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Q&A: Josh Childress on NBA journey, EASL investment, overseas hoops

Q&A: Josh Childress on NBA journey, EASL investment, overseas hoops

Josh Childress is a retired American basketball player who played three years at Stanford University, where he became an AP first-team All-American, consensus second-team All-American, the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year and Pac-10 Conference Tournament MVP as a junior in 2004. 

He was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, becoming the highest Stanford player to be drafted in the NBA. While Childress played in the NBA for the Hawks (2004-2008), Phoenix Suns (2010-2012), Brooklyn Nets (2012) and New Orleans Pelicans (2013), he made a name for himself overseas when he moved to Greece to play for Olympiacos from 2008 to 2010. 

Childress had a fruitful career overseas, playing in leagues like the NBL (with the Sydney Kings and Adelaide 36ers) in Australia and the B-League (with the San-en Neo Phoenix) in Japan. Over the course of his 15-year basketball career, Childress averaged 9.1 points and earned a number of honors including All-NBL first team, NBL top scorer, All-Euroleague second team, Greek League top scorer, Greek League best defender and NBA All-Rookie second team.

Now, the 40-year-old Childress is an investor in the East Asian Super League, a rapidly growing league across East Asia. During the EASL's Final Four in the Philippines, Childress spoke with BasketballNews’ Mon Anthony L. Valmoria to share what he is up to nowadays, his venture with the EASL, his fond NBA memories, his journey playing overseas and more.

You are an investor in the EASL. When did this happen? 

Josh Childress: “I started as an investor last year, last summer. I talked about seeing the opportunity [to] kind of ‘bridge’ the gap between the countries in Asian basketball and it's a fantastic opportunity to do that. So EASL did a great job here in its first year and we hope to build on this moving forward.”

Why invest in the EASL? Why do you think it will be a successful league?

Childress: “I think it’s bringing together a bunch of different countries and leagues that have all increasingly gotten better and I think if you can find a way to connect Asian basketball across the board, it will be a fantastic league. A fantastic opportunity for fans, media and the players. So, I’m hopeful that when this tournament – this Final Four – has more traction, you get more countries involved in the league and have some great basketball.”

After your 15-year playing career, what are you up to these days?

Childress: “I have an investment company. I run investments; we do real estate, we do sports properties, we do stuff like this (the EASL). We invest in a bunch of different things and I run it full-time – that’s what keeps me busy these days.”

Watching the EASL games and seeing how basketball is played over here, how would you describe the brand of basketball that's played on this side of the world?

Childress: “It is very physical and very fast-paced. We’ve seen really exciting games here and I think players here are playing for pride. There’s obviously a nice prize – a cash prize – at the end of it. But at this point, it’s just pride and making sure that you win and you’re the champion of Asia. So I think [basketball here] is really exciting.”

Let's talk about your experiences as an NBA player. What are your fondest memories from your playing days?

Childress: “Most of your memories are around your teammates, you know? Around the locker room like how fun that was, those plane rides, just the camaraderie you have with your team – that’s the thing that I missed the most about playing. The friendships and the teammates that you have over the years.”

Speaking of your teammates, you played with a lot of teams in the NBA – who was your favorite teammate? 

Childress: “They were all my favorites (smiles). But I’d say between Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Josh Smith, Joe [Johnson], Tyronn Lue, Mike Bibby – all those guys were great teammates. I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to play with them.”

What is your best NBA memory?

Childress: “Getting drafted. I mean, that’s a dream come true. It’s something that, as a kid, you always see on TV. So, that was an amazing experience.”

When it comes to American NBA players deciding to play overseas, you were one of the pioneers. What were the pros and cons?

Childress: “It was something that has been done before, but it was a great experience. I loved playing in Greece – the fans were amazing. I got the chance to experience European basketball, which was different. The pros and the cons are that it sets you up in a situation where you’re playing a different style of basketball and having to figure out how to play there. But that was so much fun, you’re in very hostile environments playing against teams that you never knew existed and having the chance to compete at a high level. So, I loved my time in Europe. In the EuroLeague, basketball was fantastic; in the Greek league, it was fantastic. So hopefully we can mirror that EuroLeague style format here with the EASL.”

Other than monetary considerations, what would you advise fellow Americans about the decision to play overseas? What other factors do you think are crucial in choosing where to play?

Childress: “I think the biggest thing is playing style – you know, going somewhere your style of play fits [in with] where you’re going – or having the opportunity of playing a lot of minutes. I know some guys that are going to certain countries that may pay a little bit less, but they know they’re going to play a lot, they’re going to play their game. And that will lead them to those opportunities for success with bigger contracts and moving the following year. So, always make sure you go somewhere where you can be the best version of yourself and play at a high level.”

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