John Salley is a 10-year NBA veteran with three championship rings to his credit- two with the Detroit
Pistons and one with the Chicago Bulls. He was the first player in NBA history to play on three different championship-winning franchises.
John played college ball with Georgia Tech from 1982-86. His playing number, 22, is retired and hanging
in the Alexander Memorial Coliseum. He still holds the school’s record for shot blocking.
He played with the Detroit Pistons from 1986-92, winning back-to-back World Championships in 1989 and
1990; played with the Miami Heat for three seasons; played 25 games as an expansion draft pick of the
Toronto Raptors; and was signed by the Chicago Bulls in February 1996, where he stayed for the rest of the
year, winning his third championship ring in the process.
Salley was awarded Best Interview in the NBA by the Associated Press for three consecutive years and
was elected player representative for the National Basketball Player’s Association on every team except the
He finished his basketball career as number four on the Pistons’ all-time shot blocking list (709) and
number three ‘on Miami’s list (233).
Interested in television and entertainment for a long time, Salley is no stranger to Hollywood.
He’s been in a couple of movies – “Bad Boys” (1995) with Martin Lawrence and Will Smith; “Eddie”
(1996) with Whoopie Goldberg. He’s done television guest appearances on “Politically Incorrect,” “Regis
& Kathy Lee” and “Malcolm & Eddie” on UPN. Salley was also a member of the nightly sports entertainment show "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Fox Sports.
He’s active in the music industry, representing up-and-coming musical groups. He also discovered hot new
R&B vocalist Tony Rich, now on Laface ‘Records.
HT: You’re originally from Canarsie, N.Y., right?
JS: Canarsie, C-A-N-A-R-S-I-E
HT: My friend lived there. It took forever to get out there. Wasn’t that more of an Italian neighborhood when you were young?
JS: Yeah, we moved in from Bedstuy and it was an Italian-Jewish neighborhood, and by 1972 my brother was the most famous black guy in the neighborhood, so I had no problems growing up. My brother Jerry is 5 years older than me, my brother Ron is 12 years older than me. So I didn’t hear anything negative about black people until I was 12 years old. And all my Italian and Jewish friends became different from peer pressure.
HT: You grew up in the projects?
JS: We moved in ’58, I was born in ’64, by 1972 when I was almost 8 years old, it was 30 percent black, when I was in 8th grade it was 90 percent black.
HT: Where did you go to high school?
JS: Right there at Canarsie High, five blocks away
HT: Were they good at basketball?
JS: We lost in the Brooklyn championship my senior year
HT: So obviously you were the one stand out player there?
JS: Yeah. I was number one or two player in the city when I graduated.
HT: Well that was a good class then
JS: That’s right
HT: Tell me about your hard working mother and father
JS: My father was a truck driver, and construction worker, and my mom worked at a dry cleaner, and was a kosher caterer, she had like three or four jobs. She used to clean house out on Long Island on Fridays. In Manhassett, and I used to tell her, “When I get older I am going to buy you a house this size.”
HT: And you did. You also bought your dad a car when you got drafted.
JS: I bought my dad a car in my first year in the league, and in my second year in the league, I bought my mom, or I bought them a house.
HT: In Brooklyn?
JS: In Atlanta, Georgia. 7000 square foot on 3 acres of land.
HT: Because you went to Georgia Tech
JS: Uh-huh I told them I wasn’t coming back to New York. And its funny, the lady who she used to clean her house, my mother’s house was 3000 feet bigger. She said, “Boy, who’s cleaning this house Mazy?” and my mom said, “Not me.” So she felt good about it and she finally realized what I was saying. Living well is the best revenge.
HT: The work ethic and the examples set by your parents must’ve been instrumental to how you played basketball?
JS: Yah, let me put it to you this way. My parents had me when they were in their 40s. I thought that was important they didn’t talk to me like baby talk. By that time I had a brother 22 years older than me. They had been through raising kids and so they raised me like I was already an adult when I was young. And then I didn’t work all the time, so they expected me to do what I needed to do in school. That was just my mentality. I didn’t like being second rate, so I was good in school, good kid and hung around thugs.
HT: Did you end up hanging with same crew from playing basketball?
JS: No. I wound up hanging with the crew because I was Little Sally, and I had to live up to my brother’s name. But then I started playing more serious. When I six I said I was going to be a pro, but around 12 I made the determination that I was going to be a pro. At 15 I didn’t do anything but play basketball and go to school. When everyone else was going through puberty, chasing broads and going to parties, I was going to games. Going to games in the Bronx, games in Manhattan, games in Boston, games in Queens.
HT: Were you considered to be a prodigy like Kevin Garnett, or Shaq by the time you were 15?
JS: I was only 6’2”, 140 pounds. I graduated high school at 6’7”, 175 pounds. And when I went to college I was 6’9”, and then in my senior year I was 6’10. And then I went to the pros and I went from 6’10” my second year to 7’0”. In the pros my foot went from a 15 to a 16.
HT: Were you always a center or a forward?
JS: No I played all different positions. I played center forward, but my brother was 6 foot and one is 6’2” and one is 5’11”, so I always thought I was going to be a guard. So I played like a guard because I was real skinny. But I was skinny and lanky so I always played every position.
HT: Did you choose to go to Georgia Tech because Bobby Cremins was there?
JS: That was part of the reason.
HT: And partially to get out of New York?
JS: I damn sure wanted to get out of New York, I wanted to get where it was warm. I went to visit Virginia, I already saw Syracuse; I was going to stay in the Big East.
HT: Every coach must have wanted you?
JS: Not everybody. Most of the people.
HT: Jim Calhoun wanted you.
JS: Calhoun recruited me for U Mass at that time, all the Boston schools, and most of the Big East schools.
HT: Did they all see you as their future big man?
JS: Sometimes. A lot of them tell me they didn’t know I was going to grow, and my senior year my back was weak. Coach Cremins came at me at Five Star basketball camp when I was a junior, and used to send me hand written letters. And when I went down to Atlanta, everybody else took me to class and showed me how easy it was to go to school and how great their basketball team was. Georgia Tech showed me how great school the school was, and then showed me we can be a great basketball team. I would rather have an education than go there and just be a jock. They didn’t believe in hiring jocks. They sold me on the fact that I was going to get a degree. Everybody else sold me on the fact they we were going to win the championship.
HT: Cremins was known as a great coach for point guards.
JS: Well he was then. I was the first player that commited to go to Georgia Tech, and he told me if I came then Mark Price would come. So that was the first thing. Second thing is, he told me I would start. If I had went to Virginia I would play behind Ralph Sampson, which wasn’t a bad thing, but I would rather play against somebody than behind them.
HT: Bruce Dalrymple was there too, right?
JS: He came in my second year, yah.
HT: That was a good squad.
JS: We had the number one team in the country.
HT: How far did you get in the NCAA Tourney?
JS: We lost in the final eight to Georgetown.
HT: But you played all four years right?
HT: Georgetown with….
JS: Patrick (Ewing).
HT: Wow. Did you consider going to St. Johns?
JS: I did. But I didn’t want to stay on the train. I didn’t want to be in the snow. And people were saying that Walter Berry was the number one player in the city. And then some people were saying I was a great player, and I didn’t need to go there and play the same position as Walter. I knew that Mark Jackson was going to go; that would have been a good squad. But me getting out of New York and broadening my horizons was better for me.
HT: Did you have anything to do with Stephan Marbury going to G-Tech from New York?
JS: I had something to do with anyone going to Georgia Tech because my number is hanging in the rafters, and because I graduated. Coach Cremins and Georgia Tech were really focused on athletes graduating and not just going to school. I played for the Gauchos in the Bronx with Don Marbury, Stephan’s brother. When Stefan was around us he was six years old, so I’ve been around him a long time.
HT: Some players were jumping to the NBA back then too.
JS: Yah, I coulda went. This is what happened. They said that if I went I would have been the number 11 pick for Phoenix. That was the year that Ed Pickney won in the Championship and he was the number 11 pick, and it wasn’t important for me to go hardship. I wouldn’t have done anything for me, and I wasn’t ready for it. Everything happened to me as it was supposed to.
HT: You were drafted 11 your year right?
JS: Uh huh
HT: There was a really great group. In those days they had like five rounds.
JS: Yah they had five rounds. It was the number one draft in NBA history supposedly.
HT: Really, so who went number one that year?
JS: Brad Daugherty. Number two was Lenny Bias. Number three was Washburn, number 4 was Chuck Persons…
HT: Drazen Petrovic was in the third round.
JS: Yah, Drazen was the shit though! They didn’t know about European players then, but Drazen wound up being one of the greatest players that I’ve ever seen.
HT: That’s what they always say, that this guy just had an unbelievable release. And that he would’ve been a sure Hall of Famer.
JS: He was not afraid of anybody. He only played three years in the league.
HT: So you were drafted by Detroit. How was the team looking? Was it all cake for a high draft pick like yourself?
JS: No I had it rough. Dennis Rodman was playing. I was playing 17 minutes a game. Dennis wasn’t playing that much because we had Adrian Dantley. But they called us the X factor because you put us in the game and you never knew what was going to happen. You knew it was going to be exciting, it was going to be fast, there was going to be alley-oops and dunks, and Isaiah could run. We played great defense and they’d get the ball out and we would run until they put the other guys back in.
HT: When did Joe Dumars join the team?
JS: The year before me.
HT: Oh wow, so everything was in place for you.
JS: Uh-hm. And then Dennis got to be a better player and they traded Adrian Dantley and became the Dennis Rodman defense show and that was the year we won the championships. So I won the championships on my third and my fourth.
HT: How important was Chuck Daly?
JS: Very! I called him Daddy Rich. If you were to ask me my favorite coach of all time I would say him because he developed me into the player I am.
