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2009, October 2: Ball Don’t Lie – Jalen Rose talks Twitter, replacement refs, Ron Artest, poker

October 15, 2009

 By J.E. Skeets

On October 15th and 16th, myself and a bunch of other bloggers, journalists and media moguls will gather in Las Vegas for Blogs with Balls 2.0, a conference devoted to sports blogs and their effect on the universe. One of the guests of honor at BwB 2.0 will be ESPN analyst Jalen Rose(notes). Yesterday, I caught up with the social media savvy Rose to get his take on the NBA’s new Twitter policy, replacement referees, the Lakers and much more.

Ball Don’t Lie: You recently talked with my buddy Shoals at The Baseline about the changing media landscape, so I’ll try not to double-up the questions. But I want to get your opinion on the NBA’s new Twitter policy. Thoughts?

Jalen Rose: As a fan, ex-player and someone that has a Twitter account — and is a huge fan of social media — it’s not the thing I like the most. But as a boss, a coach, a CEO, a general manager, an owner, I have no problem with it at all. Because ultimately, no matter what career you choose in life, you’re going to have a boss. And that boss is able to set certain parameters around your performance and what he/she feels is going to allow success in the workplace. I understand both sides. I have no problem with it.

BDL: On the whole, do you think Twitter and Facebook have done more good for the NBA than harm?

JR: I think it’s probably done more good. It allows players to connect with their fans. It’s allowed them to create a broader audience and help increase their visibility and brand in a positive way, which obviously is a domino effect to all of the things they represent — their agent, their manager, the NBA, their shoe company, another endorsement deal. Everybody gets a chance to benefit, especially when it’s positive. In doing that, there’s going to be some horror stories, sure, but for the most part, it’s been good.

BDL: Obviously, Twitter wasn’t around when you were in the league, but can you recall your teammates being just as crazy with checking their e-mail or texting during practice or in the locker room? Did that stuff go on?

JR: Well, one thing age teaches you is the older you get, the longer the walk was to school. I’m at an age where I’m able to pay attention and respect both sides. I grew up in an era where I had to go back to my dorm room to see if somebody left me a message on my voicemail. I know about the era of beepers and huge cell phones … and now you might see a nine or 10-year-old with a phone. It’s really just a sign of the times. I like to think of Twitter and similar entities as a 24/7/365 GPS, or ticker, or public service announcement. Anyone can press send and whatever you’re doing isn’t private anymore.

BDL: So no good stories of Sam Mitchell smashing someone’s cell phone?

JR: (laughs) No, not at all. Like I said, the times have changed and you have to evolve with it. But I’m a huge fan of social media and I’m glad that it continues to expand.

BDL: You’re all over Twitter; you’ve got some 30,000 followers. I’ve got to ask you about this one tweet. You said you saw The Dream and Christina Milian, HBO’s Bill Maher and Jon from “Jon and Kate Plus 8.” Where the hell were you?

JR: (laughs) I was out in L.A. — Beverly Hills — eating dinner.

BDL: Was Jon eating his last 15 minutes of fame?

JR: Yeah, basically. I had that on there at first, but it was too long. So that’s why I shortened it to “is he famous?”

BDL: Moving on. The NBA begins preseason play tonight (Thursday) and they’re going full steam ahead with replacement refs. You played during the last batch of backup refs in ’95 with the Nuggets. Should players and fans be worried?

JR: I wouldn’t say worried because the sheer brilliance of the athletes and the game will continue to evolve. I don’t think the officials will affect it totally. However, anytime you’re not dealing with your A-plus product — that is the real officials — you’re dealing with [second-rate] back-ups. It’s kind of like the Yankees. They can put out their starting line-up or they can put out their backups. When you’re dealing with your backups there’s more room for error and question. […] Basketball is such a subjective sport to call. What’s a foul? What’s over-the-back? What’s a block or a charge? What’s a travel? These are all things that are questioned on a daily basis.

BDL: But do you remember a drop off in the quality of referring back in ’95?

JR: Yes, you notice a difference and there is a difference. Anybody that tries to suggest otherwise is not being accurate because, again, you have your first team and then the backups. These new refs are the backups.

BDL: OK, let’s put you on the spot. You told Shoals that you like the Cavs to take the East, so I’ll ask about the West. Can anyone — the Spurs, the Nuggets, the Blazers — knock off the Lakers?

