Stoudemire, Jacobsen Press Conference
Posted: June 27, 2002
The Phoenix Suns held a press conference Thursday afternoon to introduce their two first-round draft picks, Amare Stoudemire of Cypress Creek High School (Orlando, Fla.) and Stanford guard Casey Jacobsen. The following is a transcript of that media availability session.
SUNS PRESIDENT BRYAN COLANGELO: Thanks to everyone for coming today and certainly thank you to these two individuals next to us. We’re very thrilled as an organization to have things work out in the draft process the way they did. I couldn’t be happier right now and I know (Head Coach) Frank (Johnson) feels the same way. You heard us talk about these guys last night, so today we want you to hear from them.
SUNS BROADCASTER AL McCOY: Amare, you worked out for the Suns twice last month, and as I recall you even took in a baseball game.
AMARE STOUDEMIRE: That was my first time here and my first time also at a major league baseball game.
McCOY: Casey, you were also in New York last night. Tell us a little bit about how it was at the Garden. I’m sure there were a lot of fans on hand and I guess it was an exciting time for you in the Green Room.
CASEY JACOBSEN: It was. It was very nerve racking, two days in New York, both nervous and exciting at the same time. You don’t know where your going to be for the next three years or so, but it was one of the greatest moments of my life when (NBA Commissioner) David stern called my name and I found out I was going to the Phoenix Suns. This organization was top on my list before I even started this whole draft process, so I’m real happy about it.
McCOY: Amare, you’re getting a real indoctrination coming into the league. Do you remember the first time you picked up a basketball?
STOUDEMIRE: Yeah, I was 14 years old.
McCOY: Could you talk about what this means to reach this level? You haven’t had the easiest time in your life and what this means to you and your family at this point?
STOUDEMIRE: It’s more of a dream come true. I’d dreamed about this when I was in elementary school, that I was going to the NBA. I thought of getting a chance for my family. Like you said, growing up wasn’t the easiest time for me but I stuck with it, with the basketball and I got drafted No. 9 to the Phoenix Suns and I’m feeling really good right now.
QUESTION: Amare, one of the things that Bryan said about you last night was that you’ve never really been coached in your career. Is that an assessment that you would agree with and if so, how do you think your game can benefit from consistent coaching on a day in, day out basis?
STOUDEMIRE: I haven’t really had a coach that really knew the game. I just had a coach that scouted talent, because I had a team full of great players. Now I get the opportunity to play under Frank Johnson and the coaching staff and hopefully I can learn the game a lot better.
COLANGELO: You can see Amare is far beyond his years. First he said I was right (laughs). Secondly, he’s wearing a Suns cap. The first time we saw him he had a Clippers hat on.
QUESTION: Casey, what was it about the Suns? You said this was the organization you wanted to play for.
JACOBSEN: Well, a lot of things. I did 12 workouts and of the 12, most of the basketball stuff was very similar. But what separated a good workout from a not-so-good workout was one, performance, how I shot the ball and how I played. But two was how I felt. How that organization made me feel and whether or not I could actually picture myself playing for that organization. And Phoenix was that for me. When I left to go back home to L.A. after my workout, I was like, “If I get picked there this is going to be a great situation for me.”
I feel really lucky that I get to go to a team that I want to go to. I’m not sure if a lot of the other guys that got drafted last night in New York can honestly say that. Sometimes guys get drafted to a team that wants them and is a great situation for them, but I don’t know if they really want to be at that team. But that’s not the case here. I want to play for Phoenix and I feel lucky that I did get my No. 1 choice.
QUESTION: Casey, you succeeded in high school and in college. Was your decision to turn pro just a matter of needing a new challenge?
JACOBSEN: That’s not the real reason I left Stanford, but that was one of the smaller pieces to it. I’m always up for new challenges and I just feel like I did my three years in college, and I proved myself on the court, and the NBA was so close. It was so close after this past season and I really felt like deep down this is the right thing for me to do. So even when I declared for the draft and didn’t sign with an agent right away, and was keeping my options open, in the back of my mind I knew I was going to stay in the draft the whole time. I just wanted to do it the safe way, so I had an option.
