Interview – CJ Watson of the Chicago Bulls

In 2010 LeBron James made a “decision” that the basketball world seemed captivated by. Where would he go? When would we know? Then he told us and 99% of the world’s Basketball community hated him, they even burned his jersey in Cleveland which looking back now was probably more entertaining than his actual “decision”.

Not long after this the Chicago Bulls started announcing some signings of their own. It started with Carlos Boozer, then slowly they started adding other pieces to surround their core group of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose. It was a great question for the Bulls of who they could find that would be fast enough, smart enough and good enough to back up the man who ended up being this year’s league MVP.

The answer was CJ Watson, and here is Hoop Diary’s interview with him.

When asked how he thought playing four years of college ball helped him upon entering the NBA, he had this to say: “It helped a lot. I became a lot more disciplined and structured with four years of college. it helped me to develop and helped me to grow as a young man, being on my own without my parents everyday so I grew up a lot faster. Everything that I was hearing from NBA scouts each year I worked on that every summer, to try and be the best player I could when my college days were up”. Back in 2008 CJ was signed to a 10 day contract with the Golden State Warriors, so we asked him for some insight in to what it was like in terms of the feelings and pressures associated with that. “There were a lot of feelings especially nervousness. Not knowing what the management was thinking so all I could do is go out there and play and leave it all on the floor, and let the Basketball Gods do the rest. I always believed I had the talent and drive to be in the NBA, but it wasn’t until I played my first game that I had the utmost confidence to play in this league and also be successful.”

CJ’s favourite perks of his life as an NBA player was something we were keen to find out, and he shared this. “I think traveling and being able to meet all different types of people from CEO’s, to owners, to the people who work at the arenas, it’s fun to mingle with all the fans in every venue”. CJ also highlighted the four greatest players he’d love to take the court with as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal. When asked what he thought the keys to the Bulls faster than expected improvement were, he had this to say. “We just kept getting better and better as the year went on. Everyone seemed to get more comfortable in their roles as the year went on, and we started to know each others strengths and weaknesses so it helped us as team mates to grow together”. Now that CJ seems to have found a permanent home in Chicago, we asked him how he saw his role evolving and what the next step for CJ Watson may be. “Hopefully more minutes but its tough when your playing behind the MVP, and if not the best point guard in the league one of the best. So I just have to go out there and have fun and be aggressive at all times, and make the most of the minutes I get”.

With the NBA Players Union and commissioner David Stern in talks right now trying to avoid a lockout for next season, we asked CJ if he could see himself playing overseas were the worst to happen. “I would consider playing overseas. Hopefully the lockout doesn’t last far into the NBA season, but no-one knows. I will look at all my options and if I can go overseas and play, then I probably will until this lockout gets finished and fixed”. When asked what the best advice he’s been given was, he shared this with us. “Just putting and keeping God first in my life, and always trusting and believing in him. You have to put in the work to get great results so staying late after practice or working on my game when I dont want to makes the difference a lot of times in being good and great”. In closing we asked him what made his charity “The Quiet Storm Foundation” so important to him. “Our youth are our future, so helping them and taking time out to spend with them can make their day. it has always been my drive to help others whenever I can, so thats what I want to do with my foundation. To give kids hope to succeed just like someone gave me hope when I was younger”.

We thank CJ Watson, the Quiet Storm Foundation and Zach from Bench Mob for their time and incredible work they are doing. Given the time of year we are grateful to CJ for sharing his time with us, and we wish him and his Bulls well in the remainder of the NBA Playoffs.

The questions for this interview were courtesy of Hoop Diary editors Paul Henderson, Ryan Baker and Brett Stone.

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