Ex-Cat Richard Jefferson 'having so much fun' as a natural behind the mic


RJ on his new role; 'I want to be honest'

Former Arizona Wildcats forward Richard Jefferson made his broadcasting debut at McKale Center on Sunday night, where he was, as expected, right at home.

Jefferson sounded comfortable, confident and played it right down the middle as Arizona beat Cal Poly 82-61.

"I want to be honest. I don't want to be sympathetic and I don't want to be critical; just want to be honest," he told ArizonaMaven's Steve Rivera after the game.

"If someone should have made a layup you say that's something he knows he should have made. He's not going to get mad at me ... I didn't miss it. I think it's about having fun and to laugh. One of the things I want to do is to talk freely to the guys and if anyone has any issue they can always reach out to me."

(Read Rivera's Q&A with Jefferson at our sister site, AllSportsTucson.com)

As anybody who has followed Jefferson via his Road Trippin' podcast or social media knows, he has a wicked sense of humor, which, I assume, will shine through even more over time.

On Sunday, working with a total pro in play-by-play man Daron Sutton, he delivered some good lines.

When UA freshman guard Brandon Williams drove the lane and air-balled a shot by leaving it short, Jefferson said, "It was a little floater. He probably needed a big floater."

When freshman guard Devonaire Doutrive made a crazily athletic move along the baseline, going up and under the basket and finishing with a left-handed layup, Jefferson laughed, "He now has two more points at Arizona with his left hand than I had."

When commenting on the NCAA -- which suspended Jefferson for a game in 2000 because he took NBA Finals tickets from Bill Walton, the father of teammate/roommate/best friend Luke Walton -- Jefferson deadpanned, "We don't have a good relationship, me and the NCAA."

And he delivered some sound advice about basketball ... and life.

"Nobody has ever been coddled to greatness," Jefferson said. "So for all these parents and everybody who want to baby someone ... nobody has ever been coddled to greatness. And that basically means there is going to be some fires that people have to be able to go through and push themselves through in order to be great players."

It was fitting that Jefferson's debut for the Pac-12 Networks was on the UA campus, where the basketball team's practice facility is named after him due to his $3.5 million donation to help kick-start the project.

"I'm having so much fun. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, so I was coming down to these games. The first Final Four I ever remember watching was the Damon Stoudamire/Khalid Reeves Final Four in 1994," he said on the Pac-12 Networks.

"I care about this program because I'm from here. This is more than just a school I went school or where I played basketball. This is where I grew up."

Jefferson, who retired in the offseason after scoring 14,904 points in a 17-year NBA career, is the newest addition to an impressive roster of former Arizona Wildcats in broadcasting; Javier Morales of AllSportsTucson.com has compiled this expanding list.

Arizona coach Sean Miller said he talked to Jefferson before the game.

"He's an amazing story, watching how articulate he is ... the NBA career he's had," Miller said. "And the path that he is on right now, announcing is seamless for him. It seems like he's been doing it for 10 years. It's good to have an Arizona guy behind the microphone."