For someone who spends as much time in the air as he does, one would think high-flying dunk artist Jason Richardson would be accustomed to air travel. But surprisingly, this isn't the case for the Warriors rookie.
"The hardest adjustment to the NBA is the travel because I do not like to fly and we fly a lot," says Richardson, who will do double duty at NBA All-Star 2002. Richardson will participate in the 'got milk?' Rookie Challenge and the NBA.com Slam Dunk Presented by RealOne.
Richardson is set to lift off in Philly.
The 21-year-old guard sounds so excited about heading to Philly, however, that it appears he may not even need an airplane, as he's already floating on cloud nine. "It'll be fun to play with the other rookies," says Richardson. "It will be a great experience and the dunk competition will be another great opportunity for me. I hope to win and do some crazy dunks that no one has ever seen before."
Richardson, who also goes by "J-Rich" (for his enthusiastic personality as well as a shortening of his given name), is just as excited about the star quotient for that weekend as he is about the on-court festivities. "I'm looking forward to being part of it and seeing all the all-stars, movie stars and rappers."
As the fifth overall selection of the 2001 NBA Draft, the Saginaw, Mich.-native was used to winning when he arrived in the NBA. While at Michigan State, Richardson won a national championship as a freshman and made another Final Four appearance as a sophomore. The Warriors, however, have had a win total for each of the past four sesons hover around 21. Good in Black Jack. Bad in the NBA. But this adjustment to rebuilding hasn't stopped Richardson from working hard on his game.
"I took 1,000 shots a day this summer and I just wanted to show everybody that I could shoot. But I still have to get better at it and be a consistent shooter and I worked on it a lot this summer," says Richardson, realizing what is expected of such a high draft choice.
The Warriors are on pace to improve from last season's 19 wins, thanks in no small part to Richardson's efforts. He was inserted into the starting lineup early in the season and has produced. He and Shane Battier are the only rookies to rank among the top 10 for rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists, 3-point field goal percentage and steals.
Jason Kidd also heaps praise on him. "Jason Richardson is a talented guy -- I learned that in the Olympic Games," says Kidd. "He's very athletic and loves to play the game. He's a force to be reckoned with in this league in the near future."
Richardson responds, "I just want to keep on playing hard. As far as the second-half of the season, I know we can win some of the types of games that we lost in the last few minutes."
"We are young, but if we play together longer I know we will be successful," concludes the 6-6 guard.