JR: Well, actually what I told him was this: I can’t pick a Finals yet, but I can pick a final four. And if I had to go out on a limb today I would take the Cavs. But I’m seeing an Eastern Conference final between the Celtics and the Cavs, with a wildcard being the Magic. And then in the Western Conference I’m going with the Lakers and Spurs, with a team maybe like Utah being the wildcard.

BDL: Do Lakers fans need to be more worried about Ron Artest(notes) trying to fit into the mix or Lamar Odom(notes) marrying “The Kardashian Klan” and reality TV?

JR: Both great questions. I think Artest is at a point in his career where he understands that he is going to be judged by winning and his ability to get along with those who have had more success — Phil and Kobe. When you’re in that situation, and you’re Ron Artest, you’re going to be attentive enough to those guys where even if he wanted to get off track he understands that’s not the place he can do it. He has to represent a different standard of excellence playing for the Lakers just because … it’s the Lakers. I think that’s going to help him a lot on and off the floor. […]

I still feel like if the Lakers are going to win another championship they can’t have Andrew Bynum(notes) from this year’s Finals. There’s still going to be a question about the point guard position — obviously we love Derek Fisher(notes), but he’s not getting any younger and we got to still play the first 46, 47 minutes of the game. Even though they’re the defending champions, they have questions. Every team has questions, that’s why they play the game.

BDL: And what about this Odom-Khloe “circus” — you see that being a distraction?

JR: Well, there’s a difference between being a professional athlete — having the media ask you questions and what you consider being hounded — as opposed to the paparazzi. So, for whatever it’s worth, hopefully he’s ready for that what comes with it. Because when he misses a lay-up (and everybody does), when he has a bad game (and every player will), [the marriage] is going to be one of the things that’s well discussed and documented about his concentration, his focus and his ability to still perform.

BDL: Right. As soon as something bad happens the media’s going to want to pin it on his relationship.

JR: Kind of like Jessica [Simpson] and Tony [Romo].

BDL: Yeah.

JR: But when you’re Tony Parker(notes) and you have Eva [Longoria] the only way you can silence [the doubters] is to do what Tony did. Go out, win the Finals MVP, win a couple of championships and become one of the top three point guards in the game. So for Lamar, he’s definitely going to have to be competitive at a high level. If the Lakers have any fall off record wise, or he struggles, he just gave his critics something else to pile on about.

BDL: Had a few people on Twitter want me to ask you this next question: What fountain of youth is your ex-Fab Five teammate Juwan Howard(notes) drinking from? He’s still playing!

JR: No question about it. I used to joke with Juwan, as did Chris [Webber] and the other guys, that we always knew he’d be the last one of us to keep playing in the NBA.

BDL: Really?

JR: Yeah. Because not only does he love the game that much, but his style of game is conducive to a long career. As a power forward his game was skill. His game was left shoulder, right shoulder, rebound with two hands, make a medium range shot — not necessarily high-flying reverse dunks. So I’m not surprised; I’m very happy for him. I always joke with him about not being able to go to the army because he has flat feet. But it works in the NBA. And now I have another reason to root for Brandon Roy(notes) and LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) with Juwan on the team. That’s my brother.

BDL: Any chance at a Jalen Rose comeback?

JR: No!

BDL: No?

JR: With an exclamation point behind it. I still can play and I’m still in shape. I consider myself the best player that doesn’t have an NBA uniform and I’m content with that title.

BDL: Bold.

JR: And if anybody wants to play me for that title — for charity — the offer stands.

BDL: You’re getting your Bryon Russell hustle on here.

JR: He got that from me. Just so you know. I played with him out in Los Angeles — UCLA. I’ve played with him in Calabasas. I’ve said it on Twitter. I’ve said it on television. I love B-Russ, but I have to take the patent on that one.

BDL: Sort of an odd question, but what player’s game today most reminds you of yours?

JR: Joe Johnson(notes) — a guy that can play three positions.

See, let’s talk about the transformation in the game. There were big guards that I looked up to — big point guards, 6’7 and taller. Scottie Pippen was a point forward. Grant Hill(notes) was and is a point forward. LeBron James(notes) is a point forward. As for point guards — Magic Johnson was bringing it up at Michigan State. Steve Smith was bringing it up at Michigan State. Penny Hardaway was bringing it up in Memphis.

