Jason Richardson: ‘I Really Wanted to Play in the NHL’

by January 14, 2011

Richardson tells the Orlando Sentinel about his ill-fated childhood dream of playing pro hockey: “His feet just got too big for his hockey skates. ‘I really wanted to play in the NHL,’ Richardson said. ‘At the time, I think were only two or three African-American players. I wanted to be the fourth one.’ Richardson, who turns 30 on Thursday, was exposed to hockey growing up in Saginaw, Mich. His mother bought him skates one Christmas, and he taught himself how to skate at local rinks and on frozen ponds. The pick-up games he played in back then were on ice, with a wooden stick he curved and shaved himself. And it didn’t matter if he was the one who added color to the game. ‘We were the type of kids in my neighborhood who played everything — hockey, golf, basketball, football. We didn’t look at hockey like it was a black or white sport,’ he said. ‘I loved the game. And being from Michigan, we always had frozen water. Some people used to laugh at us, man. It’s uncommon for black kids playing hockey even today. They look at it as a predominately white sport. We didn’t discriminate, as long as the sport was fun.’ The speed and passing of hockey appealed to him as did the, ahem, accidental contact.”