In a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski, Taurean Prince describes a routine he has ... whether he’s sleeping in a hotel or on his own home. He jumps on the bed. It’s a reminder to him that even life’s simple comforts can be transitory. You don’t take a box spring from granted when you’ve lived in homeless shelters.
“I literally go jump on it just to see how soft it is,” Prince told Woj, who asked what’s behind the routine.
“I think it was the time that me and my father had to spend some time in the Salvation Army not having the bed that you always used to have probably growing up or that you envisioned that you’d have.”
Prince, now 25, talked to Woj about a lot of things: his path from sleeping in Salvation Army beds, to his college recruitment, and his experience signing his recent two-year $29 million dollar contract extension with Brooklyn. But it was his time being homeless that defines the interview. He was 12 years old and living in San Antonio after his parents broke up. He chose to live with his father and not long after, they found themselves staying in a Salvation Army when they could, or on friends’ sofas, or even a couple of days on the street.
It taught him about life and family. The struggle he said was daily and more mental than physical.
“Know there are a lot more people where it is in this country or in a third world country that are having worse days than you --back-to-back-to back-- than this little worry you may think is making your day bad,” said Prince.
“That’s why I look up to my father as much as I do. He’s not some professional athlete or some high paid professional in any way, shape or form. But it’s how he carried himself and the optimism of how he viewed life, even in negative situations.”
They got through the hard times and after a four year career was that rarest of draft picks, a four-year player taken in the lottery. Now, his career and life are solidified by the two-year, $29 million deal he signed in October. His life experience, he said, explains why he wasn’t ecstatic the day Sean Marks came to his house to present him with contract.
“I’m happy but at the end of the day its a lot more work to do,” Prince told Woj. “I haven’t really tasted the champagne that was sent to me. There’s just another level I know I can tap into. There’s another level I know I can reach as a human being on and off the court. I truly believe you are only as good on the court as you are off the court.”
Before the deal was done, just before the NBA deadline for extending 2016 first rounders, Prince had to think about where he fit, particularly after the Nets signed Kevin Durant (a good friend), Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. The organization’s transparency helped him through it.
“I did a lot of thinking and like you said before when free agency started rolling in and we started signing guys,” Prince admitted. “I kind of veered off kind of thinking who I’d be for the Brooklyn Nets, but that’s the great thing about this organization: they’re very transparent and they made me feel very comfortable from the beginning to even have the ability to come and ask them what they needed from me. They wanted me to be a better rebounder than I was in the past, be a better defender than I was in the past.”
And indeed he has. While injuries are currently sapping the Nets, Prince thinks the Nets can be contenders, both short term and long term. Of this year’s squad, he said, “I think we can be one of the top tier teams, for sure.”
And in the future?
“I think we definitely have the ability and the right primary pieces to be champions,” he argued. “It’s all about the everyday work, though. It’s all about being consistent and doing the same thing every day in order to get better an not settling on just being good.
“I think those are the teams that end up make it it all the way --the ones who aren’t satisfied on just beign good and want to get every single possession correct. I think the more that you think that way, the more chances you have to be champions.”