Catching the Brockness Monster
A Q + A with Jon Brockman.
by Brett Callahan
Sacramento Kings forward Jon Brockman took the time to discuss life as a hustler in the NBA. The rookie out of Washington is averaging 6.1 rebounds in 19 minutes a game in January, all the while posting a whopping 16.9 rebounds per 48 minutes on the season.
SLAM: What does hustle mean to you?
Jon Brockman: Hustle to me means going 100 percent at all times, but not always being out of control. I think that you can hustle mentally and physically. There isn’t just a maniacal mad man out there. You have to stay within your boundaries.
SLAM: Tell me what you bring to the Sacramento Kings that gets you playing time.
JB: Like the first question, I bring hustle to the team. I am an energy booster whenever I am on the floor. I try and get guys and the game going at a little bit faster and more aggressive pace. I am very physical and like to use all six fouls that I am given.
SLAM: Who are former/existing players that you look up to and try to emulate?
JB: I have actually watched a lot of Dennis Rodman tape, especially in college. Since he was an undersized rebounder, I looked at his rebounding, positioning and moves. I also work out with Spencer Hawes and Nick Collison in the summer. Nick is a player that I have watched and played against quite a bit. He has been able to help me along.
SLAM: While a lot of guys enjoy stats, it seems like you prefer setting a pick or boxing someone out just as much as you like to score. Can you describe your mindset when you step on the court?
JB: I do like setting screens, boxing out and getting rebounds, just as much as scoring. I think that you should be rewarded just as much as the person who puts the ball in the basket. If I get the offensive rebound or the defensive rebound, for some reason I get really excited. I like diving for the loose balls or doing something crazy like that. I don’t know why that is, but I have always been like that.
SLAM: At 6-7, you’re undersized against much of your competition. How do you still manage to compete for every rebound/loose ball?
JB: Being undersized, you have to use a lot of your body. It is all positioning, not how high you jump. A lot of times I will just box my man out and wait for the ball to land right in my lap. As far as loose balls, you kind of have to dive for those and hope you don’t get called for a foul.
SLAM: You’re style of play reminds me of Eduardo Najera, hard-nosed and, for opponents, annoying. I’ve watched you tangle in the last couple weeks alone with Pau Gasol, Kenyon Martin, Louis Amundson just to name a few. What is it about your play that gets under opponents’ skin? How does this help you be a factor on the court?
JB: I do get under people’s skin. I don’t think that people really like playing against me. I’m not doing anything dirty or low blowing anyone. I don’t hit them in the face on purpose or anything, I’m just playing hard. Whenever I’m in there I’m extremely active. I just try to have a presence, and make sure they know that I’m on the floor.
SLAM: The Kings used to lack toughness overall. It seems that together with Noc (Andres Nocioni) and Ime (Udoka), you guys have formed the Bench Brawn. How often does Coach Westphal preach toughness for the team in general?
JB: Coach Westphal has been preaching toughness since day one. I think that every addition to the team this year has brought some aspect of toughness. With Ime Udoka, Andres Nocioni and myself coming off the bench, we’re all guys who people don’t really like to play against. They’re going to work hard, bang and throw people around if they have to. Coach Westphal loves that, and I think us playing that way has infected the entire team. Everyone has brought their toughness up a couple of notches.
SLAM: After the Chicago game (in which Sacramento came back from being down 35), Coach Westphal praised your play for the epic turnaround. Can you talk about that night and how your game sparked the whole team?
JB: It is great to hear Coach Westphal say that I was the spark to the Chicago game, but really it was the whole unit that was in there. We slowly just started to chip away at it, and, little by little, climbed our way back into it. I don’t think anyone thought that it was possible, even the refs. They probably let us play a little bit more and get a little more aggressive than usual. Before we knew it, we were right back in the game.
SLAM: You were a big time scorer in high school and college, so how is it adapting to a specific role in which you aren’t expected to shoulder the offensive load?
JB: It has been different. To come here and not exactly have that scorer’s role has been a challenge to get used to. I was used to having the offense run through me, and now I have to pick my spots. A lot of times I am getting out of the way so someone else can create and get a basket. This is a league of roles, and everyone has a special duty that they have to do. There are some who are out there to score, some to defend. I am one of the rebounders, that is my job. I’m fine with that and enjoy it. Even when I was a scorer, rebounding was always my favorite.
SLAM: The many accolades you received while in college highlight your passion for character, leadership, academics, and community. How has your intelligence helped you to exceed people’s expectations?
JB: I think that the four years in college has helped me with both basketball and off the court smarts. It’s helped me with everyday stuff, living on my own and all the stuff that the NBA throws at you. By staying in college all four years, I was able to help out in the community in Seattle. I went to class every day, never missed one. It really helped me to adapt to life here in Sacramento.
SLAM: How do you like your chances of being selected for the Rookie/Soph game?
JB: I don’t think it is going to happen, but I don’t know. That would be a huge honor. I hope it happens, but if it doesn’t, it’s alright. Maybe next year I can try to make the sophomore team.