East Rutherford, NJ — Bobby Simmons is a standup dude. Upon meeting me, he said, “You have any questions, you can always come to me. Good game, bad game, bad month, I got you.” Just to make things easier on both of us. His genuine persona and good humor are disarming, which helps him fit the mold of the “glue guy” the Nets envision him being.
The 28-year-old forward joined the Nets alongside Yi Jianlian, coming over in the Richard Jefferson trade. Though foot injuries cost him the 2006-07 season and limited him last year, Simmons was the league’s Most Improved Player in 2004-05, when he averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting .435 from three and .466 overall.
We spoke with Simmons before the team left for Europe, talking style, sneaker boutiques and even some basketball. It’s time to Know a Net!
NJNets.com: What player did you most admire growing up?
Simmons: As a basketball player, one of the role models that I looked up to was Terry Cummings, because he was one of the guys who grew up in my neighborhood, went to high school in my neighborhood, and gave back to the community.
NJNets.com: Who most encouraged you as a basketball player?
Simmons: It was always my elementary school coach, John L. Evans, when I was at Carver Primary School. We’re still in touch.
NJNets.com: What’s the biggest shot you’ve ever hit?
Simmons: In the ’04-05 season against the Phoenix Suns: closing seconds, game-winning shot. Also, I hit one against Sacramento: closing seconds, got the nice pass from Rick Brunson. [Laughs]
NJNets.com: What’s it take to hit those shots?
I think it comes from within. A guy’s got to want to have the ball. A guy’s got to want to make the play. In order to make the plays, you’ve got to have confidence. And that’s what it takes, to put everything behind you and focus on what you’ve got to get done.
NJNets.com: Which NBA player or team were you most excited to play against?
Simmons: Coming in, I really didn’t have any high expectations as far as anybody to match up against, because I wasn’t playing, being a rookie. But when I had an opportunity, I loved playing against the Lakers. The Lakers were a team I loved to play against, because they ran a similar offense, and the guy I was guarding usually had the basketball.
NJNets.com: Who’s been your most difficult defensive assignment?
Simmons: As a defender, moreso I would say the Tracy McGradys or Kobe Bryants, the guys who play point guard position, initiates the offense as well as a guy who can make big shots and can make everyone around him better.
NJNets.com: How do you stop those guys?
Simmons: If the coach lets you, just face guard him and try to keep the ball out of his hands the majority of the time. Put him in a position where he doesn’t feel comfortable making plays.
NJNets.com: Do you have a set gameday routine?
Simmons: Like a ritual? Yeah. I think everybody pretty much does. Always eat breakfast before shootaround, get there early and get up shots. After shootaround, ice down, get home, eat a lunch, take a nap. Normally I’m eating 2 ½ hours before I have to be at the arena. Then dinner after.
NJNets.com: Why do so many players mention gameday naps?
Bobby Simmons: Your body needs as much rest as possible. I think if the game is important – as all of them are – you’re going to need as much rest as possible. We’re going to have team functions and things like that; rest might not be an option sometimes.
NJNets.com: You listen to music before every game. What’s on the iPod?
Simmons: Lately, it’s been more R&B: the Raheem Devaughns, the Dweles. Every now and then I’ll get some James Brown or something like that going. Some rap. I may listen to some Jay-Z albums or T.I. Maybe Jeezy.
NJNets.com: Cop that new T.I.?
Simmons: I’m going to pick it up today. We had a double session yesterday, so I didn’t have time.
NJNets.com: Also, you eat chicken and vegetables before every game. What kind?
Simmons: I like a mixture, almost like a medley, of vegetables with roasted chicken or grilled chicken breast.
NJNets.com: How long have you been doing that?
Simmons: It’s been a while. But I try to mix it up sometimes and go with chicken and pasta, but moreso I eat vegetables.
NJNets.com: What’s the best way to relax after a game?
Simmons: Me and my family might go out to dinner. If not, dinner will be prepared by the time I get home. Just sit down and relax, maybe watch some TV or get on the computer and see how my business did that day.
NJNets.com: Are you a shoe guy?
Simmons: Yeah. I’m a sneaker fiend. My favorite pair? Well, for the summer, I’ll say it was the Olympic Dunks. I’ve got a shoe boutique in Chicago, the name of it is Succezz, by B&vDot. We had a big launch for the Olympics, so they did the Olympic Dunks. They came out in red, white, black and yellow. I’ll bring them in and show them to you.
NJNets.com: Which of those would we catch Bobby Simmons wearing?
Simmons: When I go out, I have the black pair. They change from black to an olive green color. Yeah, pretty much. Yeah.
NJNets.com: Which of your teammates has the best kicks?
Simmons: I haven’t paid attention, Ben.
NJNets.com: Too much basketball during camp, right?
Simmons: [Laughs] Yup.
NJNets.com: Keyon Dooling, who also played with you in L.A., described you style-wise as “a fly dude.” Do you agree with that?
Simmons: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess he always gave me a hard time. I like wearing suits and just looking nice. I got that from the veterans when I was a rookie (in Washington). I played with Michael Jordan, as well as (Jerry) Stackhouse, Charles Oakley and them guys. They showed me how it was supposed to be.
NJNets.com: So what are the Bobby Simmons rules I should follow to dress right?
Simmons: Well it depends on the occasion, first. If it’s a game: blazer, slacks, nice casual shoes. If depends on if it’s warm or not, if you put a tie on. Or if you just want to feel comfortable, you can do a polo, polo/blazer. You have to have the blazer due to the dress code. You can do a mockneck and blazer. If you don’t want to do the blazer, you do the overcoat, tie, dress shirt, slacks. You can switch it up and utilize it a lot of ways.
NJNets.com: Your nickname is “Silky.” Where’d that come from?
Simmons: [Laughs] Dick Vitale gave it to me after I had my first collegiate game. We played New Mexico, the Lobos, and when we came in as freshman we had a big recruiting class, and he said, [imitating Dickie V] “Here we go, baby! He’s Silky Simmons, baby!” So after that the guys called me that from there on out.
NJNets.com: You cool with it?
Simmons: It fits. A lot of people say I play smooth. [Laughs]
NJNets.com: You know he’s also responsible for tagging CDR with “Buckets”?
Simmons: That’s funny, because I knew a guy named “Buckets” in Chicago.
NJNets.com: They’ll have to play 1-on-1 for the name.
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