His last name, Ron Harper Jr.'s biggest challenge.

His last name, Ron Harper Jr.’s biggest challenge.

Like the Lakers with Scotty Pippen Jr, the Raptors gave a chance to a son of a former NBA champion with the Bulls this summer. Like the former point guard of Vanderbilt, seen to his advantage during the Summer League with the “Purple & Gold”, Ron Harper Jr. was not drafted this year and immediately signed a “two-way contract” with the Toronto franchise at the end of June.

The son of the five-time NBA champion (three titles with the Bulls, two with the Lakers) thus begins his professional career through the “back door”, since he will have to prove himself during training camp to join the final squad. of the Raptors. Beginnings in the NBA at the antipodes of those of his father, a “lottery pick” in 1986 (8th choice in Cleveland), author of a first season at 22.9 points per game.

“Junior”, not “son of”

But that’s exactly what the 22-year-old winger is looking for, on the eve of starting his professional career, and that’s what he’s always been looking for: to differentiate himself from his father.

When I was a kid, it was something I always fought against he says of his last name. ” It was his name against mine. […] I was telling my dad that I was going to change my last name because I didn’t want people to know he was my dad. It’s funny when I think about it. […] And II always said, if I had to write my autobiography, I would call it ‘Junior’, because I always wanted to be a different person and basketball player from him. This is how I want to be perceived. »

The former resident of the university of Rutgers also thanks his father on this point, who has always encouraged him to follow his own path.

Growing up, I realized it was inevitable [les comparaisons]. And sometimes that can feel like a heavy burden to bear. But he’s still good advice, especially since he knows a thing or two about winning in the NBA. He always told me he would be proud of me no matter what. That our backgrounds are different, that we are different players and people. »

A solid player on the NCAA circuit (12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in four seasons), Ron Harper Jr. must now start from scratch in the Big League. And if he wants to live his career far from the shadow of his father, he admits all the same that certain things will remind the former acolyte of Michael Jordan.

I always thought that my father and I are two completely different players. Simply because he was a playmaker, and I was a winger. But in reality, after several years, I realize that we have similarities “says Ron Harper Jr. “ Especially in defense, that’s where I look like him the most. He was a fullback who could defend multiple positions, and that’s a profile that still works in the NBA. »

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