Illustration by Elliot Gerard

The Sun Finally Came Out for Rodney Hood

In an extended sit-down interview less than 24 hours after the biggest game of his career, the Cleveland Cavaliers wing opens up about his unpredictable postseason, life as LeBron's teammate, looming free agency, and so much more.

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Jun 8 2018, 3:11pm

Illustration by Elliot Gerard

CLEVELAND — It’s early May inside Oracle Arena’s media dining area, and Game 2 of an ostensibly competitive second-round series between the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors is minutes away from tipping off. Over a dozen folding tables are lined in a row, each bookended by a television that beams the climax of another NBA game from over 2500 miles away.

Crowded near one are three Pelicans employees, picking at plates of fried chicken and steamed vegetables. On the screen, Kevin Love catches a kick-out pass from LeBron James, pump fakes Jakob Poeltl into Air Canada Center’s court-side seats, and drills the open three. A few feet to Love's right, standing in the strong-side corner is Rodney Hood.

“How much do you think Hood gets this summer?” It's the type of question that, if posed to ten intelligent people, may bear ten different answers. At the end of this table, it's greeted by a collective shrug. “I don’t know, $16 million?” The other two nod as Hood gets subbed out of the game. They rise, button their blazers, scrape chicken bones into a nearby trash can, and head to their seats.

This is almost exactly a week before Saturday Night Live will poke fun at LeBron's supporting cast and Hood will supposedly refuse to enter Game 4 of the same series. A restricted free agent heading into a marketplace that isn't exactly flush with cash, Hood finds himself in a more delicate situation than most expected him to be even six months ago. After posting a career-high usage rate and True Shooting percentage in the opening months of this very season, Hood tallied zero points in the second round after Love hit that three, and was nearly squeezed out of the entire conference finals, earning four DNP’s and garbage time minutes in Game 5.

Heading into Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have lost six straight games in which he’s appeared. But Wednesday night in Quicken Loans Arena, Hood flashed why that contract speculation from a Pelicans staffer was (and maybe still is) in the ballpark of reality. In 26 minutes, the 25-year-old scored 15 points (on 11 shots), grabbed six rebounds, and provided legitimate sustenance on the defensive end. He pummeled the Warriors in transition and carved out soft floaters over some of the league's longest, rangiest, most bewildering individual defenders. It was, for one night, the type of performance Cleveland expected on a regular basis when they acquired Hood at the trade deadline.

He Euro-stepped through cracks without hesitation, recognized mismatches, and splashed contested short twos through the rim—in one of the most stress-inducing basketball environments imaginable—with an effortlessness very few players can manage. Even more important? LeBron trusted Hood to come through and he did, stabbing Golden State with a barrage of one-dribble pull-ups, feints, and turnarounds.

It seems minor, but it can't be overlooked whenever James gives the ball up this early in a critical game after he grabs a defensive rebound.

“That was Rodney Hood, man. He was just aggressive from the beginning when he got in the game, even though he missed his first three. He had a wide-open shot, but he just continued to push and push,” LeBron said after Game 3. “His athleticism and his length and his touch around the rim, you know, it was more than just what he did for the team, I think for himself, that was just a huge moment for himself. That was good to see. That was great to see, actually.”

He was fearless when plays broke down against, literally, one of the best defenders in NBA history.

If Game 3 proves anything, it’s that Hood remains a tantalizing commodity. Sometimes his game politely knocks on a door it should punch a hole through. For better or worse, that’s who he is right now: methodical, patient, and composed. But he gets in trouble when those refined tendencies turn into debilitating passiveness. Instead of getting to the rim, a place where Hood is long and deft enough to succeed, he too often settles outside the restricted area for inefficient attempts that don’t carry the risk/reward ratio desired by simple math.

According to Cleaning the Glass, he’s never finished above the 32nd percentile in shot frequency at the basket. He placed in the fifth percentile before this year’s trade deadline and 20th after it. That’s a definite issue. Even when it yields a bucket, watching him stop short sometimes feels like a frustrating malfunction—the same sensation that happens when you punch your PIN into an ATM only to have the machine shake its head. Why isn’t this working?

But it’s not a fatal flaw; there’s an optimistic dichotomy about Hood’s game, where you can’t call his mid-range-heavy attack antiquated without pointing out the boon attached to his futuristic qualities. Hood already has the physical tools to attack in isolation and create for himself, a major benefit going forward as more defenses around the league engineer switch-heavy schemes. He’s a convenient, if not ideal, chess piece.

