Memphis Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. talks making music, 'The Last Dance' and taking tips from Tim Duncan
ABS-CBN Sports on May 18, 2020 01:13 PM
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt to the 2019-2020 NBA season, the young Memphis Grizzlies were on track for a playoff berth in the stacked Western Conference.
At the core of that surprising team, apart from of Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant, was sophomore big man Jaren Jackson Jr., who was putting up 16.9 points per game, a bump up from his rookie average of 13.8 PPG.
Jackson was working his way back from injury when the NBA put the season on hold, and Jackson admitted that he was angry with how things played out.
“I was pretty heated honestly. I was just mad. I was just not happy about any of it. I was just right there. That is how it happened. The virus doesn’t really wait on anybody. It caught us off guard. It is kind of messing up everybody’s schedule. That is how I am feeling. I am feeling kind of like how y’all are all feeling.”
Since the pandemic and the quarantine however, Jackson has had time to chill at home and check out some of his dad’s old games on tape and has been trying to pick up a thing or two from another legendary big man in Tim Duncan.
Jaren Jr.’s dad, Jaren Sr., was also an NBA veteran and played alongside Duncan from 1997-2001.
“Yeah, I watch some of my dad’s old games,” Jaren Jr. said. “I am watching how Tim is getting the ball in the post and how he is working. Guys that are playing now, like Anthony Davis, you look at big guys are moving. I look at all positions though, because in our offense I find myself in different positions on the floor. So I take something from everyone’s game as I am watching.”
“I watch Tim [Duncan], [Anthony Davis], David Robinson and [Kevin Garnett. Those guys are forces. But I have been looking at them since before this, so that isn’t anything that new,” he added.
Apart from old tapes of his dad’s games, Jackson has also been watching ‘The Last Dance’, the 10-episode documentary about Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls’ championship runs.
For Jackson, it was Jordan’s unparalleled mentality that resonated with him the most.
“Mentally, nothing fazed M.J. Mentally, there is nothing that fazed M.J. Nothing is going to stop him from going out there and doing his absolute all to win. I think his mentality is something you have to admire and take away from sure. That chip on your shoulder mentality is something I always had.”
“To have that killer instinct to always be on your game all the time, and never have any doubt in your mind. He never really doubted himself, as you can see. He is very confident in himself and he goes that extra step to make sure he helps his team in whatever way that will get it done. So his mentality for sure,” Jackson continued.
The quarantine has also helped Jackson discover (or re-discover) his love for making music.
“I have always freestyled my whole life with my friends, my high school roommates and my roommates in college. We were always rapping. Miles Bridges, when we were rooming together, he was always writing music. I never got into writing because I was never patient as a person. After I got out of that and tried it, I tried to get into recording this year. I saw it coming together more and I was getting more comfortable with it.”
Jackson explains that his music is usually about his emotions and how he’s feeling.
“A lot of my stuff is just based off how I am feeling. Music relates a lot to basketball so it gets us ready for everything. Stuff I like listening to is like the stuff I like to make. I like making things that I think is like my favorite stuff. So I listen to a lot of Juice World, Lil’ Key, Gunna and Young Thug. Stuff that is more finesse, slime. That is mostly what my stuff sounds like.”
With the extended break however, Jackson and the rest of the Grizzlies have made it a point to be connected so as not to weaken or disrupt the chemistry that they’ve been having all season.
“We have our own Zoom calls like this every week. The whole organization gets together just to kick it, talk, laugh, whatever. On our own time we’ve always stayed in touch with each other. Honestly we are pretty close for not having known each other for years before. Me, Ja [Morant], De’Anthony [Melton], Dillon [Brooks], Kyle [Anderson and Josh [Jackson].“
“Everybody pretty much stays in contact. It is a tight-knit group. I think that showed even more when the quarantine happened because all we could do was be bored and talk on the phone,” he added.
With the NBA showing optimism towards a return later this year, Jackson says that he just really wants to return to the court to play the sport that he loves.
“I am down just to play, honestly. I rather just play. I know there is talk on whether there needs to be play to get us ready for the playoffs or if they want to just hop right into it. Either would be cool with me. I mean we are in the playoffs [as of now] but I would rather just run it.”