Patrick Patterson on Joining the Thunder, Paul George, Russell Westbrook and His Film Internship

Patrick Patterson has been a movie buff his whole life. As a kid, he watched with his mom while his dad served in the Navy. While at Kentucky, he held movie nights with his teammates, and he still goes to the theater once or twice a week. This summer, while most NBA players took a break once the season ended, Patterson took an internship for the movie studio Open Road Films.

With an ambition to work in the film industry in some capacity after basketball, Patterson was excited to get a taste of the post-production side of movies at Open Road. He even worked with actor Chadwick Boseman to promote his upcoming film Marshall. Overall, Patterson appreciated the communication between everyone at the studio, saying that it was “kind of like basketball.”

But, being a free-agent this summer, the internship wasn’t the only thing keeping Patterson busy. After four seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Pat Pat signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George. We got a chance to catch up with Patterson about his free agency decision and his unique internship opportunity.

SLAM: What are you going to miss most about Toronto?

Patrick Patterson: What I’m going to miss most is the fans and the relationships that I’ve made with friends. The fans make that city, they make the experience there in Toronto worthwhile. From packing in the arena to staying outside in the freezing cold in the rain at Jurassic Park…A lot of people sleep on the city of Toronto. I did when I first moved out there. I’m thinking, It’s cold, it’s a foreign country, it’s this, it’s that, it’s nothing but hockey. But you spend some time out there, you realize it’s not bad. It’s a phenomenal place.

SLAM: What factored into your decision to go to Oklahoma City?

PP: The opportunity to compete for a championship. I saw this as my best chance to get to the Finals, and a chance to play alongside two All-Stars—two Hall of Famers in my opinion—in a great city that breathes basketball. And being in the Western Conference as well, I want to earn everything that I can get.

SLAM: So you think that Oklahoma City gives you the best chance to compete for a championship even with all the great teams in the West?

PP: Even with all the teams in the West, yup.

SLAM: Was getting away from LeBron part of it?

PP: To get away from LeBron? No, that had nothing to do with it. If anything, I feel like people should go to the East because the West is so stacked and powerful. You have so many teams to try to go through rather than the East where it’s just a handful.

SLAM: How do you see yourself fitting in with Russell Westbrook and Paul George next year?

PP: Offensively, just being a great ball mover, passing, and making sure the ball gets swung from side to side. Then taking advantage of every opportunity that I can get, since they’re going to demand a lot of attention…On the defensive side of the ball, I think we’re very versatile, so a lot of switches can happen from the one-through-four depending on who plays the five. So I’m just trying to bring my defensive awareness, my defensive mindset, spacing the floor, passing, my overall basketball IQ to this team.

SLAM: Paul George’s PG1s were some of the most popular sneakers in the NBA last season. What are your thoughts on the PG1s?

PP: Big fan of his, big fan of DeMar’s [Kobes].  If I could wear lows, if my feet would allow it and my ankles would allow it, those would be the shoes I would wear.

SLAM: If you had to choose between those and the Air Jordan 30.5s that Russ wore last year, which would you go with?

PP: I’d have to alternate between both. One game I wear one, one game I wear the other.

SLAM: What was your internship with Open Road Films like?

PP: I followed around the marketing and advertising team, followed the acquisitions and distributions teams, had lunch with VPs and CEOs, and just had conversations about what they do. I had the opportunity to create a trailer for an upcoming movie and also sit in on a bunch of weekly meetings—every aspect of the business side.

It was eye-opening, because I really had no idea what goes into it, how much hard work it is. The first time they showed me a trailer, it was a rough draft clip. I had no idea, and they’re like, ‘What do you think of this?’ and I’m like, Man, that’s great. It looks good, it’s ready to go out. And he goes, ‘Man, this is just the rough draft.’

It was weird. I’ve never had a 9-to-5 before. I’ve never sat down in a cubicle before, let alone for nine hours—more on some days. But overall it was a great experience, and I’m very grateful that they allowed me to do that with them.

SLAM: Did this experience change your opinion on what you might want to do after you’re done playing basketball?

PP: I got to see pretty much the whole business side of things after the movie is made. So I’m thinking next summer I’ll see the production side and how the movie is made. I know they were telling me the hours on that side are more crazy. Sometimes you can be on the set for like 10 to 12 hours a day and then wake up after six hours of sleep and then go back and do it again. So I just want to see how that side is.

SLAM: Horror is your favorite genre, right?

PP: Yeah, it blows my mind that people are more afraid of the ghosts, demons, and supernatural [movies]. But the slasher films—American PsychoScream, movies like that—are more believable, in my opinion. Anyone can be a psycho like that and do something as crazy and absurd as that. To me, that’s the scariest.

SLAM: What were your thoughts on Get Out

PP: I enjoyed it. I remember when I first saw the trailer for it and I was like,  Man, really? This is supposed to be good? A black guy goes to a white family home and then somehow gets turned crazy. I’m like, This is not going to be good. And then the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are through the roof, and it excelled at the box office beyond anyone’s imagination. My friends were telling me all about it, so I was like,  Man, I really gotta check it out. I ended up seeing it about three times.

SLAM: Has there been a time recently when you really wanted to see a movie on opening night, but the NBA schedule wouldn’t allow it?

PP: Star Wars: The Force Awakens! I had my costume all set up. Of course, everyone is going to this movie theater dressed up in their Star Wars costumes, all the characters that have ever been made. I got my tickets ahead of schedule, without even looking at when we were playing, and then next thing I know, I look at the schedule and we’re playing out of the country, so I was quite upset.

SLAM: You worked on the advertising and marketing for the upcoming film Marshall. Do you want to give the readers your pitch for why they should go see it?

PP: Thurgood Marshall, not a lot of people know who he is or his impact on the NAACP fighting for African-American rights and equality. But this movie doesn’t really cover his whole life, it focuses on one case, and I thought that was kind of neat. It’s a good reminder of where we come from and how far we came in society and in life. It’s just a strong movie. It’s got a strong cast, and it’s very informational.

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