The 23-year old, nicknamed “Aussie Shaq,” is the first Indigenous Australian player to play in the NBA, after being drafted 41st overall by the Toronto Raptors in the 2008 NBA draft.
Jawai was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks during the offseason.
Interbasket: What are your experiences as an Aborigine playing basketball in Australia?
Nathan Jawai: Playing in Australia is a great way for any player to understand the game as a professional sport. With the Australian media, the whole hype isn’t as much as in the states. So being a Aborigine isn’t much different as being of another cultural background.
Ibn: Because of this, are you closer to Aborigine players such as Patty Mills, than you are with other Australians?
Jawai: I am good mates with Pat, though, other Aussy players are still good mates of mine.
Ibn: What are the Australian things you missed about home? (eg. Vegemite? Tim Tams? Rugby League?)
Jawai: Cairns, big shout out to all over there. Well, Vegemite of course, don’t no why you guy’s don’t sell it over her, give it a chance. The Rugby league is not a fan of mine, though Union is much more of my likening. Also, the lifestyle, not complaining that NBA lifestyle is anything bad, though living in Australia is something special that you do not realize until you leave the great land of down under.
Ibn: What is your impression of the NBA, and the United States thus far?
Jawai: The NBA can be summed up well from my mate Bogut. It’s much more of a marketing ploy, other than a sport. Though, my impressions right now is that is high intensity and a massive privilege for anyone to be associated with the NBA.
Well, the states is ALL you can expect. Over the top.
Ibn: Are you working on any specific part of your game?
Jawai: Fitness, to keep up the game schedules
Ibn: How are you doing recovering from your heart problem?
Jawai: It’s going fine. No recurring symptoms for awhile and now hoping for a full recovery.
Ibn: Who are your favorite players?
Jawai: Well, a range of players for their specific fundamentals they bring to the game. Dwight Howard’s aggressiveness at the post and his D. Now going back to the old-timers in Australian NBL, Andrew Gaze commitment and leadership. Though mostly the biggest influence on me has to be, (Dirk) Nowitzki. His current leadership and hints to me have totally influenced me on how to improve my game in every way. Oh, he’s gonna like that
Ibn: Have you ever considered playing in Europe before being drafted in the NBA?
Jawai:No, not really. Though the future is an untold story for today.
Ibn: What are your favorite countries to visit? What countries would you like to visit?
Jawai: To visit, I would love to go to Europe, specifically Spain. Though also, to see friends and family, go back to Australia for a extended holiday.
Ibn: Hey, thanks so much for your time, Nathan. Good luck this season.
Jawai: Sorry I had limited time, I could only answer some of the questions. Thanks guys.