Editor’s Note: I did this interview with Tobias and Boban last Tuesday, but between life, transcribing, and writing, it got pushed to today. A couple of the answers are therefore slightly dated, but most of it should work just fine. I also decided to take the approach of detailing how the conversation went, rather than just a straight “question and answer”. Hope you enjoy!
I was a bit nervous. I haven’t done many direct interviews, and I was about to be on the phone for 15 minutes with Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic. Turns out, I shouldn’t have been worried. Chatting with these two guys is extremely easy. They like to talk (particularly Tobias, actually), aren’t afraid to share their opinions, and are very friendly. It’s everything else you’ve heard from a million other people about the dynamic duo, but now I’ve experienced the same thing.
First off, I asked them how they were feeling about their win over the Timberwolves the night before, a strong victory where both guys played really well.
Boban responded with a resounding “Amazing”. One could almost picture his wide grin at that moment. Tobias went into a little more depth: “They’re a good team. They have a lot of guys who can score, so we just tried to limit them. D-Rose was a new piece this season, and has brought a different pace, so we had to match that too”.
Right away, I got the sense that the two perform almost like a hip-hop duo, with Tobias providing much of the verbiage and “bars”, while Boban adds a sense of humor and fun to the surroundings. That trend continued when I moved on to asking about the Clippers’ start to the season.
Tobias responded: “Yeah, it’s a good start, but obviously we always want to progress and get better. I said on the Jump (an ESPN show) before the season that we had to have a strong start to build chemistry. Good teams find ways to improve and make progress throughout the season.” This struck me as a very Tobias answer, all about hard-work and trying to improve. When I turned to Boban for his thoughts, he said simply “Just exactly what Tobias said”.
With some of the more basic questions out of the way, the conversation turned a bit more towards the duo themselves. As Boban was starting at the time of the interview, it seemed like a good idea to ask how they enjoyed starting games together. In the process, I threw in an unfunny joke about the Clippers going undefeated with the two of them in the starting lineup the rest of the season.
Boban gave all the credit to his partner in crime: “Tobias is a good player, and he makes me look better out there (laughs). We practice together a lot, and it’s just fun to play together out there.” Harris responded in kind: “Bobi is doing a great job starting, just being out there and starting plays. As for the undefeated record… there are a lot of good teams out there, so we will just pray for that” (laughs).
Both guys seemed to be easing up, so it seemed like a good time to get more personal. I’ve legitimately been curious about how the duo have been taking all the attention they’ve been receiving recently, so I asked them about it.
Tobias: “We don’t mind it. It’s an organic friendship: you know, two guys who don’t really like each other, and are faking it for the attention…” At this point, Tobias started chuckling, and Boban joined him, possibly accompanied by the sound of a playful push or thump on the arm. He continued, “Nah, it comes naturally, so it’s easy. People always say we are two of the most unusual friends they’ve ever seen. It’s cool that people can look at us and say ‘anyone can be friends’. It’s also good being friends with Boban, because nobody asks me how tall I am. They ask him instead.”
The follow-up was natural here. As a short person myself, I wondered if it’s annoying when people ask them how tall they are. Both of them responded in a kind of unison, “Nah, we’ve gotten used to it”. But at this point, Boban gave a laugh (again, I could really picture a smirk on his face while saying this), and said in his most serious voice: “I have to ask you one question... how tall are you”. I told them that I’m 5’7”, and that this was the first time in years anyone has asked me how tall I am.
Returning to all the attention the two have been receiving, I asked if they’ve noticed their profiles getting bigger with marketing and advertising since moving to LA. Boban quickly answered with a definitive, “Yes, 100%”, while Tobias detailed “Yeah, it’s a big market with a lot of brands. Obviously we want do things the right way and be professional (i.e. focused on basketball), but we’re always on the lookout for good marketing and advertising opportunities that we can join.”
This seemed like a good time for me to transition into the impetus for the interview: their partnership with Subway. Tobias gave a little “I was wondering when you’d ask about that” before launching excitedly into his explanation: “Subway is giving away some amazing prizes like tickets to the NBA All Star Game, the Daytona 500, the Rose Bowl through the MyWay Rewards Golden Token Sweepstakes. We go on Instagram live and do trivia, and fans get a chance to play along”.
Before I could even ask about how they got involved, he went on “When Subway came to us and asked us to be partners, we said “wow”. It just seemed like a great fit. Because we love…” Tobias seemed to be struggling to find the right words, so Boban helped him out by adding “Bringing happiness to people”.
Again, the chemistry between the two was obvious. I could imagine Tobias giving a nod of his head to Boban’s words while jumping right back in: “And excitement! It was a great fit, a brand that we have a lot of connections to and ties with. It was actually the first place Boban ate at in the US, and he loved it. He still goes there all the time. When I go, being vegan, I usually get the veggie delight when I’m being healthy, but sometimes I go for the cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies.” The two sounded very excited by the partnership, and seemed to possess a real passion for Subway. Hopefully we see them partner with Subway again in the future, because it seems to have been a good experience for all parties.
With the interview winding down, it was time to get a bit off-topic, so I asked them what their strongest categories in trivia were outside of basketball. Boban immediately blurted, “Hockey”, to which Tobias replied “He’s just good at making stuff up”. Boban acknowledged this, saying “But actually, I surprised myself last time with how good I was at hockey”. Tobias said his main strength is math, and when I asked him whether that might have to do with the popularity of statistics in basketball, he recognized that might be the case.
I closed by asking them their favorite place to go or thing to do in Los Angeles, which resulted in the following conversation, which deserves to be quoted in full:
Tobias: “Boban likes to play video games at 3 in the morning at this place. He invited me one time. There were all these computers lined up in a row with people playing on them. We played Counterstrike, and I ended him, even though I never play Counterstrike. That’s how good I am.”
Me: Where is this place?
Them: “It’s a secret.”
Boban: I like to go to the beach and talk with the kids. I also like playing arcade games at Dave and Busters.
T: I go on walks, bike rides, hang out at the beach and relax… the finer things in life.
Me: I love walking too. I walk to work, except for me it’s exercise, which it isn’t for you. You don’t need that kind of exercise
T: You should walk barefoot. It’s called earthing, and it’s really healthy. It would be great exercise for you.
Me: I’ll try it, and let you know how it goes!
With that, we said our thank yous and goodbyes, leaving me a little more knowledgeable about how this fun-loving Clippers’ duo operates off the court, and with a lingering smile on my face.