Fashion Forward

Chandler Parsons talks love and basketball after returning from a whirlwind summer
by Jason Friedman Writer/Reporter

HOUSTON - It’s a tradition. Every August and September we try to catch up with the team’s players to find out what they’ve been up to as they unwind from the season before while simultaneously ramping up for the campaign to come. Last month’s Jason Friedman went one-on-one with Jeremy Lin, provided an exclusive look at Dwight Howard’s workouts with Hakeem Olajuwon, and caught up with sharpshooting rookie Isaiah Canaan and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Thus far this month has found rookie Robert Covington, point guard Patrick Beverley and lead assistant coach Kelvin Sampson in the spotlight.

Taking his turn in the hot seat today: Chandler Parsons.

JCF: So now you’re dispensing love advice for Seventeen magazine, eh? Were Tiger Beat and Bop not available?

CP: (laughs) Yeah, that was my first experience with that sort of thing so it was fun. This summer I enjoyed getting to see all these different designers and the different shows and going to Glamour and Complex and Seventeen and Esquire and just having the opportunity to interview with all these different companies and magazines, and giving people a chance to see this other side of me – it’s not just me in a basketball uniform.

JCF: But love advice? Do you really think you’re cut out for that sort of responsibility to our nation’s teens?

CP: Yeah, I had to tone it down a little bit with it being Seventeen magazine. I think I’ve been through a lot. I have a lot of experiences to share. I have a good idea of what women like. So I just had fun with it.

JCF: When your girlfriend read it did she roll up the magazine and slap you upside the head with it?

CP: (laughs) No, she didn’t. She kind of just rolled her eyes at me and walked away. She wasn’t upset about it, though.

JCF: Has she started twirling her hair to get your attention since that’s apparently the way to win a man’s heart?

CP: No, that’s how she got me in the first place so why should she be upset about it now? (laughs)

JCF: Well now that you’ve basically set your man card on fire, let’s try to salvage this interview by talking about Breaking Bad. Are you all caught up?

CP: I watched the first two episodes this season so I haven’t seen the last five but I’ve seen all these tweets about how amazing it's been … I want to wait until they're all done and then watch them all.

JCF: Good idea but that's of no help to me today. So since we can’t talk about everything that’s gone down this season, let me at least ask you this: If there’s a Walter White on the Rockets, who would it most likely be?

CP: (laughs) Probably Omer. He’s like the last person you’d think would be doing something like that. He’s so nice. Who are you going with?

JCF: It’s obviously got to be somebody who’s got a well-hidden dark side, who's very intelligent and very devious, but also seems completely harmless …

CP: And that’s Omer. Half the time he’s overseas. We don’t know what he’s doing over there ...

JCF: Well what about Jeremy? Ivy League education. Nicest guy in the universe …           

CP: (laughs) I know exactly what Jeremy’s doing. There’s no chance Jeremy’s doing that.

JCF: OK, well I suppose instead of absurdly comparing the nicest guys on the team to one of TV’s most evil anti-heroes we should talk about, you know, basketball.

CP: If we have to …

 JCF: What’s been your primary focus this summer?

CP: Just continuing to work on my all-around game. We’ve added so many pieces and that’s going to free up a lot of shots; just having Dwight getting double-teamed and James being the player he’s going to be. I’ve got to be ready to knock down shots and just become a more consistent shooter. I’ve been working every day just getting a lot of repetitions up. I hired Ron McClanaghan this summer and worked out with the best players in the NBA all summer long. I worked out at OHoops in Orlando – I’ve never trained this hard in my life.

I’m in great shape. I added eight pounds. My jump shot feels good – I’ve been trying to work on getting it up into the air so it’s not as flat, especially when I get tired. Then I’ve also been trying to work on my low-post game. Probably 90 percent of the time guys are going to be smaller than me so if I get a chance to post somebody up off the block or face them up, I’ll do that.

JCF: We all know scoring is not going to be a problem with this team. The most room for improvement lies on the defensive end. I talked with Coach Sampson last week about this subject and he mentioned that he really wants to see you and James Harden embrace the challenge and take a big step forward in that area this season. Your defense was what got you on the floor your rookie season so that’s obviously something you’re more than capable of doing.

CP: Definitely. It’s my third year so now hopefully I can combine what I did on the defensive end my rookie year with the progression I made offensively last season. It’s just a mindset that we have to have going into games that we’re going to set the tone defensively. We understand that we can score from all over the floor so we should have the mindset now that we’re going to win games even when we shoot poorly. Me and James really have to take ownership on that and lead the charge, especially on the perimeter.

Adding guys like Ronnie Brewer and Omri Casspi to Jeremy and Patrick Beverley, we can all lock in and be good defenders. We’re in great shape and I think that’s part of it – just staying in good condition. I think it’s all a mindset and attitude that you’re just not going to let your guy score and really competing on that end of the floor with the understanding that the other end is much easier.

JCF: Is it tougher to be conscientious on the defensive end when you’re playing at the sort of pace at which you guys did a year ago?

CP: I don’t think so. It takes a little bit to adjust. I think last year my role changed so much offensively that I kind of let the defense slip away from me and I focused more on offense. But it’s my third year now so I need to be able to do everything. I need to lock in on my guy while still being able to score the ball and facilitate on the other end. But really I need to focus defensively and help our team be a top-5, top-10 defensive team and I think having Dwight will obviously help that. Omer is obviously a great defensive center, too, so we have all the pieces, we just have to have the right mindset and focus on that.

JCF: It has to help a lot, too, that you’ll go into the season with so much more familiarity with each other than you had last year. Last season you really had to try to develop that cohesion and on-court telepathy on the fly.

CP: Well, I don’t know what telepathy means (laughs), but the fact that we have our core guys here right now from the summer, and we were in LA for the mini-camp together, and guys were working out together constantly, and now we’re all in here a week early, I think it’s good that we’re getting that chemistry down, that telepathy.

It all starts now. All summer long we’ve been preparing for this and now, come Saturday, we’re going to be more familiar with each other, we know each other, and I think everything we’ve done this summer will help us a lot going forward.

We understand that chemistry is a huge part of winning and that’s what we want to do at a very high level. So any time we could get in the gym together this summer, or even if it was just hanging out, it all helps you to become more comfortable with each other and to know each other. I love the fact that everyone is here early.

It’s different because my first two years here it wasn’t like that. Guys weren’t exactly the closest, guys weren’t hanging out off the court. So this team, we’re all similar in age so we have so many of the same off the court hobbies, we all like going to the same spots so it’s cool because it almost has a college team feel. And I really believe that helps when you’re going to war on the court that you know who you’re playing with and you like who you’re playing with.