HT: It seems like a lot of championship teams have a special bond with their coach.
JS: Let me tell you this. This is how big Chuck Daly is. He was the Dream Team coach! Dream Team 1 coach. That answers that right there.
HT: He really was like a father figure to the Detroit Bad Boys.
JS: Daddy Rich
HT: I saw Rodman on Stephen A. Smith last night, and he was almost in tears talking about Coach Daly.
JS: Really? Chuck was a different kind of pro coach. Chuck cared about his players. You could never get traded all of a sudden. Chuck would tell you what was coming, why it was coming and treat you like a man. Everybody else you get traded they call you on the phone. Chuck let me know they were going to trade me to Miami three months before they did it. So I was prepared.
HT: I remember Isaiah in an interview with Dan Patrick talking about those early days; he got so emotional he couldn’t even finish talking about it.
JS: No we were the worst. The year before Dennis and I got there they had changed their whole squad, they had brought in four new guys. They brought in me, Dennis, Adrian Dantley and Sid Green. They changed the squad. They year before Dominique had scored 100 points on them in 2 games without a dunk. And the next year, my first year, we went all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. So they went from being blasted out of the first round, to being one of the top four teams in the league, and taking Boston all the way into game 7, when Adrian Dantley and AD hit their heads together. And then the next year we were in the finals against the Lakers until game 7, which is considered one of the best finals ever in 1988. And then the next year we won the championship by beating the Lakers four straight.
HT: Tell me about when you guys were getting so close and when Zeke played with his twisted ankle in the NBA finals?
JS: Yah, ‘88
HT: You guys were already showing how tight you were and you were on a mission. I mean you guys were going to keep coming back until you got it done.
JS: It took us 3 years. Great general manager in Jack McCluskey. They called him Trader Jack. But he knew how to trade, who to do what to get. And after my first year we got James Edwards, William Bedford. We got two rookies that can practice real hard Michael Williams and Fennis Dembo. Let me see how to put it, Vinnie Johnson was there. Vinnie Johnson was from Brooklyn so anytime that I had a problem I would talk to him and he would calm me down when I would get upset. We had a good squad.
HT: Can you talk about how significant Adrian Dantley was to your career?
JS: The Teacher.
HT: You became a vegetarian because of him…
JS: I became a vegetarian. I learned how to eat because of Adrian.
HT: That was key considering it was your first year in the league too.
JS: That’s key in life. And it is really key as an athlete because you are getting paid like you are a race car. Nobody teaches you this stuff. They don’t put the best gas in your system, and when he told me it was all connected, he said, if you were a thoroughbred horse they wouldn’t let you eat meat, and eat dairy products and all that stuff that was going to slow down your performance. He taught me how to work out. He trained all the time. So when I did it I knew it was important, they were paying me to stay in shape. Some guys get the money and think, oh now I can eat well, and really they are eating worse when they make more money.
HT: I know that you had a good upbringing, good examples. But you have done your share of partying and having a good time also
JS: It’s funny, I didn’t smoke weed until I was 39 years old and I’m 41 now. I didn’t drink. I smoked a cigar in 1992, I smoked maybe 100 cigars in 1996 when I opened the store. I got into red wine in 1998, tasting it. Then I got serious about red wine and cigars in 2000. I was playing for the Lakers in Sacramento. And a friend of mine whose father had a wine cellar, she and her husband gave me wine when I gave them tickets. They bought me Barolo. I was hooked from that point on. When I found out wine didn’t come in a box and taste like Meneshevits. I was like, this is some good shit. And then I found that out. But I partied. This is what I like….
HT: Because you are a friendly guy, and you have a big personality on TV I think people get the impression that you must like to party and have a lot of fun.
JS: You see I don’t mind if someone else gets high…
HT: Everyone thinks that you hung with Dennis for all those years.
JS: No. You see, we were completely different. You see Dennis liked rock and roll, and Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. And I bought a mansion and had Janet Jackson and Frankie Beverly and Maze, and Teddy Riley and Guy. And I got into the music business on the hip hop side. I’ve been a hip hop head my whole life. So we were entirely different but we were the same. We got a connection just like brothers. He partied…as a matter of fact he didn’t drink either. Dennis didn’t drink until he got to San Antonio. Then he had to drink because he was in San Antonio.
HT: One thing about Dennis though is that he takes care of his body.
JS: Yah, if he drinks, he is going to work out the whole next day to get it out of his system.
HT: Chuck Daly said in an interview that I saw a few ago that you guys would’ve won a third championship if he was able to get Rod Strickland from the Knicks on a trade. Do you agree?
JS: No. They traded Vinnie to San Antonio. That was a mistake. Then we brought in Orlando Woolrich as opposed to paying Mark McGuire, which caused a problem starting in training camp. I had just got a new contract and I had to concentrate on stats. And the NBA wanted us broken up. They changed the rules because of us, and didn’t like the bad boy image, and we were stopping Michael who was becoming what LeBron James is now, the image of the NBA. We were in the way. We were in the way of the development of the league. They had to put Rick Mahorn in the Expansion Draft, he goes to Minnesota, he won’t show. He plays in Italy, Minnesota then trades his rights to Philadelphia. So, our baddest bad boy is gone. They took the catalyst out of our squad.
HT: You guys still had Zeke, Lambeer, and Dumars… everyone still played
JS; It’s hard to win three championships in a row. The best part about it is we got all the way where we needed to go, we got all the way to where nobody thought we were going to do well. All the way to handing the Eastern Conference championship to Chicago.
HT: Because you guys really were the hurdle for them. At that time people were questioning whether Michael could ever win.
JS: Just like us, because in 1988 Boston was our hurdle, and when we got over that, everybody thought that the Mighty Lakers were going to beat us in four straight games and we ended up taking them to game 7. That was a great time.
HT: Just to finish off with Adrian Dantley; you were very lucky to come across a mentor like that so early. You had good examples growing up, but it is pretty easy for a young man to get into bad habits straight into a different kind of lifestyle.
JS: Funny you say that. AD had a Visa card that he never used, American Express card that he never used, he carried $2000 in cash with him at all times, didn’t eat bad food, and told me to get used to the four walls in my room. He said, “Pick your spots when you hang out. We flew commercial then, we had to wash our own stuff on the road, we had to learn to pack properly. He said, “Ya know what, you read books, certain places you are just going to read. Rest your body, go down and go swimming, go pay for a massage instead of paying for drinks in a club, get the concierge to send a masseuse to work out the aches in your body.” Vinnie Johnson was big into taking Asian medicine, ya know, Ginseng, and the royal jellies. AD was into saying, it is better to have enough food in your stomach to eat, to nourish your body as opposed to fill your body. Your body is going to work better. It is just like a race car, you don’t put gas in there to fill it to the top. You put enough in for your car to go. That was the mentality. He literally made you think about what it was to be a professional, to dress like a professional, and speak properly. There was a saying I came up for AD. “His silence was misinterpreted, but never misquoted.” He was really proper. If he was quiet then they would go, he either has an attitude or he’s quiet. But if you don’t say anything they can’t misquote you. So no one could say, “No I didn’t mean that, I was misquoted.” The more you talk the more chances you got of being misquoted. I learned to balance. I learned to be funny with my quotes, and happy go lucky, and thankful for everything I got, even the bad.
HT: So he really took care of you and took you under his wing in all aspects.
JS: Under his wings, yup. And after that, after AD left, every time a rookie came in. I mean you talk about on the Lakers, when you hear from Devon George, he called me Sensei, because I would do it the same way Teacher would teach me, I taught rookies. When they were frustrated, I taught them why they shouldn’t be frustrated, when they were tired, and they hit the rookie wall, I literally was out to help people. I mean, I treated some rookies like rookies, on other teams, but the guys on my team I know they were on my team to help. So it is better to be a good brother than a bad one. No pun intended.
HT: But Chicago was a different story, right?
JS: In Chicago I was grown.
HT: Because they needed you to play a role.
JS: Yah, I mean my role was to play against Shaquile and Alonzo Morning. I’m a defensive player that worked hard and understood the offense.
HT: You were a piece that they needed.
JS: Funny you say that. Everyone is. (Laughs) Everybody is. That’s another thing that a lot of athletes misinterpret, the ones that think that they are bigger than the game or the team can’t win without them, they gotta realize that we are all out of a factory, you just don’t want to be one of the factory pieces that gets returned, or sent away.
HT: Look at this Detroit team right now.
JS: Good team.
HT: And their for real. They’re not just a one year…
JS: No, this will be their third year going to the finals. I’m telling you that right now.
HT: And still no stand out superstars there.
JS: You know what I tell them. Let the record books stand out. Superstars are a dime a dozen. There are a lot of superstars who go home in April.
HT: It’s a terrific story though. There haven’t been too many dynasty squads like that without a major superstar in the NBA, you know what I’m sayin’?
JS: Michael Jordan couldn’t win without Scotty Pippen. Or Horrace Grant. Or Steve Kerr, or Bill Wennington, Cartwright, Ron Harper. You can’t win without them. You can’t win without the guys who don’t mind doing the dirty work. The work… my father said, the world needs ditch diggers too. Somebody gotta dig the ditch and the foundation for that building to stand.
HT: Everyone thinks the NBA’s such a glamorous lifestyle. You travel first class, you got the groupies following you everywhere.
JS: We traveled deluxe class, we traveled private. We stay in the best hotels, get the best treatment
HT: Smoke cigars in the airplane?
JS: We smoked cigars on the bus. Michael doesn’t smoke on the airplane. Because it will get in the way of him playing cards.
HT: You play cards
JS: Nah. I don’t gamble. I’m sure about everything I do.
HT: You see these are the misconceptions about you. Because you are a happy go lucky guy but people think that you like to party and…
JS: I do. I like to party. I like to watch people. I’m a photographer, I like to see people.
