Los Angeles Brandon Rush slipped on his Indiana Pacers practice jersey and sweats Saturday night in a surprisingly tiny visitor’s locker room in the basement of the Staples Center, home of both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.
Flashing the same smile he made famous during three wildly successful seasons at KU, the second-year pro sheepishly admitted the NBA lifestyle is definitely all it’s cracked up to be.
“It’s great. All the travel we do ... tons of cities ... tons of money,” Rush said before the Pacers-Clippers game.
Rush, who makes $1,934,160 this season, recently had his option picked up for next year for a cool $2,069,040.
He’ll earn $2,956,658 in 2011-12 and $4,089,058 in ’12-13, if, as expected, the Pacers continue to pick up his year-to-year contract options.
Even with the bucks ...
“I do miss college. I miss the (Jayhawker) Towers,” said Rush, who planned to head over to Kansas University’s team hotel to visit with the Jayhawks immediately after Saturday night’s game. He won’t be able to attend today’s KU-UCLA game in Pauley Pavilion.
“I miss all the people, all the guys,” he added, identifying a couple of negatives of being a wealthy 24-year-old pro.
“Some things are different. I have to pay bills. I have a lot of people beg me for money all the time.”
Rush sometimes has to say no to requests for cash.
“I try to say I’m on a budget,” Rush said.
Now playing a reserve role after opening the season as a starter, Rush is not as recognizable in Indianapolis as, say, his college town, Lawrence.
“We’ve got the Colts now,” he said of the undefeated NFL team. “They are taking all the spotlight. It’s all right, though. They’re great.”
Kind of like the 2009-10 Jayhawks, who take a 6-0 record into today’s game versus UCLA.
“They definitely could win it all,” Rush said. “They’ve got the right team. They’ve got bigs, got guards. They’ve got the same team we had (that won 2008 NCAA title).
“Cole (Aldrich) is getting better every year. Sherron (Collins) gives them experience. The (Xavier) Henry cat has been playing well. All they’ve got to do is win.”
Rush is really hoping for a KU win today.
“So I can talk stuff in here,” he said of the Pacers’ locker room, which includes former North Carolina center Tyler Hansbrough. “His locker is right next to mine,” Rush noted, pointing to the empty stall. “I want to talk some stuff on Earl (Watson, former UCLA guard with Pacers).”
Rush was hoping to be reunited with his brother Kareem, Saturday night. But Kareem, who plays for the Clippers, tore his ACL last week.
“It’s something with the Rush family I guess,” said Brandon, who, of course, suffered a torn ACL at KU. “First my older brother, JaRon, did it. Then I was next. Now Kareem. He seems to have a good attitude about it. He’ll have surgery next week. I’ll try to help him as much as I can.”
Brandon might need a pep talk from Kareem as well. He entered Saturday’s game in a huge slump, scoring just eight points in the last four games. For the year, he averages 7.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest.
“It’s not confidence,” Rush said. “I just need to get my stroke back.”
Coach Jim O’Brien says Rush will come off the bench for the foreseeable future.
“He is not making shots. He is not playing with force,” O’Brien stated. “We started him 15 games after he caught fire at the end of last season. We’re trying to help him become as consistent a player as he can.”
O’Brien likes Rush personally, but he’s just seeking more consistent production.
“He’s a happy-go-lucky kid,” O’Brien said. “Nothing fazes him. He spends a lot of time on his shooting and ballhandling. We have confidence in him. He’s one of our fastest guys who has to fill the lane more.”
The Jayhawks, who Saturday practiced at a private residence near UCLA, were visited by NBA legend Jerry West, who addressed the team prior to the workout.