What did young players ask you about? You must get a lot of questions from young players since so many of them grew up with you and your generation.
When I played with guys they’d ask me questions like what it was like to play against certain guys and what the league was like back in the 90s. Some guys asked questions about how to take care of yourself. It was good because I felt like I had a wealth of knowledge and experiences that I wanted to share. When you’re with these guys everyday you establish relationships. Now, I’m with a bunch of my contemporaries. I’m with Shaq, Steve Smith, Kenny Smith. It’s a little bit different. I had Otis Thorpe and Joe Dumars to absorb as much information as I possibily could. And as a fan, I wanted to know what it was like for them to go against the guys they used to play against. So it was great to be in a position like that my last few years in the league.
What are your thoughts on the new uniforms?
I’m a traditionalist and I like the way things have been, but I understand. From what I’ve been told the t-shirt look potentially sells more than the tank tops. I wouldn’t be surprised if in five years every team was wearing these shirts for every game. The thinking is, the tank top is kind of only worn by basketball fans, but a t-shirt can be worn in a variety of different ways. Times change and I’ve learned you’ve got to kind of roll with it and embrace those changes. It may take some time for everyone to get used to, though.
What’s guiding your principles in terms of what you’re doing outside of the game like with your real estate and art ventures?
Well, there is a lot that you can take from sports. I think having a strong work ethic is important. Setting goals. Being disciplined and having personal responsibility — and even learning to work well with others. It’s just values that take and apply elsewhere in business, real estate, finance — things that we’re doing with our Equity Mezzanine Fund. There’s so much that I’ve taken from the wealth of my experiences playing ball and it’s just that I’m using them in a different way. The parallels are interesting.
What’s up next for you and your wife’s fine African American art collection?
I don’t know! We had a tour about 10 years ago where we visited about eight different cities where we had it on exhibit. It was well-received and it brought more attention to the genre of African American art. But we haven’t really decided in terms of what we want to do next. I’m not sure if it’s going to be another tour or if we want to loan some pieces out. We have a lot of pieces at our home and we have a lot that are in storage. Of course, ultimately, great art is meant to be seen by others. But my wife and I have to figure it out what we’ll do next.
But since the last tour we’ve added to it. It’s increased in size. It’s a fun hobby for us and we enjoy supporting great artists as well as buying and enjoying pieces that we like.
How is she doing?
Good! She’s great. She’s in the studio close to being done with her next album. She’s staying busy. She had an album out a year ago and she was nominated for a Grammy. She’s doing well, working hard. Someone in the family has to work. [Laughs.] So she’s doing it for us.
I wanted to ask you about Jabari Parker. The rumor now is he might not come out for the draft next year to play with his good friend Jahlil Okafor. What’s your perception on his situation and do you think he’d be making the right decision to make the leap to the NBA?
Well, I think it’s premature right now to speculate. I don’t know what was said. I’m sure his family is saying that he’s not thinking about it and that he’s just focusing on playing and there’s a possibility he may stay. In all of it, he’s having a good time. I think he’s enjoying himself and that he’s fully invested in his team. The idea of what’s in the future — I don’t think he’s anywhere close to even thinking about that. I think he’s focused on improving and he wants to do well with his team. When the time is right I think he’ll sit down and evaluate things and make a list of the pros and cons. You know, he’s a smart kid. He’s got a really good family and I think whatever decision he makes it’ll be the best decision for him.
I think it’s refreshing. I heard even prior to this last week or so that he really enjoys his time as a student-athlete. It’s good to have those types of decisions. [Laughs.] Maybe not the easiest decision, but it’s good to be in that position and that’s a credit to what he’s been able to do throughout his career.
Do you ever get nervous for him? To me you guys have somewhat similar backgrounds, coming from really good, supportive families. You also have similar size, too.
I think what I worry about is that so much is asked of him as a freshman. I think the luxury I had was that I had older players that I played with. It was just a different time. There were guys on my teams who were All-Americans and were older. So there wasn’t any pressure on me to be the best player and lead the team. I think because of his talent the expectation is that he’s expected to be that person right now. Back then you were allowed to evolve and learn from the upperclassmen. I worry about that, but he seems to be handling himself well. He’s a good kid, talented and he wants to play well and wants to win. Plus, he’s in good hands down there. So I think he’ll be OK.