HT: But people think that you are a ladies man.
JS: I am. I would rather hang out with women than men any day. I grew up with 3 brothers and a mother and father in a two bedroom apartment. That is five men using one toilet. That is not sexy to me.
HT: Yeah. I don’t want to be out of line. But you are married right now, right?
JS: Sometimes. Yah, I am married all the time. For 12 years.
HT: But your wife doesn’t mind you having…
JS: Having a girlfriend, women that… well, if… I like people. So if I’m around a female and she don’t like it because they don’t have a penis then she got problems. That’s anybody.
HT: But we aren’t talking about…
JS: Oh, you talking about dating others?
HT: Well you’re not talking about an open marriage are you?
JS: No. We are talking about…
HT: The trust thing?
JS: No. Women don’t trust men at all
HT: So she doesn’t mind you hanging out?
JS: No, I introduce her to my friends.
HT: Does she come with you to a lot of these parties?
JS: She just started. She is entirely different. I married somebody who is completely opposite. She is introverted, she takes care of the home. I am extroverted, I have to be out I have to be free and talk to people. I have to learn things. I’m a learner, I want to learn and see all different things. But as far as being around women that everyone finds attractive, I find them attractive. I find all kind of women attractive. I see beauty when other people don’t see beauty. But you are talking about having sex with different women… I would never kiss and tell if I did. But I am not in that position. Let me tell you. I’ll make it real simple. There are rumors and there was
HT: Even recently with Teri…..
JS: Terri Hatcher. I met Terri Hatcher that night at a Cartier party, and we were at the Club Chic. There were 7 other well known people there that night. Terri Hatcher happened to be the most famous, and she happened to be sitting next to me and talking. Everyone was trying to get to her, so I wind up becoming a security guard. I wind up leaving before they left. But next thing you know, I am dancing and kissing her on the dance floor. I was like, I didn’t even dance. I was talking to Shug Night.
HT: I know how it goes in the media, even if you were hugging her to say hello. You were probably already acquainted.
JS: No I just met her.
HT: What I’m saying is that the media like to run with a story like that.
JS: Let me explain stories too. It’s not a story unless it has an edge to it. No one likes to read good stuff. That is why they put good stuff in the middle of the paper, because people read the paper from the front and from the back. I could do a thousand great things. I could give eight schools a hundred computers. I can build a library, I could all of a sudden come to the inner city Detroit and speak to high schoolers and junior high schoolers, I could have programs like “Say yes to success”, I can have programs like at African schools. But that is not what they want to write about. They want to write about the bad things, what they think. And since being on The Best Damn Sports Show I have dispelled a lot of things, and I have educated people about their misconceptions. So, one they want to celebrate you, but you gotta understand this country. They celebrate you to knock you down. The difference between this country and Europe, if you are a star in Europe you’re a star, forever. When you do something that is identifiable… the deal is. They want athletes, here, to be jocks in their spot. Their mentality of sports in America is gladiator. You entertain us, until we are tired of being entertained by you, and we want the next thing. That is the difference that is the problem that I have with professional sports. Because in this country they would rather you pay attention to sports than to the government. Proven fact; the congress went after baseball players for something that had nothing to do with the government, so that we wouldn’t pay attention to what was going on in Iraq. Now that they can’t pick on baseball players, they are talking about why we shouldn’t have never went to Iraq. Well why did we have a conversation about baseball players. They are there, you don’t get mad. What if a guy on Broadway was doing steroids or doing cocaine, would you care? No!
JS: It’s the same thing. It’s all about making money. Their perception of it is different.
HT: You’re in a very advantageous place now being on TV and radio everyday. For instance, someone like Howard Stern can come back every morning to keep explaining or fighting back at critics. Howard has four hours of talk to back it up, and you have a few hours on the radio or TV if you wanted to take advantage.
JS: Let me explain this. Howard Stern is playing a character. Tom Lykus is playing a character. If you heard Tom Lykus talk about wine on Saturday he is entirely different than the woman hater five days a week. Howard Stern when he’s around his kids he’s a father. You can’t even talk to him about whatever, he won’t let you speak to him. He is playing a character because he says what some people want to hear. He plays the subconscious. I understand the power of my microphone.
HT: So would you say that you’re playing a character when you are out in public?
JS: That’s the difference. Because when I am out in the public, I am John “Spider” Sally, because that is all they know is, I am tall, I’m black, with a bald head, or a beard and a goatee. So their image of black people is already set. And when you sit down and have a conversation with me, I dispel a lot of the attitudes that you have or the prejudices that you have against what you see.
HT: So you’re not a believer in any publicity is good publicity?
JS: I have never said that. Let me make it simple. Terrell Owens has bad publicity. What good is it doing Terrell Owens?
HT: Rodman too.
JS: Bad publicity. You know him. They are going to show, Terrell Owens and Dennis Rodman are two of the greatest athletes I have ever seen, but all you are going to hear about is end zone dances and the dress Dennis is wearing. Terrell Owens is one of the best people I have ever known in my life. You won’t know that. Because the image of the media is to paint a picture. On the radio what they teach you is theater of the mind. I would rather you picture me as I am. I don’t want to play a character. I think I am a good enough person that you would like me as I am. When I wake up in the morning I only have to wash my face once. I don’t have to wash it twice, I’m not two faced. What you see and hear and understand, you can hear and feel my passion about something, you can see that I am open minded and forward thinking, I am not into the other bullshit.
HT: I have always been a big fan of your straight forward approach, whether it was on a NBA half-time, or on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, where you’ve been on nightly for a few years now.
JS: 4 years
HT: Is it that already?
JS: I am not afraid to ask the hard questions. I am not afraid to give my opinions
HT: Yeah, you often have very strong opinions which I always found refreshing. I mean, some cynical people like to believe that the show is set up for you to take one side and Rob Dibble to take the opposite…..
HT: What’s great about you and Dibbs is that when you guys give an unpopular opinion, you guys try to back it up.
JS: I back it up with logic
HT: And that I think that makes the show compelling. You guys tackle so many different topics every night, but you are able to fill us in on how it really is outside of the Arena, or the locker room for the athletes.
JS: Yeah. This is the best way of putting it. We have the only show where an athlete can say exactly the way it is. You can look at it this way, and say, ah remember that time when Isaiah was playing and he broke his ankle against the Lakers in 1988. Well let me tell you the difference. I remember in the locker room, him taping it up and taking two advils, and saying my foot doesn’t hurt, and then playing the second half and scoring 41 points. Then I remember coming in the locker room and the ankle was the size of his calf. But that was the dedication that you’re not going to see, because you guys are not in the locker room. I would say the best show is the show before the show. On The Best Damn when I come up with something that’s my opinion, it’s not one sided, I damn sure think about everything, but then I tell you what it is because I’ve been in that position. I am telling you from inside, not from what you see. I tell you from being in it. It is like when you hear rappers tell about the hood, ya know what I’m saying, and why they are doing so successful, is because they are telling a story that is compelling. You can hear the story and go on, that’s the difference.
HT: But since we are talking about Best Damn, how much preparation goes into it? I know how much I prepare for interviews with you guys. But how much preparation do you guys have to do to take on all the current issues?
JS: I will tell you
HT: Someone with strong opinions like yourself, and keep it real, whether you’re right or wrong, you can’t just say the first thing that comes into your mind when millions of people are watching.
JS: I’ll tell you how it works. At 7:00 in the morning, they get in there and start preparing the topics. At 11:30 they call me and they tell me the topics. I give them part of my opinion about the topics and they decide, hey that is a good topic. When I get in there at 3:00 we go over what they establish we are going to do. If I change my opinion from that point on, that’s different, because I might softball it. Most of the time now, they let you keep your opinion, and they give you questions just to give you a guideline. But you gotta be up on it, you gotta read the paper, and you gotta know things, and most of the time you can make a phone call. When they were talking about T.O., I called him. when they talk about Dennis Rodman, I caledl him. Still got that contact with somebody.
HT: What is cool about you…
JS: There’s a lot of things cool about me
HT: I always loved Dibbs when he was on with Dan Patrick Show because he kept it real and stood by that. But what’s cool about you is that you don’t have a problem saying at the end of a segment, “Hey, I changed my mind.”
JS: Right. Once someone gives me their different opinion……that’s how you should vote too. You shouldn’t vote for your party, you should vote for what is best for everyone. Give you another thing. On my show, I’m the black guy, the difference in America is that when you’re black and you know what you want and you are very strong, they call you militant, because they don’t expect black people to stand up for something other than themselves, because they have a misconception. I’m very pro black, I’m a black nationalism, but I am not anti-white. I’m just not ashamed to be black.
HT: But you’ve seen success and you know what it took for you to get where you are.
JS: Well, I can speak the King’s language. That’s the difference too. I grew up around Italians and Jews, I never know how white people feel, I only know from my perspective as a black man, but I know from being around the world, only in this country, mainly in this country, you are judged according to what you look like, not according to who you are. The word “nigger” is not used in Africa. That should tell you something. There’re no “niggers” in Africa.
HT: Okay. Finishing off with the Bulls. There are players who have been lucky to be in more than one championship team. I’m not talking about lucky, but just fortunate to have been with a good group of players or the coach, whatever. But you’ve had three great situations with the historical Pistons, Bulls, and the Lakers, but what a lot of people don’t know is that you have had a lot of struggles too, where you had to play with the then expansion team Toronto Raptors.
JS: Let me go over that too.
HT: Didn’t you have to give money back to go back to the Raptors?
JS: I had to release $750,000 to be released. I became the only free slave in the NBA. I got to choose which team I went to too. I bought my rights. They can be upset with that comment all they want. But in history, there were free slaves that had their papers to be free. So I owned my waiver. I could have went to Chicago, to Detroit, to Orlando, coulda went anywhere..
