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Larry Hughes
As told to Chris Mannix
May 14, 2007
TWO SUMMERS ago the Cavaliers signed 6'5" multitalented guard Larry Hughes from the Washington Wizards. The numbers Cleveland liked: Hughes's averages of 22.0 points and 2.9 steals in 2004--05. The numbers Hughes liked: five years and up to $70 million. His nickname is Smooth, but his transition to life as King James's court sidekick was bumpy. A new system, a new role, a broken finger that cost him much of '05--06. Now, though, come the dividends—a Hughes who is happy, healthy and hard to stop. He averaged 19.0 points in Cleveland's first-round sweep of his old team and was at it again on Sunday, scoring 17 points and making four steals as the Cavs knocked back the Nets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis.
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May 14, 2007

Larry Hughes

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TWO SUMMERS ago the Cavaliers signed 6'5" multitalented guard Larry Hughes from the Washington Wizards. The numbers Cleveland liked: Hughes's averages of 22.0 points and 2.9 steals in 2004--05. The numbers Hughes liked: five years and up to $70 million. His nickname is Smooth, but his transition to life as King James's court sidekick was bumpy. A new system, a new role, a broken finger that cost him much of '05--06. Now, though, come the dividends—a Hughes who is happy, healthy and hard to stop. He averaged 19.0 points in Cleveland's first-round sweep of his old team and was at it again on Sunday, scoring 17 points and making four steals as the Cavs knocked back the Nets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis.

On switching from shooting guard to point guard in March
It was an easy transition; I've always been used to having the ball and making decisions. Coach [ Mike Brown] told me he wanted to have the ball in my hands earlier in the shot clock so I can make more plays for my teammates. As a point guard I can get any shot whenever I want it. I don't have to worry about when I'm going to get the ball, so I don't press as much.

On differences between ex-Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas and LeBron James
Gil is constantly hungry and always trying to prove people wrong. He looks at me more as a big brother—I was in Golden State with him when he was a rookie [in 2001--02]. LeBron was established when I got here. He didn't need me to help him. He's on his way to being one of the best players to play this game.

On how he picked up basketball
I didn't start real young. And I never, ever thought about making money at it or being a star. My mom [Vanessa] just wanted me to play something organized. So after messing around with it for a little while, when I was 12, I started to play on teams. I've never played any other organized sports. Not one.

On becoming the man of the house when he was in eighth grade
My mom told me this was my role and I had to make good decisions. It made me stronger. I had to learn how to discipline myself. When my mom was at work [as a bank teller], I couldn't be out doing crazy stuff. I had to make sure my brother [Justin, seven years younger] and I were eating the right food and watching the right TV shows. I made meals, simple stuff like PB & J, noodles, chicken soup, cereal. And I made sure we didn't set anything on fire or drink bleach. I didn't want my mom to worry when she was at work. That thinking kept me out of trouble.

On dealing with the loss of Justin, who died of heart failure last May at 20, nine years after having a heart transplant
It took a lot of time. I had mood swings, and every day was different. Talking about it to family and friends helped. Now, before every game I say a prayer and talk to him. He gets me going.

On missing Washington
I loved the city and the guys I played with, but here we have a real shot at the conference finals. You can't turn that down. We're close to being a title contender too. We need to work on our killer instinct. When we have teams down 10, 15 points, we have to stop letting them back into games.

On the rapper Nelly
We're close. He put me in his [Dilemma] video. We first met in the schoolyard [as teenagers]. He loves to play ball, and we have a lot in common. He's a young black guy from St. Louis trying to open doors for kids, and so am I. We talk a lot about that.

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