New Portland Trail Blazers forward Jared Jeffries was an unexpected center of attention at Monday's Media Day, as he entertained a small group of reporters with his hunting tales and the perspective he's accumulated during a 10-year NBA career that has included stops with the Washington Wizards, two tours with the New York Knicks, and the Houston Rockets.
Earlier this week, I wrote up a Jeffries health update, in which he strongly endorses an Orthokine knee treatment that he underwent in Germany, a procedure made popular by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Read that here.
Now: a sampling of his wit and wisdom dispensed at Media Day.
On what it takes to be a locker room leader in the NBA
You've got to be vocal. You've got to reach a point in your life where you're secure and happy. It's hard to be a veteran guy if financially you're not where you want to be. If you're not happy in your own life. I'm very happy in my life. I've had a great life, a great career. Now it's about helping other players and winning games. That's what I want to do.
Note: Jeffries has earned nearly $40 million in NBA salary.
On fiscal responsibility
Off the court, you see a guy pull up who was a whatever pick and he's driving this car. That's cool if you have one of those cars but you can't get another one.
On what a veteran can take from playing on a rebuilding team
My goal was always just to play as long as I could. I want to play obviously. But it's a long season and I've been in situations where I wasn't playing that much. A week later, I'm starting and I'm playing. The thing about the NBA that's so good, as long as you never get too high or low [you'll be alright]. Just stay right here in the middle and it's worked out for me.
You've got to be realistic with how you play. Every year only a couple teams really have the chance to win a championship. If you're not on one of those teams, it becomes a chance for you to increase, for lack of a better word, your legend. It gives you a chance to help young players grow. It gives you another year of playing. You want to win and win at a high level but you have to be realistic about where you are. That's the key to the NBA.
On handicapping the NBA schedule
I'm a firm believer in the first 25 games. If you look over the course of the NBA, if you look at a team's first 25 games, barring any great player coming back or any kind of devastating injury to their best player, their first 25 games will pretty much give you an outline of what the playoffs will be. It gives you your top-5 teams, maybe your sixth spot and then maybe 7, 8, 9 and 10. The 10 teams in each conference that will compete for a playoff spot.
Barring injuries or just a terrible schedule. I truly believe in that. For us, being a young time, our 25 games are so important. I don't care who we play.
On the reality facing rookie point guard Damian Lillard
You can't judge what Dame is going to be able to do. Just from Summer League, you don't know what he's going to do yet. He'll be a good player, he'll play well... the point guard position is the hardest position in the league right now. Every night you're going against an All-Star or former All-Star. It puts a lot of emphasis on him playing at a high level for us to win.
On his hunting, which is more than just a hobby
I went on a pheasant hunt this year, buffalo, gator hunt. I grew up with rabbit, deer, squirrel, raccoon, turkey.
We go pig hunting in Florida in full gully suits, full camo, and get from here to the wall from them [roughly 15 feet away]. Crawl in on them [with] cross-bows.
I don't mount animals. That's weird. I don't want my daughter walking around with dead animals on the wall. She'll be like, 'What's that?' I'll be like, 'I killed that with my bare hands.'
My buffalo hunt [last summer] was awesome. South Dakota. It was awesome, dude. It was on an Indian reservation. We hung out on the reservation, met everybody, walked in, stalked it, it was cool. it was 583 pounds of meat. We might never eat it all.
Note: Back in September, Meru linked up a post by Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones with the picture of Jeffries hunting an alligator with former NBA player Brad Miller. That post and picture is what set off the hunting discussion, a conversation in which Jeffries' eyes lit up. The picture is originally courtesy of @CBOTV.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter