2004: Slam Online – The Links
June 23, 2008
Week of March 22, 2004: By Lang Whitaker — Our man in Toronto, Clement
Chu, has been telling me for a while that he wanted to do an interview
with Jalen Rose for The Links. No particular reason, just that Clement
likes Jalen. Also, I like hearing Jalen talk and reading what he has to
say. He’s a pretty intelligent guy, who’s sort of slipped under the NBA
radar for the last few years. Plus, Jalen likes SLAM. Clement takes
over from here…
So let’s just get this out of the way, shall we?
Jalen Rose is cocky and talks too much crap for his own good. He is
poison in the locker room and is a selfish player. His game is ugly, he
takes bad shots, he forces passes and he has no hops. He and his crew
have ruined the Michigan basketball program and he spends too much time
doing cameos in hip-hop videos when he should be in the weight room.
That was for all the Jalen haters out there.
Where is the love? Well, it’s not hard to find. You’ll find it all around Jalen:
"I remember when he played in high school, I watched one of his first
games, and he was just amazing. He always played with a swagger to him.
My pops used to take me down to watch [him play]. I really respect his
game, and what he does on the floor; he works hard and he has heart. I
haven’t seen a game where he hasn’t played hard." — Morris Peterson
"He’s been great. I’d say that him and JYD are two of the best people
we have ever had in terms of [community relations activities]. He
really gets into it and is really good with the kids" — Raptors front
office staff member
"I admire him for coming back two weeks early [from his broken shooting
hand]. [I like the way] he talks all the time. Half the time, you don’t
even know what he is talking about, but he directs guys, he encourages
guys. He’s just a good basketball player." — Kevin O’Neil
"Playing basketball to me is like being in heaven, it’s just a place
where I have salvation. It’s a place where I can not only enjoy the
game but where nothing can go wrong." — Jalen Rose
That’s really the key to Jalen Rose: the guy loves basketball and
everything that comes with it. Being around him, you can sense the love
he has for the game, his community, and the people around him. See for
SLAM: So now that you’ve been here a while, what are your feelings on the T-dot?
JALEN: T-dot is a lot more Americanized than people think?great culture
over here, great basketball fans, knowledgeable fans. Good shopping, a
lot things to do, good restaurants, beautiful people, beautiful women,
really industrious. Being from the midwest, you hear a lot about the
winters being cold, but it’s no different than those winter times I
spent growing up in Detroit, or being in Chicago?so I’m really having a
good time and hopefully we make this playoff run.
And playing with Vince?
It’s exciting, it’s fun. You know, to play against a guy like Vince
Carter you understand you have to take a nap the day of the game, go to
bed, have a nice meal the night before and bring your lunch ’cause you
know he has the kind of ability to embarrass you. Having him as a
teammate, and coming into the locker room and having him at my side,
now it’s just a matter of us taking this franchise to the next level
and winning in the playoffs.
You’ve been a leader everywhere you’ve gone. How do you view your
leadership role on this team? Are you second in command? Co-leader? The
Leadership comes from how your teammates and everybody acknowledges you
as a player; it’s not something you bring yourself. Fortunately for me,
every team that I have been on I have been a captain, if not the
captain and because of that, there comes a lot of leadership
responsibilities that I’m happy to have. Anytime you’re playing at this
level of competition, and guys appreciate the fact that you’re a leader
and the captain of the team, I take pride in that. And because of that
you want to go out and not only play your best for the guys, but also
be a good example in the community.
Prior to the injury, you had an iron-man streak of 286 games, second
longest amongst active NBA players. And now you come back two weeks
early from a broken hand. Tell me about where your toughness comes from.
I think toughness comes from within…it allows you to build character
by some of the things you went through in your life that cause
adversity. And how you deal with that adversity, really breeds
character. A lot of times, you come from the inner city, a place like
Detroit, Michigan, it’s the difference between success / failure, life
and death. And in that, basketball has always been my salvation, I have
always understood that the streets are a lot colder than [being a guy
in the NBA] playing with tank tops and shorts on. Because of that, I
feel like if I’m able to brush my teeth, I’m able to play.
Your style of play on offense is very physical. Tell me about the mentality you have going into a game.
Really the mentality of it is, is that there are a lot of different
ways to put the ball in the basket and there’s a lot of ways to be
efficient and effective. You have to use your ability towards the next
guy to make that happen. Some guys do it with good ball handling, some
guys do it with their post up ability, and some guys with their
shooting. I was blessed enough that I had the kind of size that I could
kind of do all of that. It’s kind of like being a boxer. Obviously
everybody likes the head shots and the punches to the face, but you
really don’t know how they score on those body shots. But once you
destroy that body, the head has to die. And that’s really how I try to
attack my opponent, I try to get in close, make him feel my presence.
And it puts pressure on him too. It keeps him on his heels. A lot of
times, if you allow a defender to attack you, reach at the ball, and
make you back up and retreat, he makes you take a lower percentage shot
as opposed to you taking it at him and making him back up.
Tell me about your style because it’s definitely unique. SLAM in a recent issue gave you the title of "Best Draft Day Suit."
Really? Is that the recent issue? I gotta get me that, ha ha. I gotta
give my home town a lot of credit. A lot of people talk about Detroit
dressers; you might go to an All-Star game in the middle of [summer]
and see a guy from Detroit with a yellow fur coat on. Like Biggie
Smalls said "pink gators, my Detroit players," ands that’s the element
I grew up in. Fashion is part of my game. I looked up to the old school
playas I ain’t going to lie. I looked up to guys like Clyde Frazier,
the way he dressed?Deon Sanders, Michael Irvin. I feel like you gotta
be a professional and obviously you want to look really nice, but to
take a step further, you gotta have your own personality with it and
fortunately for me, I can not only afford the things that I like, but,
it’s more the dressing than the money. It’s having a sense of style
that goes good with your personality and your look and I try to keep it
going. I always try to have something innovative, and creative, and
something that’s with the trend. Whether it’s on the court with black
shoes and black socks, or draft night suits, or on the sidelines with
the Raptors, where ever it is, I try to have flava. Some guys can wear
a three-piece suit, but can’t wear a throwback jersey, some guys can
only dress one way. I try to have my dressing like my game, real
You were once an Adidas cat with the Ratballs, then you rocked RBK’s in
Chi-town. Now you’re a shoe free agent and I noticed you wearing
something I’ve never seen before…
I don’t know if I should talk about this, ha ha, cause I’ll probably
get a few letters about this but the other day in the game, I wore
airbrushed Jordans. Obviously you can go anywhere at anytime and
actually see airbrushing on T-shirts, sweatshirts, and you see people
on the streets with it, but you never saw it in the NBA so I figured
when I come back, I’m going to be the first guy to do it so that’s what
I’m going to be doing for the next little while.
I’m still a free agent. There was a clause in my contract where if I
got traded from the Chicago market I could become a free agent. I could
have re-signed with Reebok but I wanted to come to Toronto and
establish a new market. You are coming to a new country, and playing
with a guy, that’s probably one of the most visible guys in the NBA in
Vince Carter who led the NBA in All-Star voting X amount of years, so I
figure I’ll come into that situation as a business man, and more
importantly, as someone who likes to have his own likeness, and in turn
create an opportunity whether it’s me trying to establish something on
my own shoe-wise, equipment-wise or deal with another company, but I’m
just playing it by ear and enjoying being a free-agent.
You talked about the black socks so I gots to bring it back to
Michigan. A lot of people are talking about how you, C Webb, etc.
ruined the program but they fail to mention that you also helped put it
on the map.
We had to lay it down. We made it so that a young player could be
brash. We made it so that you could come in as a freshman and not say,
Oh well, since I’m a freshman, I got to sit on the bench and wait my
turn. You ask a guy like Kevin Garnett, some of his motivations to be a
player and what really made him enjoy the game he’ll tell you his
influence was the Fab 5. That makes guys like me feel good because I
know that a lot of people hated us for our roles in what they felt like
we was ruining college basketball and we were ruining the attitudes of
players younger than us. What we were doing is just being kids and
saying, What would we do if we got on center stage? It’s just ironic
that we got onto center stage.
Yeah, it’s also ironic that right now, while they are persecuting C Webb, they are selling his throw-back jersey.
You know? You look back at college athletics, the highest selling
college jerseys ever are first Peyton Manning jerseys, and then the
next two are Jalen Rose and Chris Weber jerseys and in that, we brought
a lot to the NCAA also.
What did you think about the Fab 5 book?
I respect Mitch Albom. Being a youngster, you love somebody being able
to document the situations you were in. But if you look back at the
irony of that book, he was with us every day, he never said anything
about us doing something illegal, or scandals, or anything that was
going to allow the NCAA to take our banners down. Because of that, it
really shows you how we had a lot of people waiting like snakes in the
grass for the opportunity to finally tear down the legacy of the Fab 5
and they have the opportunity now.
What are some of your fonder memories of being a part of the Fab 5 that don’t have to do with basketball?
Being part of the Fab 5, what was great was, I love to support hip-hop,
[so I got a chance to] be friends with guys from EPMD, Ice-Cube, Kay
Gee from Naughty by Nature. I got platinum records from those guys. I
remember sitting at a press conference at the Final Four wearing an
EPMD hat on and people were asking, "What does that mean?" But now you
got a magazine like SLAM, that shows the lifestyle. A magazine like
SLAM defines the relationship between hip-hop and basketball.
You guys were like similar in a sense to UNLV in that you were "heroes to the hood"?
Yeah, actually, you know what the UNLV irony is? It’s that Anderson
Hunt, number 12, who was the Most Outstanding Player, went to my high
school, Detroit Southwestern. I sat and watched them lose to Duke in
his living room at his house, watching that game. Another [hood] team
that was a big influence on me was Derick Coleman and Syracuse. Because
anytime you’re a young player, you always look up to the guys who are
from your hometown and those were schools that I was personally
interested in. When I was a high school senior and UNLV came to play a
national game at the Palace (of Auburn Hills), they all came to my high
school game, Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, Stacy Augmon. As a young
player, that makes you feel good. So when I went to the University of
Michigan, I took some of the things that I appreciated about those
teams. Like, Syracuse and Vegas had big shorts, but ours were bigger.
They were brash, but they didn’t have black socks or black shoes. And
we took what they had from a team perspective and we took it with the
five young guys coming in from day one.
Talking about Derek Coleman, being from Detroit and playing at St.
Cecilia’s, you grew up around a lot of guys like Steve Smith…
Steve Smith was one of my hometown heroes. I remember when I used to be
a ball boy for Michigan AAU and I wasn’t old enough or good enough to
play. In fact, I came to the T-dot as a ball boy so I was paying my
dues. So I remember watching all the things he did, and I tried to
emulate his style and whatever, be a big point guard like him and
Magic, and to see guys like that have success in the league, makes you
appreciative because it shows how far guys have come. You can’t take
stuff for granted…I remember sitting on Sunset Blvd. in a car with 9
bullet holes in it. So I know what it’s like to appreciate something.
So you have a charity game in Chicago…
J: I have two.
Oh, okay. I have to lay it down for you: Can you please organize a
Michigan Fab 5 reunion team to play against a Vince Carter UNC reunion
team? You know, have a throw-back game with the jerseys and
everything…call it the Double-Blue Classic or something…
Oh yeah, that’s nice…very nice…
Can you pull the guys together? You still talk to Ray and Jimmy?
I talked to Ray last night. I talked to Jimmy on the way to practice
today. Ray was overseas playing a couple years making good money then
he hurt his knee. [So now] he’s working with his father, who is an
athletic director at a high school, and he’s really into the kids so
he’s running a basketball camp this week with about 50 kids…that’s
what he’s doing now.
Jimmy’s in the CBA right now. He was overseas, was in the
NBA…obviously, they would both like to be in the NBA. But I guess for
a lot of people, and for me personally, they didn’t get a fair shake.
Especially Ray Jackson. How can you go from being on a team which plays
for two national championships, played four years and had the kind of
name and reputation that he had, as well as Jimmy King, and not get a
fair shake in the NBA? To me it’s a tragedy. At the same time, I felt
like, in a lot of people’s eyes, it wouldn’t have been right if all
five of us were in [the NBA], so, if they could keep some of us out,
So what’s in the future for Jalen Rose after basketball?
I’m really into broadcasting, I’d love to be a part of a franchise in
some kind of capacity whether it be in the front office, or on the
sidelines coaching. I got interest in business…obviously, anything
from real-estate to…whatever. I’m interested in cars, being from the
Motor City. Music, label, possible artist or two. Whatever Magic
Johnson did, I’m going to try and do it. Whatever Magic be doing,
that’s what I want to be doing.
Thanks, Clement. I bet that stuff about the airbrushed Jordans will get Niketalk.com buzzing.