This past summer, when the basketball world was going crazy over where Bron Bron was taking his talents, Rudy Gay quietly accepted a five-year, $82 million contract extension to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies. With his pockets straight, Rudy is locked in on improving his team's record and possibly leading them to the playoffs for the first time in four years. While his game speaks volumes on the court, little is known about the Baltimore native off the court. We were able to chill with RG after a recent pre-game shootaround to discuss life in the South, styling on his own teammates, and getting his acting on. Peep what he had to say below...
Interview by Dominic Green
Complex: I see your teammate Mike Conley just signed a five-year contract extension for $40 million. How do you feel about that?
Rudy Gay: Of course I'm happy for him. I played with him since he was a rookie and I've seen his progress, and you know it's always good to see good guys be taken care of.
Complex: I know it's early in the season, but how are things looking so far? You guys are young.
Rudy Gay: Yeah, we are young, but we have a lot of talent. Since we are young, though, we kind of have to get rid of the learning curve and just go out there and play basketball. Win basketball games. Not just go out there to score points, we have to learn how to win.
Complex: Right. This past summer you won a gold medal playing for the U.S. in the FIBA World Championships. How was your experience of being in Turkey and bringing back the gold?
Rudy Gay: That was the best part, that we were able to bring the gold back. We had so much going against us. They called us all sorts of names like the "Second Team," and that we weren't good enough to do it, so that just made the fact that we won that much better.
Complex: I saw a video on NBA TV of you trying to buy some jewelry from a street vendor, and it was funny to see you try to bargain the price down even though he couldn't understand you.
Rudy Gay: [Laughs.] Yeah when people think about going overseas, they think about going to Spain and whatnot. No one really thinks about going to Turkey, so people don't know English that well, because there are not that many people who speak it. It was tough to understand... well, actually it wasn't tough, because I didn't understand anything that they were saying. But being there two weeks was definitely tough.
Complex: Are you setting a goal for yourself to make the Olympic team in 2012?
Rudy Gay: Yeah. That will probably be the next step for all of us. We got the World Championship, so I'm sure we are all thinking we want to win the Olympic gold in 2012.
Complex: We at Complex know that you are a bit into the fashion world and like to keep it stylish. What are some of your favorite brands?
Rudy Gay: My favorite brand has to be Tom Ford. I like Tom Ford a lot. The way it fits and stuff like that.
Complex: All custom, I'm assuming.
Rudy Gay: [Laughs.] Yeah, all of it is custom. No off-the-rack for me. It's easy to say Gucci and Louis Vuitton. I like it but it's a little over-populated, you know what I'm mean?
Complex: Yeah, that's true.
Rudy Gay: Everyone wants to wear the newest Louis and Gucci, and I just try to get what I like. It doesn't really matter what it is.
Complex: Do you have a stylist, or do you go pick out your own stuff?
Rudy Gay: A little bit of both. My stylist will sometimes send me looks and she helps a lot. We go at it sometimes [laughs], because I don't always like what she wants me to wear.
Complex: She tries to put you too fashion-forward?
Rudy Gay: I'm all for fashion-forward, but I have to draw the line.
Complex: Who do you think has the worst style on the Memphis Grizzlies?
Rudy Gay: Aw man, I don't want to call anybody out, but the rookies always have the worst style [laughs]... always. You have three different versions: You have the guy who doesn't care, the rookies who don't know, and then the older guys who are just stuck in their ways. So we have all three of those [laughs].
Complex: Do you ever try to help them out a little bit, or do you just say, forget it?
Rudy Gay: I just say, forget it. I come in wearing some things—sometimes they like it, sometimes they won't, but I always see them next week wearing a little something I had on. They watchin' me so they can say what they want, but then they'll ease on over.
Complex: With you starting your fifth season, I'm sure the rookies look up to you. How is it being seen as a leader?
Rudy Gay: I don't mind it all. I know how it was for me when I came into the league and basically not knowing anything about the league and what to expect. So I try to help them out and tell them what they should and shouldn't do.
Complex: What was your reaction this summer when they extended your contract?
Rudy Gay: It was a gift and a curse. I love the fact that I'm still in Memphis, but for the most part, at that point I was happy with the fact that I was going to be able to see different places. But now I am definitely happy with the decision I made.
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Complex: Do you enjoy the city of Memphis?
Rudy Gay: Memphis is slow. It's country but it's my home so I have adapted. Everything is Memphis and has been for five years.
Complex: What kind of music do you listen to before games to get amped?
Rudy Gay: I listen to all sorts of music, from Daft Punk to Rick Ross—so I listen to everything. My father was actually an R&B singer.
Complex: Oh, really? Solo, or was he in a group?
Rudy Gay: He was in a group called Ace Spectrum. It was in the '70s. He is from New York, so he had some success over there, but you know what's funny?
Rudy Gay: You know Drake's song, "Fancy?" That's one of their samples.
Complex: Oh, that's what's up. You knew that when you heard it?
Rudy Gay: No, he told me. I wouldn't know. That's not my thing... I just hoop [laughs].
Complex: So, the NBA Dunk Contest has been catching a lot of criticism the last couple years, and I know you were in the 2008 one. What do you think needs to improve to bring it back to the prominence it once had?
Rudy Gay: I mean, back in the day people were thrilled to see people jump high and doing things in the air, but now it's all about the flair, the flash, what new you can bring. What kind of cape you can wear? I never been into that, so that's why I call myself a game-dunker. Somebody comes my way, I'll show you what I can do.
Complex: When you are playing and you see a clear lane and a guy standing near the rim, do you think in your head: "I'm about to finish this dude"?
Rudy Gay: Sometimes, you know.
Complex: Like the vicious dunk over Luis Scola and Dikembe Mutombo. You had to know you were going to destroy them.
Rudy Gay: Sometimes you just gather your feet and say, "Man I hope he jumps." [Laughs.] That was one of those situations where he bit for a fake and I knew I had him. I didn't think Mutombo was coming over so I was like, "Now that you hated, you can get some too. [Laughs.]
Complex: Yeah, that dunk was crazy. Recently, people have been praising Kevin Durant for being humble. I feel you have that same demeanor. Do you consider yourself to be that kind of dude?
Rudy Gay: Man, I try to be. You never who is out there working harder than you, and I feel as though I have a lot to work for and work on. I am in no way shape or form done working or done with my progression with this game.
Complex: What things do you think you need to work on to bring your game to another level?
Rudy Gay: I feel like I can be more of a leader. That's something I think every team needs.
Complex: As in being more vocal on the court?
Rudy Gay: Yeah, being more vocal and being more consistent.
Complex: You have a girlfriend, but you are an NBA player, so how is it trying to dodge the groupies coming at you left and right?
Rudy Gay: It's tough, because you are a public figure, but that goes a lot with being humble. You have to be yourself. You can't let any man or woman come into your life and try to change you.
Complex: What kind of advice would you tell a kid who has aspirations of being in the NBA?
Rudy Gay: I would tell him to forget about it, it's too much work [laughs]. Everybody sees the outside of being a basketball player, but they don't see the work you put in. Growing up, I missed on a lot of things as a kid, because I was too busy trying to get to where I am now. It's a lot of sacrifice.
Complex: I know you like a few HBO TV shows. Could acting be in your near future?
Rudy Gay: Well, I was in an episode of The Game back in my day [laughs]. I was just talking about that with someone the other day, how I wanted to be on Entourage. I really like that that show. Eastbound and Down is really funny, too.
Complex: Well, you only have one more season to get that request in.
Rudy Gay: I know. I will definitely get on that [laughs].