Chandler Parsons has experienced life in the NBA mainly as an underdog. The Houston Rockets forward was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Despite being taken so late, Parsons has evolved into an all-around player and is primed to take the next step along with the Houston Rockets. We spoke with Parsons about everything from his role in Dwight Howard signing with the Rockets to his first playoff experience last year.
Interview by Rafael Canton (@RafelitoC7)
How has your summer been?
Summer’s been great. Did a lot of traveling this summer and worked really worked hard. I hired Rob McClanaghan, who trained Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and John Wall. I worked out with him for pretty much a month and a half to work on all aspects of my game. I hired a strength coach Curtis Schultz from USC. Got invited to USA basketball select team in Vegas. I did that for a week. I went to Taiwan for camp with Jeremy Lin and just got back last week. I went to Gainesville, Fla. and worked out with some of the guys that are coming up. Other players that are around the team this year and I worked out with coach [Billy] Donovan.
So I’ve really been working hard and doing all these events with Relativity. I went to the Billboard awards, ESPY’s, different movie premieres, and this is my first fashion week too so I’m really excited about this week. Obviously with adding Dwight, that was a hectic time. Just looking forward to getting started and getting back to Houston and for the season to start.
There was a video of you doing some dribbling, passing, and shooting drills. How much work have you put in on skills like your ball-handling, your shooting, etc.?
I’ve put in a ton. I’m kind of known for my work ethic but this summer I kind of took it up a notch and really wanna make a jump after having a solid rookie year. I had a really good year last year, and now adding Dwight and having James [Harden], I don’t think there’s a better trio than us in the NBA. I want to make sure that I'm that third piece that can help us be that contending team. I worked on a lot of ball-handling especially now with him and Omer [Asik], there’s a lot of pick-and-rolls which is huge on offense. I want to be able to handle the ball at 6’9”, 6’10”, get the defensive rebound, be able to push the fast break and I’m going to get a lot of open shots playing with those two guys. They’re going to get double-teamed all the time, so I’m definitely working on my jump shot and being more of a consistent three-point shooter.
I don’t think there’s a better trio than us in the NBA. I want to make sure that I'm that third piece that can help us be that contending team.
How would you define your style?
I would say my style is very different. I don’t think I’m like most of the guys in the NBA. I’m kind of a beach bum from Florida and I have a very different style. I like tight-fitting, Euro-fitting clothes, colored pants. I like wearing loafers without socks. I mix it up a lot. Custom designer suits. The Del Toro kicks that I have on are from Miami. Skinny sweats with crazy socks showing or no socks at all. I love watches. I have a Hublot, a Breitling, and a Cartier. Different accessories that I match together just to be comfortable and casual. I feel like I’m a confident dude so I feel like I can get away with wearing something bold.
One game this year when I was hurt I wore a blazer with a polka dot undershirt, with like cropped pants that were rolled up with no socks with ostrich leather skin Del Toros. People were going nuts about it. You just have to have very high confidence and thick skin to be able to wear that and feel good in it. I have no problem with trying new things like that. I’m very lighthearted, outgoing, friendly, and funny, so I like to try new things.
You see a lot of players these days like Russell Westbrook wearing different clothing in the playoffs and getting made fun of by the TNT crew and the media.
Yeah, but I think that’s cool. He’s a trendsetter. He’s different. There’s no reason to be a follower and do things that have been done before. I give him a lot of credit and respect for doing that, but I don’t think I can pull off half of the stuff he wears.
What do you listen to while getting yourself pumped up for a game?
Drake’s “Started from the Bottom.” I feel like everyone can relate to that. Especially, with my family growing up, I was always kind of second fiddle to the guys I grew up with. I played with a really good kid, Nick Calathes, in high school and college. He was kind of always like the star and always got all the attention. I was always doubted and no one ever thought that I was going to go Division I. I got offered a scholarship to Florida and no one ever thought that I was going to be any good. Then I started my sophomore year, then I was All-American All-SEC First Team. So I felt like that I can relate to “Started from the Bottom.” That’s what I’ll listen to before going out.
Initially you came off the bench your rookie year but took the starting small forward spot and I remember the highlight of you dunking over Blake Griffin and giving him a stare down which was great.
That was hilarious. I’ve known Blake since he put on for the Oklahoma City Nike circuit. I played on team Florida so we always used to play against each other and then he just blew up out of nowhere. He’s awesome. He’s one of my best friends and he’s great.
So I wasn’t playing a lot my rookie year. My first five games I barely played, and we started off something like 2-4 and coach started me. Then I just absolutely dunked on his head and I like looked at him. No one knew we were friends so everyone thought it was a much bigger deal than it was. It’s just funny because he dunks on everybody so I got him.
It was said that in acquiring Dwight Howard, you played a bigger role than anyone in convincing him to come to Houston. How did that whole process play out?
I think that’s just part of my personality. I’m very outgoing and I think it just shows that I’ll do anything for the team that I’m on. I want to win and I want to win big. Adding Dwight would enhance my chances of doing that. I switched to Relativity which is obviously his agency too so we were around the same people. We went to dinners together all the time and it just so happened that he was a free agent. We just developed this relationship and got really cool. I think he respects my game and then I was just that voice and answer to every single question for him. I tried to make him feel as comfortable as possible and just told him how good our team can be by adding him—you can't beat the history of the bigs in Houston. Who else better to play for than coach [Kevin] McHale, a top 50 player who’s won championships and been an All-Star? Really, we just hit it off and he’s the same type of dude as me. He’s always smiling. He’s happy and he wants to win. Thank God he signed with Houston. It would’ve been all on me. I would’ve been the worst recruiter.
Then I just absolutely dunked on [Blake's] head and I like looked at him. No one knew we were friends so everyone thought it was a much bigger deal than it was. It’s just funny because he dunks on everybody so I got him.
So what was your first playoff experience like. Did you feel the change entering playoff competition?
Yeah, the playoffs were ridiculous. I always heard that the intensity, the atmosphere, the crowd is totally different. I was like “whatever dude, it’s basketball at the end of the day.” It was completely different. The crowds are standing and screaming and it’s almost like college. They’re talking about your mother and it’s unbelievable. The physicality, the trash talking, everything just picks up. Every possession seems to matter and it’s just so much more intense and I think that just makes it way more exciting. The first game was in OKC. It was the craziest crowd that I ever played in. I played in Kentucky, all these major college arenas, every single NBA arena, there’s no atmosphere like the playoffs.
My first game I struggled. I was anxious, but I wasn’t nervous. I never really get nervous, but I was anxious and excited. I had like nine points and we lost, but once I settled in, I ended up averaging 19 points per game during that series. That was the most fun time I’ve ever had as a basketball player.
It was a really intense series. The Russell Westbrook-Patrick Beverley incident drew so much ire from Thunder fans.
That was crazy. There was a ball boy that got fired because he threatened to kill him on Twitter. We had two bodyguards standing in front of Patrick’s hotel room. It was crazy, and obviously Patrick didn’t mean to do that on purpose and if you look at film, half the point guards do that after the whistle just trying to steal it. That’s part of it and the fans are going to get excited and they’re going to support their players. I don’t blame them for that, but it definitely was not intentional.
Coming into this season, you said that you guys have more exposure, more national TV games, what are your expectations for the Rockets?
I’m expecting us to be very good. I understand that it’s a process and right now it’s just a whole bunch of really good players on paper, but I think we have the character. I think we have the experience and coaching to go far and compete for a championship. That’s saying a lot because the West is ridiculous this year. I expect us to get home court advantage and be a top four seed in the West.
Who else do you think made big improvements or major upgrades around the league this offseason?
I think the Clippers did a really good job adding J.J. [Redick] and Jared [Dudley]. Adding them around D.J. and Blake is big for them. I think the Clippers got a lot better adding those shooters around their team. Also, the Clippers adding Doc Rivers who is one of the best coaches in the NBA
Durant is unbelievable one-on-one getting to his move, but LeBron is a bully and so strong that he tore my labrum my rookie year literally just going through a dribble handoff.
is going to help them out. I like what Brooklyn did. Getting K.G. and Pierce adding that experience. [Jason] Terry and [Andrei] Kirilenko, I think they have a lot of pieces that could help them especially in the East.
Who is the toughest matchup at the small forward position for you in the league? Most people would debate between LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
No disrespect to Durant but I don’t even think it’s a debate. I think LeBron is so physical. He’s 6’9”, 270, will post you up, and shoot over you. Durant is unbelievable one-on-one getting to his move, but LeBron is a bully and so strong that he tore my labrum my rookie year literally just going through a dribble handoff. The guy’s just a freak and he can do everything on the basketball court. I got a lot of love for him. When you put him at the point guard, he’s the best point guard in the NBA, and all the way to the four he’s the best. Maybe even five.
I don’t know if you know this but you’re the only player in the NBA that Kobe Bryant follows on Twitter that is not his teammate. So what does that mean to you?
I do know that. He’s unbelievable and it’s crazy because during my rookie year, you would hear that Kobe gives no credit to anyone and how he doesn’t like anyone else. During the game, I’m just a rookie and I’m thinking that he’s trying to get into my head, but he’s being so cool to me, and being nice to me. He’s telling me “good shot” after I hit a shot on him and I’m thinking to myself “what? This guys the nicest guy in the world.” Then the whole Twitter thing but he’s been great to me and he’s obviously one of the players that I looked up to growing up. He’s one of the best to ever do it so that means a lot to me that he respects me as well.