So, as I mentioned in a quick blog last night, I had a chance to meet Nathan Jawai.
I was coming home from dinner with my wife … just walking the streets … and I ran into the big man. Jawai had just flown in from New York, and he was wandering around town.
So I introduced myself and stood there on the street having a chat for 5-10 minutes.
The first thing that struck me - besides how nice and polite the guy was - was the fact that he looked trim! I’ll be the first to admit that I knew very little about him or his game when the Raptors
(Pacers) took him at #41 on Thursday night. Scouts had talked about his upside and his athleticism and hands for a man his size … but there wasn’t much else out there about the Aussie … other than little reports or recaps on ESPN and other sites. Thus, the one thing that stood out about Jawai for me - and many of you I’m sure - was the 280-285 pounds that he allegedly weighs.
Well, with no scale available on the street, I couldn’t get an exact reading … but … Jawai certainly doesn’t look 280 to me. When I think 280 … I think … BIG; almost “fat”. Jawai looked more like 260lbs to me. He looked to be in great shape. It’s the first thing that hit me.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe if he stepped on a scale he would be 280 … but if he is … he carries it well. The guy is not overweight or pudgy. He looks solid.
And he’s THRILLED to be in Toronto. He said he knew there were a number of teams that were interested in him - in fact he thought he might be going to the Cleveland Cavaliers - but when he found out that he was coming to the Raptors
he was estatic. He said, and I quote, that he “wanted” to be here.
It’s not his first time in Toronto either. He said he’s been here a couple of times before … with the Australian national team. He loves the city. And he’s going to be spending at least a couple of weeks here right now.
When I told him that some of his ‘neighbors’ from New Zealand were in town next week for a couple of exhibition games against Team Canada (Note: You should really get tickets and go support the Canadian team), he was thrilled to find out he’d have a chance to watch some ball and go say hello to some of his Kiwi friends.
He might even pop over to the Canadian side and give a quick hello to David Thomas. The Canuck has been making a name for himself in Australia for a number of years and he actually just left Melbourne to sign with Jawai’s now-former-club, Cairns.
Jawai (Note: He told me it’s actually pronounced “Jaw-Why” - Almost like two separate words: Jaw. Why.) said he was watching the NBA Draft at the ESPN Zone (restaurant) in Times Square when he found out he had been selected. However, he didn’t get to hear his name called. For those that watched on Thursday, you’ll remember that ESPN went to commercial after the NJ Nets selected Chris Douglas-Roberts at #40. When the broadcast finally came back from the break, Jawai said he saw his name on the little ticker at the bottom of the screen and realized he had just been drafted. It was sort of anti-climatic but a thrill nonetheless.
Before we ended the conversation, my wife said to Nathan “I hear they call you Baby Shaq” …
Jawai smiled and laughed and said some people have given him that tag but, respectfully, he hates it. Based on that … I’m guessing he doesn’t like ‘Aussie Shaq’ then either.
Regardless, the guy doesn’t need a nickname. He’s a just a good, down-to-earth young man that I believe fans of the Raptors
will enjoy having in town.
Welcome to Toronto, Nate.