New Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley was wrapping up the third day of the Avery Bradley Skills Academy Basketball Camp at the Central Regional Indoor Sports Area in Saith Park, Chaguanas.
We caught up with the former All-Defensive Team shooting guard to talk about how the local talent has shaped up, the possible future of basketball development in the Caribbean and his goals in the upcoming NBA season for his new team.
Yannick Quintal: “What has it been like working with the coaches and the youths in your basketball camp over the past 3 days?
Avery Bradley: “It’s been great. It’s a blessing for me to be here. I appreciate the USA Embassy for partnering with us to make this possible, but it’s been good. I’ve seen a few familiar faces; a few campers that were here two years ago, so it’s nice to see them again. We feel like there’s a need; there’s a lot of athleticism that is here but the skill work, if they’re able to improve it, I feel like Trinidad and Tobago could have their next NBA player without us knowing it.”
YQ: “Are there any other Caribbean islands your are looking to visit to host your basketball camp at?”
AB: “There’s not. I’m not gonna say I don’t want to because the Caribbean has a special place in my heart, with my family being from here but Grenada and Trinidad those are my home. I got family in Grenada, family in Trinidad so so those are the two most important places to me right now and I just want to help those two places as much as I can before I expand.”
YQ: “The NBA hosted a Basketball Without Borders camp in the Bahamas in 2017 and there have been players born in the Caribbean that have made it and had success in the NBA; more recently with Bahamians Buddy Hield and DeAndre Ayton as well as household names like Al Horford, JJ Barea and basketball greats such as Patrick Ewing and Tim Duncan. Carl Herrera was a Trinidadian-born player that was a role player on the championship teams of the Houston Rockets in the 90s. So what is the possibility of the NBA implementing their Basketball Without Borders programme in the Caribbean?
AB: “Yeah I mean I would love to. That is my vision and I think it’s needed. I always tell people, you know, my high school teammates were Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Cory Joseph (Indiana Pacers). Tristan Thompson has Jamaican roots and Cory Joseph has Trinidadian roots and a lot of people don’t know that, you know? They’re both from Toronto. I feel like most of the players in the NBA that are from Toronto which is a lot, over the past five years; a ton, and they’re all very good players and all have Caribbean roots. And I feel like, Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves), Joel Anthony (plays in Argentina) who I played with. I played with Al Horford (76ers) from the Dominican Republic. There’s a lot of talent here. It’s just, we just got to do a better job of teaching them how to play basketball properly and again like I said, there could be a lot of professionals that come from the Caribbean like as of late, (DeAndre) Ayton and Buddy Hield (The Bahamas).”
YQ: “What are your personal goals going into the season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and your thoughts on playing with LeBron James as opposed to playing against him over the past nine years?”
AB: “So my personal goal is to win Defensive Player of the Year. I feel like being on this stage, playing with some of the best players in the world. Playing with one of the best players in the game, if not the best. I feel like it’s a great opportunity to show what I can do defensively, and I just want to give myself a chance to be the player I know I can be. All my goals equal that.
That’s what I look forward to and I’m definitely looking forward to playing with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Kyle kuzma, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, that’s just to name a few of the guys. I’m looking forward to playing with all my teammates. I always look at, when you’re going to part of a new organization, you don’t only learn from the front office, you’re able to learn from your teammates, each and every one of them. I appreciate all of them and I feel like it’s going to be great for me on and off the court, learning from certain guys.”
YQ: “What are your thoughts on this past Free Agency period from a parity and competitive standpoint, with the way the talent has been spread around the NBA?”
AB: “Yeah I think what the NBA was able to accomplish this past free agency, it was the coolest free agencies that I was able to be a part of. It’s a lot of talent spread out throughout the league. It’s not as lopsided as it has been in the past. Although I do feel like every team is still competitive. You know the West is still tough. There’s no nights off. I feel like how we were able to spread out the competition and the talent throughout the league it’s going to make the NBA very exciting this year so, I hope the fans are ready for this NBA season ‘cause It’s gonna be big.”
YQ: “This question came from a Celtics fan. You played with Isaiah Thomas for about two seasons and he wants to know what it was like playing alongside him?
“It was a good experience for me. You know, me and Isaiah, we’re from a small town in Washington State, and it’s not too many people that make it to the NBA from the same place. Our high school was five minutes away from each other and I feel like that was the connection that we were able to have and that’s part of the reason why were able to have the success that we were able to because of the sacrifices and everyone buying into their roles and trying to maximize what they could do. With that being said, we had a great connection with each other and it was a great experience and I just wish the best for him in his career and he is a very exciting player. Very talented player and I just looking forward for him to have another opportunity this year in (Washington) DC.
YQ: “You haven’t played with Rajon Rondo in a while, so how is it going to be like playing and training alongside him again?”
“It’s gonna be good. You know, I was able to learn a lot from him in the past. Obviously I’m a different person now than in the past; I’m a different player. But I still feel like it’s the same for him. He was a different player than what he was and a different person and we’re still really close friends and with that being said, we’re gonna be able to still learn from each other and I’m looking forward to it.”