The Japan Times features periodic interviews with players in the bj-league. Kenny Satterfield of the Osaka Evessa is the subject of this week’s profile.
Position: Point guard
Ht: 188 cm
Wt: 79 kg
Hometown: New York City
Noteworthy: Satterfield was the 53rd overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, and he played for the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers between 2001 and 2003. Since then, his career has included stops in a number of other countries, including France, Argentina, Cyprus, Venezuela and Lebanon. Satterfield was a McDonald’s All-American while playing for Rice High School.
Satterfield averaged a team-high 19.9 points in 37 games for the Saitama Broncos, who canceled the remainder of their season after the March 11 earthquake. He then joined the Evessa for the season’s stretch run while playing on a temporary relief contract (only valid for this season with another team), which several Broncos and Sendai 89ers players also did.
He averaged a league-best 6.5 assists, including the final eight games with Osaka. In last weekend’s Western Conference semifinals against the Rizing Fukuoka, Satterfield had a nine-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist effort in Game 1 against the Rizing Fukuoka last Saturday and scored 12 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter of Osaka’s series-clinching win a day later. . . . Evessa teammate Lynn Washington has called Satterfield the “best guard in bj-league history.”
In your own words, how would you describe your style of play?
Playmaker. I try to play smart, try to run the team the right way.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in switching teams in April? And, entering the Final Four, how do you rate Osaka’s chances to win the title?
Making the switch from the Broncos to Osaka, it’s a big difference. On the Broncos I had to score more. On this team, we have a lot of (established) scorers, so I can be more of a playmaker.
We have a great chance to win the title this season, with a lot of good players on this team.
Evessa forward Lynn Washington has been recognized as one of the league’s top players since Day One. How committed is he to winning and working hard day in and day out in your view?
(Regarding) his work ethic, he comes to work and does the same thing every day. He wants to win. As a veteran leader, he’s everything you would want from one of your main players.
Is Washington more intense in practice than most guys, and does that attitude carry over to games?
Yes. That’s who he is. That’s the makeup of him. That’s what makes him good.
Looking back on your NBA career, were you simply fired up each day to be in the NBA, thinking, “Holy cow! This is my job?”
No. I have a relaxed mind-set just like I have now. I’m just kind of laid back.
In the future, when your playing days are finished are you interested in coaching?
I am interested in coaching. (Already), some things I do at home with kids. I would like to be working in the future with a mixture of young kids and in high school.
Who would you say is the most difficult opponent you’ve competed against one-on-one on a number of occasions? And why?
(Former Rice High, Seton Hall University and NBA guard) Andre Barrett. He’s quick, strong and physical.
(Note: ESPN.com columnist Scoop Jackson wrote in a 2008 article that Satterfield and Barrett posted 68- and 66-point outings in consecutive games in a Hoop in the Sun summer tournament game in the Big Apple.)
Who’s your favorite current NBA player and team?
I don’t have a favorite player. I don’t really have a favorite team. I just like to watch the game.
New York City has produced a number of pro points guards over the years, including Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair in recent years, as well as Kenny Smith, Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, Nate “Tiny” Archibald and, of course, Bob Cousy.
Do you think the city’s environment has played a role inthat?
Yeah, lot of players from the city can play basketball. I just think growing up in the city makes you more confident.
Does it also make you more determined to succeed?
It all depends on the kind of person you are and what your focus is in life. It can be a good thing or a bad thing.
How would you evaluate Osaka coach Ryan Blackwell’s performance as a first-year mentor this season?
He’s pretty good at what he’s doing. He’s a young coach but he played the game, so he knows what it takes to be successful. He’s a player’s coach. He tries to talk players through it (strategies).
As far as Xs and Os, he’s pretty good.
Growing up, which point guard(s) did you idolize? Which guy(s) did you model your game after?
Mark Jackson and Rod Strickland. (The NYC natives combined for more than 18,000 career assists and are both in the top 10 on the NBA’s all-time assists chart.)
I just watched them a lot on TV, and (after they left the Knicks) they came to New York so I used to see them play a lot.
When did you begin to believe you had a chance to be a professional basketball player? What convinced you that you had the talent? Can you offer an example?
Growing up, I played against a lot of older players, going up against a lot of guys who played or were playing Division I (college) basketball, and I was doing pretty good. Seeing that I could play with them, I figured I could play with anybody.
Returning the discussion to Japan for now, did you feel welcomed enthusiastically when you joined the Evessa after Saitama ended its season? And why did you keep playing and not go home like many Americans had done?
It was fun. It was a new experience for everybody. I was coming in to a team that’s already established and winning. I’m not coming in here to change anything; I’m coming here to help. In the adjustment period, they gave me time to get used to it. It’s working well.
How would you rate your performance this season?
It’s been OK. It’s been a learning experience. It’s my first time here and going through an earthquake. It’s just a learning experience.
Are you happy to win the assist award in your first season in Japan?
I did not set out to do it — no individual goals. My goal from the start of the season was to help the Broncos make the playoffs.
Do you plan on returning to Saitama next season?
It all depends on the Broncos and what they are trying to do.
Away from basketball, what are your hobbies?
Mostly spending time with my family in the city, with my kids, who are ages 9, 6, and 2.