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Richard Jefferson


On the Nets' new Big Three

When it was me, Kenyon [Martin] and Jason [Kidd], we were a much more defense-oriented team. This team, with Vince [Carter], has a lot more offensive firepower. You have to say that first group was better because of what we accomplished [trips to the Finals in 2002 and '03]. Until we achieve what we did a few years ago, we're not on that level.

On rapper and Nets part owner Jay-Z

He's a huge basketball fan. Earlier this season I was a couple of rebounds from a triple double, and he grabbed me coming out of the huddle and told me I needed two more. He's a fan who has part of the team, and he's enjoying that life. It's cool to have [an owner] who is one of the best of all time at his trade.

On speaking his mind

I regret some things I've said. The whole Gerald Wallace thing [in a postgame interview last year Jefferson said of Wallace, a Bobcats forward, "He's not very talented"]; he's a good guy, a competitive player, and I would never want to disrespect him in front of his family and friends. That was my emotions getting the better of me. But at the same time that makes you who you are. You have to live with those things.

On trash-talking

I'm not a great trash-talker because I don't speak unless spoken to. I learned that from our leader, J-Kidd, who lets his game do the talking. If you start talking to me, I'm going to come back at you, but I'll never instigate anything. I probably talk more trash to my teammates than I do to an opponent.

On playing with Kidd

Without Jason I'm not close to being the player I am. I owe half my contract to him. From the way I'm supposed to handle the officials to the way I handle being coached, I owe it to Jason. I was a knucklehead my rookie year. I would be in the film room arguing with coaches, and he would be behind me, hitting me and telling me to shut up.

On growing up with both parents--his mother, Meekness LeCato is an English professor--working as Christian missionaries

It gave me a sense of perspective. To see my parents work so hard at helping other people made me realize how fortunate I was. I got a great work ethic from my dad, who worked a graveyard shift as a security guard and never missed a day.

On taking advantage of New York

I've seen Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith. I've been to Hairspray and Chicago on Broadway. I've seen a number of plays. Those are the types of things I enjoy.

On volleyball

I play during the summer in San Diego. When I was in high school [in Phoenix], the volleyball team practiced in the gym right before us, so we used to hang around with them. At Arizona I played all the time with [current Laker] Luke Walton. It's something I enjoy as much as playing basketball. It's a hustle game, and I don't mind getting dirty. Great sport.


Sports Illustrated


Photograph by Michael J. Lebrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography