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Original Issue



On movies

I love them. I'll sit in the theater and watch two or three movies in a row. It's one of the things I am known for. I was a huge fan of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I was quoting that movie all preseason. Especially the scene where Will Ferrell is sitting at the table praying to Baby Jesus.

On his name

My father's name is Roger, and I was born in the Virgin Islands, so with the accent Roger sounds like RA-ja. That's where it came from--technically I was named after my father. Also, in Hindi it means princely ruler or exalted one. My parents liked that.

On SI's picking the Suns to win the title

Uh oh, that's like a jinx, right? No, it's flattering, and we expect no less than to be in the Finals. We almost made it last year [but lost to Dallas in the conference finals], and that's what's driving me now--to get back and go all the way.

On being signed from the IBL to play for the NBA Finals--bound 76ers in '01

I was really, really excited. I had played in the USBL, the CBA and [briefly] in the NBA. I was with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and I definitely didn't expect the call at that moment--I was sitting with two teammates, about to get something to eat at Denny's. It was tough to be excited without feeling like I was rubbing it in their faces, so I had to control my emotions until I got back to my room. Two months later I was in the Finals against the Lakers, guarding Kobe and getting manhandled by Shaquille on the double team.

On clotheslining Kobe in last year's playoffs, a move that got him a one-game suspension

As I saw him start to go down the lane, it just kind of clicked that I wasn't letting him go again--not after all he was getting away with the whole game.

On fallout from the Kobe incident

I didn't think it would spiral out of control, with everyone talking about Raja this and Raja that. But it kept growing and growing until I had to turn off the TV and stop reading the papers. It was really too much for me.

On playing with MVP Steve Nash

He makes so many plays that it makes it easy for anyone offensively. And he's such a great, under-control player that I pick his brain: "If you were in this situation, what would you do" and so forth. He'll always sit down with me and others. He's a great teacher.

On meeting his wife of two years, Cindy

She played soccer at Florida International, where I went, and one of her roommates dated one of my teammates. One day they walked up to our car and she caught my eye, so I asked everyone who she was. They said she was spoken for, but I gave it a little time and we worked it out. I proposed when we were on our way to a wedding. I was giving her a corsage. I dropped it on the floor and just didn't come up. She looked down and, what do you know, I was proposing.

--As told to Elizabeth Newman



Photograph by Jason Wise