Charles Claxton is a mountain of a man. At the post-draft press conference a year ago, he was seated in the media room at HSS Training Center, ample evidence if it was needed that his son, Nicolas Claxton, was likely to fill out.
But genes are only part of Charles’ gifts to his son, the Nets rookie. As Mollie Walker reports for the Post, Charles decided not long after his son was born 21 years to abandon his playing career for one as his son’s personal development coach.
At 7 foot tall, a quarter-inch taller than his son’s listed height, Charles played three games in the NBA for the Celtics in the November 1995. then was cut. After being cut again by the Jazz the next preseason, Charles joined basketball’s vagabonds, playing in Puerto Rico, Lithuania, Poland and finally Great Britain over a four span. Then Nic came along.
“I had a little bit left in me,” Charles, now 49 years old, told The Post, “but after he was born, being away and traveling and all that stuff, I said, ‘It’s time to start my second career.’ ”
That second basketball career as a coach started young. Charles didn’t want to pressure Nic but instead played a subtle game with him.
“I had a lot of basketballs around the house, I played a little psychological game,” Charles said. “As a young kid, he would lay on my chest and we would watch basketball together. We’ve watched a lot of basketball, and he just grew to love basketball, but it was kind of a plan.”
Nic remembers the two of them drinking chocolate milk on the couch at their Georgia home.
The other part of Charles’ preparation was tough love. As a coach, he was demanding, more demanding than any others Nic’s had.
“To this day, when coaches yell at him, he kind of smiles because he’s like, ‘That’s nothing!’ ” Charles said. “And I told him to stop smiling, because they might think you’re being disrespectful.”
There was also a bit of competition between the two, starting with their heights. Nic didn’t want his pediatrician to tell him how tall he’d likely be. He just wanted to grow into it.
“He was kind of weird, he said, ‘I don’t want to know,’ ” Charles told Walker. “He’s always been tall for his age, but I didn’t think he was going to get — he looks like he’s about my height now. Every time he gets a little closer, and he likes to mess with me and stand next to me, and I’m like, ‘Get back, get back.’ ”
Nic says his father’s experience —understanding that pro ball is a business— has helped him adjust to the NBA.
“He just told me, ‘It’s just a business and you need to be ready for whatever,’ ” Nic said. “People aren’t going to just hand you anything, that’s just life, sports, basketball.”
Nic also followed his father’s career path, enrolling at the University of Georgia —and playing for the US Virgin Islands national team. Again, says Dad, no pressure, but he liked the idea. Both he and Nic’s mom, Nicole, are Georgia grads. Charles was, in fact, All-SEC.
Back in June, Charles said his son came close to besting in one-on-one competition only once ... but offered an asterisk.
“I don’t think he ever beat me. One time he was winning and I pulled a hamstring,” Charles confessed. “That’s the last time we actually banged against each other.”
Charles is, of course, Nic’s biggest supporter. The night of the 2019 Draft, he told reporters that Nic would be an NBA All-Star in two years, quite a heady prediction for a player taken in the second round by a team with two near seven-footers, Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan, ahead of him.
On the other hand, Charles has a good track record. Nic played limited minutes with the Nets, but had moments that whet fans appetite for more. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyrie Irving have raved about his potential.
So far, so good, coach.
- Nic Claxton is poised to fulfil the NBA dream his father started - Mollie Walker - New York Post