In talking with Malachi Richardson, it becomes clear Kobe Bryant’s influence is embedded like html code – you know it’s there but you can’t quite fully understand every single line. Richardson is admittedly a disciple of sorts of the Mamba, but he isn’t at all abrasive in any way like the teenage Lower Merion product was entering his rookie season. Instead, Richardson shows an appropriate confidence and wisdom of self. He has and will continue to do things his way, but his way undoubtedly includes relying on sound advice from others who have come before him and his strong familial structure.
Richardson showed immense promise during his one season at Syracuse, and his name continues to sneak up prospect rankings as the 2016 NBA Draft quickly approaches. While basketball might be his claim to future fame, he’s acutely aware that the avenues the game has opened for him can aid in expediting his maturity off the floor.
On a late spring evening after further preparation for the next and most important step in his career, the ultra-confident yet firmly-grounded Richardson sat down with DIME to discuss his road to the NBA.
Dime: You are from Jersey. What was it like growing up there and honing your basketball skills?
Malachi Richardson: It was great. I started playing basketball when I was about 4 years old and my mom was the main one really who put the ball in my hands. I always played up in the local leagues and ever since then things took off for me—especially when I got to high school. I was able to play on the AAU circuit with Team Final based out of Philly and from there I was able to get to Syracuse.
At what point of your basketball ascension did you realize that you might to give it a go as NBA player?
Growing up as a young’n I always wanted to play in the NBA. My parents – my whole family, really – always used to watch basketball. Watching the TV with them I always thought that I want to do that one day. I want to be there on TV playing. I grew up a Lakers fan and big Kobe Bryant fan. I think that was the person that really inspired me. Basketball has always been my first choice; I’ve just always had a love for the game.