JaVale McGee has by no means been a fan of labels – he’d somewhat not be so confined.
Rim protector? How about perimeter defender? One of many lasting sequences of his latest postseason with the Phoenix Suns is squaring up in opposition to Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic close to the 3-point line, swiping the ball from the first-team All-NBA guard and cruising coast-to-coast for a simple end over Jalen Brunson.
Whereas the Suns’ second-round collection in opposition to the Mavericks didn’t go the way in which they needed in seven video games, McGee will at all times have that steal-and-score for his profession sizzle reel.
“That obtained loads of response,” McGee stated in an interview with Southern California Information Group. “I believe it actually displayed the truth that I’m an agile large – I don’t assume the middle place has (negatively) affected the sport as a lot as folks assume.”
McGee, 34, is probably going within the last years of his profession, however he nonetheless manages to shock. His two-year tenure with the Lakers, throughout which he was a member of their 2020 championship workforce, is an important chapter in his profession reinvention: A constant goal of “Shaqtin’ a Idiot” as a youthful participant, he has emerged as a worthwhile role-playing large and amiable locker room presence on groups that win.
He’s performed on title groups with the Lakers and Golden State Warriors, in addition to a pair of high-seeded Phoenix groups the previous two years, making one other journey to the NBA Finals in 2021. This previous season, McGee performed in 74 video games, averaging 9.2 factors and 6.7 rebounds, for the Suns who set a brand new franchise report for wins (64) in a season: “Our season didn’t find yourself the way in which we needed to finish, however I nonetheless had a blast with the blokes on that workforce.”
McGee’s legacy in his markets additionally stretches to his off-the-court work: He not too long ago partnered with Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission to construct small, short-term housing in Reseda for the unhoused. The non-profit runs six such websites of what it refers to as “Tiny Houses,” and says the Reseda web site has 52 models with 101 beds, in addition to entry to social companies on web site.
McGee has performed group occasions for years, however throughout his time in L.A., he noticed indicators of the housing disaster that has sprawled throughout Southern California and develop into one of many hottest political points within the area. He questioned if there was extra he might do.
“I felt like this was a philanthropy factor I needed to embark on,” he stated. “You may give folks a turkey, however the homeless don’t have a house to cook dinner a turkey in. This may actually impression folks’s lives. … Give them a spot to search out refuge.”
The offseason is a time for McGee to make time for off-court pursuits, together with a music profession and different group initiatives. This week additionally finds him holding a charity softball sport for his JUGLIFE Basis – meant to assist present consuming water all over the world – at Chase Area in Phoenix together with his Suns teammates Chris Paul and Devin Booker amongst others. McGee says he’s been to Uganda six occasions to surveil the work of his basis, which can also be constructing a sports activities advanced there.
However quickly sufficient, McGee can have basketball on his plate once more: He’s a free agent this summer season. He’s been in Phoenix not too long ago throughout the offseason, however a return to L.A. is feasible, he acknowledged to SCNG.
“We received a championship there, I used to be a beginning middle there, so it’s undoubtedly on my record of locations I might contemplate going again to,” he stated. “However it’s about me ensuring making the suitable determination for me and my household financially, and I’m trying to contribute.”
New Lakers coach Darvin Ham has outlined his intentions to run a four-out, one-in system, doubtlessly limiting the roster spots the Lakers have for conventional facilities. However McGee doesn’t regard himself as conventional – and based mostly on his observe report, he wouldn’t rely himself out. In any case, he’s already 14 years in.
“It feels good (to nonetheless be taking part in),” he stated. “It simply speaks to my resiliency. I get the work performed, put the work in behind the scenes, and it’ll present up on the massive display screen within the time it wants to indicate up. That purge is loopy as a beginning middle on any workforce, so I attempt to be extraordinarily efficient and attempt to inspire the blokes.”