BDL: All big guys.

JR: The evolution of the game is that there are no more big point guards. So since there isn’t as many big point guards, I root, and I pay attention to the guys that can play three positions and be just as effective. Joe Johnson is a player, like LeBron James, that you can start at point guard, shooting guard or small forward positions.

BDL: He had similar numbers to what you were putting up, too — 20-5-5. All right, final question because I’ve kept you to long here—

JR: I would’ve said LeBron, but he’s too good and too athletic. (laughs)

BDL: He’s just a freak, yeah. And you would’ve gotten grilled on the blogs had you picked LeBron.

JR: (laughs) Yeah. They would have thought I was hanging out with Lindsay Lohan.

BDL: (laughs) All right, final question. Rumor has it you’ll be playing in the Blogs With Balls charity poker shootout in a few weeks.

JR: Yes, I will be.

BDL: OK, so before I sit down with you at the table, what’s your tell? I want to know your tell.

JR: My tell? What do you mean by that?

BDL: Well, let’s say you’ve got a good hand, you’re bluffing, whatever. I want to know your tell. Are you going to touch your sunglasses, fiddle with your chips—

JR: Oh, oh, oh, I got to tell you something, you just reminded me of this. I’m the only person I know that doesn’t play golf, doesn’t play poker, doesn’t eat sushi and doesn’t have a Facebook page.

BDL: (laughs) What?

JR: OK, I’m working on a Facebook page this week. Now, I’m going to sit at the poker table — I’ve watched lots of teammates play, lots of family and friends play — but I’ve actually never held the cards for one game. For some reason I—

BDL: Hold on. Thirteen years in the NBA, and you never once played poker on the bus?

JR: Never.

BDL: Wow.

JR: I’ve watched the game for years, but I’ve never played.

BDL: How do I get seated at your table?

JR: (laughs) I’ve never played poker, never played golf, never eaten sushi—

BDL: And you don’t have a Facebook page.

JR: I’ve never been on Facebook.

BDL: Yet.

JR: Yet. I’m getting a page this week. People have been getting on my case about it calling me a dinosaur. I’m like, all right, I’ll get a page. But I’ll tell you what — you want to play Spades, you want to play Tonk? I play those games.

BDL: Tonk? Wow. I don’t even know what that is.

JR: Exactly. Put that up on your Twitter — “I play Spades! I play Tonk!”

To view this blog, click here: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Jalen-Rose-talks-Twitter-replacement-refs-Ron-?urn=nba,193548

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2009, September 30: The Baseline – Jalen Rose on Next Season and Media Upheaval
Posted By Bethlehem Shoals

On October 15th and 16th, myself and a bunch of other bloggers, journalists and media moguls of all types will gather in Vegas for the second Blogs with Balls, a conference devoted to sports blogs and their effect on the universe. The first one was a resounding success; this time, it’s been absorbed by BlogWorld Expo 2009, the premier place where a bunch of people get together to ponder blogs and bloggers.

One of the guests of honor at BwB 2.0 will be the one, the only, Jalen Rose. I caught up with Rose yesterday to get a preview of his views on the changing media landscape, as well as a look forward to next season.

Bethelehem Shoals: Social media like Twitter or Facebook allow athletes to, in effect, take things out of the media’s hands. As someone who not so long ago was a player, but now is part of the media, how do you perceive this tension between the two?

Jalen Rose: There shouldn’t be any tension. Every media outlet still has the opportunity to talk to those people, but they also have the opportunity to talk to followers and fans the way they want it heard. For example, if I played for the New England Patriots, regardless of what I have to say after the game, the cameras may not be at my locker – they may be at Tom Brady or Randy Moss’s locker. It gives me the opportunity to be just as effective, if not more.

BS: Yeah, but guys do talk more freely through these channels than they ever do with reporters. Do you think athletes take reporters less seriously now that they don’t need them?

JR: Athletes and entertainers will always take the media seriously, because they understand in 2009 that you’re a brand. If you have a movie coming out or a big game, you do interviews about it. Those relationships will be just as respectable and important. If you look at any performer throughout their career, they could dislike the media and the media could dislike them, but ultimately both use that relationship to accomplish what they’re trying to get accomplished.

BS: It does work both ways, though. It’s also a matter of consumers tempering their expectations, understanding that a team or players might not want everything out in the open.

