Richard Solomon(JDA Dijon Bourgogne) Kobe Bryant Was The Reason Why I Started To Play Basketball

Richard Solomon is a 27 year old 208cm center from Torrance, California that is playing his sixth professional season and first with JDA Dijon Bourgogne (France-Jeep ELITE ProA). Last season he played with the Oklahoma City Blue (NBA G League) playing 35 games averaging 13.8ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 63.5%, 3PT: 17.5%, FT: 71.1%. In the 2017-2018 season he balled with Muratbey Usak Sportlif Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) playing 19 games averaging 9.9ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 59.7%, FT: 68.1%. In the 2016-2017 season he played with BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-ProA) playing 31 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-3 (8.0rpg), 1.2spg, FGP: 59.2%, 3PT-3 (50.0%), FT: 59.7%. In the 2015-2016 season he played with Toyota Alvark Tokyo (Japan-NBL) playing 59 games averaging 11.3ppg, 8.9rpg, FGP: 55.9%, 3PT: 17.9%, FT: 66.0%. He played his rookie season with the Oklahoma City Blue (D-League) playing 30 games averaging 8.3ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 61.3%, FT: 62.4%. He played at the University of California (NCAA) form 2010-2014 playing a total of 111 games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 11.0ppg, 10.2rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 54.3%, FT: 53.0%. He spoke to before a Basketball Champions League game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn in Bonn

Richard thanks for talking to Before we get to the interview, I have to ask you about how you found out about the passing of Kobe Bryant? How much of an influence did he have on you?

I was eating dinner in Gravelines and I got a text from my sister telling me that Kobe had passed away. At first I thought that it was a joke. When you get a message like that, you just can’t believe it’s true. As the whole thing began to unfold more and more, I got this heartbreaking ooze. I grew up in Los Angeles and he is the reason why I started to play basketball. He inspired me to become the best that I could be and play in the NBA. One of my first Laker games was when he was teammates with Shaq. I am still in disbelief of what happened. It is like a bad dream. He didn’t only mean a lot to L.A, but to the whole world. 

Welcome to Germany Is this your first time to Germany? What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?

This is my first time in Germany. I don’t know much about the country. I have heard of the top teams Munich and Bamberg. The crazy thing is that I actually was deciding to join Bamberg for this season, but then I went to Dijon. 

Your playing your sixth professional season and third in Europe and first with JDA Dijon Bourgogne (France-Jeep ELITE ProA). You had played in France before. Do you feel like the athletic game of the France Pro A suits your game best

I feel that with the type of player that I am that I can adjust to any league or style. I’m a versatile player. Coming off injury, I felt as if Dijon was the best fit for me. We have big expectations and want them to happen.

How excited are you to be playing the Telekom Baskets Bonn again. You lost the first game at home. What will be key to getting the victory this time?

We are really fired up to play against Bonn tonight. There is a lot on the line. We are playing for home court advantage. We have a bad taste from the first game. Defense will be key for us winning this game. We have to limit their three point shooting and make everything as tough for them at both ends of the court. I think that we will be ok if we can keep them under 70 points.

Let’s talk about your teammates. How much easier does a guy like David Holston make your game when he is on the floor?

He makes it easier for everybody. He can shoot from anywhere on the court and can get it going at anytime. Setting screens for him and freeing him up is a big advantage for his game and ours.

Another experienced veteran on the club is Lamonte Ulmer who also has had his time in Germany. What stands out most with his game that has been crucial for the success of the team?

He is the type of player that is everywhere on the court. He can rebound, get steals and can knock down shots. He has been a huge spark for us this season and can do a little of everything. He continues to show that he can contribute in so many different ways. 

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 208cm center that can score, rebound and be a lock down defender. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

That is tough. I think my game is like a Amare Stoudemire when he played with the Phoenix Suns. I know what I’m capable of on the court. I can do so much and with me starting to shoot the three more, I feel like I separate myself from those guys in the NBA

Would you say that your in or near your prime at the moment? On what area’s of your game are you working hardest on to keep developing nicely with your game?

I feel like that I’m approaching my prime if not in it. At this point in my career, everyone knows what I can do. I’m an athletic player that can dunk and finish. Now I’m focusing mostly on my whole skill set and being able to stretch the floor and be more of an outside threat.

You don’t take many three’s, but is that still a part of your game that you would like to refine a bit more?

With how the game is changing now, you have to be capable of doing more than one thing. If you can do more, it makes it harder for the opponent as well as against players matching up against you and how teams prepare for you.

Last season you played your second season in the G_League with the Oklahoma City Blue (NBA G League) playing 35 games averaging 13.8ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 63.5%, 3PT: 17.5%, FT: 71.1%. This was a vast improvement from your rookie season. How do you feel has your game matured since then and how far do you truly believe are you from the NBA?

Last year was a great year despite the injury. I refined my love for the game. I worked my butt off each day and took care of my body. It really paid off. I got called up to the Oklahoma Thunder for 10 days. I felt that I was having my best season, but then it was cut short due to injury and I had to start all over again. I feel like if I hadn’t gotten injured that I would be in the NBA now. I was happy that I got good feedback from the NBA. I think after having that experience last season that now I’m just trying to be the best player that I can be and play at the highest level. Getting back to the NBA would be lovely, but my focus now is on Dijon and helping them be successful. I want to make the most of my opportunity with Dijon and continue to work hard. The rest will take care of itself. 

