15 Minutes with Otto Porter, Jr.
Apr 01, 2018 07:00AM
Small forward, Washington WizardsBy Tom Worgo
Otto Porter, Sr. moved the family about 10 years ago from Haywood City to Morley just so his son could play alongside his cousins at Scott County Central. Porter, Sr. also persuaded his old high school coach, Ronnie Cookson, who won 12 state titles, to come out of retirement to coach
Porter, Jr. The geographical move and coaching change both panned out in a big way, as Porter, Jr. won three state titles at Scott County Central.
Porter, Jr. earned a scholarship to Georgetown University, where he led the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament during his sophomore season before declaring for the NBA Draft. Washington took the 6-foot-8, 198-pound small forward as the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, and he has blossomed into an excellent outside shooter with the Wizards.
The fifth-year pro increased his scoring average every year, making him an appealing free agent this past summer. He signed a provisional contract with the Brooklyn Nets in July. Because Porter, Jr. was a restricted free agent, the Wizards took advantage of an option to match the four-year, $106 million offer. With the new deal, the 24-year-old Porter, Jr. will make more money this season ($24.7 million) than Washington’s other two higher-profile and longer-tenured players, guards
John Wall and Bradley Beal.
We recently talked to Porter, Jr. about the tradition of basketball in his family, remaining with the Wizards, what he does outside of the sport for fun and his charity work.
With so many members of your family playing basketball, was there any second thoughts about whether you would play or not?
I fell in love with it because my family played so much. They loved it as much as I do, and it’s just something I developed a love for over time.
How tough and how much fun was it for you battling and playing with your cousins before and during high school?
It was the best, and tough, too. It made me the competitive and hard-nosed player I am now.
What was the first thing you bought when you signed a new contract?
The first thing I bought was a car for my mother. I also gave back to my church and high school.
What mistakes did you make earlier in your career that has made you a better player today?
I learned that you have to be a professional and that this is definitely a business. I also learned that if you put in the hard work and be patient that it will eventually pay off for you.
What was the experience like for you signing the contract with the Brooklyn Nets and having the Wizards match the offer?
It’s the business side of the game. I learned a lot being a restricted free agent and getting an offer sheet from another team and having the Wizards match it. My agent handled the whole situation for me.
What did it mean to you to suit up for the Wizards after playing at Georgetown?
It means everything. This is my second home. Georgetown made me feel at home in D.C. To be able to stay and play for the hometown team is unbelievable.
How closely do follow Georgetown now? What did you think about the school hiring Patrick Ewing as its new coach?
I follow them very closely and I go to games when I can. Pat is a great coach and I have known him since I first starting going to Georgetown. He is a great pickup for them as far as tradition goes. He can give the program a boost.
Outside of basketball, what are some of your hobbies or interests?
I am a country guy so I like the outdoors. I will go for walks, but I am also into cars. I have new cars and old cars. I have a couple of muscle cars. I have two Chrysler Roadrunners—1968 and 1969. I like restoring them piece by piece. I have been working on them for five years now. My father was into cars and my uncle owns a shop. I am always at his shop.
How do you spend your downtime during a road trip? What is your favorite city?
It just depends on what city we go to. I have a lot of family and it seems like they are everywhere. They will come watch me play and I will go out to dinner with them. I would say New York is my favorite city. There is so much to do there and I have family, there, too. They show me around and we go to different restaurants.
What do you do to relax after a game?
I will watch TV or talk to my mom after every game.
What did you think about a beer named after you? Were you surprised?
There is a lot of stuff being named after me. That’s especially back home. I am not surprised at all.
[But] I don’t drink beer.
What are your favorite D.C.-area restaurants?
An Italian spot call Theo’s (Restaurant). It’s on the Georgetown waterfront. I also really like Ruth’s Chris.
What charities do you devote most of your time to?
The homeless here in D.C. I also do a lot of charity work with underprivileged kids. Whenever I am back home, I give to my high school.