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Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Richard Jefferson

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Richard Jefferson
For Richard Jefferson, life is good ... but he's got his work cut out for him.
Last year was easy for Richard Jefferson. He comes out of school early, goes high in the draft to New Jersey, plays with Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin, gets some nice minutes off the bench, makes a name for himself as a defensive stopper, and sees his role grow as the team makes its incredibly unexpected way to the NBA Finals.

All good. This year, though, things get tougher, this year the Nets are expected to make a run for the title, and Jefferson, who has moved into the starting lineup, is expected to be a major factor. No more delightful-surprise-rookie-contributor stuff. These days, it's bring the goods or else. Is RJ feeling the pressure? To find out, we sent Eric Neel and 10 Burning Questions his way. The good news for Byron Scott? Jefferson never flinched.

1. You played a game of H-O-R-S-E against the contestants on a recent episode of ESPN's "Beg, Borrow and Deal," and you lost. How did this happen?

Richard Jefferson: Yeah, I had to. I threw the game so the team would be successful. It was a lot of fun.

What is your absolute best, can't-be-beat trick shot in a game of H-O-R-S-E you're playing to win?

Jefferson: Ooooh, it's a real difficult shot -- going to your left, off your left foot, and shooting from the 3-point line with your right hand.

2. Finish this sentence for me: Playing with Jason Kidd is like ...

Jefferson: ... playing with Joe Montana. He's the best quarterback, the best team leader you could have. You know, if you do what you're supposed to, you're going to get the ball and be rewarded every time.

Jason Kidd
Richard can't imagine life on the hardcourt without Jason Kidd.

Finish this sentence: If I ever have to play on a team without Jason Kidd I will be ...

Jefferson: ... retired in a year. He makes people want to play and he makes people better. He's taught me so much. It's going to be interesting when we don't play together.

Do you think he's coming back?

Jefferson: Um, I don't know. That's on him. This is the first time Jason can really choose where he wants to go, you know, where he has an opportunity to say, "I want to be here," or "I want to do this." He hasn't had that opportunity before, so I think there is a chance he might not come back.

If he was thinking about not coming back, what would you do to convince him to stay?

Jefferson: Oh man, I'm all about that it's your prerogative-type thing. I have a lot of respect for him and I know he wants to do what's best for himself and his family. If that requires him leaving, I'm not going to try to get in his way. He knows how we feel, he knows how much we enjoy playing with him. I don't think we could do anything further to convince him.

You wouldn't be sitting on his front porch begging and pleading or anything?

Jefferson: I might talk to him. I might look him in the eye, and shed a tear or two.

3. If the tip-off for Game One of the Finals were tonight, what would you guys do differently?

Jefferson: S*@# ... I don't think there is really too much we could do differently. We ran into the same problem every Eastern Conference team and every Western Conference team did. There's no answer for that big man in the middle. It's frustrating, but it was the same way when they had Wilt Chamberlain, it was the same way when the Celtics had Bill Russell; there was nothing you could do.

Are you a student of the game?

Jefferson: Way back. I grew up in L.A. loving the Lakers.

If you could play with any one player in the history of the game, who would you pick?

Byron Scott
Bryon's not as Hollywood as he looks.
Jefferson: Magic Johnson, without a doubt. I grew up loving him and loving everything he was about. Playing with Jason Kidd is like playing with a miniature version of Magic.

If you could get tickets to any one sporting event throughout history, what would you most want to see?

Jefferson: Arthur Ashe winning Wimbledon.

4. What's the best part about being a second-year guy as opposed to being a rookie?

Jefferson: Not having to deal with all the crap to start off the season; let's just get to camp and not have to go through all the jokes and all the retarded stuff. Having other rookies, that's the best part of being a second-year player.

5. You're a great defensive stopper and a real leaper. Who is the one guy you most enjoy shutting down?

Jefferson: Paul Pierce. He just does so much. He's a great player, but he also runs his mouth to back up all his talent, so whenever you get an opportunity to get a stop, you're excited about it.

What kind of stuff does he say?

Jefferson: Just about anything you want to write down, I'll say, "Yeah, he says that."

Do you talk back?

Jefferson: Nah, nah, nah. He shoots more than I do; he has more of an opportunity to get back at me. I just don't say anything.

Who is the one guy in the league you'd most like to dunk over?

Jefferson: We got Dikembe on our team now, so I'll say Shaq.

6. Give me three words that define your style.

Jefferson: Intensity, hard work, work ethic.

That's five, but who's counting. Speaking of style, who has the best uniforms in the league right now?

Jefferson: New Jersey Nets.

Worst unis?

Jefferson: Phoenix Suns.

7. You've got a reputation for being a pretty confident guy. Can you tell me about a time last year when that really helped you?

Jefferson: When Kenyon Martin went out for his suspension, I was able to come in and just play confidently and really help the team. I think we were 4-2 in those six games. I was confident and my teammates had confidence in me.

When has your confidence ever gotten you in trouble?

Jefferson: It's never gotten me into trouble; it's always served me well.

8. What are the CDs in your player right now?

Jefferson: Linkin Park, Lenny Kravitz, Jay-Z, Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix.

Jay-Z and Fleetwood Mac? You might be the only guy in America.

Jefferson: Might be. I can get hyped listening to anything.

9. If you could invite any three people from throughout history to dinner tonight, who would you ask?

Paul Pierce
RJ loves the challenge of shutting down Paul Pierce's game ... and his mouth.
Jefferson: Lenny Kravitz, Will Smith and Jimi Hendrix.

Why those three?

Jefferson: They all are or were very talented African Americans, but they were also very appealing to other people.

Would you cook for them?

Jefferson: Hell no -- they'd probably never come back.

10. Tell me something most people wouldn't guess about Byron Scott.

Jefferson: He was born in Ogden, Utah. People claim he's an L.A. guy, but he's not from L.A., he's from Ogden, Utah.