HT: Orlando with Shaq?
JS: I decided to go to Chicago. That was where I wanted to go. Chicago told Isaiah that they wanted to trade for me when I was first in the Expansion Draft. He wouldn’t let me go. Detroit wanted me but he had his situation with Mr. Davidson, he wouldn’t let me go. He thought it would be good, for me to make it to a really cool place so when teams came and partied their asses off, because we weren’t a good team, so the next day they were very tired. I always played a role I needed to play. And it didn’t work for me. I needed to be let go. The only way he would let me go, was the day after the Superbowl, he said, “Alright if you relinquish the $750,000 signing bonus, I will release you and spread your contract out.” I said “Yes”
HT: They paid you what, 4 million?
HT: Chicago still had to pay the rest of your…
JS: No. Toronto still had to pay me. I did a ten day in Chicago. I became so discontent with the NBA, and the way I was treated in Chicago because I think Jerry Krauss lied to me. He said that he couldn’t sign me as his free agent and I knew that wasn’t true because I was a player rep so I knew how the contracts worked. So I decided to go to Greece, and he signed Robert Parish for 1.9 million dollars. 2.5 for two years and he only played 19 games!
HT: And he only offered you how much to come back?
HT: That was a slap in the face.
JS: Especially when Michael was making $303,000 a game. Michael was the 30 million dollar man. And he was underpaid!
HT: So you went to Greece for…
JS: Six weeks. I was gone for a year, but the coach there, Maljkovic, who was also Toni Kukoc’s coach. He told me, this is when I knew it was time to leave Greece, he said “If Michael Jordan played in Greece he would only average 16 points a game.” I had to ask the guy was he on drugs! I was getting 20 rebounds a game, 20 points, Michael would have got 100 points a game playing in Europe.
HT: Like the former Knick guy, Sugar Ray. He used to stutter.
JS: Oh, Sugar-Ray Richardson, Michael “Sugar-Ray” Richardson. He was the shit in the NBA too, but drugs was his downfall.
HT: So the negative experiences negotiating with the Bulls , and going to Greece…
JS: That was it for me.
HT: You were only 32, right?
JS: 32 years old.
HT: You were a big man, and an established blocker.
JS: With no injuries. I wanted to see the world.
HT: And a good teammate
JS: Always a good teammate.
HT: And a lot of teams could have used you!
JS: Its funny you put it that way. A lot of teams did use me. (laughs)
HT: That’s when you took a calculated risk where you walked away from the game to start developing another career?
JS: Right now you have to tell people I played basketball. The difference with a lot of guys is that they don’t re-invent themselves. John Travolta re-invented himself. Players like Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw re-invented themselves. Terry Bradshaw is making more now, talking about football, and using the knowledge that he learned as a player for good, as opposed to becoming a coach and being lost, and being caught in the system as if that is all you can do. Not my style. I have more to offer to this world than calling a hook shot.
HT: It seems like you jumped right into showbiz.
JS: No not really. I had my talk show, I was on Inside Stuff from 1989 until I retired. Then I went to NBC, I did sitcoms, I did movies, then I had my talk show on BET Live, and then that was a rough year, the first year I went to Monte Carlo, the 2nd time I been to Monte Carlo. When I realized what was happening I came back. Then I was just footin’ around trying to get my career going. It is kinda hard when you are a 7 foot black guy who used to play sports, to get people to put me in a film. I got it done because they told me I couldn’t. And then when NBA went on strike, Scotty, Hakim, and those guys were talking about getting me on Houston with Charles Barkley and they took Stanley Roberts instead…
HT: That team had bad chemistry.
JS: They had injuries too. But then I found out that Phil Jackson was coming back to the league. So I called him and said when you go to the Lakers I can help you with Shaq, and I know Kobe. And he said, how do you know I’m going to the Lakers? And I said, well you have no choice because Van Gundy’s not getting out of New York, and you worked best with players that need guidance. I understood his offense, his mentality, I understood looking at the glass as not half empty or half full, but that there isn’t enough water for the glass mentality. Did Yoga and looked at the game totally different, and I was able to be a liason between Shaq and him, and a good guider on the offense. I played every 5 games, 5, 6, 7, 8 minutes.
HT: So is it true that you were the triangle translator to Shaq?
JS: Not totally, but yes. I looked at it differently. I knew every position because I was a student of the game, a student of the triangle.
HT: Do you still believe in it?
JS: Yeah. I think if I were to coach, which I would only want to coach in high school, I wouldn’t lose a game. I don’t care how big they are, how fast they are
HT: What about Chuck Daly’s methods?
HT: Or was it a combination.
JS: A combination because Phil has a different philosophy on how to look at things, and Chuck Daly believed in rewarding athletes and understanding what you have to do or what you need to do. If you are a shot blocker/defensive player, I need you to do that, if you are a star, I need you to do that, and figuring out where people fit.
HT: Obviously, Phil had tremendous success with the triangle offence in Chicago, butI would imagine you have probably helped modify it because in Chicago he never had a Shaq.
HT: With a center as the main piece. He had Michael run the point.
JS: Scotty Pippen and Shaquile are his two favorite players. So he changed the idea of the triangle, and had to work it a different way. The best thing about the triangle..
HT: You understood his new vision though.
JS: Yeah, the vision is penetration, spacing, teamwork, and tempo. And if you pay attention to it, that’s everything in life. When you go in someplace you have to be a good team player, you have to know your space with your tempo, and you have to know your position. And that is anything in life. If you know your position, you know where you want to head to, then your goals aren’t that far from being accomplished.
HT: So it could applied as a life philosophy like John Wooden’s thing?
JS: Yeah its funny. I have that pyramid that John Wooden would talk about. He would talk about enthusiasm, and teamwork and togetherness and love. So you had to have the love of the game, you had to understand respect for your fellow, and you had to be enthusiastic in order to be successful.
HT: I spent eleven years in New York before I moved out here
HT: I have always been a Knick fan
JS: Too bad
HT: Mainly a Yankee man, but I have always been a Knick fan.
JS: Too bad!
HT: Obviously, the Bulls always took Patrick and the Knicks out. However, I still believe that MJ wouldn’t have 6 championships, or 8 in a row or whatever it could have been had Magic and Larry in their prime been in the league. I know MJ’s the greatest ever, but that’s always been my opinion.
JS: You gotta…
HT: I know different generations, different player.
JS: Well, that is one way of looking at it. That is like saying if Satchel Paige was still alive today. But, to be honest, the greatest player to play was Magic Johnson.
HT: Magic Johnson was amazing in his days!
JS: The greatest player to play in the NBA was Magic Johnson.
HT: He had great pieces around him but he was unbelievable.
JS: He could shoot, he was big, he could dribble, he shared the ball, he had a great personality. He was the catalyst of you winning. He was one of the guys who could win the game by himself. He proved that when he was a rookie.
HT: You have a very strong work ethic, right? Your dad was never late for work
JS: Never. 35 years
HT: Anyone can be late here and there but you guys took that very seriously.
JS: I am going to tell you, my friend who works with my mom, it’s disrespectful to be late. Especially when you’re part of a team.
HT: When you are getting paid a lot of money.
JS: Money has no… if you aren’t getting paid any money! If you are part of a team it is disrespectful to not be selfish and be the best you can possibly be. It is selfish when you have to get up, it is selfish when you have to work out when no one’s around, its selfish when you got be concentrating on how exactly to make the team win. My favorite player, one of them, is Kobe Bryant. People call him selfish. If I had 5 Kobe Bryants, 5 selfish players, I would never lose. Kobe works! If you shoot 500 jumpshots, he’ll shoot 1500 more. His family understands, and his wife understands he’s selfish, he can’t give them all the time, because he’s selfish about making himself better.
HT: Everybody thinks he’s a ball hog, and he needs to be the man, so the others can’t get involved and develop as a team.
JS: Let me ask you something
HT: Michael was like that in the beginning too… but I question if Kobe could make it to the next level that Michael got to as a team leader.
JS: He won three championships in a row! What other level is there? Is he going to be President of the United States?
HT: He still did with a very dominant Shaq. Is he going to get to the pinnacle like Michael?
JS: No one’s going to be Michael. The reason no one is ever going to be Michael is because Michael is Michael. No one is ever going to be Oprah, no one is ever going to be Dennis Rodman, no one is ever going to be Terrell Owens, no one is ever going to be as fast or as good as O.J. Simpson, no one is ever going to be really as strong as Jim Brown, nobody is ever going to be as fluent and score as many points as Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Nobody. But if you rate them as people who could do it all, they were all selfish. A ball hog is a guy who scores 42,000 points. Are you going to call Kareem a ball hog? No! When you want to score, you give it to the guy who can score.
HT: This is like being on The Best Damn Sports Show. Now you are selling me a little bit.
JS: I will make it even simpler.
HT: You want the guy who wants the rock at crunch time, and Kobe always wants the ball.
JS: And you feel confident with him having the ball. Right now, name five guys on the Lakers that you would give the ball to at the last second? Kobe Bryant, Kobe, Mr. Bryant, Jelly Bean’s son, and the guy that won three championships. That is the only cat you want with the ball.
HT: Ok. Going back to work ethic, you probably have to get up at 5 in the morning?
JS: I get up at 3:50. I leave my house at 4:30
HT: And you have the afternoon show. You are very driven. Again, I don’t think a lot of people realize how a little time you have outside of those two gigs. We all see you having a good laugh at night on TV with Dibbs and Rodney, but you also have to get up at the crack of dawn like Howard Stern.
