TRW Interview: Memphis Grizzlies’ Greivis Vasquez

After completing an accomplished four-year career at the University of Maryland, Greivis Vasquez entered his name in the NBA Draft. He underwent a variety of pre-draft performance tests, many of which he ranked near the top of the point guard crop. In addition, Vasquez had outstanding individual team workouts. Both his individual measurements/statistics and workouts helped increase his stock going into draft night.  There was buzz that he’d be selected in the first round, but nothing was a sure thing.

On June 24, 2010 Vasquez’s years of hard work finally came to fruition. As NBA Commissioner David Stern walked onto the stage to announce the 28th pick in the draft and the words Greivis Vasquez came from his mouth, you immediately saw the ear to ear smile Vasquez had on his face.

Although not invited to the green room, Vasquez chose to attend the NBA Draft and was in the stands when his name was called. When he finally made his way to the stage, he looked like a kid in the candy shop. He was so excited that his dream had come true that when Commissioner Stern went to shake his hand, he instead went in for the hug.

However, his transition to the league hasn’t been as smooth as supporters would have hoped.  First, Vasquez had a rough showing in the Las Vegas Summer League (something he admits to), and then he had to have surgery on his right ankle. Couple that with the fact the Grizzlies and Vasquez have yet to reach an agreement regarding his contract and its been a less than ideal start.

In the meantime, Vasquez is rehabbing his ankle and expects to be back on the court within a month. Until then he can only hope his contract situation is resolved and continue to work on getting himself healthy and ready to contribute when the Grizzlies call his number.

For a complete transcript of the interview The Rookie Wall had with Greivis Vasquez, read below:

The Rookie Wall: What’s life been like since being drafted? What kind of stuff are you up to these days?
Greivis Vasquez: It’s a blessing you know to get drafted. It’s a dream come true, something that I always wanted in my life. It’s just unbelievable the fact that you’re playing in the NBA. When you’re young you always dream about being in the NBA, but it’s so hard to get there. And actually getting there is just the best feeling in the world.

TRW: Has life changed for you much since being drafted. They probably have you flying all over the place for different events and stuff. What has changed since being drafted?
GV: Oh yeah you know, you have to be professional. For me, everything is so different and new. Hanging out with players that I basically grew up watching. I grew up looking at them and thinking they were my favorite players and now I’m playing with them. It’s crazy. Guys like OJ [Mayo], Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay. When I was young I used to watch these guys play in college and then now I’m playing with them and that’s pretty cool. That’s something you gotta get used to because there is so many great players in the NBA. Obviously you gotta become more professional in the way that you work harder and do more things because when you’re in college you’re pretty much occupied with classes and then practices and games, but here it’s 24/7 basketball time. You gotta make sure you get your time with the coaches, do some extra work and you’ll become a good professional basketball player.

TRW: Training camp is still a few weeks away so what kind of work outs are you doing to get ready for the season?
GV: Well I had surgery on my right ankle so right now I’m doing rehab on the ankle. I’m already getting stronger and I feel a lot better. I feel healthier, but I still probably got a month till I get better and start running and getting back on the court. It’s gonna take a little time, but I wanna be 100% so I can help my team win games.

TRW: You mentioned your ankle and that you’re feeling better. Are you close to getting back to 100%?
GV: Yes sir. Right now it’s feeling pretty good. I still gotta be patient even though I wanna get on the court right now, but I gotta be smart since it was a minor injury. I don’t want to make it worse so I just got to get healthy, just work on my physical abilities and get stronger. What I’ve been doing is just watching tape, watching games of the games that we played last year. Not myself, but the team and studying different players to get used to the NBA game.

Greivis Vasquez of the Memphis GrizzliesTRW: What was it like on draft night waiting up in the stands and what went into your decision to go to New York?
GV: Like I said, it was a great feeling. It was so fun and good to be there, to have your name called. Being with my family, my whole country was watching and it’s just something that is priceless to me and I was really excited to be there. It was great. I can’t describe it to you right now because I still think it was yesterday. But I gotta snap out of that dream and start working to become a better player. Obviously I wanna be in this league for a while.

TRW: We know the NBA has rookies doing a bunch of activities like orientation and the photo shoot. Have the events been a fun time for you and what are these things like?
GV:
It was fun. That rookie orientation program was one the best things that I’ve ever done in my life because they educate you on how to be an NBA player, how to be smart, how to actually think before you make a mistake. Obviously as human beings we’re all gonna make mistakes, but it’s so educational and they teach you a lot. I highly recommend the RTP program, the people that work there. They make the NBA look so much better. It really help guys like me and rookies to understand the game and that it’s more than the game. We have to represent not only ourselves and our team, but also the NBA which is a big time business. We have to do our best to represent with the right mindset, right idea and with right image.