The transition from Utah to Cleveland was difficult for myriad reasons, but Hood’s all-around game on the right night looks like a paragon for the modern wing. He was an extremely effective pick-and-roll playmaker in a Jazz jersey, and was pretty good scoring the ball out of those situations in Cleveland, but according to Synergy Sports, the percentage of Hood’s pick-and-roll plays where his pass led to an immediate shot, turnover, or foul was 31.1 percent in Utah. With the Cavs, that number chopped down to 15.5 percent.

In other words, his current role has effectively lowered his ceiling. He’s excellent at reading help defenders and knowing when to get off the ball so teammates can attack openings created by his own penetration. At 6'8", Hood is also tall enough to see over defenders and skip it, on point, to an open man—the type of pass typically made by an All-Star.

He’s valuable operating off the ball, be it as a spacer (he made 39 percent of his threes on a high volume before the trade deadline) or someone able to attack off designed movement. Here's Hood curling off a stagger screen for a catch-and-shoot jumper, but he doesn't panic when Anthony Davis sniffs it out, instead taking his time and working Rajon Rondo down into his patented short turnaround.

It’s all so smooth. A laminated skill-set with room to grow. As he steps into an uncertain future, where a tempered marketplace makes $16 million per year (or more) feel unlikely but not impossible, Hood has yet to reach his prime. This is a player who’s more familiar with exceeding expectations than sinking beneath them.

The son of parents who played college basketball—and a mother who went on to become a school principal—Hood was raised with work ethic as a priority. His childhood was molded by discipline and structure. “He didn’t win any participation trophies at home,” Hood’s coach at Mississippi State, Rick Stansbury, tells VICE Sports. “I can promise you that.”

Now on the verge of what may be his final game in a Cavaliers uniform, one day after the most important game of his career, Hood sat down for an extended Q&A with VICE Sports. In it he covers a wide variety of topics, including how he’s dealt with an up-and-down, pressure-packed postseason, what the trade deadline was like, how he deals with life as LeBron's teammate, what he expects in free agency, and so much more.


VICE Sports: What were you thinking immediately after Game 3, and how are you processing it today?

Rodney Hood: Last night, it felt great, honestly. Just from dealing with adversity, then coming out on the biggest stage and making an impact. It felt great. It would’ve felt 10 times better if we would’ve won. But we still got a game left, and just hopefully we’ll have a follow up to Game 4.

You've said there were a lot of sleepless nights heading into Game 3. Was that the most nervous you’ve ever been for a basketball game in your life?

Yeah, yeah. I felt like that was kind of like a defining moment for me. I had been working so hard to be ready when my name was called, and I felt like that was pretty much my last chance to be in the rotation. And just to come out and play well and make an impact on the game, you know, it meant a lot.

Can you remember being in a situation like that before, where dropping out of a rotation entirely is possible?

No. This is the first time in my life where I got DNPs, where I haven’t played big minutes. Even when I was coming off the bench in Utah I was still playing around 29, 30 minutes, so this is the first time, and it’s been a learning process. It’s been tough. But it all made me stronger in the end.

Obviously Cleveland lost, but for you, individually, was there any sense of relief?

Definitely. I was definitely happy. Like I said, I think everybody knows the adversity I’ve been in since I’ve been in Cleveland the last couple months, and I think everybody was happy for me—knowing what type of person I am and seeing how hard I work behind closed doors—to come out and have a game like yesterday.

My dad told me "It can’t rain forever." It felt like it was raining for a long time, but the sun came out a little bit.

LeBron said “that was Rodney Hood” afterwards. What do you think he means by that?

LeBron has, I wouldn’t say "watched me closely," but he’s known about my game, just from playing against him. And he knew what type of player was coming to the Cavs when I first got here. And it hasn’t went as smoothly as everybody would think, but this is what he saw when I was playing with Utah. This the aggressiveness, this the skill-set that everybody’s been kind of waiting to see. It took a while—it took getting to the Finals—but I think he was happy for me that it happened in the Finals.

Photo by Ken Blaze - USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you’re asked all the time about playing with LeBron, and the good and bad that can come with it. Is there something different about when he passes you the ball vs. any other teammate you’ve ever had?

That’s a good question. Let me see how to word this. There’s definitely a difference because LeBron is a guy that can score and he’s a willing passer, and one thing about him is you’ve gotta be ready to shoot every time he throws you the ball. You know, you’ve got to make the right play, and that’s what he expects of us. To knock down shots and things like that. So it is a difference. I can’t really pinpoint the difference but there’s definitely a difference.

Is there added pressure?

Yeah, I think you could say that. I think you could say there’s a different pressure. Not a bad pressure, but it’s like if this guy trusts you enough to throw you the ball for you to knock down a shot, you want to shoot it every single time because he expends a lot of energy driving to the lane, creating. You want to knock it down every single time. So I can agree with that.

There was one play in the 4th quarter of Game 3 where he grabbed a defensive rebound and then quickly flipped you the ball racing up the left sideline. You went all the way to the rim, knocked Kevin Durant out of the way, and scored. What’s going through your head during that particular possession? From afar, you looked more emboldened than you've been in a long time.

LeBron gives, not only me, but everybody confidence. I think my first bucket I scored last night is when I got a rebound and he was behind me yelling to me just go. He was like ‘Go Hood!’ That play shows a lot of...I don’t think it would’ve happened before last night, you know what I mean? He knew I had it going. He saw I really wanted the ball, and he trusted me with the ball. I think that was a big step.

And also the other play when I went to the basket and Draymond was guarding me and I did a spin move and scored, he gave me the ball again and just told me to go to work. That means a lot to us as players, knowing that the best player in the world wants you to be aggressive and wants you to just play your game. It really shows out there on the court like it did in that play that you talked about.

Going back to the trade deadline, how did you hear about getting dealt?

We played in Memphis and flew back to Utah. I woke up the next morning and obviously I knew the trade deadline was that day so my phone was loud. Travis, my agent, called me, and all he said was "Cleveland. We’re going to Cleveland." He said "We’re going to the Finals."

There were mixed feelings, I would say. I enjoyed my time in Utah. I loved playing there. The coaching staff and organization gave me a chance to start as a young player and to grow. They gave me a shot, so that was kind of sad. But obviously it was exciting, getting a chance to come to Cleveland and try to compete for a championship.

I’m so fascinated by that moment when players first learn about getting traded. What exactly were you doing? Was anyone with you? Do you hang up the phone with your agent and call anybody? What was that whole scene like, as I’m sure you had a lot of stuff going through your head.

The couple days before it there was kind of an awkward feeling because I kind of knew I was on the trading block. Me and Quin Snyder, we didn’t really know but we knew it was in the air. So me and him had a good talk and he was like "Regardless of what happens, we’re always gonna be friends. We’re always gonna keep in touch, and we’ll always have a special bond." And then when we got back late to Utah, and I slept. I had my phone on loud, and then Travis called. I was watching on NBATV to see what was happening, and then Travis called to say Cleveland and I talked to him for like three or four minutes. I hung up the phone and I just yelled. Me and my wife are sitting there and we just yelled because we knew it was an opportunity for me to play on the big stage and make a name for myself. And then I went to the gym and saw Quin Snyder and saw [Utah GM] Dennis Lindsey, two guys that’s been very instrumental in my career. I got a chance to thank them and say my last goodbyes to them and it was very, very emotional. Me and Quin Snyder came into the league together and Dennis Lindsey gave me the opportunity to grow as a young player, so that was emotional. And then I sat there for the rest of the night. I drove around Utah, said my last goodbyes to people that I know, and then I got packed up, ready, and went to Atlanta.

Do you remember your first conversation with Ty Lue?

I do. I was at the airport headed to Atlanta because that’s where they were playing, and Ty Lue was just saying "Man, welcome. I love your game. We’re gonna have some fun. Don’t be nervous, and don’t believe everything you see and read in the media." I remember him saying that. It was a quick conversation and then when we got to Cleveland we got a chance to know each other a little bit better.

Photo by Winslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports

Do you remember your first conversations with any of your new teammates? Kevin Love or LeBron?

I saw them that night in Atlanta. They were about to play in a game. Me, Jordan [Clarkson], Larry [Nance, Jr.], and George [Hill] had just gotten to Atlanta. We said what’s up to everybody. We met everybody in the organization. That was pretty much about it. We went on a couple team dinners. We went to Boston next, went on a team dinner and got to know each other a little bit better then.

That was a big win in Boston.

That was a very exciting game.

What did the coaches tell you about your role on this team, and what they expected from you?

They really didn’t. At that time it was just about figuring everything out. I think the coaching staff wanted to see how everything would fit. We were trying to see how everything would fit. I knew I’d be coming off the bench at first, and they just wanted me to go out and play my game. That was really about it. That was the only real conversation that we really had.

You’ve said that Joe Johnson and Johnnie Bryant reached out and offered words of encouragement during your postseason struggles. What sort of things did they actually say?

They sent texts and I talked to them on the phone. They were very encouraging, just telling me to stay ready, like "Your number is gonna get called at some point. It has to be called at some point. And you’re gonna make a big splash on the scene, and everything that happened before that will be erased." When I talked to Joe Johnson, he was just telling me to stay in the gym and stay positive, and just pay attention to my family. Don’t get clouded into this job and thinking the sky is falling. Just to focus on my family and focus on the important things. The big quote that my dad told me was "It can’t rain forever." It felt like it was raining for a long time, but the sun came out a little bit [in Game 3].

Did anyone else reach out?

It was a bunch of guys I played with. Chris Johnson. Donovan Mitchell reached out. Ekpe Udoh, Alec Burks. All my guys. Gordon Hayward, I talked to him during the Boston series, we was texting. It was definitely a bunch of guys that were texting me, telling me to stay ready and keep my head up.

Just from looking at your numbers, you made a lot more plays for teammates out of the pick-and-roll in Utah than you have in Cleveland. Did you expect that coming in?

Yeah, I expected there to be a drop because I know LeBron has the ball in his hands a lot and everything goes through him, so there’s not a lot of opportunities for pick-and-roll in our offense. So I understand there’s gonna be a drop. Pick-and-roll is a big part of my game, it was a big part of my game in Utah. That’s where I got a lot of my threes, where I was able to be more aggressive, so I knew there was gonna be a little bit of a drop. I really don’t get any [pick-and-roll opportunities] unless it’s in transition, but I’m just trying to figure out other ways to score and be aggressive. Hand-offs, just running the court, cutting to the basket, whatever I can to try and make an impact scoring wise.

Before the series started Ty Lue told me he liked how you could attack in isolation against switches. How do you think your game fits in the modern NBA and where the league is going?

I fit perfectly. I’m 6’8”. I’m a guy that can take it off the bounce. I feel like I can score at all three levels. In isolation, a lot of people are switching, so I’m able to get my own shot. Pull up for mid-range shots. Get to the foul line. Pull up for three, if need be. So I fit perfectly. And I’m able to create for other guys, being able to pass the ball and make the right basketball play and not just be a black hole as a scorer. I’m continuing to evolve and I think I’m only gonna continue to get better from here on out.

Is there any way you can pinpoint or identify why you’ve struggled over the past couple months?

It’s just different. Starting off the playoffs, I was starting Game 1. Then the next game I’m coming off the bench. I didn’t play Game 4 of the Raptors series and then in Game 1 I had a decent game. I was aggressive. And then the next game I didn’t play that much. I probably played nine, ten minutes. So it’s just been...what I’ve adjusted to since I’ve been out is just learning that I can’t let the game come to me, and that’s a tough adjustment because I’ve always been a guy who’s let the game come to me. I’ve got to force the action. I’ve got to come in the game ready to go, no matter if I play nine minutes, eighteen minutes, fifteen minutes. That’s the adjustment that I made, and I wasn’t going to let that mistake happen again last night. I just had to go in there and get it. That’s really the mental part of it, just going in there ready to go as soon as I get in the game.

I think a lot of people have the perception of NBA players as being supremely confident at all times because you’re the best in the entire world at what you do, but throughout the past few weeks did doubt creep into your head at all, about who you are and what you’re capable of?

To be honest, no. But it does start to creep in, like, you get to thinking "Damn, how did I get to this point where I'm not even playing in games and I know I can help the team" and things like that. But I think it’s all in the work that I put in with [Cavaliers assistant coach] Phil Handy. I stayed in the gym. I was playing pick up, one-on-one. I stayed ready and put confidence back in my game that way. Obviously, the ultimate confidence is gonna be from playing in games and producing in games, but I just knew it was gonna come a time where I would play better and I'd get a chance to really play. It just so happened to be a long time before it happened.

When you’re watching YouTube clips of yourself, is there any one game or play or moment from earlier in your career that stands out and makes you feel good when you think about it?

There’s a lot of them, but I think the main one that I watched was right before I got traded. We played New Orleans in New Orleans. I had like 30, but I just remember how I felt that game. My mind was clear. I had so much fun. New Orleans is close to my home town so I had family in the arena. It was a great game not because I scored but because of how I felt. I had a bounce to my step. That was probably the most confident I’ve been since I’d been in the league. I really watched that game a lot.

How do you get your mind off basketball-related issues when things aren’t going your way? Do you read? Do you watch Netflix? Listen to podcasts? Go for walks? Is there anything you do to try and step away from the game?

