by Casey Jacobsen
Do you remember when you got your yearbook in high school and there would always be those cheesy lists/awards about who was voted most popular, most likely to succeed, and best eyes? These “awards” are kind of like that, but with my teammates during the course of my four-year NBA career (Phoenix, New Orleans, Memphis).
Weirdest teammate… in a good way: Chris “Birdman” Andersen
The Birdman was one of a kind, but he was liked and respected by every member of the locker room. He drank two cups of coffee every night, 20-minutes before tip-off and played… um, like he drank two cups of coffee 20-minutes before tip-off. He drove a blue Hummer H2 with blue, sparkled rims. I’ve never seen a car like that before, but it fit him perfectly. He also holds the unofficial title for most-tattooed white dude in NBA history. He was weird… but I miss him.
Weirdest teammate… in a bad way: Darko Milicic
It’s nearly impossible to explain the weirdness that is Darko, but he told me one time that he did not keep his money in any bank, nor did he invest in stocks or bonds. “I just keep it,” he told me and then turned away. Looking back, I should have asked a follow-up question. I don’t know if I believe him, but he was making over $6 million that season. That’s a lot of cheddar to stash underneath a mattress! On another note… that was easily the longest conversation we ever had, and that was how he preferred it.
Class Clown: Hakim Warrick
“Hak” had the locker next to mine in Memphis in 2008. That was a long year for everyone, especially after we traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers, but Hak made it fun. He was always laughing or smiling or singing or all of the above. He watches mostly cartoons (not joking) and eats Starburst for breakfast every morning (joking…I don’t know what he eats for breakfast, but I wouldn’t rule out Starburst).
Most selfish teammate: JR Smith
I played with JR his rookie year in New Orleans in 2005. We were a bad team, full of me-first guys, but he took the crown. I’d never seen a guy so intent on shooting the ball every time it hit his hands and I’m sure I never will again. Watching him during his latest Denver years, I can see that not much has changed.
Most unselfish teammate: Steve Nash
He’s the exact opposite of JR in every way I can think of regarding a basketball player.
Most Popular Teacher/Coach: Mike D’Antoni
It’s well-documented that D’Antoni is a “players coach,” but that’s a difficult concept to comprehend until you actually play for him. He made practices almost as enjoyable as games and even though many people criticized his teams, he never let it change what he believed or how he ran his team. I respect that.
Most athletic: Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e and I were rookies together with the Suns during the ’02-03 season, and I remember our first day of training camp. We were both struggling to learn the new offense (D’Antoni was not the coach… yet. Frank Johnson was, so we actually had some offensive sets), and we were making an expected amount of mistakes. After another broken play, Amar’e just took the ball and dunked it hard from outside of the paint with ease. Coach Johnson remarked: “Maybe we should just forget the plays and just let him do that.” Everyone else agreed.
Least athletic (besides myself): Brian Cardinal
You don’t get a nickname like “The Custodian” if you can run fast and jump out of the gym.
Most Likely to Succeed (after basketball): Antonio McDyess
I played with “Dice” during my second season in Phoenix. He was a good player and teammate. He is smart and humble and treats everyone with respect. If he can’t succeed after basketball, there’s no hope for me.
Best Hair: Chris “Birdman” Andersen
This one wasn’t even close. Chris is the only player I’ve ever seen who has played the game of basketball efficiently while sporting an eight-inch mohawk. Impressive.
Best Eyes: Just kidding…
Casey Jacobsen is a former SLAM High School First-Team All-American and NCAA First-Team All-American. He currently plays for Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany.