Q+A: Rudy Gay, Thad Young
The ballers discussed the NBA while at an event to endorse Polk Audio.
SLAM: The Sixers made a big jump last year getting to the Playoffs. What do you have to do as a team to get to that next level?
TY: I’d probably say we just need, right now, a dominant, dominant, dominant low-post guy. EB [Elton Brand], he can do the job for us, but as far as the whole season, we’re going to need that low-post scorer. A good shot-blocking center. I’d say we need a solid, solid 5. We don’t have that then it’s going to be very hard for us to get past the first round.
TY: I think my role is kind of limited on the team. But Coach [Doug Collins] definitely uses me to my advantages. And it’s so much more that I have in my game. I think I was showing more my second year in the League than any other year that I’ve played. But this is by far one of the best seasons I’ve had in the League so far. I’m definitely very, very blessed to have a coach like Coach Collins. He’s definitely a teacher, a mentor, a father. He’s all those in one and he helps out the team. He helps us grow as players every day.
SLAM: He’s really enthusiastic.
TY: Yeah, very. He’s excited and amped more than we are most of the time. That’s a coach we need in order to win basketball games and in order to become a Playoff team, a contending team each and every year. You need a guy like that coaching. You need a guy like that behind you.
TY: I think they’re definitely continuing to work on their game, to keep getting better. They’re young right now. Shoot, all of us, we’re still young. [Smiles] Nobody is probably in their prime right now. The young core group of guys, nobody’s in their prime because we’re all 22, 23 years old. Lou [Williams] is probably 24, 25 now. So, he still has time. It’s going to be crazy to see us in the next few years if we can keep the same group of guys. Marreese [Speights], he hasn’t even scratched the surface yet. We got a lot of guys that’s very talented. I think we’re one of the more talented teams in the League. We just have to put it together and get more experience.
SLAM: And you saw how good of a sports city Philadelphia can be when you’re winning.
TY: Yeah, definitely. If you’re doing well and you’re winning, the city is definitely behind you. They’re going to stick with you every step of the way if you’re playing hard. Even if you’re not winning and playing hard…the fans stuck behind us all season long. They showed us lots of love. That was our motto for last year: Show Your Love. It was great for us. It worked in our favor. We got people to come out to the games and we had a lot of fun this year.
SLAM: What do you have going on this off-season?
TY: Pretty much just a lot of work for my foundation that’s getting ready to launch soon. A Young for Youth foundation. We’re starting off with AAU teams and we’re working with different charities and stuff like that. So, we’re having a lot of fun doing a lot of things. We’re going to start off with a back-to-school drive next year. We’re going to have a signing and stuff like that. Just a lot of stuff going on. We’re going to donate gear to several high schools in my home town of Memphis, Tenn. We have a lot of stuff going on.
SLAM: Are the AAU teams in Memphis?
TY: Yeah, the AAU teams are in Memphis. I have a 16-and-under right now and a 9-and-under. Next year, there’s going to be a 14-17 [year-old team], and I’m gonna keep that 9-and-under team because they’re going to be really good. [Smiles] They’re, like, sixth in the nation. [Smiles] I want to see them grow up and win a championship.
SLAM: What’s your ultimate goal with the foundation?
TY: To help underprivileged kids and to help parents and stuff like that. And adult literacy. That’s one of those things, too. There’s a lot of people who haven’t graduated high school—adults—and a lot of people who can’t read well. I definitely want to get in to helping out with that and hopefully start moving more into the medical stuff, too. To donate money and raise money for cancer research and stuff like that.
We’ve been putting together a lot of different proposals and plans for the city of Memphis. I’m also in the works, talking with the city of Memphis about refurbishing basketball courts, outdoor basketball courts and having leagues. Like the Goodman and the Rucker league.
SLAM: Have you been playing in summer leagues this year?
TY: No, I haven’t. I’m in restricted free agency, so I haven’t played any five-on-five. I’ve just been working out. There’s only so much running you can do around chairs. I’m getting kind of tired of it. [Laughs] But it is what it is. You have to stick to the plan and hope for the best.
SLAM: If the lockout continues for a while, where do you think you will be? Are you going to be working out or even playing?
TY: Well, there’s been a lot of talk about me going to China. As of right now—let’s clear this up—I’m not going to China. There are definitely a lot of opportunities over there for me, and we’ve been in talks with a lot of different Chinese teams. It’s still not out of the whole picture. But we’re leaning towards staying over here. If it happens, it happens.
SLAM: What advantages are there to playing in China?
TY: The advantages would be I would be in some organized basketball. I wouldn’t have to sit out the whole year and not play basketball. And also it’s a job. I would get paid. [Laughs]
SLAM: What advantage does China hold over playing in Europe?
TY: Well, China is a big market. If you want to build your brand, a lot of people start with China. So, I think building my brand would be great for me. But I would definitely rather stay over here and play here. If it happens, I’m willing to go build my brand over there. I would definitely be open to China.
SLAM: Have you talked with any guys who have played there?
TY: Well, I talked to Josh Boone. He played there. Marcus Williams, he’s played there. So, I’ve talked to a few guys who’ve played there. I was actually trying to get in touch with Quincy Douby. He’s playing over there and he just signed another deal. Me and Wilson [Chandler] went back and forth about it. As soon as he signed, I told him congratulations. He asked me if I was gonna sign, and I’m like ‘I don’t know.’ [Smiles] He was trying to get me to come over there.
SLAM: What else do you think you need to do for your game to improve?
TY: I think, right now, I just need to work on my mid-range game. My mid-range game and playing with the ball in my hands. Last year, I played without the ball and just found different ways and different opportunities to score. And I took advantage of all the iso’s that I had. Overall, my mid-range has to be on-point next season for us to be a dominant team.
SLAM: What did you think of being a Diary keeper for SLAM?
Thad Young: I thought it was a big honor. I think right before me it was Marvin [Williams] and he’s definitely a great guy to be right after. He’s definitely made a name for himself and it was definitely a big thing. Everyone reads SLAM magazine. Anytime you can be in there, every issue, it’s great.