Jabari Parker's Opening Statements | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Jabari Parker’s Opening Statements

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Updated: February 8, 2019

[Photo: NBA Fantasy Twitter]

Before making his debut in a Washington Wizards uniform, Jabari Parker was remarkably calm. He stood in the corner, in front of his newly assigned locker. It just so happened to be the same locker where Otto Porter (the player he was traded for) resided just a few days earlier. A few writers came up to him for some pregame chatter and he answered every question with disarming charm and a radiant smile.

Given his comments earlier that day during shootaround, his placid demeanor should not have been too much of a surprise. The angst surrounding the trading deadline was over, and he finally had a bit of closure regarding his whereabouts.

“It’s kind of, sort of been a relief, just because I knew what direction I was going to. There’s some confusion when you don’t know, you hear speculation here and there. Finally getting to that place, finally knowing where I’m at is a sign of relief for me.”

When Coach Scott Brooks was asked before the game how he would use Parker (along with Bobby Portis and Wesley Johnson), he was remarkably candid. Basically, he’s unsure about how to use his new toys:

“We gave them our video playbook yesterday, so they got the chance to see that when they were flying in and last night. And then we worked with them this morning at shootaround, so we’ll try to keep it real simple.

“My expectations are… I don’t really know, I don’t know how they’re all going to play, but they’re all going to play and they’re all going to play together. I just need to figure out who are going to be the other guys with them, because they’re going to need stability and guys that have been [here].”

Whatever magical words of encouragement Coach Brooks gave to the new guys, it would behoove him to bottle it up and use it for Saturday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls.

Wesley Johnson had a quiet night with just two points in 14 minutes, but Bobby Portis was the star. He scored 30 points (12-17 from the field, including 4-6 from the 3-point line) and grabbed five rebounds. And then, of course, there was Jabari Parker.

He checked into the game with 4:33 left in the first quarter, and fifteen seconds later–as predicted by NBC Sports Washington’s Ben Standig–he jacked up and shot, and made it, which was hardly shocking. The real surprise was the rest of the half when Parker, who is primarily known as a scorer, unveiled his all-around game.

Parker did not take another shot the remainder of the half, but he filled up the the stat sheet with 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and 7 assists, including this nifty behind-the-back maneuver:

Parker finished the game with seven points (on 3-of-6 shooting), 9 assists, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, and a blocked shot. Scott Brooks joked after the game that Parker could have easily had a triple-double, had Brooks not checked him out of the game with 4:05 left in the game.

But more importantly, Coach Brooks, who had admitted that he didn’t quite know what to expect prior to the game, was now a believer in Parker after just 23 minutes:

“He knows how to play, he’s almost like a point forward out there and I’m comfortable–even after one game now. I’ve seen him handle the ball and I’ve seen him enough against us. He can handle the ball and make decisions, he’s a playmaker.”

When Parker spoke after the game, he maintained the exact same cool demeanor that was on display beforehand. Leaned up against the wall in the hallway outside of the locker room (where John Wall was holding court), Parker spoke about his performance in his first game as a Wizard, all the while snacking on pineapples and berries. He also admitted that playing with Trevor Ariza was a dream come true of his: “Playing with Trevor is a great thing just because there’s history, I grew up watching the guy, so it was a good feeling for me.”

As unselfish as Parker’s stat line was in his first game in Washington, his postgame comments were even more magnanimous.

Saturday night the Wizards are scheduled to take on the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, and that just so happens to be the former home of both Parker and Portis. I asked Parker if he had any trepidation about playing his former team so soon after he had been traded, and instead of making it about him, he quickly genuflected:

“I want to be there for Bobby,  I want to be there for him. It’s an important game for him because that’s his first time playing against his former team. Milwaukee games were my games, in my opinion, because that was my first time [playing against my former team], so I want him to have that and I’ll look out for him.”

Yes, this is just one game, and one game against the lowly, 11-44, lottery-bound Cleveland Cavaliers (despite the return of Kevin Love). But still a bit worrying: Parker was quite the matador on the defensive end of the floor, and the gaudy stats he was able to accumulate didn’t exactly come against stellar competition.

As the cliche’ goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and Parker checked all the boxes. He showed personality before the game, versatility during it, and humility afterwards.

Not a bad opening statement.

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.