TRW: We saw you rocking some Under Armour kicks at the photo shoot. What went into your decision to go with them?
GV:
Well you know I love Under Armour. Under Armour, it’s something different, I wanna be different, I wanna be unique and I think the company is growing and we trying to do something on the international stage. We wanna go outside this country and make it even bigger and why not use me for the South American and the Spanish communities right here in the states. So I’m excited. I like the company and I like the shoes; I like everything. The company and everybody is just great and they do a great job taking care of me. Obviously we have a big time player in Brandon Jennings. I think he does a good job representing the company and representing the brand and just being good.

TRW: As for actually playing, you played in the Summer League a couple of months ago. What did you think of your first NBA action?
GV:
It was fun. It was a good experience. I learned a lot. I didn’t play the way I wanted to play, but I was also hurt, I was injured at the time. So it’s a learning process and it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

TRW: What are some things you think you did well in the Summer League and what are some things you need to improve on going forward?
GV:
I think there’s always room to get better. You know I think I do a lot of good things just like I need to improve a lot of different things. This is the time for me to improve the things that I need to improve with the coaches. I still gotta get used to the NBA game. I know I can’t get used to it playing in the Summer League that was just a little sample. So it’s gonna take a little time to get used to the NBA game and just become a good NBA player.

TRW: What do you think the difference is? Is it a little stronger? Faster?
GV:
Oh man definitely, you know. It’s so tough to score and so tough to defend, everybody’s so good. The NBA is the highest level. You have to be very professional and work hard. You’re facing guys like Kobe, LeBron James and D-Wade. Those guys are too tough and you can’t really take a day off because it’s gonna hurt you.

TRW: We know there have been some contract issues with the Grizzlies. What are your thoughts on the whole process?
GV:
You know, I don’t wanna make comments about that. I just do what I can control which is workout and get healthy. That’s between my agent and the team. I got no complaints about the team, I think they’re doing a good job taking care of me and I have a good relationship with everybody and it’s fun being here. I know eventually everything is gonna be solved and we’ll all sign and it’ll be good.

TRW: Do you ever talk with Xavier Henry about this whole process?
GV: Yeah we talk every now and then, we’re good friends. We’re just excited, we’re rookies and we wanna be here and start working and hanging out with the team and with the trainers and the coaches. Right now I’m in Memphis and I’m enjoying my time here and I’m working hard and I’m sure he wants to be here to. He’s a great kid. Like I said, everything is gonna get solved soon and then we’re all gonna be happy and start working.

TRW: So you said you’re in Memphis. Are you getting used to the lay of the land and getting used to the city?
GV:
Yeah the city is great, the people are great. I’m trying to look for a place. I just want to settle myself down here and start being focused.

TRW: How do you feel about the team this year? What are your expectations for the team and also for yourself this season?
GV:
We have high expectations you know. I think our team is good; we have a good roster. I think we understand our roles and just play together and work hard in training camp and then understand that we need everybody on the team to do their part. We all have to do our parts and obviously we have a great coaching staff. I’m very positive and I think we should be really excited about this season and I think we can be a special team that can make the playoffs. And going far in the playoffs would be absolutely great.

TRW: Have you been in contact with any of the new teammates.
GV:
Yes. We all talk and text. It’s cool man, I like the team and I like the locker room talk and how we talk to each other. We kick it like we’ve known each other forever. Zach [Randolph] is a great guy, Rudy [Gay], OJ [Mayo], Mike Conley, Demarre [Carroll]. You know all the players are nice and I think we gotta do something special because we got the players, we got the attitude, and we want this so bad.

TRW: Have they told you about any rookie hazing that might be coming your way?
GV:
Oh yeah [laughs] not really, but if they would I don’t mind. I’m a rookie, I gotta do whatever I gotta do. I’m down for that.

TRW: Just to finish things up here. You’re in Memphis and obviously working out a lot, trying to get healthy, but outside of basketball what kind of stuff are you up to in your spare time.
GV: I like hanging out with my family, I’m a family guy. My mom and dad are here so I like being with them and my friends. I like to go out to eat and I love to try different types of foods and then go to the movies and just relax.

TRW: We saw you tweeted about catching an episode of Jersey Shore. Have you been keeping up with the show this season?
GV:
I love Jersey Shore man, I love that show but I missed the last one. I gotta go back and see if I can catch the last episode, but it’s a fun show. I love the Situation. It’s fun to watch; it’s wild.

TRW: What’s the deal with Ronnie and Sammi man? You think they should still be together?
GV:
I don’t know man, I gotta think. Ronnie gets a little wild when he gets drunk.

TRW: Well thanks for taking the time to talk with us, we really appreciate it and good luck this season.
GV:
No, thank you.

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