JR: Fans are intelligent, and ultimately, with the escalating cost of entertainment, and in these recessionary times, they want to be entertained beyond the time of the game or the movie. If they’re going to reach in their pocket and spend their hard-earned bucks, they feel it’s their right to boo or blog about it.

[For the passive consumers,] it takes away the celebrity and fame element and puts the average individual in that position. When you’re someone like Kevin Love, and you’re gonna announce the team is making a move today before it happens, those are the things that blur the lines.

Companies want to be involved on a grassroots level, but sometimes things happen too fast and they don’t catch up until it’s too late. Guys like Kevin Love get the memo: You can have your social networking, but ultimately it’s our brand, and we don’t think you’re representing us in a positive light and you have to deal with the consequences. That’s just called having a boss.

BS: And there’s a lot of people will be engaged just because the celebrity is (supposedly) on the other side typing it.

JR: It’s different if you read it in a newspaper. It has a writer, an editor — it’s gonna be filtered. Twitter is direct. It’s like getting a girl’s phone number or having one of your friends get it for you. It’s totally different. It’s kind of like, are you man enough to go talk to her and say hi, or are you going to hide behind one of your friends or security and try and get one of them to do your dirty work.

BS: Okay, time for a few basketball questions. How good do you think the Celtics will be, and where do they stand with the entire East getting better?

JR: The Magic, the Cavs, and the Celtics are the cream of the crop in the East. If I had to pick a team on paper, it would have to be the Cavs. You have LeBron James, the MVP of the league, you add Shaquille O’Neal to the team with the best record in the league, and you still added Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, and Leon Powe.

BS: I wanted to get your take on the Delonte West situation, specifically the public’s reaction to it. Do you find it strange that some people are surprised that athletes could have this kind of problem?

JR: If it exists in society, it exists in entertainment. Whatever illnesses, disorders, good things, bad things – you hope that being a professional gives you a different platform and helps you deal with those problems, but the reality of it is that they still exist.

BS: Do you think there are other guys around the league who might be dealing with similar things?

JR: In one way, shape or form, possibly. You have Michael Beasley going to a rehab facility this summer, you have Delonte West. It happens. No matter how famous you are or how many touchdowns you score, that doesn’t take you away from the realities of life. Everyone still has their issues.

BS: Your pick for Rookie of the Year?

JR: That’s a tough call. On paper, I’d probably have to say Tyreke Evans. He’s a combo guard who’ll get a lot of minutes in Sacramento. He can score off the dribble, finish at the basket. Just like any rookie, he has things he has to improve. But with his game and his opportunity from day one, he’s in as good a position to be Rookie of the Year as anyone.

My sleeper, although I know his numbers won’t be there as a rookie because he plays with a lot of other guys who are required to shoot the ball and score the ball, is Austin Daye of the Pistons. A 6-10 player who can score, rebound, assist, get steals, get blocks.

BS: Were you surprised at the way the whole Rubio thing turned out?

JR: No, not at all – it was a leverage play on all three sides. Number one, teams overseas aren’t grooming players to come to the NBA. That’s not their goal for Ricky Rubio when he’s a teenager, so as they rebel against that, they’re going to create these huge buyout clauses and huge obstacles for kids to come to the NBA.

Number two, Ricky Rubio knew that if he was a Top 3 pick, it would be worth it for him to come to the NBA and pay the buyout. He played his leverage by saying it wasn’t worth him to come to the NBA as the No. 6 pick, and oh by the way I’m in Minnesota and that’s not the most attractive place to me. And number three, Minnesota said they could draft anyone they want and, if you don’t come to the NBA, we have your rights. So we’re gonna back ourselves up by drafting Jonny Flynn in case this does happen.

BS: I just never figured it would come to this.

JR: I did a lot of draft coverage, and he was one of the main stories. He was on a national Gatorade commercial. The hype was there, but he felt like the financial opportunity was better overseas. Do you want to play in the NBA because it’s your dream, or do you want to come over because it’s financially feasible and your dream?

BS: It’s a pretty good argument that the NBA isn’t fixed.

JR: Absolutely. Had he gone to the Knicks or Lakers, even at the No. 8 or 9 pick, he’d probably be in the NBA. Had he gone to anyone at No. 3, he’d probably be in the NBA.

To see this blog, click here: http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Baseline/