QUESTION: Growing up, was Tracy Murray somebody that you looked up to?
JACOBSEN: He was a scoring machine, but when he played his senior year, I was 8 years old, so I don’t remember much about him. But he always has a camp every single year, still now, so I see him at least once a year. So yeah, he was a guy I was chasing, who really motivated me in college, because he had a legacy there. He still does.
McCOY: You come from a basketball family. Don’t you have a brother that’s a coach?
JACOBSEN: I have two brothers that our coaches now. Both of my older brothers played basketball in college and now are both high school coaches.
COLANGELO: Frank, why don’t you talk about their attributes a little bit.
HEAD COACH FRANK JOHNSON: The one thing I said about Casey last night is that when we go down to practice I’ll never have to worry about him not being ready. He’s a self starter, he comes to play every night, every day in practice. One thing that he gives us that Cotton Fitzsimmons likes to say, “You can never have enough shooters.” As you know that was something that we really needed last year, a shooter that an (opposing) coach will say, “Don’t leave him.” That’s what they’ll be saying about him. He said last night, he’ll bring his hard hat every single day. And for a coach, that’s pretty exciting. Very exciting.
With Amare, we saw a young, raw, athletic young man, who was always excited about being on the basketball court. The upside we saw in this young man was just unlimited. It is our job, Marc Iavaroni’s Mike D’Antoni’s, Phil Weber’s and my job to bring that untapped potential out. And when we do, and we will, we’ll have something very special.
QUESTION: Amare, most of the players that have been successful coming out of high school have put themselves in position, surrounding themselves with people to make sure they don’t go astray with the money and the problems that face youngsters. What do you have in mind and what have the Suns told you about avoiding those pitfalls?
STOUDEMIRE: I feel you’ve got to have a circle, a supporting cast around you, and if you’re supporting cast around you blends in you have no choice but to blossom. So I try to surround myself with great, positive people, that way I can succeed on the basketball court.
QUESTION: Amare, what are some of the things that you need to work on?
STOUDEMIRE: You’ve got to work on everything, man. You’ve got to be a workaholic, you know what I mean. But my weaknesses, if that’s what you wanted, my ball handling skills and my jump shot, I’ve got to work on those a lot more.
JOHNSON: What did Coach tell you that he wants you to do every time you step on the court, and I won’t have a problem with you? What was that?
STOUDEMIRE: Work hard.
JOHNSON: Work hard and play hard and you’ll never have a problem with Coach.
QUESTION: Casey, your girlfriend received a lot of attention and a lot of press last night. How have you responded? Have you gotten a lot of flack or questions about that?
JACOBSEN: Um… (laughs).
McCOY: You can plead the Fifth if you’d like.
JACOBSEN: (Laughs) No, no, I like tough questions. That’s not the first time that’s happened and it probably won’t be the last. But I’ve always tried to keep my personal, private life away from the media. I’ve had some troubles with that in the past, but I wanted her here. She’s an important part of my life, so I brought her to the draft. I can’t help whether the camera man has a crush on her or not (laughs).
COLANGELO: I just want to know, did you screw those spikes back into those golf shoes?
JACOBSEN: (Laughs) My shoes got a lot of press. My girlfriend got a lot of press. I didn’t get that much press, but that’s okay.
QUESTION: Amare, how did you get through all the situations in your life where you could’ve gone the wrong direction?
STOUDEMIRE: I just kept my faith in God. I pray every night before I lay my head on my pillow and He got me in the right direction.
QUESTION: How close were you going to college at Memphis?
STOUDEMIRE: It was close, because I was looking at a dynasty with Dajuan Wagner, Qyntel Woods and myself. And education is very important. So I was very close to going to college, but it was a matter of me supporting my family. We’ve struggled and I didn’t have a great growing up. I have to support my family. That’s why I made the jump. But I plan on going to college during the summer.
QUESTION: Do you consider yourself the leader of your family?
STOUDEMIRE: Yeah, I think I’m the backbone of the family right now, because I’m the only guy in the family that’s doing positive stuff right now. So I’m kind of trying to support my family a lot.
