In 2008, Nathan Jawai became the first Indigenous Australian to be drafted into the NBA. Deadly Vibe caught up with the 204cm giant to find out what makes him tick.
Age: 22 years
Mob: Torres Strait Islander
Position/s: Power Forward/Centre
Pet: A cocker spaniel named Bo
Brothers and sisters: 2 older brothers, Chris and Mark, and a younger sister, Moana
How long have you played basketball for?
I only started playing basketball properly when I was 17, so I’ve been in the sport for 5 years now.
How did you get involved in basketball?
Well because of my height I thought I’d be all right at basketball. We had a 3-on-3 tournament in Bamaga and my team won. From there I went down to Cairns, started taking it seriously and I’ve never looked back.
What do you love about it?
It’s a fun sport and because the teams are smaller than, say, a football team we all get on really well. But I’d have to say that being able to travel the world and playing a sport you love is a huge drawcard. I also love the intensity of the sport, especially playing in the US where there are always huge crowds.
What is your best sporting attribute?
Most people would think that it’s my height, but I have good hands and can read the play. There aren’t too many guys my size that have my speed.
Why do you think you made the NBA?
I was at the Australian Institute of Sports and that made me understand what it is to be a professional. I’m a real competitor, I love to compete and get the best out of myself, and I think that the NBA scouts saw that. I have a long way to go, but I’ve progressed pretty quickly. Someone who works hard and is committed is attractive to any professional sport.
What does an average training session involve?
Because I didn’t play much last season, my training schedule was quite hectic. My days would start at 8.30amand I wouldn’t finish sometimes until 3-4pm. Most days I would head to the gym for conditioning, followed by a one-on-one skills session with the coaches, then full team trainings. It can be gruelling, but it helped my game go to the next level.
What’s your favourite form of training?
Team training sessions where we get to run plays and test out our moves.
What does your training diet consist of?
I always start the day with a couple of eggs on toast, then lunch is chicken with steamed vegetables and something healthy for dinner but smaller portions. We have our own chef, so we’re always eating healthy and at the right times.
What is the weirdest American food you’ve seen?
They have some weird food in New Orleans – I don’t know what it’s called, I just know I ain’t eating it!
Do you have a favourite cheat food or way to vary your diet to get your favourite food in?
I never eat fast food like McDonald’s, but I do like to sneak in the occasional pizza. I like my training diet because it helps me fuel my body.
What about drugs and alcohol?
Look, everyone likes to party and have a good time, especially when you’re young BUT you have to make a choice between what you want from life and what you want from right now. I made sure I surrounded myself with positive people who were doing the right thing and it helped me stay away from partying and drinking.
What advice do you have for Deadly Vibe readers?
Set your goals and look at them every day; you’re going to come across negative people but you have to block that out and continue to work hard. When I started playing I wasn’t sure if it would pay off, but look at me now. Stay focused, be positive and always give 100 per cent.