Q&A: Shabazz Napier

Posted by Unknown on Thursday, June 26, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of Ira Winderman 

Q.  Shabazz, it's been a long time coming, man.  It feels like yesterday you were playing at Charlestown High School.  Talk about what it's like to be able to go into an organization, a championship organization, that has a need right away at the point guard position and to be able to learn from the best player in the NBA.

Napier: "It's just, to sum it up, it's just a blessing, man.  I would be lying to you guys if I said I thought I would be here when I was high school.  It's just truly a blessing.

"It's just.....it's one of those experiences you really can't describe.  Like I said, I'm so happy I was able to do it with my family, and that's one of the biggest things."

Q.  Right.  Was there ever a moment like, whether you were in college, where you realized like, I can really make this thing happen?

Napier: "You know, everyone asks me that, and I'm not sure.  Maybe when I was a sophomore.  You know, even when I was a freshman, of course, NBA was something I watched, but sometimes your aspirations are left at that.

"I had to work hard.  I had to tell myself that this is not going to be easy to get to where I am now.  I'm pretty sure that everything came in my sophomore year."

Q.  Mario Chalmers is a free agent, and Norris Cole didn't have such a great postseason.  So it's possible that you could slide in as the starting point guard for the Miami Heat.  How do you feel about that?

Napier: "There's always opportunity to do something great, and no matter if I was going to slide in as a starter or come off the bench, I'm still going to work hard.  I'm going to compete.  That's who I am.

"My attitude will never change if a head coach was telling me I was going to start right away.  It's going to be the same way.  I'm going to work as if I'm not on the team.  That's what brought me in, and that's what's going to make me as good as I want to be."

Q.  Were you in contact with the Heat prior to the draft?

Napier: "No.  I was in contact with my family.  That's about it."

Q.  Shabazz, can you talk about coming from where you are, an area that's not really known for developing players, not as known as it should be perhaps, to get to this point.

Napier: Yeah, I didn't do it on my own, I can tell you that much.  I got about a handful of guys that pushed me to get to where I am now.  I'm just so happy that they were able to do that.

"I mean, it was tough.  Just like any other neighborhood, there's always people that's going to compete with you.  It was tough.  But they allowed me to understand and see what I can be.

"From when I was young, 8 years old, little kid running on the court during halftime shooting basketballs, to me right now in front of you guys who continue to push me.  Like I said, it's a special feeling."

Q.  Born in Roxbury?

Napier: "Yeah, Roxbury."

Q.  You had said you felt you were the best point guard in the draft, and after all you proved at UConn, but it ended up being a handful of guys went ahead of you anyway.  Does that put the chip back on your shoulder going into this?

Napier: "No, the chip never leaves my shoulder.  It will never leave my shoulder.  That's what makes me who I am.  And I was saying that not to belittle any other point guards.  There's a reason why they're here.  But I was just saying that because that's who I am.

"I wouldn't be Shabazz Napier if I wouldn't have said that.  I believe it, and I'm going to prove it.  What I always learned was that whatever you put in is what you're going to get out.  If I don't put in the work, it's not going to show.

"So there's always a chip on my shoulder to prove to myself that I'm the best, and to do that, I've got to work hard."

Q.  We know LeBron has said some very good things about you.  He likes your game.  Are you now ready to be a recruiter, per se, for Miami to help him stay?

Napier: "I would hope so.  I would hope so.  He's one of the best players in the world.  So if me going there helps him come back, it just betters our chances of being a complete team.

"But at the end of the day, my job is to get to improve and work on my game so when it comes to the stage where it's my first game, I'm ready to compete, and I'm prepared."