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NBA

I Like When Anthony Edwards Describes How Professional Basketball Is Hard

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The pre-draft puff piece should have been evidence enough that Anthony Edwards would be one of the best interviews in the NBA. Just ahead of his momentous day, an ESPN profile divulged that Edwards actually loved football and “can’t watch basketball.” When asked at what point the projected NBA lottery pick got into the sport of basketball, he said “I’m still not really into it.” He said he’d give up hoops if he could get into the NFL: “Because you can do anything on the field,” he said. “You can spike the ball. You can dance. You can do all type of disrespectful stuff.” Anyway, a few days later the Wolves still took him No. 1 overall and thank god they did because it promised more blissfully un-self-conscious quotes like this.

Watching Edwards can sometimes feel like watching a Brinks truck win at hopscotch; he has the physical gifts to get off a clean shot anywhere on the floor; he threw down the dunk of the season. He’s also currently a scrub who makes his bad team markedly worse when he’s on the court. And like any rookie scrub, he is confronting new challenges on a nightly basis and struggling to make sense of them in real time. In press conferences he is often asked about this process, and he lets us in on his bafflement. The same candor that had him fantasizing about spiking the ball on an NFL field—life-altering NBA payday be damned!—makes for an illuminating quote. What is it like smashing into NBA-quality screens, you might wonder? This is what he had to say back in December:

It’s hard to guard screens in the NBA. Them dudes big. Them dudes setting them screens, they be big. I feel like once I watch enough film on that, it’ll become easy for me. Because I’m pretty big also.

A perfect quote. Thank you, Anthony, for revealing that NBA size is disorienting even for other preternaturally large and gifted athletes. Them dudes are big! As a tiny mortal I had just sort of taken for granted that big dudes are big dudes, and NBA rookies would get acclimated fast, but I’m sure those first few weeks are startling. It is cool to know that.

OK, how about guarding Steph Curry?

He never stopped moving. You can try to switch everything, switch everything. Keep switching, keep switching, but you gon’ make a mistake. You gon’ make a mistake. I don’t know how he got so much energy. He played the whole first quarter and never stopped moving … Four of our guys going with him off a pindown, and somebody open at the rim every time—we just know how deadly he is around the three.

No poised facade, no years of media training to leach him of anything worth listening to, just a totally frank and smiley 19-year-old expressing his genuine disbelief at the greatest shooter ever. Spend enough time in press conferences and you’ll stop saying anything at all; every granular detail gets sanded away. But for now, this teenager will describe exactly how his team’s defense, fourth-worst in the league, fucks up when Curry poots around an off-ball screen. If ever there was a spiritual opposite of Shaq—tired, old, incurious, dour—it is wide-eyed, easy-going Anthony Edwards. I’m not sure how good he is at basketball, but I know he is good at describing how hard basketball is. Can we get him in the studio?