Free Agent "Weathers" Basketball Storm
By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: Sept. 30, 2003
They don’t make a suitcase big enough to display all those “been there” travel stickers for Suns Training Camp invitee Ray Weathers.
The versatile 6-4 guard has toiled on courts from Austria, the Netherlands and Japan to Greece, Germany and China. “Jet Lag” could probably be the 28-year-old’s nickname, what with all the different countries he’s played in following his stint as a Michigan State Spartan.
Don’t get him wrong. Weathers has gladly put up with all the traveling in exchange for playing his favorite sport. Most recently he’s added Phoenix to his “been there” list. The guard has lived in the area for four years now, but professionally he’s parlayed his eye-opening participation at informal workouts into an invite to camp.
“Ray plays hard on every single possession,” Head Coach Frank Johnson said. “I love what he was able to do prior to getting here. He was not on our radar. I love his energy.”
That energy is one asset that even Weathers recognizes as a personal advantage. Throw in an equal amount of intensity and that sums up the guard’s game. Shooting and defense aside, the former Spartan constantly looks like a man on a mission whenever he laces up his sneakers.
“At this level you have to bring energy and intensity,” he said. “I’m real focused. I’ve been playing for a long time. At this level, you always need energy and intensity. Plus skill. And I can bring all of those qualities.”
Weathers first found notoriety as a standout high school player alongside his brother, Ken, back in Jackson, Mich. Both seemed earmarked for great college basketball careers and beyond, until street violence took Ken’s life. A devastated Ray then had a brand-new focus and desire.
“Fight,” Weathers said about what his brother taught him. “Nothing else’s been given to me, through high school to Michigan State to now. Everything that I’ve done in my career, I’ve been humbled by it and enthused by it. I try to use everything as a positive. (That’s the) one thing (Ken) told me… He fought real hard for his life back then, so I’m fighting to do the same thing to make my dream come true for him and myself.”
In his journeys, the guard has played a lot of basketball in a lot of different roles on the court. As for his ideal position with the Suns, Weathers would be the first to reply, ”Whereever they want me.” It’s safe to say the Suns will never use him at center, but his sentiment proves that he’d do whatever he’s asked in terms of participation.
“I’m comfortable at the (point guard) and also the (shooting guard),” Weathers said. “The last couple of years (I’ve worked toward) playing both positions. A lot of players shy away from that. `Well, is he a one or two?’ I’m comfortable playing both. I’ve got good size for playing point guard. I’m strong enough to defend the big two. Either position… even the (small forward). Wherever they need me.
“At this level, (opponents) are always looking for any weakness. The NBA is a lot of pick-and-roll basketball. A lot of guys have athletic skills, but you have to have a great understanding of the game. I focus on everything. I’m starting to get that understanding of the game.”
As for a personal look, Dr. J had the ‘fro, Michael Jordan had the shoes and Ray Weathers has the headband. He’s worn the “good luck” charm for games ever since getting a thumbs up from a certain Michigan Stater alum overseas.
“Magic Johnson came out to Japan when I was out there,” Weathers reminisced, “and I was wearing a headband. He said, 'That looks good on you, man... Spartan way. Keep wearing it.’ So I’ve been wearing it ever since. It’s been paying off. It’s good luck.”
Weathers admits the Suns have been more than gracious toward him, both at AWA workouts and for camp at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. He says Penny Hardaway and Shawn Marion have taken to him, but that doesn’t mean they shower him with constant praise in terms of his skills. He doesn’t expect or want that. In his opinion, the less said, the better.
“Players know when (other) players can play,” Weathers concluded. “Nothing else needs to be said.”