JS: So I am selfish. This is how selfish I am. I am selfish enough to know that I had to sacrifice a lot of my hang out time so my friends don’t get to see me. I had to sacrifice so my time so my kids don’t get to see me as much. My wife doesn’t get to see me. You could hear me or watch me on television. But I am working so hard so my kids have enough money, so they don’t have to marry someone for money. Or they don’t have to move into the Projects like I did. My selfishness is that I’m trying to build a foundation so that my offspring can be as wealthy and well-off as Paris Hilton.
HT: One might say, “Yo, John, how much is enough? You must be worth $25 to 30 million now if you include all your basketball earnings.
JS: No. When I played, the most I made in my career was $12 million dollars. In my whole career.
HT: Oh okay.
JS: To some people that’s not a lot of money. But my cost of living was $8 million, and I made some bad investments. And I learned…
HT: $8 million?
JS: In total, in all of the years I played, I needed about 8 million dollars for my family to live well from that. And me being selfish about everyone having to be quiet when I’m taking a nap, everybody gotta come to the game, everybody lives around me. I was the matriarch I was the title of the family. But you know what, that is because I was chosen, and I accepted that.
HT: So that’s another reason why you’re still so driven?
JS: Yeah. I’m very driven about my career because career is the true Latin word for life. So, I gave my children life, I didn’t give them my life. My kids learn from me.
HT: It’s really like your real career started after your basketball was over?
JS: Yah my life started when I finished playing basketball.
HT: Most players just kick it when they’re done and reminisce whereas a guy like you could probably have another 30 years in show business.
HT: 50? Alright. That’s the vegetarian perspective.
JS: (Laughs) I also only do what I like. People ask me, they did an article on me in LA Times, they said, “how do you do it?” I like doing it. If I don’t like it, I won’t do it.
HT: Right. Because on The Best Damn Sports Show you truly get to showcase all sides of your personality, humor, knowledge, and intellect.
JS: The only job I have is the radio.
HT: But even the radio show was a natural fit for you ‘cause you’ve been in the hip-hop business since you were in your twenties.
JS: Even when I tried comedy I did it because they told me I couldn’t, and I knew I was funny so I would write jokes and I would do it. I got this thing about people telling me what I can’t do and then doing it. Don’t dare me.
HT: But you never get tempted to just kick it for awhile?
JS: And be complacent? Complacency is not part of my personality.
HT: I also get the impression that you’re a strike when the iron is hot kind of guy, or keep up a good thing going.
JS: When I told you I’m in the right place at the right time. Even when I’m not making money, not on the radio, I have a wealth of knowledge that I can teach. And I can be a part of it. I invest a lot of money in the music business and I lost a lot of money. But now, if you ask me a question about how you do it, you can learn from my misfortunes, my miscalculations, but I’ve learned from them. I haven’t repeated them, and I’ve become wealthy because of that.
HT: So you only do what you like, but if the opportunity is good, you’d take on two or three jobs?
JS: I’ll give you an example. My man Al Greenz right here, when Sherman brought me Al Greenz’ stuff, he also brought me five other things. I said I want to do this and we called Al. That is how I got involved with the bike situations, because I wanted to do it. My call in to Tony Hawk is because he is more prominent in the business of biking, of skateboarding, in that world, that X mentality, all that action sport. If I didn’t do the Best Damn Sports Show? I don’t meet Tony Hawk, I don’t develop a relationship with him, I’m not able to introduce him to Al Greenz. And say, Yo, Al, this is the guy who can take you to the next level. I’m not in that position. So, to some people I’m meeting all these people, but all those people are contacts. The best resource on the planet is human resource. So if I got human resource, I’m able to touch certain people, go around the people, ya know… I don’t talk to the people who think they know what they are doing, I talk to the people that know.
HT: I always thought that you were the kind of guy that always tried to make connections for later on in life. Because you always popped up here and there in the media in your playing days, and you always showed a lot of personality.
JS: You’re going to like this. The reason I went to Georgia Tech is because they had the best alumni of any school they had took me to. The president of American Express, the president of Delta, the chairman of Frito Lay. I got to be in the hall of fame of alumnus, I got to do the metro speech at Georgia Tech. Those connections, dealing with corporate America, who runs this country, are very important. To the point where now, when you say my name it holds weight because of what I have done positive, as opposed to what I’ve done negative. There are a lot of guys who are well known, but when they leave the game you don’t know anything about them except they used to play, which is not a bad thing. I’m learning to play golf because it’s a good place to meet people to enhance my future. But if you ask me to relax, I say, yeah, put me on the beach right after getting a massage and sitting in the sun. That’s relaxing, playing golf is not.
HT: That’s smart. It isn’t selling out like some cynical people might think.
JS: It’s selling!
HT: Did your relationship with Will Smith help you get a role in Bad Boys?
JS: Its funny you say that. Yes. Michael Bay directed my Nike commercial.
HT: Oh both Will and Michael knew you could deliver.
JS: And how I got in is Martin Lawrence and I were sitting there, he took me upstairs to see a scene, and I heard this guy screaming, and I said I know that voice. He said, yah, it’s the director, the new director. I said, “yo, who is making all that “f-ing noise. He was like “who is on my set” He goes, “oh this guy is funny, we gotta put him in the movie”. They said, you the director, you put him in the movie. So the guy who was going to play the nerd was released, and he said I want you to play this nerd on the computer, because it was so far away from what you saw me as before. It took you about 30 seconds to realize it was me. That’s acting because I became a character.
HT: That’s cool because they didn’t hire you to play a typical big guy.
JS: Big guy, basketball, with a bald head, to speak broken English. I spoke English, I didn’t curse.
HT: It became a memorable character. People were hoping you’d be back in the sequel.
JS: Exactly. Plus I lobbied like a…to get in the second film. (Laughs)
HT: And you know there is going to be a third film too.
JS: God willing. I might even get to shoot a gun.
HT: Oh yeah?
JS: I told them they should give me a gun, and everybody runs through a door, and I hit my head and I’m knocked out. That’s what would happen to a nerd.
HT: Was your character out of prison yet?
JS: Oh I got out of prison, and I work for the police now. In part two, I’m in charge of the computer room.
HT: Do you know Joey Pants (Pantoliano)?
JS: Very well. That’s how I got into the Grand Havana Room.
HT: You know, having success is an encouraging thing isn’t it? Because I talked to Antonio Tarver recently, as a matter of fact I saw you interviewing Tarver a year ago on your show and knew I wanted to sit down with him eventually. You were teasing him about how he had unpaid bills from a Montgomery Ward card. And you were like, “Brother, what the hell were you buying at Montgomery Ward?” But my point is, when I interviewed, and he was so encouraged by the way his life was going with his Roy Jones victories and filming “Rocky 6”, he was like “I’m not going bypass being a boxing manager, I’m going to be a promoter, “I’m going to be the next Don King!” The guy had no money and wasn’t getting his opportunities a little over a year ago, but now he’s ready and willing to do big things.
JS: And it is funny. Success is not measured by money. And those that measure it by money are lost. Success is measured by accomplishing the goals that you set forth. Money is a cool part of it, but it is not the only part of it.
HT: Give me your whole take on how professional sports and the athletes are part of the entertainment business?
JS: Athletes don’t know that. People who own the team understand it. There’re only a couple teams that have been in the black, no pun intended, that made money. When athletes look at themselves like, “Man, we’re family, you’re like my brother!” You can’t pay for your brother to be your brother. So that’s not true. All you are is caught in the matrix, and those guys who don’t realize that it is a game that is being played, they would not be bothered with you if they couldn’t get something out of you. That is the same thing that Michael Jackson had to learn, the same thing Michael Jordan learned. Everybody who is successful after, realized their job is an entertainer. When athletes don’t realize they’re entertainers, I’ll put it this way. Professional Basketball players are the number one entertainers of all sports. They could talk about who makes the most money, in football, or baseball, or NASCAR, but if you can’t entertain them, you won’t be on that court. Basketball is so big, that the stars come see you. Brad Pitt and Jack Nicholson spend thousands upon hundreds of thousands to watch their favorite entertainers. That’s the difference
HT: Also, you have an interesting in opinion on how fans their sports and athletes way too seriously.
JS: This is the craziest thing about fans and about this whole mentality of sports. Fans use sports as a release. Athletes have no release except playing their sport. And to prove that fact, Kobe Bryant was in court for his life. He was on the line for his life, and the only way he had to escape any scrutiny was that he was able to play. You saw how bad Robert Blake looked in that court case. You saw how bad O.J. looked in that court case. He had no release. So the only release… when players realize that their only release is sport, they play better. What kind of tarnished my taste about athletics and the whole professional athlete thing is. Like I said, they only want you to entertain them, you’re not supposed to be human. And as soon as you make a certain amount of money, all of a sudden, “Man, you make so much money, you should this.” Money never changed, the money is irrelevant according to who you are. You can get a lot of money and be a bad person. You understand? It don’t make a difference. The money is just, ya know, part of the thing they had to pay us because a bunch of guys sat around and said that we should get a better part of the money because we are the entertainers. Uh, like prostitution. They wouldn’t talk to you if they didn’t think you had money. Strippers wouldn’t dance for you if they didn’t think you could pay ‘em. Everybody does it for a living.
HT: If they knew you only have 20 bucks on you….
JS: If they knew you couldn’t pay them they wouldn’t dance.
HT: They wouldn’t even come and talk to you!
JS: Exactly! And if they didn’t know I could dunk every time I grabbed the ball, or I could block a shot, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Even in this magazine, if I wasn’t going to give you an entertaining interview, we wouldn’t print it. Everybody needs somebody for something. So I understand its entertainment.
HT: You’re obviously very sympathetic for Kobe and all that he went he went through last year. Imagine how emotionally and physically exhausting that whole time was?
