Former Suns forward Richard Dumas burst onto the NBA scene as a high-flying rookie in 1992-93. During that magical season that saw the Suns reach win a franchise-best 62 wins and advance to the 1993 NBA Finals, Dumas averaged 15.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game on 56-percent shooting from the floor.
Suns.com caught up with Dumas to get his thoughts on hoops, that Finals series with the Chicago Bulls and what he’s doing now 20 years later.
Suns.com: So the last time we caught up with you in 2003, you were attempting to play for former Knicks shooting guard John Starks in the USBL after playing several seasons overseas. How did your career finish up?
Richard Dumas: I had a knee injury overseas that kind of hindered me trying to come back and play. I was trying to come back and play with John Starks, but my knee wasn’t responding to the treatment, so that kept me from playing.
Suns.com: What would you like to do going forward?
Dumas: I’d like to figure out what I can do to give back to the community with my basketball skills. I’d like to try to help the kids and see what I can do.
Suns.com: What inspired you to do that?
Dumas: I never had that coming up. I never had somebody to mentor me. I’ve taught myself everything. But the one thing that I feel I can do is give back to kids. Some kids don’t have the opportunity like I did, so I want to show them that somebody out there is out there for them.
Suns.com: So I hear that you have started some basketball camps for kids?
Dumas: I’m just really in the beginning stages of it. I had a camp before that went real well. I’m just trying to have another camp around January 2 or 3. I want to give kids the chance to learn the things that I’ve learned and done that have gotten me to the NBA. Also, I try to do some individual training and things of that nature. I’m trying to get back into basketball, so I’m doing anything that I can to get basketball back into my life.
Suns.com: Do you miss playing?
Dumas: On some days I do. Some days I don’t.
Suns.com: The word is that you can dunk again? Not bad for a guy that will be 44 years old in May.
Dumas: Oh yeah. I can still get up there.
Suns.com: Having played in Israel, Greece, Poland and France, which were your favorite stops overseas?
Dumas: Really, everywhere that I went to was a great place because I liked the fact that I got to travel and see the world and different cultures. Plus, to play basketball on top of it, was like a blessing. There’s a lot of people that save up to go somewhere around the world, and here I was playing basketball and going around the world. It was a great opportunity.
Suns.com: So they were paying you to travel?
Dumas: (Laughs) Yes.
Suns.com: Which was your favorite place?
Dumas: I’d say Montpellier, France. It was right by the beach. It was nice and everyone was friendly.
Suns.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your teammates from overseas?
Dumas: Not the ones from overseas. I haven’t really had the chance to because overseas they could be there one week and then someone new would come in the next week. So it’s kind of hard to keep up with everybody.
Suns.com: Do you keep in touch with your former Suns teammates?
Dumas: I talk to Mark West and Dan Majerle. That’s about it. I’m trying to get a hold of Oliver Miller to see how he’s doing.
Suns.com: What was your favorite memory of being a Sun?
Dumas: I would say it was the parade that they gave us at the end of the 1992-93 season. To see so many people gathering around in one area just to give thanks to the season that we had was a good opportunity.
Suns.com: From what was reported, you were always considered an unselfish player on the floor. Didn’t you willingly go to the bench during the Western Conference Finals in 1993 and let Tom Chambers take your spot? Where does that unselfishness and desire to help others come from?
Dumas: Well, I just had to do what I thought was best for the team. I have to do what the coaches said to do. If I remember right, it was the Seattle series and he did put me on the bench to start the series because of matchups. That’s what basketball is about. You have to have good matchups and Coach felt that having Tom Chambers was the best matchup at the time. I’m not going to argue with that. I just have to be prepared to play when I get in there.
Suns.com: What was your favorite memory as a player on the court?
Dumas: I don’t know. I think that would have to be Game 5 of the 1993 Finals. It was such a marquee stage and to have such a good game against players like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen… I think that was the highest point of my career.
Dumas scored 10.9 points during the 1992-93 playoffs.
Suns.com: What was something about playing against Jordan or Pippen that you would only know by being a fellow NBA player?
Dumas: A lot of people look at basketball as an athletic sport. They don’t understand that basketball is 90 percent mental. Michael Jordan was just smart at the game. He knew how to play the game. It was hard to stop him because of that. And to have the athletic ability on top of that made it even worse.
Suns.com: What do you wish you would’ve known back then as a basketball player that you know now?
Dumas: I think having positive people around me to keep me going in the right direction and understanding the opportunity that I had presented to me. That way I could take full advantage of the situation.
Suns.com: Who was your favorite teammate during that Finals run?
Dumas: That would be Oliver Miller. The “Big O.”
Suns.com: Why was that?
Dumas: It was the fact that we were both rookies at the time and that we both had our minds straight and set on the goal of just trying to win a championship. Also, we just got along together pretty well.
Suns.com: What do you remember about Charles Barkley as a teammate?
Dumas: He says what’s on his mind and you have to deal with it.
Suns.com: Was he tough on the rookies?
Dumas: Actually, no. He was just tough on anybody who was not there trying to work hard and not trying to win a championship. And I can understand that. We’re trying to win a championship and if somebody was slacking off or something, I can understand if he would have something to say. That was his job.
Suns.com: What was a characteristic about him that someone from the outside might not know about?
Dumas: His determination and tenacity on the basketball court. Considering that he was only about, 6-4, 6-5 and played down low with all the big guys, that took a lot of skills, a lot of strength and a lot of determination.
Suns.com: I had a conversation with (former Suns Head Coach) Paul Westphal where he said that you had as much talent as anyone to ever play the game. What do you think of that kind of compliment?
Dumas: Well, it’s an honor to hear that, especially coming from Coach Westphal. I really don’t try to get caught up in anything like that because I don’t want to get a big head. But I appreciate the compliment from him. I just felt like I went out there and tried my hardest to help the team win. And how it fell into place, fell into place.
Suns.com: Did you continue to play small forward when you went overseas? Looking back, did you see your natural position being the 3?
Dumas: My game was more all-purpose because starting in high school, I was a point guard because I was only 5-10. What helped me was that I played every position growing up. Overseas they had me play the 3, but I always jumped center because I could jump higher than everybody. But I would basically guard the 3s and 4s over there.
Suns.com: Knowing what you know now compared to what you knew before you reached the NBA, what do you wish you would’ve known then?
Dumas: I probably wish I had more guidance both financially and mentally so I could deal with things later on in life, so I could appreciate the gift that I was given playing basketball and how I could utilize it. Not only do I wish I knew how to utilize it to make money, but to utilize it to live life.
Suns.com: So are you hoping to transfer that knowledge to the kids that you’re working with?
Dumas: That’s what I want to do. I want to give them the opportunity and show them the things that I did growing up on and off the court that helped get me to the NBA. I want to teach them the positive aspects of life and do everything we can to give them the right direction so they can have a good future.
Suns.com: What ages will the kids be that you’re working with?
Dumas: From 7-16 years old.
Suns.com: Are you hoping to help the older kids with choosing a college and dealing with possible recruiting?
Dumas: Oh yes. First, I want to get them on the high school team. Then they have to work on college. They have to learn the baby steps that they have to take. I want to teach them the grown-up things that they need to do, not the bad things to do.
Suns.com: So are you planning on setting up shop in Phoenix for a while?
Dumas: That’s the plan that I have.
Suns.com: If you are a kid in the Phoenix area and you want to get into basketball, where should they go to find you?
Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.