Behind every Sherlock lies a Watson. Lurking in the shadows of a potential MVP can be tough for anyone, though C.J. Watson seems to be making the best out of his back-up role in Chicago. Coming from a Warriors team where he was averaging 27-plus minutes and putting up good numbers, you would think C.J. would be upset about getting significantly less playing time. Not so much. As an integral part of the surging Bulls’ second unit â€“ a bench many regard as the best in the League â€“ he is now playing for a team destined to make a serious splash in the postseason. Last I checked, the Warriors aren’t exactly contenders. We got up with Mr. Watson to discuss playing behind Derrick Rose, his favorite sneakers and Miami’s “Crygate.”
Dime: You guys have won 11 of 13 and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. What do you attribute your recent success to?
C.J. Watson: Coach Thibs is keeping us ready, keeping us on the edge. Everybody’s playing well from the starters to the bench and everyone’s just contributing and just winning games.
Dime: Watching the Heat game on Sunday felt like a postseason matchup. How high was the intensity in Miami on Sunday afternoon?
CW: It was real big. It was probably one of our games that we got up for, especially with us beating them twice before and them being the Heat. Fighting for the second/first seed in the East also made it a real high intensity game and for us to come away with the victory… it was a big win for us.
Dime: How good did it feel to get that season sweep on Miami and move into second place in the Eastern Conference?
CW: It’s real big, because come playoff time, seeding is going to be real big depending on who you play in the first round or second round and on. So for us to get the second seed now, hopefully we can keep it up and try and catch Boston.
Dime: Are you guys worried about Boston?
CW: We’re just worried about ourselves. We’re not really trying to catch anybody, but if it happens it happens. But the way Boston’s playing, probably no one’s going to catch them. We’re just worried about ourselves and hope we keep winning, keep taking care of business and everything else just falls into place.
Dime: What’s your take on that whole crying incident in the Heat locker room after the game?
CW: It’s shocking to hear a coach talking about his players crying, but I guess it is what it is. They’ve been expected to win so much, which is tough, but I don’t know if I’d ever cry. It’s crazy.
Dime: Hornets coach Monty Williams said you guys may be the most complete team in the NBA right now. How much does having a deep bench help you guys win?
CW: I think a lot. Our bench has been playing pretty well from Omer [Asik] to Kyle [Korver] to Ronnie [Brewer] to Taj [Gibson], and even Kurt [Thomas] when Jo [Joakim Noah] was injured. We just try to go out there and pick up the pace and increase or keep the lead. Just trying to give our starters a break and give them a little cushion for the game.
Dime: What’s the locker room environment like right now? Who is the most vocal player in there?
CW: Luol [Deng] is probably the most vocal player in the locker room, though everyone pretty much talks, from [Carlos] Boozer to D-Rose to Jo to Kurt… I mean Scal [Brian Scalabrine] is like our coach on the bench, he makes sure everyone’s in the right play and the right coverages. I mean pretty much everyone’s vocal. We’re a team who â€“ even though we’re very close to each other â€“ can get on each other in hard times and good times, so it’s pretty good to have a team like that.
Dime: How is it playing alongside Derrick Rose?
CW: It’s fun! I’m probably backing up the MVP in the league so… it’s tough in some ways, but it’s also good because he’s one of the best point guards, if not the best point guard, in the game right now. And he’s making my job a lot easier.
Dime: Picking anything up from each other?
CW: I think we have two opposite games. He’s way more explosive than I am, but it’s good for him to go out and me back him up, and provide two different looks at the point guard position. I like to push the tempo more than he does sometimes and just little stuff like that I guess.
Dime: You’re coming from a Golden State team where you averaged over 27 minutes per game. What’s it like having a reduced role in Chicago?
CW: It’s a little different. It’s hard at first to get used to it. I’m still trying to get used to it as far as coming off the bench, playing five minutes, start getting into a rhythm then getting subbed out. I’m trying to get used to it and trying to get started a little more quickly as far as getting into the game, getting into the rhythm of the game faster and stuff like that. It’s difficult but I’d rather win 60 games and play a reduced role than lose 60.
Dime: What has it been like playing for Coach Thibodeau after coming from Don Nelson‘s system?
CW: It’s different, but I’ve had coaches like Thib before in college and high school so it wasn’t that big of an adjustment. He’s real big on defense, which wasn’t that big of a problem either, but he still lets me play on offense and lets me do what I do as long as I play defense hard. He doesn’t really complain about offensive shots or any sets that I call. It’s still fun out there.
Dime: Which guys on the team do you find yourself hanging out with the most?
CW: Pretty much everyone. Sometimes we all go out and eat as a team, but Keith Bogans, Kurt, Ronnie Brewer are some of the guys I chill with.
Dime: Do you have an all-time favorite sneaker to wear?
CW: My favorite sneaker is probably the Air Force 1s. I have different colors in those and I think you can’t really go wrong with those shoes. I like the all-white ones to wear with suits and blazers with jeans. As for different colors, I like the all-red ones, some red and white ones, patent leather ones… so pretty much any color. I like to funk it up a little bit with different colors and different schemes.
Dime: What was the first sneaker that caught your eye when you were a kid?
CW: I think the first sneakers were the old Pennys. I think they were blue, white and black at the time when Penny first started getting hot. So those were the first sneakers that I actually wanted and got a pair of and then after that I started to become a sneaker fiend, wanting to get the newest one out and the hottest colors.
Dime: Any recent additions to your collection or is has something caught your eye that you’d want to add to your collection?
CW: I’m starting to like some of the SB Dunks now, starting to get into those. I didn’t really like them before, but now I’m starting to like them and get back to my skateboarding roots from younger days.
Dime: You were a skateboarder?
CW: Yeah I used to be, ’til I broke my arm and I stopped (laughs).
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