Since Chris Webber and Mike Bibby left Sacremento, the Kings haven’t been looking quite regal. But averaging 20 points and five assists, rookie sensation Tyreke Evans is bringing the riches back to California’s capital. Right before he steps on the court in Dallas tonight for NBA All Star Weekend’s T-Mobile Rookie Challenge, the 20-year-old talks about playing streetball when he was a kid, how it feels to play his idols and beating his NBA buddies at video games.
VIBE: You grew playing streetball in Chester, Pennsylvania. Does your street game ever spill on to the NBA court?
Tyreke Evans: Sometimes when I’m out there playing [in a NBA game], I might do a move and the referee might think it’s a violation. But he really wasn’t ready for the move. He’s never seen it before. And he’s been reffing in the NBA for a long time. It’s just something you’ve got to deal with. When the ref calls a call, nine times out of ten, he’s not going to take it back. I just go out there and try to play the game the right way.
On top of streetball, you have a bunch of older brothers. How much more tougher did they make you?
My brothers were bigger than me. Not anymore, though. [Laughs]. I would watch them play each other rough, foul each other, talk trash. When I was younger, I used to want to play with them and they’d be like, “You ain’t earn it yet, little guy. Wait your turn.” When I got older, they let me play and I was out there killing. They saw what type of ball player I was then.
Describe your game.
I’m a big guard with the ability to get to the basket and create for me and my teammates. I’ve got the whole package. When I’m out there, sometimes I feel like I’m unstoppable.
The Kings are having a rough season, currently at the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. What are the chances you guys make the playoffs?
This is a long season. You never know what can happen.
Did you expect the kind of individual success you’ve had coming in to league last summer?
I didn’t know what to expect coming to the NBA. I watched it on TV. Sometimes it looked easy, sometimes it looked hard. But when I played my first game, I realized it’s tough out here. I didn’t know how many points I was going to average. But once I started to get the rhythm of it, I wanted the same thing every night.
What’s it feel like to step on the court to play a Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd or other NBA stars you idolized and not be a fan, but now competition?
It’s exciting because you know what type of work those guys have put in. If you want to be the best, you have to bring it against the best. As far as those guys, I pumped up and excited. Once I see those guys, it makes me want to elevate my game even more.
What music are you playing before a game?
I’m listening to Drake, Lil Wayne and Jay-Z. That’s pretty much it right now. And I listen to Trey Songz a little bit, too. He’s got it going. Drake reminds me of myself on the basketball court. Just the way he puts his rhymes together. Just being a rookie, he’s a fun guy to listen to.
Are you a gamer? Do you have a Playstation 3 or an Xbox?
Both. I play a little Madden an [NBA]2K. I don’t play a lot, but when I get on the sticks, I’m good enough to get some wins.
Who do you play as on NBA 2K10?
I go with LeBron. I can play with the Kings. And I can play with the Rockets.
When you play as the Kings, is the virtual you as good as the actual you?
Definitely. They’ve got everything, my ability to get to the basket and to create for others. They did a good job. I play online. Ask Flip Murray. He knows. [Laughs] I got him online on Playstation, but he says he doesn’t play that. I’m looking forward to challenging him on Xbox to see what he’s got. —Brad Wete