RJ Barrett has had an impressive start to his career with the New York Knicks as he adds another honor to his young career.
New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett has done more than live up to the hype so far in his NBA career. The team may continue to struggle, but Barrett has found ways to be productive offensively and orchestrate the team on both sides of the ball. The Knicks made a visit to Barrett’s hometown of Toronto, Canada, on Wednesday night in a losing effort against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors’ loss was inevitable, considering both teams were going in very different directions this season. Barrett finished the game with 16 points on 5 of 17 shooting, but the real story was his announcement before the game. The 19-year-old declared his intentions to play for the Men’s Canadian National Basketball Team next summer in hopes of representing his native country in the Olympics.
Barrett’s announcement via a press conference was essential to him and his pride in the country.
"“One hundred percent,’’ Barrett said. “I definitely plan on playing for my country this summer. I’m very proud to say that. Try to play every summer, as much as I can, so 100-percent planning on playing. It’s great to see everyone buying, trying to do something great for our country, try to get to Tokyo. Just really excited.”"
"“I feel like it’s a way to serve and give back to your country,” Barrett added. “So many people, especially being a basketball player, an NBA player, so many people give to me, give to us, every day. So for us to give back and make our country proud this is one of the ways we can do that.”"
Barrett played as a teenager internationally representing Canada, so he is no stranger to international competition. He would go on to talk about the early experience helping to mold him as a player building confidence.
"“Man, I remember that, that RJ, he was real confident,’’ Barrett said. “That kind of just showed me that it doesn’t matter who I play against or how old — because I was like two years younger than everybody — so just to be able to do my thing there kind of gave me the idea that I needed to start looking forward to going to the states. That helped boost my confidence.”"
Barrett will continue to grow throughout the regular season and will get valuable leadership experience on Team Canada next summer.
The Knicks can only see positive things coming from this decision to play against the best players in the world.