During my experience as a journalist, I've found that you sort of gravitate to certain players for quotes and to just chat with. It's a bit of a crutch, for sure, but everyone does it a bit - I still remember the 3-4 volleyball players at Metro State that were great to chat with. Being a credentialed blogger for the past two seasons for Denver Stiffs with the Nuggets, I had yet to experience one of "my" guys being traded away.
I was pretty intrigued with Jordan Hamilton's game coming out of Texas. At the time, I didn't think the Nuggets would be in a position to draft him as he was a projected lottery pick. When he slipped on draft night and the Nuggets acquired him via trade with the Dallas Mavericks (and Portland Trail Blazers), I thought the Nuggets got a great value.
Hamilton struggled to find the court during his rookie season. He appeared in just 26 games and averaged just 9.9 minutes a night. That summer I saw Hamilton at the Pepsi Center, when I was there for Nuggets' predraft workouts for rookies that would be coming into the league. I asked around and was told that JHam was spending most of his summer in Denver, working on his game. That led me to pen a piece with him and others talking about his "transformation". I heard from trainer Steve Hess, coach George Karl, and assistant coach Melvin Hunt about Hamilton's interest in the game and his work ethic and you couldn't help but to root for the guy.
This past summer, after talking with Hamilton in Las Vegas at the NBA Summer League, he let me know he'd be in Denver from time-to-time working out and gave me contact information to get ahold of him to do a podcast in his free time. He's an interesting guy that I knew enjoyed skateboarding, riding bikes, and had a history of basketball in his family. I wanted to bring more of Hamilton's story to light and the podcast we recorded back in July of 2013 hopefully provided that.
We root for these guys because they are on the teams that we love. Sometimes we get caught up in thinking about players as commodities and want our teams to discard guys based on numbers we don't like or ceilings we think guys won't reach. We forget that these guys are the best of the absolute best. And we forget that players are also just regular people.
With Hamilton gone, I miss seeing his elaborate handshake with public relations head Tim Gelt. I miss being able to chat with him about how his family is doing and what his brothers might be up to (but how he's still better than his younger brothers! Sibling rivalry.). No matter how Hamilton's career turns out, I'll always be rooting for him.
With all that said, let's catch up with Mr. Hamilton.
Did you have a favorite player growing up that switched teams, was that weird?
Jordan Hamilton: I liked T-Mac [Tracy McGrady]. When he got traded to Houston, I started liking the Rockets. That's one of the main guys that I [remember]. Getting traded is really interesting. It definitely has its good things and it definitely has its bad things. The moving part is a pain. I was traded [when the Nuggets were] on the road, so I only had two outfits, I had to go shopping almost every day. I ended up in a good situation, with some good veteran guys and a good group, I was excited when the trade happened.
Where did you find a place to live in Houston?
JHam: Actually, I just found one a couple days ago. All my stuff just got shipped from Denver, so I'll be able to move in and get all my stuff in when we get back from this road trip."
So, you were living in a hotel or something before that?
JHam: I was at the Four Seasons for about a month, it was a pain.
Dave Krieger wrote a piece with George Karl [April 9th], in it Karl mentioned former players that reached out to him and he mentioned you had reached out to him.
JHam: He's a Hall of Fame coach. Even though I didn't play much when he was here, it was understandable because we had Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer, and Gallo. I didn't understand it at the time because I was a young guy, but after looking at it a year later, he was a great coach. He knew his Xs and Os, he knew who to go to, he had guys that could go, and I learned a lot from coach Karl.
What kind of stuff did you learn from Karl?
JHam: How to play off the catch. That's one of the things we do here, [the Rockets] like to play off the catch and do things, I learned that from Coach [Karl]. They don't like tough twos, so it's a similar situation to what it was last year in Denver and this year in Houston.
When you were coming into the NBA, did you ever think about being traded, like if it'd happen to you? Did you have that dream to play with one team your whole career, even though that's rare?
JHam: My first two years, I didn't know how the NBA worked because obviously I wasn't here. I just thought [the Nuggets] didn't play me and I was possibly going to be traded. But I probably didn't have much value because I didn't play much. After playing a little bit with the Nuggets this year and having a little value on me, and Denver was looking for a point guard at the time, I don't think that it was a bad idea that I did get traded because this is a pretty good situation for me.
Have you talked to [Rockets GM] Daryl Morey about your role in Houston or your future?
JHam: Not so much Darly Morey, I know he's busy and on the road and things like that. But Gersson [Rosas, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations], I remember meeting with him, before I got drafted by Denver, in a predraft workout and he seemed like a good dude. I told him Houston was one of the places that I really wanted to be, it was up the street from [University of] Texas, Houston was one of my favorite teams growing up when I was in L.A. as a kid. So, I couldn't ask for a much better situation, beautiful city and everything.
What's it like playing for coach Kevin McHale?
JHam: Hall of Fame player. He still has that player mentality, he wants guys to get up every night and just play. Just being a part of this team, it feels good. Playing with two superstars in Dwight [Howard] and James [Harden], which in previous times I haven't really played with a superstar guy, it's a lot different when we do things. It's a good situation.
Are there any guys over there in the home team locker room that you're looking forward to seeing?
JHam: I always talk to my boy Q still, Quincy. Wilson, he was one of the guys who kind of took me under his wing. Even though he's not that vocal, he still taught me a lot: basketball and my dress game. J.J., Ty, Kenneth, who I came in with my rookie year. I'm looking forward to seeing all those ... I saw them in Houston a little bit, but I'm going to catch up with them again tonight.