Trevor Ariza is Money Trees, the Interview
Yes, it’s true. If Trevor Ariza hits 26 3-pointers tonight, he will surpass Gilbert Arenas as the franchise’s all-time 3-point maker for a single season. But as reality stands, Ariza’s 180 3s this season (plus whatever he gets in Boston) will rank fourth behind three instances of Arenas: 205 in 2006-07, 205 in 2004-05, and 199 in 2005-06.
I would’ve liked to see Ariza pass old Gilly (screw ‘im–we livin’ for the now; sorry, #ArenasBruh), but oh well. What Ariza has done for the Wizards in their playoff push is a pretty amazing accomplishment as it stands. He’s made 110 more 3-pointers this season than he did over his first five NBA seasons combined, and he’s shooting a career-high .412 from deep, ranked fifth best amongst the 30 NBAers who have attempted 350 or more 3s in 2013-14.
Had Ariza, slated to play in 77 games, appeared in all 82, and had he not experienced a recent ‘flu’ slump (1-for-16 from deep over four games from April 4 to 11), the law of averages says that Ariza would’ve likely hit the 200-mark by now with a chance to overcome Arenas on the last day of the season.
It is what is, as Mike Miller would say. (Wait, the same White Mike Miller who will likely to play in all 82 games this season for Memphis? You don’t say….)
Otherwise, we are here talk about Trevor Ariza (and me, a little bit). Near the end of March, I was granted the opportunity to write a little sumthin’ for SLAM Magazine, and that sumthin’ would be on Mr. Ariza. Don’t have to go into the history of SLAM—I was there for the ’90s; plenty of SLAM covers made it onto my bedroom walls. So I probably don’t have to explain to you how cool it is to have something I produced appear in SLAM, either (printed pixels! romantic!).
So on my mom’s March 26 birthday I was able to procure a brief one-on-one with Trev at a shoot-around the morning before the Wizards faced the Suns in D.C.—which was not the easiest task, as Ariza apparently doesn’t normally do interviews on game days and non-mandated media sessions otherwise. Nonetheless, I was able to put up a mini-road block as Ariza left the court, and he was kind enough to take a couple minutes to talk. Plus, turning down some silly site called “Truth About It” is one thing, but how can you turn down SLAM?
You can check the portion (a digestible 350 or so words) written for SLAM on the magazine’s website, as well as in the latest print edition. Below you can read the full interview where Ariza talks about where he keeps his Lakers championship ring, why he wears jersey No. 1, his favorite Kendrick Lamar track, and, of course, his improved 3-point shot.
What is it about the playoffs that people who’ve never been there before just don’t understand?
“Different intensity. Every possession counts. The crowd’s into it, the city is usually always behind you, and it’s very intense.”
Where do you keep your 2009 Lakers championship ring, anywhere special?
“In a safe … at home back in Cali.”
What was your favorite moment from that championship run?
“Just competing against all the good teams. We were a very ‘together’ team, we did a lot of things together. We were very close and when you’re playing with your friend’s it’s really dope.”
I read (via blog.lakers.com) that when Derek Fisher leveled Luis Scola in Game 2 of the Western Conference semi-finals against the Houston Rockets, that stood out as a memorable moment to you because it was a display of L.A.’s toughness. Is that the kind of toughness these Wizards need as they fight for the postseason?
“I think every team needs to have that type of toughness, just knowing that one of the smaller guys on your team is willing to go up against a bigger guy, do whatever it takes to win, that just shows that everybody needs to bring that same intensity and that same kind of mind frame to win, because, again, Fish was a champion before, and obviously he knows what it takes to get back to that level.”
I also read (via Sports Illustrated) that some have said that when you broke your right foot in January 2008, it was actually a blessing in disguise because you used to kick your legs and twist your body when you shot. So, the recovery process forced you to simplify your motion. How much weight does that carry?
“Yea, I just got a lot of reps and got my confidence up, and just had a lot of time off to fix things and my teammates telling me when I got back to just shoot the ball no matter what, you know, ‘We need you to shoot it,’ and that definitely added another level of confidence. So I think that time off was a good thing.”
[NOTE: Ariza's made 3s increased by 1,120 percent from 2007-08 to 2008-09, his first full season with the Lakers. During Los Angeles’ 2009 title run, Ariza's regular season 3-point percentage of .319 jumped 15.7 percent to .476 over that entire postseason.]
But did your shooting motion actually change?
“See, I don’t know about all that. I just know I grew confidence shooting the ball.”
Also read (via the NY Times) where, when you first were with the Magic, you used “visualization” techniques—imagining yourself shooting jumpers over childhood heroes like Reggie Miller or Michael Jordan. Can you tell me about that?
“Before every game I do that, and I still do it, and it’s been working pretty well for me lately.”
You took some classes at UCLA during the 2011 lockout? Have you made any more progress toward a degree since?
“I plan on taking some more classes this summer. Last summer I didn’t get to … spending more time with my kids. I got a long way to go, I’m just trying to chip away as much as possible. I’ve got a long way to go, but a lot of time. […] I haven’t declared a major yet.”
Did Phil Jackson ever give you any books as he’s known for doing?
“He did give me a book but I forgot the name of it, though. Damn, I was just talking about it the other day, too.”
[NOTE: Ariza and I later caught up and he informed by that Jackson gave him "The Tortilla Curtain," by T.C. Boyle.]
You started your career in New York, essentially plopped in the middle of turmoil … not much has changed there since. Can Phil get it turned around as a front office guy and not on the sidelines?
[NOTE: Ariza was Isiah Thomas' first ever draft pick as GM of the Knicks.]
“I think it is a new challenge. It probably will take a little time, but if he’s willing to do that job, obviously he’s willing to take on that challenge. I’m confident he can do pretty much anything, so I think he’ll get it done.”
You wear No. 1 because….
“I wear No. 1 because growing up Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady were my favorite players.”
You previously told me that Kendrick Lamar is your guy… Which track of his is your favorite?
“I like Money Trees … that’s pretty dope.”