MIAMI – Heat guard Josh Richardson spent two years at University of Tennessee studying to be a doctor.
But then he was told this basketball thing could work out so he sat down with his parents and they decided to pursue an NBA career he would have to change his major. No longer in pre-med he decided to work toward a psychology degree.
And although it has worked out pretty good – Richardson was a second-round pick of the Heat in 2015 and he is making $875,000 this season – he still would like to someday get back into the field.
I sat down with Richardson for the latest installment of our question and answer segment we will bring you throughout the season.
Q: When did you think you might want to be a doctor?
JR: I always wanted to do stuff like that when I was growing up. I went to UCLA the summer after my ninth grade year to a medical forum. I sat in on a surgery and did a lot of medical stuff. That validated I wanted to do it. In high school I started working toward it.
Q: You sign with Tennessee and decide to go to med school. How did you balance academics and athletes at first?
JR: I knew it was going to be tough. I was prepared for it going in. The time demands were really tough. After I changed my major to psychology my junior you I really got to focus on basketball.
Q: Those first two years did you have any time for yourself? Was it just school and basketball?
JR: It was pretty close to it. I had a couple of semesters where I wouldn’t have a lab. Where I would have just regular lectures. But normally I’d have like five hours of labs a week and then I’d try to find time around it to hang out with friends but it was tough.
Q: The first two years what were your toughest courses?
JR: Neuroscience and applied anatomy. Neuroscience is a lot of small formulas and a lot of nerve endings you got to know. Anatomy classes are tough because you have to learn every part of the body. It’s tough to go in a room one morning after studying for so long and they have every part of the body on skeletons hanging up and they don’t have anything on but lines and you have to know every body part.
Q: Why did you switch majors as a junior?
JR: The classes were only going to keep getting harder. At first I didn’t have the mindset to play basketball after college, I was planning on on going to grad school. My junior year it was like I could play at the college level so if I was going to (try to play in the NBA) I’m a person that is going to go all in. So I talked to my parents and we came to the decision I needed to change my major to something a little less time consuming.
Q: Do you miss it?
JR: Yeah. I want to get back into it when I’m done playing. I want to get my PT (physical therapist) degree.
Q: What about being a surgeon?
JR: I don’t want to be a surgeon anymore. It was crazy. I was seeing people pass out looking at cadavers. So I think I want to do physical therapy but I don’t want to do sports therapy, I want to do physical therapy.
Q: You think you made the right choice?
JR: Yeah. I’d say so.