Corey Maggette Interview

We talk with the Clippers' forward about gaming, goals, and life in the NBA in our one-on-one interview.

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By Brian Ekberg
Design by Collin Oguro

Corey Maggette is one of the most exciting young players in the NBA, playing on a team--the Los Angeles Clippers--that hasn't always been known for the excitement it creates on the hardwood. After six years in the NBA--five of which were spent with the Clips--Maggette has found his stride as a player, posting stats that have gone up nearly across the board over the past several seasons. Though a wrist injury in early April sidelined Maggette for the rest of the 2004-05 season, he's been keeping busy in the offseason working to rehab the wrist and prepare for the upcoming 2005-06 Clippers campaign. He's also lending his services--or at least his likeness--to a video game, namely 2K Sports' upcoming NBA 2K6. Maggette will be the body template for virtual players in the upcoming hoops game, and he recently met with the 2K Sports development team so it could digitally scan his body for use in the game. We had a chance to talk to Maggette via phone during a break in the digital-scanning action, and were happy to find out that he's a big sports gamer, in addition to being an early adopter when it comes to gaming hardware. Check it out...

Maggette at a Glance

Age: 26
Birthplace: Melrose Park, Illinois
2004-05 Stats
Points per game: 22.2
Rebounds per game: 6.0
Assists per game: 3.4
Steals per game: 1.1
Free throw: .857
Field goal: .431
Last DVD watched: Are We There Yet?
Listening to: Fabolous, The Game, Jay-Z
What's on your TiVo: Smallville
Consoles owned: PSP, PS2
Games playing: ESPN NBA 2K5, Madden, NBA Live 2005, Mortal Kombat
Best basketball movie: Blue Chip
Worst basketball movie: Air Bud or Juwanna Mann

What has been your involvement with NBA 2K6 so far?
It's for just the [NBA 2K] games in general. They did a body scan of my whole body, taking pictures of it and scanning it on the computer to get the best image and likeness of myself. It was a great experience, just watching them do it. The guy was taking the pictures and then looking on the screen--it was an exact picture of myself; you know, tattoos, down to skin color, veins, muscle type, everything.

They have to get the tats right!
Oh they got those right. I mean, usually you see someone who has a tattoo in a video game, it looks like somebody just scribbled on there. But now they're so detailed with the stuff by really taking the pictures--not just one picture, but probably like 20 shots--trying to get the right color, the right skin type...definitely to get it to look exactly like you.

Are you standing up during the photos? Give us an idea of what you're doing during the process.
For the first part of it they just take a picture of you in your uniform. They have these two long ropes hanging from the ceiling that you stick your arms in, and they take maybe 30 shots of going around your whole body, just trying to get the right picture. From there we went upstairs and outside to take pictures as well, you know, turning clockwise, probably 30 pictures there--your shoes, your legs, every part of your body.

You weren't doing any motion capture?
There wasn't any motion capture. When I first started doing this type of stuff, I did it with the motion capture, where I was in one of those spandex suits with the balls on it, and I'm actually playing basketball against some people they brought in. They have it now so that they do the scan and they can also have the moves on it as well, so it's kind of interesting how they do it now.

Maggette will be the blueprint for all player models in NBA 2K6.
Maggette will be the blueprint for all player models in NBA 2K6.

So this isn't your first time being part of a hoops game.
No, not at all. Actually I went to Vancouver, to the EA Sports facility, to do my last body scan with the spandex suit and the balls to do the motion capture, and it was a great experience. I mean, it was hot. I think that's the biggest thing with that one. I mean, you're in that motion-capture suit, man, and it's just so hot and you're running around and playing basketball and doing dunks. And actually you're playing five-on-five against some other guys.

I'm interested in hearing how you think things have changed in terms of how accurately they capture you, compared to the first time you did this.
Well the first time I did it, they just kind of took pictures. If you look at the earlier versions of video games, the pictures of the person really weren't as clear. You couldn't really tell the person, you couldn't see their facial expression, you really didn't know what the tattoo was. But now, doing what I did today, they have an exact replica of yourself.

I would imagine that isn't something you get used to, that it's strange seeing yourself on the screen like that.
It's kind of cool because I play video games a lot, so when I see myself in a video game I'm like, "Eh, that kinda looks like me, but not really." But now the picture is exactly like myself. And then they take the facial expressions that you do in a game--your happy expressions, your smiles, your frowns, your excitement. Now it's going to be yourself in a video game like you're really playing the game out there.

Making foes look silly on the court and off.
Making foes look silly on the court and off.

You mentioned you're a gamer. Do you only like sports games, or are there any other genres you like?
It's pretty much sports games and the fighting games. Those are the ones I really play. NBA Live, ESPN 2K5, Mortal Kombat. I got every last version of Mortal Kombat.

How do you think the games capture real sports?
It's almost like a [180-] degree turn from the beginning where it started off. Now you look at games like Tecmo Bowl where it's almost like they drew a line out there and you're throwing some kind of line which was a football. And now that [game technology is] getting more mature, it's really growing. You have guys with moves and abilities, with dunks; you're looking at the person, and his jumping ability [is accurately modeled]. Things like that; it totally has changed where you definitely know that you're in the 21st century.

Keeping It Real

How do you approach a virtual game of basketball, as opposed to the real game? Is it all offense, or do you try to get some defense in there?
You're looking to play both, but, of course, in a video game, you're looking to score a lot and have fun in the game. I think playing in the NBA, you know different players' scouting reports. You know what a guy can do and what a guy can't do. I love playing with the Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, and the Seattle Supersonics. You know you're going to get five or six threes out of Peja [Stojakovic], which he's going to hit. You know Dirk [Nowitzki] is going to hit some threes, you know he's going to go to the free-throw line. You know Kobe is going to do what he got to do in a video game. You know Shaq, if you get it down in the post, you know he's going to try and dunk it every single time. You know all of these things, which you try to incorporate into the video game.

And when you play the Clips, do you play yourself or do you play the point guard?
I never play the Clips. Everyone always says, "Why do you never play as yourself?" I don't know; I like it when I see other people playing against our team and playing against myself.

"The biggest college game that I play continuously is Duke vs. UConn, where I'm always thinking about when we lost to them in the [1999 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship] and trying to get us the win."

When you play college games, do you play Duke?
Oh yeah, of course. You gotta have the rivalry: Duke, North Carolina, Maryland. The biggest college game that I play continuously is Duke vs. UConn, where I'm always thinking about when we lost to them in the [1999 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship] and trying to get us the win.

Corey Maggette in NBA 2K5, overrated or underrated?
I look at a guy's stats and look at how he's improved each year. For my first year on a video game, I couldn't shoot as much. I was a rookie. Second year I got a little better [and] third year. For the past three years, it's been over 20 points a game. It's been a total improvement from where I was in the beginning of the game to where I am now, as one of the key players in the game.

Authenticity counts, all the way down to the shoes.
Authenticity counts, all the way down to the shoes.

In the real NBA, all your numbers have gone up every year, so I would imagine the ratings would have to go up as well.
Oh yeah, definitely. Like I said, you go from [a rating of] 65 to 80 or 85. So I always see improvement.

Do a lot of your teammates play video games?
Man, every last one of them guys play every video game. We have at least five players on the team that have PSPs when they first came out. I know me, Shaun Livingston, and Mikki Moore, we were the first guys to go get them. Mikki got his first, and he told me "I just got one," and we were on the road and I wanted to go buy a PSP, but in California they were sold out. That's something I use all of the time, you know, I travel with that.

When the PSP launched back in March, they had a big launch event here in San Francisco, and we saw [Golden State Warriors forward] Mickael Pietrus at the event just waiting to get one.
Yeah, it's like when I saw it on the commercial it was like, "Man, this is going to be cool." And you see the guy [in the commercial] running around and he's in a shopping cart and I'm trying to figure out "What is this guy doing?" He's playing a video game, and the next guy is listening to music, and the next guy is watching a movie. I said, "Man, I got to get that," so I finally got one. And then I go home and set it down and I see my older brother and he says, "What is this? I want one of those!" So I've been trying to get more PSPs, but they've been sold out.

Does the team have tournaments?
Man, we definitely have tournaments. When it's football season, it's all John Madden. It's a John Madden massacre going on at the house. We've got four big-screen TVs, and all the rooms have PlayStations so you have guys playing in each room. You win, you stay. You lose, you go into the next room.

On the team, where do you think you fall in terms of gaming skill?
In football or...?

In any game.
I think I'm pretty good. It's like during the season is when you really play the game more and more. You're really tired and you just want to sit at the house and chill, and so you play video games. So during the season, I got to rate myself at, like, a 90. But during the offseason I slip to like a 60.

So how's your wrist doing?
It's getting better. I still have the brace on and [am] trying to do as much rehab as possible, trying to avoid surgery on it. If I have to do surgery on it, I'll do it; but right now it's not an option for me.

But it's not taking away in PSP time, I hope.
Oh no way. That's not going to go anywhere.

He had to wait for a PSP just like everyone else.
He had to wait for a PSP just like everyone else.

Let's talk a little bit about real basketball. What's your workout regimen like?
I think since my wrist has been injured, I haven't been able to get to the gym as soon as I want to. This was an opportunity for me to rest my body a little more. A typical day is getting up by, say, 8:00, going to the gym, doing my basketball workout, and then after that do my weight training. After the weight training, I do a little yoga and have been taking some pilates classes to help out with the flexibility and [my] core strengthening. After that, we go play five-on-five. My objective each year is to try and improve on one aspect of my game. It just so happens that each year my scoring has went up; rebounds, free-throw percentage, and field-goal percentage has went up as well. This past season I wanted to focus on getting my rebounds up and steals per game up. And that's something I did, but with that I ended up going up again in scoring; I averaged maybe 22 points a game. So you just got to look at yourself and say, "What can I do to improve on my game?" You just look at one aspect of your game; if you want it to be free-throw percentage, work on your free throws. If you look at the general managers of any team, they don't look at just the scoring part of a player; they look at the total aspect of a player and what he has done.

Is that how you approach each season, with specific goals in mind?
Yeah, every year I have specific goals on doing it.

Are they numerical? Do you say, "I want to score this many points or average this many rebounds"?
Three years ago, when I said I wanted to get my scoring up at least three points, I ended up averaging 17 points a game. And then I said the next year, "Maybe I can average 20," and I ended up averaging 20.6 points a game. I try to strive for the best, and I think each year it happens for me, so I just want to continue.

Time for an either/or question. Would you rather make the Western Conference All-Star team or have the Clippers make the playoffs next year?
That's a tough one. Definitely, I'm a team player. But you of course have to think about yourself as well and want to be in an elite group. Being in the playoffs is an elite group, but there's only a certain amount of guys that get the opportunity and the blessing to [be on an All-Star team]. If I had to make a choice right now, I'd pick the playoffs for my team. If my team wins games and I play the way I'm playing, the All-Star will be right there.

Thanks, Corey, for your time.

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