Oh definitely. I always try to go to the movies. I’ve got three kids. My son is two years old. I’ve got two newborn twins. I spend as much time with them as I can. I just try to be family man because when I’ve been struggling, those are the people that have been behind me and stuck with me. I just want to give all my time to them when I’m not working, just trying to make sure they’re alright because they feel all the same pain that I feel, you know what I mean? Just trying to spend as much time with them as I can, staying off of watching basketball and trying not to think about the game. Just thinking about being a man, being a person. I think sometimes we lose that.

What’s the last movie you went to see?

I actually saw the Gabrielle Union movie.

Was that good?

It was good! I kind of saw it because I was kind of bored, but it was a good movie. And then I saw Deadpool as well. That was a good one too.

What have you learned from this whole experience that you feel can help you going forward?

I think a lot of it has been mental. I feel like I can get through adversity now. As a young player, I played a lot in Utah, I got to shoot a lot in Utah. Everything was kind of handed to me. Here I had to kind of earn it. And I worked myself through some adversity. When everybody was doubting me and critiquing me—I wouldn’t say talking negative, but critiquing me—and things like that, I knew I could make it through that, by having the game I had last night. By staying grounded, by praying to God. I think that’s the biggest thing. This is a point in my career I’m gonna always be able to pinpoint and say "I can make it through a tough time." And at the end of the day it’s just a game. I’ve just got to go out there and play. I think that’s the biggest thing I can take away from the situation.

You're a restricted free agent this summer. Looking ahead, how do you focus on staying in the moment, knowing you may not be in Cleveland next year?

It’s tough. It’s very tough. A lot of guys will say "You don’t think about it" or "It’s not on your mind" but it is. I’ve got three children, I’ve got a wife, I’ve got a family I’ve got to take care of. You don’t be a free agent every single year. It only comes around two or three times, luckily, in your career. Whatever happens, whether I’m here or whether I’m somewhere else, I want to be able to say I won a championship and say I played in the Finals and played well in the Finals, and I can be able to take this experience with me somewhere else or if I stay here in Cleveland I’ll be able to take this and really propel my career to something bigger and better.

This is a point in my career I’m gonna always be able to pinpoint and say "I can make it through a tough time."

How often do you think about free agency?

I don’t think about it a lot. It’ll come up every now and then but I don’t think about it as much as you probably think.

I would be thinking about it nonstop.

[Laughs] I try my best to stay in the moment.

Do you have any expectations regarding your next contract?

As far as...like a number or something?

A number, a situation, a team.

Not really a number. I think that will all be worked out in the future. I do know there are teams, including Cleveland, that are very interested in me playing there for the next four years. Three, four years. But I want to be somewhere where I’m embraced as a player. Go somewhere where I can grow as a player, grow into who I’m becoming as a player, person, and a man. That’s pretty much all I’m looking forward to. You look at different guys in the league, whether it’s Victor Oladipo or any guy that goes to a situation where people might not think it’s gonna work out but because people embrace them and back them they propel themselves and it goes to another level, so that’s what I’m trying to do next year and in years to come.

Photo by David Richard - USA TODAY Sports

How much of what you do this summer is realistically tied to LeBron’s decision?

I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I think that’s for Cleveland. Obviously their number one priority is LeBron and seeing what he’s gonna do. I think they do want me in their future. They’ve told me that. But obviously the money has to be worked out and so I really don’t know exactly what has to happen. But for me it’s just about doing what’s best for me and my family. I think Cleveland is going to do what’s best for that organization, and LeBron is going to do what’s best for him, and everybody can respect that.

Do you have any plans this summer after your contract situation resolves itself? Any vacation or idea where you'll be training?

I’m thinking about going to Atlanta. I know they just opened P3 down there. And I worked out a lot there in Santa Barbara, in P3, so I think that’ll be a fun thing. Atlanta is a city I’m familiar with, being from the south. As far as after free agency, of course I’ll celebrate. It’s a great accomplishment, no matter what the dollar amount is, no matter what the situation is, just being able to be in this great league for another three to four years.

And I’ve got my camp at the end of the summer that I’m always excited for, where I have a bunch of kids from all over the south come to a free camp where they can have fun and learn before they go back to school. And just relaxing with my kids, my wife, and just have fun.

Do you hold the camp in Mississippi?

Yeah it’s in Meridian, Mississippi, my home town.

How long have you been doing that?