JS: Let me tell you. Forget the fact that the fans or people were upset with him. The people that were hurt the most in this situation were the girl who accused him, his wife, and Kobe. Period. Those were the three people who were hurt the most out of that whole thing. The best thing about sorrow is that tomorrow is not as bad as the day you were sorry. So, he got past it, he is moving on, I’m sure the young lady is moving on, and I’m sure his wife moved on. His wife is moved on so much that she had another child with him. So you learn from it. Kobe was used as an example, to ANYBODY who thinks that anything can be done. It is hard to even have a conversation with Kobe now, he is so apprehensive about people, and I’m his friend.
HT: You were his teammate
JS: We were teammates, but I became his friend as well. I didn’t have a lot of friends then too.
HT: Somewhat of a mentor too, right?
JS: Yah. I played him one on one, I talked to him, we ate, we hung out, we spoke on the phone. Even during his trial, I was on the phone with him. Not even talking, sometimes just leaving him a message. Positive energy. Same thing with TO. I leave TO positive energy every day.
HT: What do you think of the harsh treatment A-Rod received from the fans and the local media after the play-offs?
JS: People are fanatics. Let me explain this. You know why people like gossip. It’s because it’s the one time they can sit around and the one person whose life is worse than theirs, they can dwell on that. It’s the only reason gossip works. But it’s funny that all these so called spiritual/ Christian/ whatever…the Bible, The Koran, the Torah, they all speak about gossip being a sin. You should not gossip.
HT: That’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to generate interest in the media.
JS: That’s right.
HT: Do you feel like you guys are exploiting on The Best Damn Sports Show?
JS: Well, on The Best Damn, I literally despond exploitation. I am not going to let you talk about my friend, and you don’t know him, according to what you read. No one writes a story, I said it the other day with about former Titans’ Eddie George. Eddie George played eight years, and never took a game off, and he can’t get picked back up. But if you had a drug problem…
HT: And he’s a good guy too.
JS: Good guy! This is a proven fact, nice guys finish last, and they rarely come in second. So right now, he is sitting around, able bodied, but because he doesn’t have an edge. “Oh, he’s a nice guy,” they take advantage of him. If he was a bad ass he’d be playing. Cause you gotta get something out of him.
HT: But in all fairness you don’t know what happened between Kobe and the girl.
JS: Yah I do.
HT: Why, because you know Kobe?
JS: I’m going to tell you what happened because this is what…
HT: Wait. Let me ask you this; if Kobe, or somebody else in a similar situation was guilty, do you think they deserve to be more unpopular?
JS: I’ll put it this way. He became more popular. O.J. is the most popular name you could possibly say, and he was acquitted. And literally, people paying attention to the fact, if he wasn’t O.J. Simpson, he wouldn’t get the ridicule he had. But because this world is set on knocking you down, the gladiator mentality, thumbs up or thumbs down, he is in the wrong. He was acquitted and found, according to his peers, not guilty. But in the eyes of people who think they are funny, and in the eyes of people that think they are in control, he has been ridiculed and… it was so bad, that he was found innocent, and the judge in the civil case, was so one-sided that he granted the family money because he thought he did it. That’s not justice! That’s just us going against him. The reason black people were happy O.J. was free. Nobody knew the total facts. They were happy he was free because it was finally it was one black man that didn’t have to suffer according to somebody else saying something different. It was the one time that racism didn’t win. But it’s winning now, because they took his house, they said we are going to take everything away from you. But they can’t take his life.
HT: Good stuff, John. Since we have the opportunity, talk to me about some of the businesses?
JS: I got johnsalleymobile.com, which I got into the ringtones, with a company called the Wango. Literally I got different voices, different ringtones, different ways of texting, different pictures, things called imposters, I got Arias Spears pretty soon gonna give me some voices, and the digital games. I got involved with the real estate business, finding land and dealing with one of my investors on building complexes. Getting into the wine business…
HT: You did sensible things with your money from way back in your playing days, right?
JS: Sometimes. I was young with a lot of my money, but then I got. I still have some money because I am not so enamored by things. I have a deal with Cadillac, so I became one of the spokesman for Cadillac. General Motors that purchased Cadillac. That goes back to the subject of bad publicity; I was in a lawsuit that I was excused from. But even being involved with that impropriety, put me in a situation where I lost a pharmaceutical deal because I was dealing with a conservative, republican company that didn’t want any backlash, they wanted me to be squeaky clean. And I’m not a liar. So, I don’t lie about my wrongs. I was wrong to be in the position, but I was excused from that position.
HT: What was the lawsuit?
JS: Well, that was the best thing about it. I was excused so there was no lawsuit.
HT: What were you excused from?
JS: Umm. I was accused of something wrong. And I was acquitted and deleted from that hell. I don’t like talking about hell.
HT: Okay. Are you still involved in the music business?
HT: You are in publishing too, right?
JS: Yah. Definitely in publishing. I am putting together the largest hip-hop and R&B publishing for television, film and radio.
HT: When you say you had some misses in your investments. The music business must have been…..
JS: One of them. I lost $1.4 million of my own money in the music business.
HT: So many athletes like Ron Artest, or Frank Thomas put their money into the music business thinking they’re going to be the next Puffy.
JS: They might.
HT: I mean it doesn’t happen over night.
JS: Well the deal is. I never wanted to be an artist. I am really good at being a leader because I think with an analytical mind. I analyze, and I think if I believe… and let me tell you, when I had Tony Rich, and Clive Davis didn’t think anybody was going to buy black folk music, in 1996 he got the Grammy for best new artist and sold 2.5 million copies. And I believed in him when he was 17, 18 years old when I met him. It took until 23 years old to get that. In that position, I figured out what the music industry is about. It’s about entertaining, and if you give people what they want, and if you’re powerful enough to tell people what they want, Clive Davis mentality, you’d be successful.
HT: You mentioned how you were the chosen one in your family. You’re the provider and leader. As far as the wealth that you have accumulated, and providing for loved ones around you; Where do you draw the line? I remember when you were talking about all your cousins showing up to get their new cars from you when you got drafted.
JS: Because they were proud of me. 37 people came. I didn’t say they were coming at me for money.
HT: But they all wanted cars.
JS: They were proud that their cousin that was wearing the same name on their back, they had the same blood running through their veins. I appreciated that. The difference is that when I was young I would give people branches from the tree as opposed to the fruit from the tree. As I got older, I realized that I had to establish myself as a tree that can bear fruit, and then I can give them the fruit
HT: Why do athletes have such a hard time holding onto their money?
JS: Because they aren’t taught about money.
HT: We’re talking about big money.
JS: Well there is a difference. If you are a lawyer or a doctor you take loans as a doctor. And you go through a minor league situation. And in your minor league situation your money is made to pay back. So by the time you are making big money, part of it is going to your loans. The difference with athletics is the life expectancy is 3.5 years. So you make a lump sum of money in that time, and you got everybody running at you telling you how to make it rich. The problem is you trained your whole life on how to be physical, not mental, and there’s really not a lot of people who want to care for you. The only reason they come around you is because you got money. And you’re famous. And power is the sexiest thing to people. Not just women. You could be the ugliest guy in the world and have the prettiest girl, because power is sexy. That’s it. I’m telling you, you could have one eye and a limp, and be in a wheelchair. Power is sexy.
HT: Look at Howard Marshall.
JS: Look at Howard Stern. Biggie Smalls made fat sexy.
HT: Like when that sleazy agent in He Got Game said, “If you’re driving this car down the boulevard, you can look like Buddy Hackett and get laid.”
JS: That’s right. No question. But the difference is; I got a guy named Darryl Cohen, who is with Wachovia Bank right here out of Woodland Hills. And when I was in a bad situation where I could have filed bankruptcy to get people off me, he said, don’t do that, we’ll just reconstruct and we’ll work the money so that the money can make money. And since I’ve been with Darryl Cohen four years ago, I got 27 players with him. Football players, two basketball players, and two baseball players. When I go in to talk for Darryl, I don’t make a dime, the same way I was when I was a Laker, and any team I’m on, I’m a leader, and I’m a helper, and I’m a giver. See the Native Americans feel the more you give the richer you are. You could be rich with personality and wealthy with money. So I’m rich with personality and knowledge, and what happens is, I can put these guys in a situation of saying, listen….Richard Pryor said it best. Richard Pryor was a drug addict and said, shit, put your money away and snort the interest. It was a joke, but he was serious. Because once you have the base and the foundation, your tree is gonna make fruit. Now if you want to fuck it up and put it up your nose, God bless you, if you live. But Richard Pryor got his dough. Wilt Chamberlain said he was blessed to have three guys who loved him, as opposed to three guys who loved his money.
HT: I mean, you are generous with your time. You are a very busy guy, you get tired
Like everybody else, and you have several gigs going all the time. Then why would you make money for others when you’re not getting paid?
JS: Money is time. I said it that way for a reason.
HT: Is this all about ‘if you do good then good might come back?’
JS: No, not might come back. Never might. Good begets good, evil begets evil, hate begets hate. I would rather be good than be evil anytime. And I got a bunch of time I can be an asshole, but then that doesn’t enhance my spirit to the next soul that’s gonna get it. Why should I be it? It’s less muscles in my face to smile. It is better to have a smile wrinkle than to have wrinkles of anger in my forehead, and in my brain, and stress. What the hell is that going to do for me? Give me prostate cancer, give me a stomach ulcer, give me a brain tumor so I have to apologize later?
HT: If I’m out of line you don’t have to answer any of these questions.
JS: I’ll answer any question that should be answered.
HT: You’ve only been married once.
JS: Yup. I’m only ever going to be married once. Take that however you want to get it.
HT: So you’ll never get divorced? Denzel once said “I will never divorce my wife…”
JS: Oh, really?
HT: And he said, “I might give her a reason for her to leave me, but I will never leave her.”
JS: I can never say what is going to happen. I accept each moment. Do I have a plan? I don’t plan for negative things.
HT: How do you feel about religion?
JS: (Laughs) Well, I’m gonna tell you…
JS: Let me answer, let me answer! There is a great movie called Big Fish, and he said, never talk about religion or politics because people take that entirely personal.
HT: Because you know when a guy is saying I want to thank the Lord, or whatever, and then he’s getting caught doing whatever…
JS: You can be very, very thankful to God, but the best thing is that everybody was made in perfect. So not everybody um…
HT: So, you understand. Do you think athletes are role models?
JS: No. Athletes are not role models.
HT: So, Charles Barkley is right.
JS: Athletes are entertainers that model. They’re models, they’re model citizens.
HT: That doesn’t mean you can be a bad guy either though, right?
JS: Well I don’t know about being a bad guy. You just run into some bad situations, you know somebody said, a little while ago when they were talking about abortions, I’ll say one political thing. They went into a situation where a child is not a child until it is a breathing living thing. You could be a breathing living 22 years old, and die and put in a situation… I know you are wondering where this is going, but… Every step every.. right now we could walk out and get hit by a truck. So to sit and talk about where it’s gonna go, who is a good guy who’s a bad guy. Everybody is a good and bad guy. Everyone runs into a situation. Nobody is perfect.
HT: It’s just magnified when you guys are involved.
JS: It is because we’re news.
JS: Gladiator mentality. If you watch Gladiator, you will see exactly the way they pay attention to athletes, and that’s the problem.
HT: I have always had the impression that you are a good guy, not even knowing you. That’s why I had no problems approaching you at Bel Air Cameras 3 years ago. You’re cool. But I’ve always had the impression that you were a good teammate. How do you feel about athletes today naming names?
JS: I put it this way. You going to like this.
HT: Look at Canseco outing Major League Baseball, and Kobe naming Shaq?
JS: Well he didn’t name Shaq. He didn’t name anybody this is the difference. TO doesn’t get high, doesn’t drink, hasn’t killed anybody, hasn’t been accused of rape, hasn’t beat anybody up except somebody trying to beat him up, and now he’s a bad guy. Because he’s a loud mouth? Hollywood Henderson, Michael Irvin, Mohammed Ali, the proven fact is that the one who makes the most noise gets the most attention. That became a bad thing, how? Babe Ruth. Those are some of the greatest names ever. Times have changed. They want you to shut up, do as they what want you to do, come out and perform, go back to your cage. That’s the problem.
HT: But how could you say that Kobe didn’t bring up Shaq’s name to the Denver Police investigation?
JS: He didn’t. What did he say?
HT: Apparently it’s in the police records.
JS: No, he didn’t! I got the police reports. He said one of my teammates has a child outside of his marriage.
HT: So it could be anybody?
JS: And I’m telling you it wasn’t Shaq.
HT: It wasn’t you was it?
JS: It wasn’t me either.
HT: What’s your opinion on Canseco outing baseball and bringing up names?
JS: Jose feels that he was betrayed by Major League Baseball.
HT: That part of it seems genuine.
JS: Jose feels that. But Jose told them the problem was steroids. Two years later they have 50 games suspension without pay, 100 games suspension the 2nd time, the 3rd year banned. Why? Because of steroids. He told them it was a problem, but Major League Baseball turned a deaf ear. When everybody realized that that was a problem all of a sudden they want to make a difference now, but when Jose said it really quietly they didn’t want to hear it. Because its entertainment, it should stay entertainment. What does anybody care if you stick a needle in your butt? Well it is enhancing. What does it enhance? It doesn’t make you hit the ball further, it doesn’t quicken your eye and hand coordination….
HT: Wait a second, Sal, I think it does make the ball go further.
JS: No it doesn’t. Ted Williams made the ball go further than all of them and he weighed 170 pounds.
HT: But that was one exceptionally talented guy though. Not to mention his incredible hand to eye, his bat speed, and tremendous eye sight.
JS: And? There were four pitchers caught and they didn’t throw the ball any faster. You know what steroids does to your body?
HT: It helps recovery.
JS: It makes your body recover quickly. And that’s a disadvantage. Really? How is that a disadvantage? Alcohol is a drug and that right there should be a problem. Well alcohol doesn’t do anything but slow you down because sometimes you are too hyped. The real fight in MLB was not steroids it was amphetamines, that’s how they slipped it in there. Because they know that if you’re not on amphetamines then you have to play like everyone else. Not steroids.
HT: Ok, I’m going to ask you straight up; if a guy’s taking steroids, is that cheating?
JS: No! Why is that cheating? Because he figured out something to enhance his body, to move faster? Then we should get rid of ginseng, we should get rid of waters…Why do you think they stopped guys from lifting weights in jail?
JS: They want them all to be meek. That right there from lifting weights and working out, that gives you a better high than anything. They didn’t want them strong, they want ‘em beat down. They want to pull them in. This is the deal. They want to run them in four years and run the next thing in. Because if you get rid of superstars you can keep your league going.
HT: My point is that you’re not get a musclehead from Gold’s Gym make any contact on a major league pitch, let alone hit it out of the park.
JS: That’s because they haven’t trained to. That’s training.
HT: But if you already have hand eye coordination and the skill required to hit the ball, I believe that it would make a difference to have extra juice.
JS: No. You know what makes the ball goes further it’s how quick you can hit the ball when it’s in the lower point on the small part of the bat. It’s connecting the bat to the ball in a tight situation really quick. I’m gonna make it real simple; Why is it that you can hit the golf ball 300 yards, probably 100 yards further than me, and I know I am stronger than you. I can do all the steroids in the world I am not going to hit the ball further. It’s the technique. Ted Williams saw 15/15, everyone else saw 20/20, so he saw the ball slower, so he was able to hit it where he needed to hit it.
HT: Again, you’re picking one of the most talented players that ever played though.
JS: No its not. Why is Agassi better? Agassi is better because he can see the ball rotate. That’s a technique. That has nothing to do with if he took steroids. He can see the ball rotate. A lot of people can’t see the ball rotate.
HT: A tennis player got caught with steroids recently.
JS: And how famous is he?
HT: He got to the finals of the French Open last year!
HT: He got caught two years ago
JS: Doing what?
JS: Right, but what’s his name?
HT: Mariano Puerta. He’s a basically a so-so player…
JS: Exactly. But I’m gonna tell you, ya know why it works in track. Track guys destroy their muscles when they train. They break it down. When you take steroids it helps your muscles recover faster. So, when a guy is training every day for six hours and he doesn’t take steroids, he has more time to recover. Well when you take steroids you have less time to recover, so you get the optimum strength out of your muscles. They found that as enhancing. Silly.
HT: Then a closer would be a candidate for steroids wouldn’t he?
JS: No because he isn’t playing every day. Every day players need steroids.
HT: Because people say that even Eric Gagne is showing signs of breaking down.
JS: He’s breaking down anyway. The more you play the more….
HT: Yeah, but I’m talking about he was a so-so starter at best, and suddenly he was so dominant.
JS: No he wasn’t. He didn’t do any steroids this year and he was a great this season. That right there just proved that he didn’t need steroids. Talking about Giambi, I’m talking about.
HT: Well I’m talking about Gagne, Sal!
JS: Well, he is breaking it down because that is what the body does. Do you think that McNabb does steroids? No. Because your body breaks down. You get hit enough, run enough. The body is not meant to do these sports, man!
HT: Do you think NBA players use steroids?
JS: I don’t make allegations.
HT: I interviewed Derek Lowe last year.
JS: Great guy.
HT: He was the hero of the Boston Red Sox Championship run. He had a very interesting take. He said, you know, he’s a pitcher. Pitchers should hate guys who are cheating, but he said, “I don’t care if they take steroids, it’s up to them if they want to destroy their health. It’s all the same to me. There was no steroid policy before 2005 so I don’t consider it cheating. If I’m not making my pitches and getting them to ground out, they’re probably going to hit it out anyway.” Interesting take.
JS: I know the Rocket never complained about anybody using steroids. Because if you a bitch and you afraid and you a punk I don’t care how many steroids you get, you still ain’t gonna have to drive to be great. You gotta feel it.
HT: You know who Bob Sapp is?
JS: Very well. Very much so. Do you speak Japanese?
JS: That’s good.
HT: Everyone thinks that he’s on steroids because he’s such a huge guy.
JS: Ah, man that’s funny. Tell him to tell whoever said that about Bob Sapp. That he’s just a true African. Those are the people that they brought over to America…
HT: Wow, you don’t think Bob’s on steroids?
HT: Oh come on now?
JS: You know what they used to feed slaves? They used to feed slaves okra, rice, provision meat and potatoes, corn. They gave them everything that cows and gorillas eat, vegetation. They never got meat, but they had the same big buck because of the race and because of what my race does, we’re built to do that kind of work. We are the closest thing to original man there is. I am going to tell you about black folk…
Al Greenz: That is what Jimmy the Greek lost his job for. (laughs)
JS: Jimmy the Greek was white. For telling the truth.
HT: But Sapp was having steroid type foot injuries when he was in the NFL.
JS: If you got kicked in your shins in K-1, he also got his eye socket broke because somebody realized where to hit him. If you do martial arts I will tell you right now, the hardest muscles are in your skull, but the softest muscles are in the softest part of your body. So where do you hit somebody? In the throat and in the eye sockets. Once he broke his eye socket, fuck it! Bob Sapp decided to act.
HT: I know Bob real good, we’re good friends. When I asked him that he didn’t want to talk about that anymore, but he did start to answer it. He said, well you know, taking steroids isn’t going to make your chin any stronger to take the blow from a kick.
JS: He’s right about that.
HT: But I said it is going to make your kick and your blows stronger on their jaw. And he said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
JS: Yah because then he would have to explain to you how much he knows about steroids. And then your next question would be how does he know so much? And if he says, because I was a med student, you wouldn’t believe him.
HT: Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?
HT: Enough said.
HT: Who is the greatest player that you ever played with, MJ or Zeke (Isiah Thomas)? I know you mentioned Magic as possibly the greatest in NBA history.
JS: I am going to tell you a story I don’t know if you are going to print it. When I lived in Chicago I lived at a training facility. We had played four games in a row and was 4-0, and had won like 16 games straight. So Phil decided to give Michael the day off and said we were going to go through the offense for my sake. When Michael left Phil chose sides for us to scrimmage. Then Michael came back in, he had a tennis, straight up canvas, flat nikes and sweat pants. He tied ‘em tighter, he had on small socks, and he switched sides. We got a steal and I was back, and they knew that I didn’t have a problem putting you on your back or I’d block the shot, and by the time I spun around to block the shot he had took off, and was doing the same dunk he did in 1988 All Star Game, and he said, “Block this bitch”, and I watched his nuts fly over my head and I’m 7 foot tall, and I went back and called my mom and said, I think I just saw the greatest player ever. She said, “It took you ten years to realize it.” Just because I had been around some great players growing up and seen some guys do some unbelievable things, but he has done some outstanding things. I’ll never say he was the greatest player ever, because ever is not over yet. I was a big Dr. J fan, so you are going to have Heinz ketchup and you are going to have Heinz ketchup plus, you’re going to have Tide soap detergent and Tide plus, and that is what it is.
HT: The best team ever?
JS: The one that I was on.
HT: The Bulls
HT: Would you say the Showtime Lakers were pretty close?
HT: Or Bird, McHale, and Parish? They were pretty bad.
JS: Well, alright. The hardest team to play against was Larry Bird, it was easy to play against Michael because you only had to stop Michael. The greatest team ever was probably the Celtics. I was a Celtics fan before anything else. They won 11 championships when Bill Russell was there. So if you want to talk about some of the great players, Bill Russell should be in the top one or two.
HT: Were you a good talker on the court?
JS: Could I talk shit? I had a mouthpiece in.
HT: So you didn’t talk trash?
JS: I talked quietly. I talked a lot of shit when I knew we were winning.
HT: Was was Michael’s talk like?
JS: No, he didn’t talk a lot. Larry Bird was the only shit talker that I ever played against.
JS: Reggie didn’t talk shit. Reggie made faces. Reggie talked to Spike, he didn’t talk to anybody else.
HT: Who was the one player you personally had a really tough time competing against?
JS: The toughest player I ever played against was Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon were the toughest player I ever played against.
HT: I remember you talking about how strong Hakeem was.
JS: He was strong, he was smart, he could play, and he could run like he was playing soccer. He was the toughest guy.
HT: Because Shaq is big huge presence, but I got to understand from people like you, that Olajuwon was really an amazing player that did it all.
JS: You can foul Shaq out, you can’t foul Olajuwon out.
HT: Who is the best player today?
JS: Kobe Bryant
HT: Top three.
JS: Kobe Bryant, Shaquile O’Neal, Tim Duncan
HT: What about the next generation?
JS: LeBron is the best young player I have ever seen. As in ever.
HT: So he has the chance of becoming….?
JS: He is the best young player I have ever seen.
HT: Shaq is the greatest center ever?
JS: (Laughs) Kareem has 42,000 points and 6 championships. Bill Russell has 11 championships.
HT: So Shaq is the most dominant
JS: Yup. Well, the most dominant would have to be Will Chamberlain. He scored 100 points in one game.
HT: Do you believe that the NBA is becoming like a two man game?
JS: No. NBA is becoming too many referees. The referee has too much say so.
HT: Like we talked about, teams like San Anton and Detroit are bringing back team ball.
JS: Every time they go down court and back the ref blows the whistle. They need to get the referee out of the game and let people be entertained. It’s not entertaining watching people shoot foul shots. Especially when guys can’t shoot em.
HT: Do you think that Shaq trade could be the worst trade in history?
JS: The worst trade in history was Shaquile O’Neal’s trade. The second worst trade was Kareem Abdul Jabbar from Milwaukee.
HT: How the hell did that happen?
JS: Because it’s a show. No one believes it’s a show. He wins the championship and gets traded to the Lakers. You know why? Because this is the second largest market in the world. So, why would you want him in Milwaukee? You aren’t going to sell jerseys with Milwaukee on it.
HT: Jerry West always got the big men, didn’t he?
JS: Well, Jerry West didn’t get him. The NBA did. Do you think Patrick Ewing went to New York by chance?
HT: That is like the biggest…
JS: Do you think Larry Bird went to Boston by chance? Do you think Magic came to the Lakers by chance?
HT: How did LeBron end up in Cleveland?
JS: Because they changed the jerseys, and they wanted the middle of the country. The middle of the country was sitting around watching Chicago become the biggest. But Chicago is the third largest market.
HT: But he is probably not going to stay there is he?
JS: I hope not.
HT: What do you feel about high schools entering the NBA draft?
JS: The same way I feel about high school students going to war. If you could put your life on the line then you can make money.
HT: So you don’t think there should be a mandatory two years in college or teenagers to have to do a year or two in the NBDL?
HT: But if they enter college, should they have to play a minimal number of years?
JS: Umm, man….let me tell you. If you can put an M-16 in an 18 year old kid’s hand, and tell him to take a life of somebody he doesn’t know, how the hell can’t you put 3 million dollars into his hand? That’s not fair.
JS: Give you a life for somebody else’s glory. I believe like Michael Moore said in Farenheit 911. Let all the congressmen send their children to war. Let’s see what happens then. I bet we have no war. If you got a grab a gun, as Jack Nicholson says, you know what, I would rather everyone be quiet. If not, grab a gun and stand guard. And if you’re not willing to grab a gun and stand guard, we shouldn’t be at war.
HT: But don’t you think the quality
Of the college game has gone down considerably?
JS: Oh yeah. The quality is going down because there’re only a couple of coaches who believe in teaching fundamentals. In college, you either win or the coach gets fired. Look at how many coaches are getting paid and what’s it about. It’s no longer about the glory of the game. I think college is the biggest rip off for athletics ever. Ever! I’ll make it simple. I played in a game, and I remember the game. How much does USC (football) make per game? 10 million dollars? And they say, well, he got a free ride, he got a scholarships. Scholarships only cost $100,000. You make 12 million dollar!
HT: So kids should get paid?
JS: Hell yah! You’re performing.
HT: Revenue sharing?
JS: I don’t know about revenue sharing. You should get paid. It’s not what you’re worth, it’s what you negotiate.
HT: What about marijuana use in the NBA? It is generally known that the a lot of NBA players partake in the herb.
JS: I believe that medicinal marijuana should be used if that is what you need it for. I think that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to do it because you can grow the hemp seed anywhere in the world. So, anywhere you can get something and the government can’t tax it, it becomes illegal. But, no one has been documented as dying from use of marijuana. But a lot of people have died from using other, so called, healthy drugs.
HT: What about if players are smoking at half time and stuff?
HT: Is that bad?
JS: It depends on how you perform out there. Did you know players used to smoke cigarettes and drink beer at half time?
HT: Yeah. I went to the St. Louis Cardinals locker room back in ‘91and they had Budweiser on tap there!
JS: Do you know how much beer is in the clubhouse in baseball?
HT: So as far as the NBA’s future, it is becoming more global, do you think that is a healthy thing?
HT: They’re doing a good job in the NBA, you think?
JS: Uh-huh. I think David Stern is a genius. I do.
HT: Do you think it is a good thing that Europeans are beginning to become more involved?
JS: Well, let’s look at it from my point of view. A black kid can’t go into the NBA until he’s 19, but a European can come to the league and not go to college. That’s funny. That’s a trip. The European can become a pro at 16 years old. Tony Parker was a pro at 16 years old. 16. I’m just saying. That one you gotta look into yourself. That should tell you something.
JS: I got one more question and then I gotta get going.
HT: Do you think that whole street ball culture has ruined the future of basketball?
JS: Nah. Everything goes back to the streets.
HT: Karl Malone was quite concerned about the general trend of street ball these days. He felt that the Europeans were much more fundamentally sound, and if we’re not careful they’re going to become better players.
JS: Really? So did anybody think that when Bob Cousy was doing it, which we got video; When Pistol Pete was doing it, when all of a sudden Magic was doing it, it was fine. No one ever likes the evolution of anything. No one. Everybody wants something different, but they want it to stay the same. So, of course when you get older, people get more conservative. The same people who want conservatism now, were the same ones getting high and wanting free love in the 70’s. So the older you get, the more conservative you become. So, how much of that can you take to heart?
HT: So how do feel about all the And1 Mix Tape Tour on ESPN and MTV Battleground, which you were involved with?
JS: It’s entertainment. Well that is the problem. You see the NBA has to figure out how to entertain again. They may hate the way Alan Iverson looks…
HT: They’re the Harlem Globetrotters of today.
JS: Well that’s one way of looking at it, or that’s pure basketball.
HT: But as far as those guys having dreams of playing in the NBA, that part of it is unrealistic.
JS: Two of them have.
HT: Rafer Alston, right? But he was already legit at Fresno State playing for Tarkanian.
JS: But he’s still a street ball player.
HT: But I’m talking about the regulars on that tour. Their whole thing is to be seen and be given a shot to get into the league.
JS: And some of them are gonna make it.
HT: They’re offensive minded, undisciplined players for the most part. I don’t see how they could fit into a system at that stage.
JS: Hey there was a whole lot of women who played basketball, and nobody ever thought there was going to be a league. And there is a chick named Lisa Leslie who makes us very proud. Alright, man, I gotta roll.