QUESTION: That’s a big burden for somebody 19-years-old.
STOUDEMIRE: Yeah, but I can handle it. I’ve got broad shoulders.
QUESTION: Amare, is it true that Penny Hardaway has helped you along the way?
STOUDEMIRE: Not really helped me. He gave me advice. It was my 11th grade year. My AAU coach played on the same AAU team as Penny and we came up. He gave me advice to stay strong, education is very important, this and that. That type of deal.
COLANGELO: I think it’s safe to say that as an organization, the Phoenix Suns are going to do everything possible to surround Amare with the right people and the right environment, and put him in an atmosphere that we feel he can prosper. His representatives are very close to the organization and are committed to doing whatever is necessary to help Amare along in that regard. And the great news is Amare is fully committed to the same thing. So that should produce results.
QUESTION: Amare and Casey, can you give us a scouting report on the team you’re coming to?
STOUDEMIRE: I see the Suns as a run and gun type of team. You’ve got Stephon Marbury, “The Matrix” Shawn Marion, Bo Outlaw. I think I fit in very well, because there aren’t a lot of guys my size, and I think we’re going to be pretty good contenders this year.
JACOBSEN: I’m really excited to play with guys that are better than me, established players. I feel like I have a lot to learn and I want to improve. And I’m really excited about playing with playmakers like Penny Hardaway and Stephon Marbury. I’ve never played with a playmaker as talented as those guys. I’m hoping I can make them look better.
QUESTION: Casey, the comparisons have already been made to Dan Majerle. What do you think about that?
JACOBSEN: Well, I think that’s a really great compliment because I’ve seen Majerle play and he has been an idol, a role model for me on the basketball court. I don’t like comparisons, not just for me but for other athletes. I don’t think it’s fair to try to pigeon hole a certain player and try to fit them into a mold that’s already been cast for another player. But when you guys mention Dan Majerle and my name in the same sentence, it does make me smile. That’s a compliment to me. And an insult to Dan (laughs).
QUESTION: Amare, will you be working a lot this summer on your game?
STOUDEMIRE: Like I said, I’m a workaholic. I’ll be here during the summer, during the season, whenever. Anything that will make my game better, I’ll be here to do it.
QUESTION: So will you be moving here soon to get started?
STOUDEMIRE: I should move down within maybe a couple months.
SUNS SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT COTTON FITZSIMMONS: How about tomorrow? (Laughs)
COLANGELO: He will be here on Friday (July 5) with the rest of our rookie/free agent camp participants. We begin practice on Friday the 5th, which will carry through until the 7th, and then we’ll be participating in two summer leagues, the Long Beach Summer League in Southern California and then also the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City. So we’ve got a busy schedule for both of these guys and also some of the other younger players on the squad.
QUESTION: There was a lot of talk last night about having patience in your development. What are your expectations for your development?
STOUDEMIRE: I’m a fast learner. I don’t think it will take me a long time to learn the game. I know the NBA game is a lot different from high school. It’s more physical. Guys are working out every day and they’ve got their body trained. But it won’t take me long to get to where they’re out right now.
QUESTION: Casey, how about your expectations for your first season with the Suns?
JACOBSEN: Well, I don’t want to have too much expectations, but at the same time I want to reach my potential of my rookie year. I don’t know what that is yet, but I want it to be a constant learning experience. You hear a lot about rookies and their first years being rough. They’re learning the ropes. I want to do all that and I will accept any role the coaches want to give me, whether that be a bigger role than rookies normally have or a smaller role, that’s fine. Whatever I can do to help this team win, that’s what I’m going to do.
QUESTION: Did the two of you get a chance to talk last night about coming to Phoenix together?
STOUDEMIRE: Not really. After the draft, we had interviews and went from station to station. I went out and ate with my family, that type of deal, so we didn’t really have time to have a conversation like that.
QUESTION: Are you excited about playing together, though?
STOUDEMIRE: Oh yeah, I saw him play his whole career at Stanford.
QUESTION: Do you think you can get Casey’s jumper down?
STOUDEMIRE: I hope so (laughs).
JACOBSEN: I’ll trade him my jumper for his long arms (laughs).