For what Washington Wizards Power Forward Trevor Booker lacks in size he makes up with his blue-collar approach. At 6-8, the Clemson product wore many hats this season for an exciting Washington Wizards team that made the playoffs for the first time since a DeShawn Stevenson – LeBron James beef turned into a Jay-Z diss track.
Behind the scenes of the 2014 edition of the Washington Wizards was Booker doing whatever Coach Randy Whitman asked of him. Whether it was averaging 8.2 rebounds per game when Nene was out during the month of December or giving his team a spark off the bench in the playoffs, Booker rose to the occasion shooting 55.1% on the season. His hustle during the playoffs even earned him recognition from new Warriors head coach Steve Kerr as he dubbed Booker his “new favorite player in the entire league.”
I recently caught up with Booker to talk about the Wizards playoff run, Marcin Gortat doing his best “300” impressions, the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, rapper Wale and more.
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Dime: You guys had a great run this season — what was the most memorable part of it for you personally?
Trevor Booker: The most memorable part for me was making it to the playoffs. It was my first time getting there and for a few of us, especially the players that have been through the ups and downs in the last four years (me, John Wall and Kevin Seraphin) — we’ve been through a lot with that team. To finally make it to the playoffs felt good. It felt like our hard work (finally) paid off.
Dime: With veteran bigs such as Gortat, Nene & Drew Gooden on board, how has their presence transformed the locker room culture and expectations in Washington?
TB: They’ve been huge for us. They’ve been around (the league) and have gone through some adversity, so when we go through some (tough) things, they help us out and tell us stories about what they’ve been through and the situations that they’ve been through and it helps us through the hard times. They’re big on the court but they’re definitely huge off of the court also.
Dime: Speaking of Gortat, we heard that he would scream out movie quotes from “300” or “Gladiator” to get you guys going before games. Did it actually get you guys pumped, make you guys laugh, or a little bit of both?
TB: It definitely didn’t get us going; he thought it did (laughs), but we went with it. But Gortat, he’s a cool dude. He would always yell a movie quote from “300” and I think it got him going more so than the team.
Dime: Do you have a favorite quote that he would yell?
TB: It was the same one every game but I still can’t even remember it (laughs).
Dime: He’s a pretty intimidating dude. Do you think he has a future in any historical or fantasy action films?
TB: I’m not sure how good his acting is. On the court, it’s pretty good (laughs). But I’m not sure about off the court. I guess we’ll see.
Click to hear how only astute basketball fans can appreciate Booker’s game…
Dime: Moving on, you’ve now had a couple seasons to play with John Wall and Bradley Beal in your backcourt. Where do you think they rank in terms of best backcourts in the NBA and how bright is their future?
TB: Best backcourts in the NBA? I’d say definitely top 3 and that’s just because I haven’t thought of the other ones yet but straight off the head, they’re definitely top 3 and I can’t think of any that are better than them off the top of my head, but there’s some good backcourts out there. They’re young guys and I expect them in one or two years to be (the best). If they’re not number one right now then they will be.
Dime: Al Harrington said during the playoffs that you make the plays that “don’t show up in the stat sheet.” Do you think that doing the little things has allowed you to carve out your own niche in the league throughout your 4-year career?
TB: Oh yeah, definitely. I just go out there and play hard. Like Al said, a lot of the things that I do, they don’t show up in the stat sheet. A lot of times, the average fan doesn’t see what I do out there on the court or appreciate it, you know? You have to actually know the game to appreciate my game but just to get recognition for (my hard work) feels good.
Dime: We all know that Toronto has Drake as their “super-fan”, but you guys have your own hip-hop presence on the sideline in DC’s own Wale. What’s your team’s relationship like with him?
TB: I’ve seen (Wale) at a couple of games. We’d like to have him at more games. He probably came into the locker room once or twice last year. Every time he comes to the game they put him on the big screen. I mean, he could be part of the marketing for the Wizards, you know? If he’s already going to the games. people will want to come to the games and be a part of it but I guess we’ll see next year.
Dime: What are your plans for the summer to make sure you continue to help your team move forward for next season?
TB: Get 100 percent healthy this offseason. Keep working on my jump-shot. Try to get more consistent (with my shot). I think I did a pretty good job last year with knocking it down but I can get it more consistent and maybe stretch my range out a little bit more which would help the team.
Dime: Do you typically work out with your cousin Jordan Hill, or any other NBA guys during the offseason?
TB: Nah, I work out in Charlotte with Combine Basketball. When I worked out in Charlotte last year, we didn’t have any NBA players that worked out with us but we had a bunch of international players that play overseas.
Dime: Lastly, any prediction for this year’s NBA Finals?
TB: (Ed Note: Booker made this prediction before the Conference Finals started) I think it’s going to be the Heat and the Spurs again and I think the Spurs are going to win it this year.
What do you think?
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