Today Chris Singleton, the 18th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, should be recovering from his rookie debut for the Washington Wizards at home against the New Jersey Nets. Instead, he's in Tallahassee, where he played hoops at Florida State. While training on campus, he's finishing up his social sciences degree with a minor in business. The 6-foot-9 small forward is also head of marketing and vice president of business operations for a graphic T-shirt company called Doughpe Clothing.
While Singleton was enjoying a recent weekend getaway to Miami with some friends, I spoke with him about the lockout, the potential season and fitting in with the Wiz.
What’s the latest you’re hearing about the labor talks?
Me and my agent talk a couple times a week and the union sends out e-mails to the players. They keep us up to date. I mean, they are apart. They're at least getting some issues solved and moving on to the next. It’s a process; it's slow as crap. Hopefully we'll have a 50-game season, at least that.
In your eyes, what is the main issue that needs to be resolved?
The whole percentage of money. On one account, I feel like the owners have to take the responsibility for their organizations. The players have to come to practice every day, have to come to games every day, fit and ready to play. That's on us. The players, we're there to perform and the owners are there to operate the business. In some cases, some players are not performing and some are taking the guaranteed money and just running with it. I feel like once we get past the whole spread between the money, and who's losing it, I feel like we'll be fine. That's the major issue. I mean, the world's just greedy. Everyone wants money. That’s the way the world works. I don't have any say so because I'm a rookie.
I feel like a couple years should be guaranteed, but not all the money should be guaranteed. That's one thing we can't do like football. People have to come out and play. There are a lot of people fighting to be in the NBA. Not a lot of people get the opportunity; there are 400, 500 people that actually play during the season. There are thousands on top of thousands fighting trying to get in the NBA, and I feel like it's up to the ones who are there to keep their spot.
Are any of the players saying to each other, “Let’s just get this thing over with and earn your stripes on the court to make that extra million or two you think you deserve?”
I mean, that's in some peoples' minds, but our board members are just trying to do the best for everybody. You know the superstars are going to get their money. We're trying to see how much the max contracts are going to be. I feel like the superstars are going to be fine, but it's just how much money are the owners wiling to put out now? They've given 15 to 20 million -- some ridiculous amount -- to some people who don't even play 85 percent of the season. You've got to go out there and earn it; that's how I feel. But, I mean, we're together and I'm behind whatever they do.
Do you think the owners are trying to get the players to cave in? Is there any thought from the players that you won’t get the best deal once you start missing paychecks?
I mean, we're not going to get the best deal. We're not going to get the deal we hoped for. It's a business, I know that. I'm just hoping that it’s something that works out for both sides.
What has the experience of the lockout taught you?
I don’t take for granted the opportunity that I have every day to be able to go out and showcase my abilities to the fans who are watching. I just take it all in and just try to be the best person I can be, the best player I can be. You grow up faster, especially because you don't have anything. You're depending on a check. That's why you get a job; you try to earn a living. I have a job, I have a title, but I don't get compensated by the league.
What is your compensation now?
I have a couple things that are in the works. I'm not allowed to say them right now. One of them is the clothing line I'm involved with. I'm being taken care of.
What are you working on to get ready for a potential season?
The knock on me was my shooting, my scoring ability, which I do have. I’m just trying to make that better. Also, scoring off the dribble and just staying consistent every time I get on the court. I’m also working on my ball-handling. The Wizards will give me the chance to showcase all of my abilities. I’m preparing for it.
As a rookie, how frustrating is it for you that you can’t have contact with the Wizards coaching staff to learn the team’s system?
I mean, I was up in D.C. for three or four days and they told me what I needed to work on. I knew what I needed to work on, and I can only just go from there. I’m just talking to people who know the game and just trying to take it in. When my time does come, I just got to go out there and show what I’ve been working on. I feel like I can pick up things fast. I’m still going to bust my a-- until this lockout is over with.
Have you played with any of your new teammates?
I was with Andray [Blatche] at the beginning of September. I was in D.C. working out with him and a couple of other people. Also, I had a chance to work out with John [Wall] once. Me and Nick [Young] played in a couple of charity games. I learn a lot from them. I can tell what type of player I’m going to be just watching them.
When you guys finally step on the NBA court together, how do you envision things unfolding?
I feel like we're definitely young and athletic. We have the scoring potential out there. We have a great point guard in John. We have a couple of great scorers in Blatche and Jordan [Crawford], and we've got Nick. We have other players who can fill the roles, and that's what we need. We've got to just go out there and play together. Everyone's going to get their numbers every night, but we have to put that aside. Once we get past that, we're very explosive. I'm very excited.
What are your friends from the rookie draft class up to?
I know Iman Shumpert is working out in Atlanta. I don’t have any rapping skills, but some of them are trying to be rappers in their spare time. I know Iman likes to rap. Malcolm Lee might have something.