If you’ve heard J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive album, you’re probably a hip-hop enthusiast. If you’ve heard of Trevor Booker you are probably a bit of basketball enthusiast as well. Why else would you be here if you weren’t? A comparison of Cole and Booker may be connected by faint dots on the surface, but there is a deeper connection that can be made if examined past initial externalities.
Cole’s third album has been met with critical acclaim and while Booker’s career arc hasn’t yet had the same trajectory just yet, we are talking about two guys from the Carolinas who have had to work for their success every step along the way. Booker is a big fan of Cole’s music and is assuredly happy to see someone he calls “his guy” attaining success. With the perseverance and work Booker puts into his game, he might not be far off from shedding the same “underrated” tag Cole once donned in the music industry.
Off the court, Booker is an avid cereal eater (you read that right) and superstar rapper/singer in the shower. On the court, he is in his fifth year in the league and continues to hone his craft while embracing a role as a veteran leader for a very young team in Salt Lake City. Booker is just 27 years old, but has a presence about him that seems to captivate an audience when he speaks to teammates or anyone within ear shot. We had a chance to chat with Booker who was more than willing to give us some insight on the Jazz’s season and why his cousin Jordan Hill may need to watch his head.
Dime: So you have hit the shot of the year that has pretty much everyone talking. Other teams and people all over are trying to replicate it. You said after that game that you used to practice shots like that with your cousin Jordan Hill. Can you talk about that and the reaction you are getting for the shot?
Trevor Booker: Just growing up we lived in the country, so we didn’t really have much to do other than make up games and throw up crazy shots. Just working on our games we’d try different stuff to have fun and that was one of the shots that me, my cousins and brothers would just throw up sometimes.
Dime: What about the reaction to the shot? Are you still getting a lot of attention because of it? Have you ever hit anything crazier than that shot before?
Booker: I’d have to say that’s my craziest shot. I’m still getting a lot of love from it. My phone is still blowing up, as well as Twitter and Instagram. People are trying to re-enact the shot so I think I am going to have a little contest to see who does it the best. We’re trying to put something together right now. I’m not sure what the winner will get, but we’ll put something together.
Dime: How will the contest be released? Through the Jazz and social media, or through your own organization?
Booker: Pretty much through my own organization. My teammates are trying to help me with some ideas but once we have it all together we will see how it turns out.
Dime: Was your decision to join the Jazz about playing time and fit?
Booker: Well I had a couple of options this summer and I sat down with Utah’s head coach, GM and assistant GM. They sold me right off the bat. They told me nothing would be handed to me and that I’d have to earn my minutes in Utah. And that’s the kind of guy I am: I want to earn everything. I knew they had a young team but also a lot of potential. In a couple years this will be a team that people will know that they can’t take lightly.
Dime: You left the Wizards to come to Utah and they are having lots of success. Do you ever sit and wonder what if you would have stayed?
Booker: Oh no! I’m happy for my guys back in Washington but I am definitely 100 percent happy in Utah. This team is improving as the season is going on and I’m looking forward to building with this team.
Dime: As you talk about the team improving, you have clearly improved your range. What prompted you to add the three-point shot to your game?
Booker: It’s just something that I worked on over the summer. It’s just all about feeling comfortable and I think I’ve found the right niche. When you go from one team to another your role can change and that’s one of the things that changed with this team.
Dime: Did you make that decision to add the three point shot before or after deciding to come to Utah?
Booker: It was something I was working on before I came to Utah. I just wanted to extend my range. It’s my first year shooting the three-ball. I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far, considering I’ve only worked on it for one summer. I’m looking forward to the coming years to continue to work on my three-ball.
Dime: You are in a situation on a fairly young team with some really talented guys who play your same position. What are the practices like going against [Derrick] Favors, [Enes] Kanter and [Rudy] Gobert?
Booker: It definitely makes you better. These are young guys with a lot of talent. Going against them every day is making me better and I’m making them better. I try to show them some leadership and give them advice on what I’ve been through. I have a little more experience than they have, so I just want to bring that leadership to them.
Dime: You are a veteran guy, so to speak, but are still pretty young yourself. How much of influence do you have in the locker room?
Booker: Oh, I have a lot of influence. When something needs to be said, I step up and say it. It could be in the locker room or during a game, if something needs to be said I’m not afraid to say it. You know it’s a different role than I had with Washington. Being one of the younger guys in Washington, then to come here and be one of the veteran guys is definitely different, but I am very comfortable with it.
Dime: Who do you think you are having the biggest impact on? Is it the guys that play your same position or some of the rookies?
Booker: I think everybody. It doesn’t matter who has something to say — the other teammates listen. That’s one of the really good things about this team; we don’t look down on anybody. When anyone speaks, teammates listen and try to improve from it.
Dime: The team has some really good wins and hard-fought losses as well. What’s it going to take for this team to close games better and how do you think you will do in the second half of the season?
Booker: We’ve beaten some really good teams and lost some close ones where we couldn’t close them out at the end. I think we’ll have a good second half of the season if we keep improving. One thing that we can improve on is our communication. If we learn to do that and take care of the ball down the stretch, I think we will close out some of the tighter games the rest of the season.
Dime: Is it your desire to eventually be a starter?
Booker: It doesn’t matter to me, whatever the team needs. If the coach wants to start me I’m very comfortable starting. I started 45 games last year for the Wizards in the regular season and even started one game in the playoffs. Whatever the coach needs me to do; it doesn’t matter.
Dime: The All-star game is coming up. Do you think anybody on your roster is deserving of a spot?
Booker: Right now I’d say Gordon Hayward or Derrick Favors. Both of them are playing at a high level right now.
Dime: Who are some the guys you really like to play against and that get you hyped?
Booker: If I had to choose anybody I’d say my cousin Jordan Hill. It’s just exciting for both of us to be in the NBA and we’re so competitive. So I’d say I like going up against him just to show him and let him know that I still got it and that I’m still the best.
Dime: So is he on your hit list so to speak? Have you dunked on him or put a nasty move on him in the league yet?
Booker: I haven’t been able to dunk on him yet but we play them in a couple of days, so I think I might try (laughing). I did get an and-one off of him before on an isolation play but that’s been it so far.
What do you think?
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