Jarvis Hayes, the Pistons’ biggest free agent acquisition of the summer, was gracious enough to take a few minutes to sit down over email and answer some questions for Empty the Bench. Mr. Hayes was the 10th overall pick out of Georgia in the 2003 NBA draft and spent his first four NBA seasons with the Washington Wizards. The 6’8″ forward is known as a versatile, athletic and efficient wing who can score from all over the floor and plays strong defense. Although he’s suffered a number of unfortunate injuries in his young career, the 25-year-old is now fully recovered and ready to provide Detroit with an excellent backup to Tayshaun Prince in the team’s quest for a title. He’s looked fantastic in preseason play–even taking minutes at PF due to injuries–and is poised to provide instant offense off the Pistons bench. Mr. Hayes talks with ETB about his charity, The Jarvis Hayes Foundation, the Detroit Pistons’ chances against Boston, and reveals his favorite restaurant in Washington DC.
Empty the Bench: You’re joining a veteran squad with some clearly defined roles. What do you think you can bring to the table? How do you envision your role in Detroit this season?
Jarvis Hayes: I think I can be a sparkplug coming off of the bench. These guys have great chemistry, and I believe I can be a good bench scorer and put some points on the board.
Empty the Bench: Are you friends with any guys on the squad?
Jarvis Hayes: Basketball is like a fraternity, so I knew some of the guys from college and just from being in the league for a few years.
Empty the Bench: How familiar are you with Flip Saunders and the rest of the coaching staff?
Jarvis Hayes: I personally wasn’t too familiar with Coach Saunders prior to coming here. I did know though he has an impeccable record as far as coaching winning ball clubs, so I am very happy to play for him.
Empty the Bench: The Celtics are the talk of the NBA right now, but these guys have never played together before. How important is a team like the Pistons’ chemistry and experience together, and how well do you think your new team matches up with Boston?
Jarvis Hayes: The good thing about the Pistons is that we only have a few new pieces to the puzzle. There is a good core group here, which is great. I think we will match up well with Boston and I look forward to playing them.
Empty the Bench: While the Pistons have a number of established players like Chauncey, Rasheed, Rip and Tayshaun, they also have some great young talent in Amir Johnson, Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell, and now you. How important is it to have a mix of leadership and youth?
Jarvis Hayes: It’s very important. There are few teams in this league that have young ball clubs that can win consistently. The fact that we have a mix of younger and older guys gives the young guys time to get acclimated. They are not thrown into the fire right off so they have time to grow.
Empty the Bench: You’ve had some injuries in your NBA career, but it looks like you’ve fully recovered. Are you familiar with Pistons trainer Arnie Kander, his methods, and what he’s done for players like Antonio McDyess and Chris Webber? How much of a difference do you think a team trainer can make in a player’s overall health?
Jarvis Hayes: I am very familiar with Arnie and his work with players coming off past injuries. He’s great at what he does. He is one of the best at getting players back on the court and ready to go.
Empty the Bench: Staying in the East, you’ll be facing off against the Wizards at least four times and possibly in the playoffs. What’s it really like playing against friends and former teammates? Are there any particular players you really get psyched to match up with?
Jarvis Hayes: I get excited playing against everyone. I think I’ll be a little extra excited playing against the Wizards seeing as how I played with them for the first three years of my career.
Empty the Bench: What are you going to miss the most about DC?
Jarvis Hayes: The fans are what I’ll miss most. The people in Washington were great to me and I had some wonderful experiences. It was a nice place to be and the DC area is wonderful. The Nation’s Capitol, the monuments… I’ll miss everything.
Empty the Bench: You used to be on a radio show where you reviewed restaurants—any favorites?
Jarvis Hayes: District Chophouse on 7th Street near the arena…great!
Empty the Bench: How would you describe the player/referee relationship in today’s NBA? A lot of fans see players both being friendly with refs, and also looking like they want to kill them. What’s it really like both on and off the court?
Jarvis Hayes: I have a great relationship with the refs. From my experience they are pretty honest and fair individuals.
Empty the Bench: What’s your off-season like, and how much time do players really have to totally get away from it all and relax?
Jarvis Hayes: Not much. The typical off-season for me has been to work, but I wouldn’t touch a ball until late July/early August. The off-season is really not too long at all.
Empty the Bench: Which other NBA players do you train with?
Jarvis Hayes: This summer I trained with Cuttino Mobley, Earl Watson, Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell… We played pickup games and scrimmaged in LA.
Empty the Bench: You’re on a long road trip, and just finished up the first game of a back-to-back set. Describe what a typical night/day is like for you from immediately after the game is over to when the next day’s game begins.
Jarvis Hayes: After the game, win or lose, you have to start mentally preparing for the next game. I don’t spend too much time talking about that game…it’s time to move on. Sometimes we get on the plane to head off to another location and from there get a good night of sleep. The next day, we get up and may have shoot around. Then it’s time for another game.
Empty the Bench: What’s been the highlight of your career thus far, and what are your personal short- and long-term goals moving forward?
Jarvis Hayes: The highlight of my career is having the opportunity to play in the NBA and being drafted in the first round. My personal short-term goal is to have a healthy year and to win an NBA Championship here in Detroit. My career started off on a bad note with the injuries, but long term, I want to be the player I know I can be.
Empty the Bench: It’s still a long ways off, but have you thought about your post-NBA life at all?
Jarvis Hayes: I absolutely have. Post NBA I want to run my foundation and make it productive so I can give back to the community.
Empty the Bench: We know that helping out kids is something you dedicate a lot of time to. Can you talk a little bit about the Jarvis Hayes Foundation and your new fan club?
Jarvis Hayes: The Jarvis Hayes Foundation is designed to create and support programs and initiatives that assist children and those in need in order to create a better world for everyone. The Foundation benefits a number of programs including support and advocacy for the homeless, support for children living with cancer and diabetes and programs to assist children with life skills, mentoring, academics and athletics to develop well-rounded young adults. The signature program for the Jarvis Hayes Foundation is The Georgia Select AAU Basketball Program. The goal is to provide student-athletes with everything they need to succeed on and off of the court. In addition to the great competition and travel, the Basketball Academy will provide important educational information and life skills to all participants.
Empty the Bench would also like to send a big thank you to Nicole Hawkins from Nicole Hawkins Communications for making this happen. Thank you!