It's probably fair to say that Josh Childress is the best American basketballer ever to play in Australia. The 32-year-old Californian played 398 NBA games, played in Europe, and has just finished his second season with the Sydney Kings.
If you're wondering how good he is, check these highlights from his last NBL game of the season against Perth Wildcats. Childress dominated. So sweet.
Friends call Childress "Chill" or "Chillington" or any of a number of versions of the word chill. Naturally, we sat down for a very chilled chat. Here's how that went.
Oh by the way, we started by asking about him sneakers. Why? This video might give you an idea. Yeah, he's rather partial to said type of footwear.
HuffPost Australia: We ask every sportsperson this. Who would win a fight between a kangaroo and an emu?
Chill: Hmmm. I’ve never seen an emu fight so I’m going to have to go with the kangaroo because of the kicking and punching. I know ostriches are strong. I’ve heard they can kill a lion. If an emu is that strong maybe it would have a chance.
HuffPost Australia: You have about 23 thousand million pairs of sneakers. In 25 words or less, what do you like about them?
Chill: I like sneakers because they are a visual broadcast of my mood and vibe at that particular time of the day.
HuffPost Australia: That’s a cool answer. So you’re from Compton, which as I’m sure our readers will know is a tough suburb in Los Angeles. I actually once interviewed a bunch of guys there who played for a very unlikely thing called the Compton Cricket Club. Have you heard about those guys?
Chill: Yeah I have.
HuffPost Australia: So a lot of those guys had a temptation to go the wrong way from an early age. Did you experience that?
Chill: There was obviously a temptation to go the wrong way but I grew up with a strong family structure and I had the positive influence of my older brothers who really helped me navigate that entire landscape. But I’ve seen the other side. I’ve seen guys who were talented and smart but didn’t have that structure, who had to fend for themselves day by day while their parents either weren’t around or their mum had to work and dad wasn’t around, or whatever the situation was. It was definitely sad to see but it’s the reality. My parents instilled at an early age that education was important, and that life outside our surroundings was possible.
HuffPost Australia: How did you end up at Stanford University?
Chill: It was a lot of hard work, you know? Dedication to both my basketball and my academics.
HuffPost Australia: Academically, what were you good at?
Chill: I was pretty even all around, I wouldn’t say I had one thing I was amazing at. I just liked school. I had a really close friend who was a teammate and he ended up going to Yale, and what we did is we just competed in the classroom so we took the element of competition off the court. That allowed both of us to go to levels where we may not have gone.
Childress has done heaps of charity work with kids. Here he is helping children displaced by Hurricane Sandy choose some toys.
HuffPost Australia: You had a broken hand this year. How is it now?
Chill: It’s good, it’s good. No issues at all.
HuffPost Australia: What’s harder to recover from, a broken hand or broken heart?
Chill: Probably the heart.
HuffPost Australia: Ever had one?
Chill: Oh man, years ago. It’s tough, it definitely is.
HuffPost Australia: No Australian ladies have come close to breaking your heart in your two years here?
HuffPost Australia: What about doing something nice to your heart that doesn’t involve breaking it? As in capturing it?
HuffPost Australia: OK then. Note to readers: Australian women not good enough.
Chill: No, it’s not like that. I came over here to play ball and you know, that’s what I’m going to do.
And he's pretty good at playing ball, too
HuffPost Australia: Some of the ball you’ve played in two seasons here has been inspirational and a level above what we usually see here. And some has been a little off-colour. Last season you flattened a guy and this season you had some run-ins with officialdom. Is there a fiery side of you that inevitably bubbles over? Is it a fight to suppress that side of you, or does it surprise you when it comes out?
Chill: Oh man, we’re going deep.
HuffPost Australia: We are.
Chill: I tend to take everything on my shoulders. The Kings in recent years haven’t done so well, so my mentality is I have to do everything I can to fix that, to help the team get back to where it was years ago. In relation to that incident last year, it was just a matter of me feeling I wasn’t going to let a guy bully me. And knowing the history of the Kings I don’t think we’d beaten the Wildcats in the previous 16 games, so there was definitely a motivation there, a desire to change that.
HuffPost Australia: And that desire just kind of blew up in an ugly way?
Chill: I’d say there’s a positive and a negative with all the things that have happened. Coming to Australia, basketball had become bittersweet for me. I’d had a pretty solid career, not the career I would have liked to have in terms of spending more years in the NBA, but a solid career. But basketball had become, like I said, bittersweet. Coming here, I felt like I redeveloped a passion for the game.
Chill in the early days, playing for the Phoenix Suns in 2010
HuffPost Australia: You’ve played in Europe and in the NBA. Where does our league rate?
Chill: Obviously the NBA is the pinnacle. But the NBL is a good league. I feel challenged, no question. There are some good players here. As the league grows, I hope you see more fringe or semi-retired NBA players come and play in Australia. But they won’t do it unless it makes a little bit more sense financially.
HuffPost Australia: Give us one tip to make our basketball game better so next time we go to the local court, we kill it.
Chill: Get in shape.
HuffPost Australia: That’s it?
Chill: One of the things I’ve been thinking about and I remember hearing from [soon-to-retire NBA legend] Kobe Bryant is that he would spend weeks and weeks in the summer not touching a basketball, getting in shape, because he felt like any time he didn’t get into shape beforehand, his attention to detail would diminish, his skill set would diminish, everything would be more sloppy than he would like.
HuffPost Australia: How about a shooting tip then. Just a simple shooting tip.
Chill: Catch the ball on the seams, fingers lined up with the lines on the ball and let it rip.
HuffPost Australia: OK, and how about a good healthy life tip? What’s a patented Josh Childress habit we could all benefit from?
Chill: That’s a simple one, just eat vegetables with every meal.
HuffPost Australia: Even breakfast?
Chill: Yeah, it’s hard with breakfast but I try to have some spinach in my omelette or some peppers, or as you guys call it, capsicum.
HuffPost Australia: Have you been to any good beaches in Australia?
Chill: I’m not really a beach guy, I’m already tanned enough I think.
HuffPost Australia: Ha! But it’s not about being tanned, it’s about having a swim.
Chill: We went up to Terrigal and Avoca [on the NSW Central Coast]. That was nice.
HuffPost Australia: How many more seasons?
Chill: As long as my body holds up. The two major injuries I’ve had this year are freak hand injuries, it’s not my body breaking down, so a couple more years probably.
HuffPost Australia: What do you think of young Aussie basketball talent Ben Simmons? Barack Obama just said he was going to be a great.
Chill: I hope so, he’s extremely talented, obviously physically gifted, so if he can evolve his game then hopefully he will be. I think it would be cool for Australia, I don’t know if he’s coming back to play for [the Australian national men’s team] the Boomers, but that’d be awesome for the country.
HuffPost Australia: The Rio Olympics are in August. Australia and the US will be there playing basketball. Who will you be cheering for?
Chill: I have to root for America but Australia will be second on my list. You’ll have a talented team.
HuffPost Australia: Hope to see you next year, Chill. Thanks for talking to us.
Chill: Thanks, see you then.