Otto Porter Jr. and Jared Dudley chat about the upcoming season and team goals.
By Laura Wainman
By the time I get Washington Wizards newcomer Jared Dudley and former Georgetown Hoya/fan favorite Otto Porter Jr. to sit down for lunch at 3 p.m. they’ve already been at Verizon Center for six hours. After a grueling practice and treatments for lingering injuries (back surgery for Dudley and a sprained ankle for Porter), they are no doubt exhausted. But over a health conscious lunch prepared by chef Eldridge Betts of Eco Caters, Porter and Dudley are ready to dish about Caribbean vacations, what it was like the first time they experienced a motorcade and how they plan to push to the conference finals this season.
What is a typical day like during the season?
Jared Dudley: You’ll have practice and you try to get to the gym a few hours before that. Afterwards you’ll get whatever treatments you need, maybe an ice down. You’re here for roughly four to five hours in the gym on practice days. Everyone is different on what they do afterwards. I have kids and they get out of school at 3 p.m., so I try and go home and take a nap so I have enough energy to be able to play with them. We try and do a couple activities with them early in the day whether it’s a museum or a park. We want that time with them before bed.
Otto Porter Jr.: I have a girlfriend but she’s still in college, so she’s always pretty busy. When I go home I’ll take a nap too and then I like to go walking. We have a mall right down the street and I’ll go there and just walk around and clear my head, especially when it’s nice out.
Do most of the guys on the team have kids and families?
JD: It’s common in the NBA for people to have kids at a young age. On this team we have a lot of veterans, so I think approximately half of the team have kids.
How do you spend your free time?
OP: I enjoy fixing up cars, reading and going places I’ve never been, particularly the museums here. My favorite right now is the Natural History Museum.
JD: I’m a big traveler and I try to go overseas at least once a year and to a Caribbean island once a year. My last trip was to the Dominican Republic for my 30th birthday and before that I went to Rome, Florence and Venice with my wife. Greece is at the top of our bucket list right now. We also spend a lot of time in San Diego as that is where both our families are.
What were your first impressions of Washington?
OP: When I first came here it was for college, and there was so much going on in the city which was a pretty big change from life in St. Louis. Obama was running for re-election so there were a lot of political happenings and so much history. It was exciting and something I really wanted to be a part of.
JD: I didn’t expect there to be as much culture downtown as there is. I only really knew the Georgetown area before I moved here this July but it was awesome to see people dancing on the streets outside of Verizon Center and how many different cultures were represented in Chinatown. And then, of course, the first time you see a motorcade and all the guys wearing wires, that’s an experience in itself.
What’s the team vibe like? Do you spend a lot of time together?
JD: We tend to do more together when we are on the road because you have more free time. When you are at home, most of us feel like we owe it to families to be with them since we are gone so much. But even at home, of course, we will have some dinners together or catch some games. You always want to have some sort of camaraderie with the team.
What causes are dear to your hearts?
OP: I don’t have a foundation or anything yet, but I do appearances, especially with Boys and Girls Club, just to give back.
JD: The NBA is huge on charities. Already I’ve seen the Wizards very involved with the schools and hospitals here. They keep us involved with the kids especially.
Do you have a favorite event you’ve attended in Washington?
OP: Last year we went and played a game with some of the Special Olympics athletes. And just to see the looks on their faces when John [Wall] and some of the other guys came around and talked to them was such a great feeling.
If you weren’t playing professional basketball what do you think you’d be doing?
OP: I’d go into business of some sort. Owning my own shop has always been a dream of mine.
JD: I’d try and be a lawyer. My mom’s a paralegal and I have four aunts who are all lawyers or judges. But I wouldn’t want to go to law school, so I’m not sure how I’d make that happen.
Otto, you come from a long line of basketball players. Even your mom played.
OP: That’s right. My mom’s really good, and she’s actually the one who taught me how to shoot.
Whom do you admire within the Wizards’ franchise?
JD: Gilbert Arenas. He wasn’t really admired early on, but I always felt like he really put the Wizards on the map.
OP: Yes, he’s how I first heard of the Wizards.
JD: There were a couple years where he had so much attention on the Wizards and when he left, John [Wall] helped to bring some of that back, but those few years with Gilbert were amazing.
If you could accomplish one thing before you leave Washington what would it be?
JD: I think everyone would say to win a championship. We’d all love to give that to this city. But besides team success, it would just be in my first year here to integrate myelf fully and do as much stuff as possible in the city that you can’t do elsewhere because you’re not promised to be with a team for any length of time. We have such interesting opportunities here, with the presidential elections coming up and the Pope’s recent visit. You want to take advantage of that.
What were some of the highs of last season?
OP: Buckling down to go to post season. That’s when everything came together and we had a higher understanding of what we were doing. It wasn’t just for us it was playing for the whole community.
What are the team goals right now?
JD: You always want to go further than you did the year before, so with them going to the second round now you want to get to the conference finals, give yourself a chance to get to the finals, and possibly win it. Those are huge goals. We put a new offense in so everything is about pace now. We are trying to run more, shoot more threes.
OP: Knocking the wall down and getting over the hump, giving that extra push to post season. That’s why we’ve added guys like Jared and Alan Anderson and Garry Neal to help us. It’s a long season but with these guys I think we can definitely do it this year and accomplish what we want.
Whom do you see as your biggest competition this year?
OP: We are going to be trying to win our division — so the top guys in the division. You’ve got Cleveland and Chicago, and those are the guys we’ve been competing against the last couple years.
Go-to date spot?
OP: Anywhere on the Georgetown waterfront. That’s my stomping grounds.
JD: That sushi place SEI. My wife and I’ve been there four or five times already.
Favorite TV show currently?
OP: I barely watch TV but when I do lately its been “Power. ”
JD: My wife has me watching “Scandal” now that we are in D.C. And we’ve gotten into Narcos.
Last concert you attended?
JD: What was the one here that was outside with Drake? That one.
OP: Alicia Keys
Best advice you’ve ever received?
OP: I was hurt my first few years and getting frustrated. The advice that helped was just to stay with it and push through. If you take care of your body you can be in this league for a long time.
JD: My mom always told me a good player was one who was always listening. Whether that’s to my teammates, coaches, fans, etc., I always try and listen.
See the original article from the Holiday 2015 issue below: