SACRAMENTO -- De’Aaron Fox broke the internet with his post-practice comments earlier this week regarding whether he would have stayed at the University of Kentucky longer if he was getting paid.
“F--- no, what?” the 21-year-old said with a smile as cameras were rolling. “Man, I’ll tell you this - if I was at Kentucky and we were able to get paid, I still would have left after a year.”
The debate on whether college athletes should receive payment for their services is heating up after California Governor Gavin Newson signed a bill in late September that would allow NCAA players to sign with agents and seek out endorsement deals without being ruled inelligble.
It’s a hot topic of discussion that was thrown out to Fox during a standard media scrum and his response still is going viral two days later.
Outside of the f-bomb, which Fox has been known to drop here and there while the cameras are on, the answer, as well as the delivery, show a developing side of the Kings’ young point guard.
“I’m just trying to get into that leadership role, still learning it, just being able to speak up and be a vocal leader on the court,” Fox told NBC Sports California on Thursday morning. “With the media, I think I’m just being myself, that’s all it really is.”
Fox is funny and quick-witted. He’s also cocky and sometimes lacks a filter. More than anything else, he’s straightforward and honest with his answers, even if that gets him in a little bit of hot water.
Win or lose, Fox is known to wait for the media after every game. He doesn’t shy away from the bright lights, even when he knows the questions might be unpleasant.
Drafted as a 19-year-old, he’s growing up in the fishbowl that is the NBA. All eyes are on him, especially as he continues to show improvement and develop into a franchise cornerstone.
“I’m not going to say anything that’s too controversial or disrespectful or anything, but I just like being myself - funny person, lighthearted, I just like to have fun, I like to enjoy my time, that’s really all that is,” Fox said.
Entering his third NBA season, Fox is hoping to see another substantial jump in his production. After posting 17.3 points and 7.3 assists per game last season, another leap forward could elevate him to elite status.
Despite his age, Fox quickly has become the face of the Kings’ franchise. While he might not always say things exactly the way the team would hope, he’s charismatic and candid. He’s also very direct with his teammates and he’s developing into more than just the team’s point guard.
“Being a leader, especially in this game, is more than being just one of the best basketball players on the team or on the court,” Fox said. “I think that’s something I’m still learning. It’s always going to be a process, even for vets. I know I have time and I feel like it’s coming.”
It’s hard not to like Fox and his honest responses. Media members hope he stays exactly the way he is. No clichés. No holding back. Even if that means having to sensor out a profane word or two every now and then.