1-on-1 chat with Devin Booker about NBA 2K, Kobe Bryant and more

Devin Booker has had quite a summer.

He’s just signed a four-year Super Max contract extension with the Phoenix Suns, he’s renewed his partnership with Nike, and he’s landed on the cover of NBA 2K23. He joins Michael Jordan, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird as cover athletes for the latest installments of the iconic game.

Booker, 25, earned 21/22 All-NBA first-team honors, arguably his best season as a pro yet. Off the field, he collects cars and loves music, sometimes rubbing elbows with some of the world’s biggest celebrities. Put simply, Booker is a dynamic guy.

Rookie Wire met Booker at the launch of NBA 2K23 in Las Vegas. Our Cameron Tabatabaie chatted to the three-time All-Star about the game, the NBA and more.

This conversation has been edited slightly for clarity.

NBA 2K23

CT: First of all, congratulations on the big expansion. You also renewed with Nike, right? Well deserved. And landed the cover of 2K.

How did that come together? I don’t know if you looked at the betting markets but you were behind a few names on the list. How did this happen, walk us through.

DB: It’s been some time. It’s not something they do quickly. We did the photo shoot during the season. Obviously for me it’s a bucket list thing that I’ve always had. Honestly, at the top of the bucket list.

I just have a connection to games and the game 2K and have been playing it my whole life. Grace the cover and understand the magnitude of it and what it entails is all I signed up for.

CT: When you play the game, which two teams do you play as? Obviously the suns are off the board.

DB: It’s usually different, me and my buddies just pick at random. You make three times random and the opponent chooses.

CT: Who invented this? I think it’s a universal rule.

DB: But it’s good. It makes you play with different teams so people don’t just play with the heavyweights. That shows real skill.

CT: Do you remember the first time you were in a video game?

I mean growing up I was always creating a player. I’ve been doing this for a while. Thinking back to NCAA football, I used to develop a left-handed quarterback.

CT: Did you play soccer when you were a child? were you good

DB: I did. Very good. Very good.

And, you know, play 2K Creating my own player. And then they started the whole MyPark thing, it just boosted everything. I’ve always created a player, and it was my rookie year that face scans came into play for the first time. I remember it was summer league and they did our face scans. It was a big moment for me.

CT: Did you wear that suit with all the balls?

DB: No, I didn’t do that with the cover and all until recently. I walked afterwards, I stretched well beforehand.

I have previously complained to 2K about my player and his movements and how he was moving. But now I think he’ll be a lot better in ’23.

CT: Reach out to me by sharing this honor with Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Michael Jordan. Have you worked with them before and what does it mean to share the cover with them?

DB: I haven’t worked with them in the past but I (Taurasi) have been in Phoenix for a while and have the utmost respect for her. I call her the GOAT. Michael Jordan the same, and I feel the same way about Sue Bird. Just being mentioned by those names and sharing this moment together is incredible.

CT: I saw on twitter you said the cover might be the best ever. do you stand by it

DB: It’s the first time they’ve done a proper photoshoot for it. When they look at the covers, they usually just take a photo from Getty Images and put the art behind it.

So it’s really groundbreaking what we’ve done and I think if they’re moving forward, they’re going to do that every time now. Only the color scheme, including Phoenix, is fire.

CT: Looking ahead, who do you think will be making the cover next year? Who is your early favorite for 2K24?

DB: I’d say either (Jayson) Tatum or (Ja) Morant.

Around the NBA

CT: Tell me about Monty Williams. What does it mean for the suns?

DB: He means everything. He’s a real one. He’s one of those people who looks you straight in the eye when you talk to him and you feel everything he said.

It’s much bigger than just a basketball sport. He likes to build personal relationships and all that basketball stuff is a bonus. We simply share a common interest or love for the game. He really really cares about how you are doing and how you are doing in your daily life.

CT: What is your relationship with Chris Paul like and how has he changed your game?

DB: Our relationship keeps growing. We’ve both been CAA customers for a long time.

He kind of helped me, D’Angelo (Russell) and Karl (Anthony Towns). We trained beforehand, like preliminary designs, and CP showed up at our trainings. He was just always a mentor, someone to turn to. Obviously, as a longtime president of the NBPA, he understands the business. So he just gives you so many different perspectives. And he saw so many different things. He’s a great person.

And on the pitch we just took it to new heights. We always say, “Iron sharpens iron”. Such was our relationship, seen simply as his work ethic. Seeing his drive and everything that makes him a first-choice Hall of Famer.

CT: Did you change your diet?

DB: I’m not vegan, he didn’t catch me. Half of the team is vegan and half of the coaches also because of Chris. I usually eat clean.

CT: Who is the Suns’ best booray player?

DB: I would have to go with myself.

CT: OK, who’s second best? Who brought it to the suns?

DB: I can’t answer this, you must be in Booray Game to answer this.

I’ve been playing since my freshman year. So, PJ Tucker, Jared Dudley, Eric Bledsoe. This was my first real Booray game.

CT: We’re here in Vegas, what do you remember from your first trip to Summer League?

DB: I was just trying to prove myself and I’ve consistently had a couple of good games. This was just first NBA action, so I just wanted to get out there and prove I’m not some soft white kid.

CT: I host the Celtics Lab Podcast, and I’m going to selfishly ask you about Boston. So early in the season you overcame the Celtics fairly easily, but then they beat you on New Year’s Eve just as they were turning up the heat.

Tell me a little bit about the Celtics defense.

DB: They are versatile. They’re a great length. They have the ability to switch 1-5 and guard multiple positions. I think Robert Williams helps out a lot on the side and changes shots. Any team that can switch 1-5, your tall is not a disproportion to a faster guard. This is important.

CT: When they weren’t playing well in Boston, people wanted to break up Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown. Why do you think fans are so quick to count certain players or certain teams these days?

DB: It’s just the nature of the game, the nature of social media, and the nature of self-loathing. It’s to be seen in full, but at the end of the day, that’s the beauty of sport and everything that goes with it. We’re not out there to prove anyone wrong, but things like this happen.

“No comment”

CT: I call this section “no comment”. I’m going to ask questions that might be a little more sensitive, and if you want to say no comment, say no comment.

First question: I’ve done a little research and there’s a bit of a stir. Devin Booker, how is your love life?

DB: No comment. (Note: Booker answered this question and all of them with a big smile.)

CT: Oh, so you’ve played this game before?

DB: Yes, I’m good at it.

CT: OK, who loves Kobe Bryant more, you or Jayson Tatum?

DB: We both love him very much. As for the thing with that, I’ll get into that in more detail. I see (Tatum) getting hate just for representing Kobe and taking inspiration from him. But Kobe always said his only job was to inspire the next generation – he did that for us.

He will live in this game forever and not even just in basketball. Just his attitude towards life and how he changed and shaped so many people. I think it’s foolish when people hate someone like me or Jayson who represents one of our idols.

CT: Draymond Green recently defended Kevin Durant on his podcast and defended his trade request. He explained that players are corporations and business people, not just athletes. What’s the balance between player empowerment and loyalty as someone who has just ramped up their franchise?

DB: No comment.

CT: How is your relationship with Kevin Durant?

DB: We are Olympic gold medal teammates. That was a big moment for us. Mutual respect, 100 respect.

CT: My last question: what kind of car are you going to buy next? Are you staying with Chevy?

DB: Yes, all I have is Chevy. Probably a ’57 Bel Air. I’ve got the ’58 and the ’59 right now, so I want the Trifecta.



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