You have played two seasons in the G-League and at countless NBA Summer Leagues. What was the best example that you have seen over the years where the NBA is strictly a business first before anything else?

You see the whole business side of how guys are sent down and when they are drafted. It is clear to see then just how much time an organization invests in them in comparison to how other guys are dealt with. You can’t get worried about the business side. You have to always be locked in, keep working and keep your head down and keepmoving forward. If your locked into your craft then the next time you look up things will be happening for you. 

Last season you also played a few World Cup qualifying games. How cool of an experience was it suiting up for your country and being able to play at a time when many of the other American players had NBA commitments?

It was an amazing experience being able to put USA on your chest and be able to qualify for the Olympics. I had good teammates and a good coach in Jeff Van Gundy. I think that this experience helped me elevate my game to a new level. It gave me a clear picture of where my game was at. I will cherish this moment forever.

I’m sure that you will also keep your USA jersey forever.

Yes I will.

Two years ago you played with Muratbey Usak Sportlif Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) playing 19 games averaging 9.9ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 59.7%, FT: 68.1%. There you played with another real veteran with Earl Calloway. What memories do you have of him and just being able to play with another gem of a guard?

That was a tough year. I was hurt. When I came to the team, they were 1-12 or something. There was a lot of pressure and I had to do a lot of work to help turn it around. I picked Earl’s brain and just tried to improve my game through his advice and see the game through his eyes. 

In the 2016-2017 season was your first in Europe with at BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-ProA) playing 31 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-3 (8.0rpg), 1.2spg, FGP: 59.2%, 3PT-3 (50.0%), FT: 59.7%, 7.2rpg, FGP: 69.6%, FT: 42.5%. Hoe enjoyable was it being reunited with your ex California (NCAA) teammate Justin Cobbs? Did it feel like old times with him on the court?

Justin and I played at the same high school and at the same university. To be able to end up on the same team overseas was a joy. I was back together again with my brother. We had always had good chemistry in school, but now we were more defined and mature which made the whole experience a lot easier. We knew where the other guy would be on the court.

Justin Cobbs has had a very solid European career and was on many NBA teams radar’s coming out in 2014 and since being in Europe. Is he an NBA caliber player? Why do you feel hasn’t he been able to get there yet?

I think that he is a NBA player. Unfortunately the NBA is a business and not everyone gets the opportunity to showcase their abilities. I think that there are a lot of guys overseas that could play in the NBA. I think that he is better than a lot of players in the NBA now. But that is just how it goes. 

You once said that he is a clumsy guy that would knock over a glass of water. What is your fondest memory with him in your life?

I have seen him from high school until now and he is grown a lot. We both have sons and I have been lucky to see how he has matured and become the man that he is today. We were kids in college. We always hung out and he spilled water. He will always be my brother. When we are in L.A, we always hang out and work out together. He is like family to me. It is great to see that he is still playing and getting better. 

In 2015-2016 you played with Toyota Alvark Tokyo (Japan-NBL) playing 59 games averaging 11.3ppg, 8.9rpg, FGP: 55.9%, 3PT: 17.9%, FT: 66.0%. What was your wake up call to being in Japan where you knew that you were very far away from home?

I was in love with the game then as I still am today. We had much success with Toyota. We didn’t win a title that season, but we did win a lot of games. Being in Japan was a great experience and it is what got my overseas career started.

You were teammates with probably one of the greatest 188cm undersized centers ever with Jeff Gibbs. Were there times in practice when you thought ‘Damn how did he get that rebound’?

For sure I said Damn. He is 6,2 and has a 7,3 wingspan and can shoot and dunk with anybody his age. It was crazy what a guy his size could do. He was so effective for his size. I was closest with him on the team. 

You played at California (NCAA) from 2010-2014 improving your stats each season. As a senior you averaged double double stats in points and rebounds. How do you feel did your game develop best in your senior year?

As a senior I was most focused on what I had to be able to showcase in my last year. I was so locked in as a senior. I had a goal and worked my butt off. 

As a junior you lost to Syracuse in the NCAA tournament scoring 22 points and hauling down 14 rebounds. Despite the loss was this one of your best game at U-Cal?

Numbers wise for sure. That was a huge game. This game showed me exactly what I was capable of doing on the court. I was really excited for this game. This headlined of how my senior year would be like. I wanted to league the league in rebounds and did.

Who won a one on one in practice you or David Kravish?

I did every time. David was my guy. Honestly I don’t think that we ever played. But I would take myself each time. He was a great teammate. He was fun to be around. When we were on the court together, we were always locked in. We always wanted to block every shot and get every rebound. 

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that went to the NBA?

Derrick Williams. It was incredible to watch him play. He was very hard to stop. 

Please name your best teammates off all-time?

Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, Jorge Gutierrez, and David Kravish

Please construct your personal own NBA Rushmore of past and present players?

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Leborn James Shaq

Who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Lebron James?

I wasn’t alive when Jordan played. I knew he was great though. Lebron is the all around best player from the three. He is just so physically gifted. Kobe had that killer instinct. He played with so much heart. I have to give it to Kobe. He was so different from everyone else. We woke up at 3.00 and would have his first work out from 4-6 and then it would continue a few more times during the day. After having that work ethic and schedule for many years, nobody could catch up to him. He separated himself from everyone else. 

What was the last movie that you saw?

Bad Boys For Life.

Thanks Richard for the chat.

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