This is the third year. Both years have been an amazing success. It’s getting bigger and bigger. A lot of kids come. Over 500 kids. The most talented kids in the state come, and get a chance to meet me. I interact with them. I play 5-on-5 with them. It’s just a fun time right before they go back to school.

You’re still only 25 years old, about to enter your fifth season. What part of your game do you want to improve the most this summer?

I think everything, but what I really can expound on that I haven’t really explored since I’ve been in the league, or really in general, is a post game. I think with my size, being able to shoot over guys that play my position, shooting guards and small forwards, being able to post up. I think I can really focus in on that and add that to my game and make that a strength.

Your high school coach, Randy Bolden, once said you used to intentionally miss free throws just to stay in the game when it looked like you were about to be taken out. Is that true?

It’s definitely true.

I wanted to contrast that with Game 4 in the second round where you didn’t enter the game after Ty Lue asked you to. Can you explain that situation in your own words just so people know your perspective on what happened?

That was a tough situation. We were up 30, headed to the Eastern Conference Finals, and there were guys already out there playing. Cedi was out there, Jordan Clarkson was out there. I think Big Z [Ante Zizic] was out there, and a couple more guys. So there were four guys out there and LeBron was still in the game. So then he asked for a sub. Jose Calderon was warming up, so the whole time I’m thinking "I’m not getting in the game." So they call my name. I was like, you know, I was over there chillin'. I had ice bags on my legs. And then I just told T. Lue to put Jose in the game. So he put Jose in the game.

The game was over with, I went to the locker room, we celebrated getting to the Eastern Conference Finals. We went home, and then the next day my mom wakes me up at 6:30 in the morning saying there’s a story that I refused to go in the game or that I had an attitude or something like that. So that was a tough 24 hours because you had so many people taking a story, a headline, that wasn’t even the case, and they were just going in. They were saying so much things about me, that I was pouting and I was whining. And in hindsight, I probably should’ve went in, but I definitely didn’t think that was a story, heading into the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s something to learn from, obviously. I was put in the same situation four, five times after that, and I went in with no problem. Everybody who knows me knows I’m a selfless guy. That’s not even my M.O. It’s just tough when people don’t even know your character and are just getting to know you, they pass judgement on you and don’t even know the whole story. That’s the tough part.

So then I’m walking off the court and there’s a guy sitting in front of our bench who’s talking very, very reckless the whole entire game...

And then another situation I wanted to get your perspective on, I think it was in Washington earlier this season when Tony Brothers throws you out for arguing a call, and then as you walk back towards the locker room you slap a cell phone out of a fan’s hand. What was going through your head during that time leading up to that play and sequence?

I’ll get to the phone incident. But the two techs, I got my first at the very end of the first half. I felt like a guy pushed Ricky Rubio into my legs, and I didn’t see the play until after the game. But I thought it was a blatant foul and obvious call and they didn’t call it. I said something, got a tech, and I was fine with that. And then I felt like I got hit a couple plays going to the basket, and then the third play when I went to the basket in the second half, I felt like I got hit. I didn’t say nothing out the way to Tony. Tony knows me. But I said something, he called a tech. I think everybody was moaning and complaining about calls the whole game, so I had to be the one to take the whipping for it. So then I’m walking off the court and there’s a guy sitting in front of our bench who’s talking very, very reckless the whole entire game. And he was saying some things as I was walking off the court, and I slapped the phone out his hand and just walked off. It was wrong on my part. At the end of the day, I should’ve gotten security to say something to him, tell him to chill out. I should never do that, but you know it’s tough. I’m human. Things happen. You move on from it.

For the record I thought it was very funny and he probably deserved it, but we should move on before I get you in trouble.

[Laughs] I appreciate it.

Before Game 3, I saw you hug Donovan Mitchell on the floor. Did you watch the Jazz play in the postseason and if you did how strange was it to watch your former team go through the playoffs without you?

It was fun seeing those guys. I don’t think I would’ve looked at it that way if I wasn’t in the playoffs, but it was fun seeing those guys because those guys, the coaching staff, those guys are great people to be around, and I was so happy that they made the playoffs. I felt like I was a part of that. I was a part of those wins as well. Just to see their growth and guys step up. Alec Burks stepped up when he wasn’t playing as much throughout the whole season. Royce O’Neal. Donovan took his game to another level. It was fun just to watch those guys. I thought it would be hard. The first time I saw them play, I was like "I don’t know if I want to watch it," but then I got to watching it and it was just good to see guys that I call my friends go out there and play well on national TV.