’cause I messed–I don’t know what I did to my back, man. It was like a little freak accident. All I did was ran down the court and turned, and I don’t know what happened. But you know, I wanted to go back, but you know, it is what it is, man. You know, they picked they roster or whatever, and you know, Imma keep working hard and hopefully I get invited to the next one.
** Who is the toughest cover for you in the NBA?
For me, I hate saying it, but for me, you know, the toughest guy that I have to play against is probably Zach Randolph. Every time. You know, he just one of those guys, you know, he not athletic at all, you know, he just low to the ground; big, thick-bodied guy; strong. You know, it’s tough to guard.
** Which NBA player did you look up to as a kid?
I always wanted to be like Kevin Garnett, for some reason. You know, I used to love Kevin Garnett coming up. You know, him and Tim Duncan was my favorite two players.
You recently dropped 28 points on Duncan…
Duncan getting old down there…I mean, I’m not trying to diss him. You know, he’s still a great player, but you know, I was actually proud of that game. I was like, man, I just dropped 28 on Tim Duncan. A guy I looked up to coming up, and you know, I learned a lot from him just by playing against him.
** In retrospect, would you have stayed another year in college before entering the draft?
Me personally, you know, I was kinda undecided what I wanted to do. You know, I wanted to come out because obviously, you know, it was everybody dream to come, go to the NBA. And you know, they were saying [I was going to be a] high draft pick. So you know, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll come out.”
But you know, right now, I kinda wish I would’ve stayed another year, just for the experience. You know, just being a college student, being a kid before you come to the NBA. Now, all of a sudden you gotta be a grown man, gotta handle business, where in college, you know, you could still be a kid, still kinda learn. You know, that’s something I regret a little bit right now. I wish I woulda stayed another year.
** How has Karl Malone helped you grow as a player and as a person?
You know, as a player, you know, he helped me grow. You know, we was in the gym during the summertime, probably two weeks, I think. You know, every day, man, we just, he was just tryna make up drills to go harder. You know, different kind of drills to do. And you know, me and him, we would talk after practice, or before practice.
You know, he would always be in my ear about, you know, working hard, you know, staying in shape, you know, thinking about stuff to do after basketball, and you know, just trying to help me grow as a man…The main thing he always told me, just, you know, don’t matter what the stat sheet say or anything. You know, just go out there and play hard. You know, whether you score or not, it don’t matter. You know, just go out there and play hard, you know, and try to get a win.
** Can you and Trey Burke become the vocal leaders of the team?
Yeah, we can. I mean, it’s just the point that me and Trey gotta come in and do it first. You know, we gotta set the example first. And Gordon [Hayward], too. You know, we gotta set the example first. You know, come in camp in shape, you know, go out there and play hard every night, and practice, you know, go hard in practice, you know, and just set the tone from the beginning.
** Do you feel the guys are looking to you for leadership right now?
I think some of the guys are. You know, guys like Rudy [Gobert], Enes [Kanter], Jeremy [Evans], those type guys, you know, they look at me as the leader of the bigs, really. You know, they follow my lead. You know, if I go hard in practice, you know, they watching me, so you know, they pick up their intensity. So you know, every day in practice, you know, I can’t slack off.
Or in games, you know, I think Enes and Marvin [Williams] and all those guys feel comfortable with me out there, because they know I got they backs if they mess up on defense or mess up on offense or something, they know I have their back.
** What do you need to do to evolve from very good player to superstar?
The next step for me is probably being a little bit more vocal in the locker room. You know, just getting guys ready for the game and making sure guys doing what they need to do to be ready for the game, whether it’s, you know, getting they rest, they mindset, or in practice, you know, make sure they lift, get a lift in. Making sure they taking game shots or whatever. You know, I think that’s the next development in my career.
** What’s this season been like for you?
It’s been, I don’t wanna say new, but it’s been different, from the past seasons because I’m not a second-string guy no more. I’m finally a starter, and you know, it just been learning on the fly, really. Just learning how to take care of my body, learning how to get ready for games. I mean, I been having up and down games all year, but you know, it just a learning process for me right now. [The hardest part has been] getting ready for games every night.
You know, one night you might play Philadelphia, then the next night you might play the Clippers, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Portland. Then you might play Milwaukee, so it’s just getting up for those type of games, just having your body ready physically and mentally, and just being ready to go from the jump. …
Some nights where, you know, my mind saying, you know, “I can do it,” but my body saying, “Nah, I ain’t got it tonight.” But like I say, it just one of those things that you gotta prepare for…I’m learning that, you know, I gotta be mentally ready for it, every team and every player because the NBA, you know, everybody’s good. Everybody can play.
** Is the season easier because you got your deal done?
A lot easier. You know, that’s a big monkey off my back, man. I don’t have to worry about that. You know, I know I got my deal, and you know, now I can just focus on basketball and getting better. You know, just trying to get back to the playoffs. (Locked on Jazz, 1280)