Growing Up ... Jeremy Pargo

December 20, 2012
Jeremy Pargo

Cavaliers guard Jeremy Pargo is easily one of the Wine and Gold’s most colorful characters. When he checks into the game, he shakes things up. And with his outgoing personality sense of humor, he has the same effect on the locker room.

Pargo was acquired this offseason from Memphis and has been a valuable reserve for Byron Scott this season. When Kyrie Irving went down with a broken finger on November 19, all Pargo did was step in a score 28 points and lead the Wine and Gold to a win over Philly in his first start of the season.

Pargo tallied two more 20-point plus performances since then and is the Cavaliers’ fifth-leading scorer, averaging 10.5 ppg per contest.

Like teammates, Tyler Zeller and Luke Walton, Pargo has family in the NBA. His brother, Jannero, is a nine-year NBA veteran, currently playing for the Washington Wizards.

In today’s installment of Growing Up, Pargo talks about competing with his older brother, the sport his grandmother wanted him to play and, of course, the first time he dunked in a ballgame.

Yeah, you could say … I come from an athletic family.

I have an … older sister, but she was not the athlete.

I do have an uncle who played… strong safety at Purdue named Kennedy Wilson. He played in a couple bowl games.

My mom used to say… that baseball was my best sport. That’s what she thought. I never really played little league baseball; it’s just something we played around the house.

Actually, around the house … we played everything – volleyball, we made up games. We played a bunch of stuff; anything you could think of.

I think football was … actually probably my best sport.

I played … quarterback, only I didn’t play much. Freshman year is when I phased out of it, because my brother didn’t want me to play football and my mother didn’t want me to play football.

My mom didn’t want me to play… football because of injuries, things like that. My brother didn’t want me to play because he felt if he had played basketball just straight out throughout the summer and straight through he’d have been a lot better than what he is.

The only person that wanted me to play football was … my grandmother. Big football fan.

My brother played football until … his junior year. He played receiver and safety. He was going to play football full-time, but his coach said, ‘At this point in your career, you should choose one.’ And he chose basketball, which turned out to be the right choice.

Ever since then … for both of us, it’s been basketball everything.

My brother and I … didn’t get into the battles until, like, two years ago.

Before that … he always beat me. I think I was in “little brother mode” and not really stepping up and saying, ‘I’m gonna kick your @$$!’

He was older than me… and at that point he beat on me pretty good. I couldn’t compete at that time.

That’s not the case… anymore. He can’t beat me anymore.

It’s tough to name … my most influential coach. I’ve had a lot of people around as I was growing up playing basketball.

Obviously, my high school coach … was big. And my AAU coach, Mac Irvin, God rest his soul – he passed away a couple years ago. Antoine Walker was pretty instrumental. He coached our AAU team.

But watching my brother… and learning from him was probably my biggest influence of all.

I definitely remember … my first dunk! It was in eighth grade. It was an exciting moment.

At that age … I was averaging like 34, 8 and 8 or something silly like that. So we’d be up big some games and like I would completely flat-out cherry pick just to try to dunk. It took me a while before I actually made one, but I ended up getting one down eventually.

The chant … and this is crazy, because this doesn’t happen in my community, or in any school – but my nickname was (and still is) “Buck.” But no one calls me Buck because nobody knows about it outside of family and childhood friends. So the chant was “Dunk, Buck, Dunk!!” It was crazy. Then, I actually threw one down and it was crazy.

As far as the nickname …the only story I have is that my uncle – the one who played at Purdue – he said my mom brought me home and he asked, ‘What’s his name?’

My mom told him … it’s “Jeremy.” And he said, ‘Naw, I’m not calling him that. I’m calling him “Buck.”’

That’s the story … he told me, and from day one that’s what he called me. And it just stuck.