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Austin Reaves says NBA motivation is ‘to tell everybody to f— off’

Austin Reaves is not a particularly outspoken person. While he’ll show his emotions on the court from time to time, when talking to the media, Reaves is rather soft-spoken and as polite as you’d expect someone from rural Arkansas to be.

That demeanor makes his response when asked about what motivates him to play in the NBA all the more eye-catching. Like many others, and perhaps even more so considering where he’s from, Reaves had his doubters growing up and it was those very people that gave him the drive to make it in the NBA.

A recent profile on Reaves from Dan Woike of the LA Times included an exchange between Reaves and his agent prior to the NBA draft last year.

So before the NBA draft, his agent wanted to know why he wanted to do this.

Was it the money? The cars and the clothes? The women? The fame?

“I looked him in his eyes,” Reaves said. “And I was like, ‘To tell everybody to f— off.’ My whole life, I’ve been too skinny. Not athletic enough. At one point I wasn’t skilled enough. Everybody found excuses for me not to. … It was always, ‘We’re gonna find something about him that he can’t do good enough to make it.’

“Yeah, so it was a good feeling to just tell everyone to f— off.”

Woike’s piece is a glimpse into Reaves life growing up in rural Arkansas and is really a must-read. It also provides the closest look into Reaves off the court that fans have seen, leading to the above exchange.

It also digs into his on-court exploits from prep to pros, including a decorated high school career. And to be clear, he was an absolute legend at Cedar Ridge in high school.

For top athletes, though, a mindset like what Reaves has is almost necessary. Legends like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are notorious for taking even the smallest slights and using them as motivation, whether in a micro sense in a singular game or in a macro sense similar to Reaves.

Reaves was able to not only get the last laugh at his doubters via his NBA career but also in person as well as Woike also provided this little tidbit at the end.

He remembered hearing about someone in town who made a bet with one of Reaves’ friends, that he never would make it in the NBA.

During the All-Star break, Reaves said he crossed paths with that losing bettor, eye-balling the doubter before heading back to his life as an NBA player.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “It was amazing.”

Fortunately for Lakers fans, it is the purple and gold that are the beneficiary of Reaves’ mindset and approach to the game. And if he maintains that mindset throughout his career, the Lakers could be in store for his best seasons yet in the future.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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