You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in the 2002 playoffs? NBA.com has infiltrated the action with the ultimate insiders -- the players themselves. We're giving you an exclusive look at the postseason with a roster of player mailboxes that will change with each round.
Jason Collins and his twin brother Jarron got to compare notes on their NBA rookie experiences until the Jazz got ousted by the Kings in the first round and now Jason goes it alone. The 7-0 Stanford product averaged 3.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.4 minutes over five games in the Nets' conference semifinals series against the Hornets.
After practice on Thursday as the Nets were getting ready to leave for Boston and Game 3, Collins took time to answer some fan e-mail.
Hello Jason. I was wondering how hard did you work to get to
the NBA? What did you work on the most? And when did you notice that
your hard work was paying off?
Collins: I worked extremely hard. For a center or for someone who plays inside, I really had to work on my body. I had to get strong. You have to be strong to play in this league. Learned the fundamentals, just practiced my jumpshot -- it's good if a big man can shoot away from the basket as well. As many dimensions as you can bring to the game, the better it is. You look at someone like Kevin Garnett who's extremely agile, big and strong inside -- you just want to work on all aspects of your game.
Jason, Who do you think is the toughest player you have
played against in either a season game or playoff game?
Collins: Shaquille O'Neal -- for obvious reasons. He's the best center in the league. It's a challenge and I like being challenged. I think everybody who's in basketball wants to play against the best and he's the best. You want to do well against the best. It's always fun to get a challenge like that.
In past years at Net home games there was more Knick fans
than Net fans whenever NY was in town. Do you feel the Nets are now
getting the respect they deserve?
Collins: Yeah, the Knicks have done well; they've gone to the playoffs. The Nets historically have struggled. We're trying to change things here. This is a great start and now we have to keep this going for years to come. It's good to see the change in the environment, around the city. You go into the city and people are noticing you and saying "good job" and "good luck." It's great. The support's been great.
Congratulations with the success
the Nets have in the playoff and I really hope it continues. I was a
diehard fan ever since I moved to NJ when Sam Cassell was with the Nets.
I hope the Nets win the NBA Finals and good luck against the Celtics.
Well my question is who is the most inspiring player on the Nets that
helped you through the season? Who's your best bud on the team?
Collins: I'll have to go with the coaching staff -- Mike O'Koren especially has been helping me. He's the coach that works mainly with the big guys. Getting extra shots, rebounding, instruction ... he's the one who really has helped me. Then my teammates who I hang out with off the court, it's pretty much all the rookies and Todd MacCulloch. All the guys are good guys on the team. We have a good environment around here so it's been a lot of fun.
Your team seemed to struggle more against the Pacers than the
Hornets. Why was that?
Collins: I'd say matchup-wise, Indiana was tougher. They have more wrinkles to their game. With Charlotte, we kind of knew what to expect. They were going to be physical inside and we could play with that any day. Indiana has a little more wrinkles in their game.
How did you feel when your team made it to the Eastern
Collins: It's great, especially since this is my rookie year. I'm used to winning, coming from winning programs and this is great. We have a lot of guys from winning programs. Richard Jefferson was in the Final Four last year. At Stanford, we've always had winning years. We have a lot of guys and we're just following the leader, J. Kidd. He sets a great example and we follow him.
What is it like playing with a point guard like Jason Kidd in
your rookie season?
Collins: It's great. He's a great leader. I've been watching him since I was 11 years old -- he was in high school in California. I always want to play with the best and J. Kidd's the best point guard in the league. The things that he does on the court, his vision, his court awareness -- I've never seen anything like it. And for him to be the point guard, it's just wonderful. You've just got to keep your hands up and be prepared to cat