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Nets’ Joe Harris talks All-Star contest, life

Nets sharpshooter and All-Star 3-point contest winner Joe Harris takes a shot at some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.

Q: Describe what the basketball hoop looks like when you’re in a zone.
A: It’s not so much how it looks, it’s more how it feels. It just feels, when you’re locked in and you get your first couple to go, it feels like you could hit anything, to be honest. You can shoot with a lot of confidence, and that’s what all shooting really is at the end of the day, confidence and rhythm, and once you get it going, the basket starts to feel really big.

Q: Have you ever lost your confidence?
A: Yeah, definitely. You lose your confidence all the time. But it’s just a matter of over the years just figuring out how you can lock yourself back in. My whole thing has always been as a shooter you kind of have to have short-term memory. You can’t be too high with the makes, you can’t be too low with the misses. You gotta just stay even-keeled.

Q: I’ve read where you used to take 1,000 shots a day.
A: Oh, I don’t know about that. I’ve been more of the mind that sometimes less is more, especially with shooting. I mean, I’m a jump-shooter, too, so I try and be real efficient when I’m shooting, and I’m more quality over quantity.

Q: Did you with a basketball growing up?
A: I did. I was a big Luke Ridnour [of the Seattle SuperSonics] fan growing up. I remember watching something about him and like how he used to carry his basketball with him everywhere that he went. I was just trying to mimic him.

Q: So you actually had the ball in the bed with you?
A: Yeah.

Q: For how long?
A: Probably like when I was really young — third, fourth, fifth grade I would say.

Q: You don’t do it anymore?
A: (Laugh) No.

Q: If you could play anyone in the history of the NBA in a game of H-O-R-S-E, who would it be?
A: Michael Jordan probably. Just to share the court with him would be pretty sweet.

Joe Harris with the trophy for winning All-Star weekend's 3-point contest.
Joe Harris with the trophy for winning All-Star weekend’s 3-point contest.Getty Images

Q: If you could pick the brain of one player in NBA history, who would it be?
A: I would probably want to pick Pete Maravich’s brain. He seemed like he was way ahead of his time, sort of a basketball savant, the things that he came up with to help improve his game. He sort of revolutionized how people do ballhandling drills.

Q: Give me a scouting report on Joe Harris.
A: I would say not looking to handle the ball … looking to come off the screens, shoot … active, tough defender … and probably try to make me put the ball on the floor or pressure me to handle it and not let me shoot.

Q: Describe your on-court mentality.
A: Doing whatever it takes for us to win. If that means getting a box-out every time, diving on the 50/50 balls, knocking down shots, whatever it is, whatever it takes to win.

Q: What drives you?
A: I would just say I’ve always been sort of internally motivated, just to do well for myself. I don’t really get caught up in what everybody says or thinks. I have a lot of just personal initiative just to go well — and compete against myself almost.

Q: Describe Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
A: Coach Atkinson is fiery, I would say that first and foremost. He’s real tough, he’s a competitor, he’s got a chip on his shoulder. He’s real personable though, too. All the players have got a lot of respect for him. We all love playing got him. I think a lot of that is just because he’s got that sort of toughness to him, he’s not backing down from anybody. He’s grown and learned a lot just like a lot of us players have.

Q: Where does that chip come from?
A: I’m not really sure. I think a lot of it maybe has to do with the fact that he has grinded it out to get to this position.

Q: Describe your college coach, Virginia’s Tony Bennett.
A: Aside from my dad, Coach Bennett has had the biggest impact on my basketball career and my life. I still communicate with him pretty regularly. Anything that happens in my life, he’s the type of guy that’s there for you.

Q: What is the difference in D’Angelo Russell from a year ago?
A: I think the talent level has always been there. He’s always been an All-Star-caliber player. He’s taken steps from a leadership standpoint. You always see him breaking down film. You see him communicating with everybody, just discussing different things that happen over the course of the game, different reads. He’s just mature a lot in that way, and he’s taking on sort of the point guard/quarterback role, and I think you’ve seen obviously the game follow suit with that.

Q: How scary was it for you when you almost lost your father, also named Joe Sr., when you were in middle school?
A: He had a really strange disease called viral encephalitis. He was in the hospital for, I think, 40-plus days, 50 days. It just kind of happened out of nowhere. It was at the end of his basketball season, it just all sorta hit him quickly. Even after he was in the hospital, they were really concerned that he wasn’t gonna come back to full health. They were anticipating him being handicapped, a number of different things, not to mention the fact that if he did survive, they were just worried that he wouldn’t be able to come back fully functioning, and they were talking about us as a family having to prepare to live with a handicapped father, and him having some difficulties speaking, a number of different things. But my dad is miraculously back normal, completely healthy, and no problems now.

Q: What was that like for a son to go through that? He was your boyhood idol.
A: For me, it strengthened my faith. You can’t take things for granted. You never know when your health can be compromised and you’re gonna face a situation like that. And I think it makes you just appreciate waking up each day and just being healthy.

Launching from long-distance in Charlotte.
Launching from long-distance in Charlotte.NBAE/Getty Images

Q: Your father was a yeller and a screamer when he was your basketball coach at Chelan High in Washington.
A: He was a tough coach. He started to ease off a little bit when I got into high school. He’d been coaching at that point probably 25 years or so. He’s an unbelievable coach, he’s in the Hall of Fame in Washington. I was really lucky to play for him.

Q: Describe him.
A: He’s tough in the classroom, tough on the court, but he’s the first person to come up to you and lend you a hand, or be that voice or that ear that you need.

Q: A year before your father’s life-and-death struggle, you lost your cousin Tricia Haerling in a car accident.
A: Tricia was a year below me, so we grew up doing everything together, and when we lost her, it was an unbelievably difficult time. There was like a close-knit group of us — cousins, my sisters — that were all between three or four years within each other. She was obviously a very close part of the family. It was really difficult on everyone. … She was an incredible person, incredible athlete, great student, well-liked by everybody. That’s why it shook up the community just as a whole. Obviously it shook up our family, but it took a toll on the community as well. You lose somebody that has got such a bright future at such an early age.

Q: It really affected you.
A: I didn’t go to school for a while actually, to be honest. We spent a lot of time with the family. Everybody was together, and yeah … I don’t think I went to school for probably 2, 2¹/₂ weeks after that.

Q: Describe the six months you were out of the NBA in 2016, when you were traded by Cleveland to Orlando and then waived by the Magic.
A: I was actually going through rehab during that period ’cause I had surgery on my foot. And I was working out at the New York Athletic Club with a couple of different trainers that I had here in the city just trying to get healthy and get my body right so I could at least try out for some teams during free agency, and then I was hoping to just make a training camp roster, but then I ended up being fortunate to get a contract here in Brooklyn.

Q: Describe the night you scored 36 points in a 2013 Virginia win against Duke.
A: It was a great run for the program and now you see where UVa is at, but it was fun to be a part of the earlier stages of sort of laying the foundation for the program.

Harris (left, pre-beard) celebrates with Virginia teammates Justin Anderson and Teven Jones after the Cavaliers beat Duke in 2013.
Harris (left, pre-beard) celebrates with Virginia teammates Justin Anderson and Teven Jones after the Cavaliers beat Duke in 2013.Getty Images

Q: What was your reaction when the Charlottesville, Va., violence took place?
A: I was shocked, because that’s not indicative of the community at all. I don’t know the stats on it, but I would say a majority of the people that were taking part in those sort of demonstrations were not from the community of Charlottesville.

Q: Describe Game 4 of the 2015 Eastern Conference finals, when the Cavaliers finished a sweep of the Hawks to advance to the Finals to face Golden State.
A: It was just pretty sweet to be a part of that team — first experience in the NBA, and you make it to the NBA Finals.

Q: LeBron James wanted you to play in that game.
A: Yeah he did. He even said it at halftime. We were up by quite a bit, and his goal was to give me, to play significant minutes, so that was pretty cool [finishing with seven points in 6 minutes of playing time].

Q: Did you enjoyed your G-League experience with the Canton Charge?
A: It’s getting better and better, but you’re gonna see it probably 5, 10 years from now, it’s gonna be really similar to minor league baseball. I bet more people will get funneled through there before they get to the NBA.

Q: Why do you wear the No. 12?
A: I’ve been No. 12 my entire career. My cousin Nikki Haerling was a good basketball player, she wore No. 12 in high school and college, and my dad, he was No. 12 as well. I actually just started wearing it when I got to high school my freshman year.

Q: Describe your hometown of Chelan, Wash.
A: It’s very typical small-town America. To this day it thrives a lot on tourism and agriculture. My grandparents owned an apple orchard when I was growing up — a lot of apples, cherries … now, actually, a lot of grapes, too, to be honest. A lot of Washington state is beautiful. You have just tons of mountains, beautiful bodies of water, you have a lot of rolling hills in eastern Washington. I’m biased, obviously, but there’s not a lot of places in the world that are like where I grew up.

Q: The quotes from John Wooden, Charles Barkley and others you wrote in Sharpie on your bedroom wall, are they still there?
A: They’re still there. My mom I don’t think will ever paint over them (smile).

Q: You’re a Seahawks fan.
A: I loved Shaun Alexander, [Matt] Hasselbeck, those guys. Now I’m a big Russell Wilson fan. Loved Marshawn Lynch.

Harris' three dinner guests: John Wooden, Mother Teresa, Gandhi
Harris’ three dinner guests: John Wooden, Mother Teresa, GandhiGetty Images (2), AP

Q: Three dinner guests?
A: John Wooden, Mother Teresa, Gandhi.

Q: Why Gandhi?
A: He just seems like he’s a very influential figure filled with a lot of wisdom.

Q: Mother Teresa?
A: Same thing. She seemed to have the biggest impact on the world without wanting anybody to know about it.

Q: Favorite TV show?
A: “True Detective.”

Q: Favorite book?
A: I like this book by Angela Duckworth called “Grit.” It’s sort of like a Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hours-[of-practice]-type situation, like people getting to really successful points by being able to overcome certain obstacles or tribulations along the way.

Q: Favorite meal?
A: Probably anything my mom cooks. … I used to love her chicken fettuccine.

Q: Favorite Brooklyn things?
A: My favorite part about Brooklyn is just all the different restaurants, honestly, so I kind of eat my way away around the borough. My girlfriend and I love going on dates, trying different spots.

Q: What would your recruiting pitch to free agents be about playing for the Nets?
A: I would just say I think it’s evident what we have going on here. There’s like an authenticity to the culture that’s here, none of it is fake. People appreciate being here, being a part of this organization. There’s a good level of respect that’s genuine between the players, the coaches, the performance staff, the front officec — everybody gets along with one another and enjoys being here. You gotta be happy where you go to work, and we all love coming in here.

Q: Is this a playoff team?
A: I think so. We have high expectations in ourself, but I think rightfully so. We’ve kind of earned the right at this point to feel that way.

Q: Describe Nets fans.
A: I think this is a team that is fun for people who live in Brooklyn to root for because we are active in the community, too. People are familiar with us. We are fully ingrained in being in Brooklyn and taking part in the community.

Q: What do you like best about this team?
A: The camaraderie. To me, it feels a lot like sort of a college environment. It’s genuine, and that’s really hard to come by.

Q: The beard stays?
A: I’ll probably shave it when the season’s over with, but for right now it’ll probably stay.

Q: What does your girlfriend, Ina Browning, think?
A: She’s not a fan. She wants it gone.

Q: Are you trying to test her?
A: (Smile) I am a little bit, I’m testing her patience.

Q: So how will winning the 3-point contest change your life?
A: I don’t think it changes it too much at all, to be honest.

Q: You hope it doesn’t.
A: But why would it? I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you who won the 3-point contest five years ago.

Q: Put into words what it meant to you.
A: I mean, it was fun. It was just like an honor to be invited, to be a part of a competition with so many great players and shooters.

Q: Why didn’t you enter the dunk contest?
A: I’m still waiting on my invite. Hopefully I can get one next year (smile).

Q: Yeah, what’s the deal?
A: I don’t know. People are, you know, they’re hating against me, man (smile).

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