I spoke late last week with New Jersey Nets guard and former Georgia Tech star Anthony Morrow, primarily about his selection to the 3-point contest at the NBA All-Star game this weekend in Orlando. You may know that Morrow was undrafted out of Tech and made the Golden State Warriors roster in 2008 as a rookie free agent. He scored 37 points in his first start – the most ever by an undrafted rookie in his first start – and ended up leading the league in 3-point shooting at 46.7 percent.
After two seasons, he was traded to New Jersey and signed a three-year deal worth $12 million. He is virtually tied for second in NBA career 3-point shooting percentage with Golden State’s Stephen Curry at 44.1 percent.
1. Despite finishing in the top 10 in 3-point shooting percentage in his first three seasons, this is his first 3-point contest. Morrow didn’t hide his excitement over the honor.
When his agent called to tell him he’d been chosen, “I had to stay calm, but I was excited,” he said. “I was thinking about watching (the contest) every single year since I was a kid. To be there, it’s going to be great.”
When he played in the rookie-sophomore game two years ago, Morrow said, “I made sure I was front and center for the 3-point contest. I was right there in the front row.”
Morrow said to prepare, the team was going to order ball racks for him to practice the contest format.
“It’s not that hard,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting used to it, going around and being patient.”
2. An online betting site lists Morrow as one of two favorites to win Saturday at 5/2 odds. Orlando’s Ryan Anderson is the other.
“I’ve heard that,” he said. “That’s crazy. That’s an honor in itself. I never would have h thought in my wildest dreams that I would be in the NBA 3-point contest.”
He said he planned to talk to Tech alumnus Dennis Scott, who was in two 3-point contests, for advice. Mark Price, who won two of the four contests he was in and now coaches with the Orlando Magic, would be another source of wisdom.
(Unrelated, but former Tech guard Iman Shumpert is reportedly out of the slam dunk contest so he can rest a knee injury. However, former Tech forward Derrick Favors has been added to the Rising Stars Challenge – the rookie-sophomore game.)
3. Morrow has stayed grounded despite the contract, realizing how transient an NBA career can be. He thinks about the start of his career, when he was living out of a suitcase in a hotel at Warriors training camp, wondering if he would get cut.
“Every day,” he said. “I’m not too far removed. I’ve got to keep myself humble and keep a chip on my shoulder every day.”
He finds inspiration in Boston Celtics great Ray Allen, who has been one of the top shooters in the league for 15 seasons.
He said he shoots before and after practice, going around the horn and back with mid-range jumpers and then 3-pointers, making between 10 and 15 shots at each spot.
Said Morrow, “I don’t want to be a guy that shot well for a couple seasons.”
4. I asked him about something I’d read, that he’d considered leaving Tech to find a job to support his mother. He said it pained him to see his mother working multiple jobs while he couldn’t provide for her. She talked him out of it.
“She was like, Just go to school. That’s your job. That’s all I need you to do, go somewhere, make something of yourself,” he said.
5. Morrow on the Tech team:
“They’re young, struggling a little bit, but I really like Coach (Brian) Gregory and his staff. They’re going to be fine. He’s a great coach. I spent a lot of time over at Tech working out and watching the team this past summer. They’re going to be good. It’s his first year, so he’s got to get everything like he wants to get it. Once he does it, it’s going to be great.”
6. On Nets owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov:
“He’s cool. We don’t talk a lot, not a man of many words, but a really laidback guy. Not afraid to let you know that he’s got a lot of money. He’s a cool dude.”
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog