Suns News

The Summer of No. 23

In addition to philanthropic endeavors, Richardson went to China to promote his signature shoe.
(Courtesy of JRich23)
By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: August 30, 2010

Just call him “Jet-Rich.”

After seven months crisscrossing the continent as part of the NBA season, guard Jason Richardson kept up his high-flying pace this past summer for a variety of causes. CLICK HERE to see the photos.

Returning to his hometown of Saginaw, Mich., the Suns guard tipped off the summer with his annual round of philanthropic programs designed to give back to his old community, including a food drive for needy families, a golf tournament benefitting the local chapter of the United Way and his motivational Man-Up forums.

“Every year I go back home to do my charity events in Saginaw,” J-Rich told Suns.com. “It’s been going on for about seven years now. All the proceeds go to the United Way which benefits all of Saginaw like afterschool programs and community centers. I also do a forum where I talk to kids about making positive decisions in their lives and stopping the violence in my community.”

Next up on Richardson’s itinerary was a trip across the pond to promote his new signature PEAK sneaker in China, which will debut in the U.S. down the road.

“I visited four cities in eight days,” he said, “and it was great to promote my shoe and see how many Jason Richardson fans and Phoenix Suns fans they have living in China.”

Armed with a translator for his stay, the guard did get to test his overseas linguistic skills thanks to a commercial shoot which also featured some familiar NBA faces.

“I’m accustomed to the customs, but not the language,” J-Rich smiled. “I speak a little bit. They told me what to say, and I said it in Chinese. It will be fun to see the outcome of the video. It’s me, Shane Battier, Jason Kidd, Mickael Pietrus and Ron Artest in the commercial. We weren’t there all at the same time. The magic of TV... We were all there the same week, but we didn’t shoot the commercial together.

“The commercial will only air out there, but somehow we’ll try and leak it on YouTube so American fans can see it. They have a lot of basketball fans in China, and I’m looking forward to the shoe coming out here, too.”

The summer also brought the guard an opportunity to satisfy two items on his personal wish list – visiting Africa and watching some World Cup action.

“Going to Africa was always something I wanted to do,” Richardson said, “and I became a fan of World Cup soccer in 2006 when it was in Germany. My friend told me everything shuts down for a month and half, so I started following it and became a fan. I saw the pre-concert and made up my mind to go to Africa. I killed two birds with one stone.

“Netherlands was my pick, so I was rooting for them in the finals. There was just something about them that made you want to pull for them. They were the underdogs. They seemed to have all these old guys, who looked 40 but were really 25. All of the final four teams were good, but with Netherlands, you were just sort of drawn to them.”

With one last family trip to Orlando to wrap up the summer, J-Rich will be back on the Suns practice court after Labor Day to prepare for the new season with the new-look squad.

“That’s part of the business,” he said about the offseason roster changes. “It’s tough, but the guys who are coming in – Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress – they’re great. They are phenomenal basketball players, and they’ll fit in to what the Phoenix Suns do. It’ll be a natural fit.

“A lot of people doubt us, and once again we aren’t picked to get to the playoffs this year. But if we come out with a chip on our shoulders like we had last year, we’ll be fine. We have an opportunity to achieve some amazing things with who we have right now. Guys will step up. Steve Nash is definitely motivated, Channing Frye’s coming back, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic – we have a team. Guys are motivated to show, ‘Hey, we’re the Phoenix Suns!’ We’ll run and have fun. That’ll be the key.”