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2005: AllHipHop.com – Jalen Rose: True Grit

June 23, 2008

October 2005 — Dubbed "The Natural" for his well-rounded talents and
abilities, superstar basketball pro Jalen Rose has made an undeniable
impact on the game. From his early days with the Fab 5 at Michigan to
his stints with the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, Jalen continues
to dominate the court with his Toronto Raptors team.

We ran into Jalen at the Las Vegas MAGIC Convention in August, where he
spoke to us at the Mad Soul booth about his passion for all things
Hip-Hop. Now, the 6’8" trend setter shares his thoughts with
AllHipHop.com Alternatives about music, philanthropy, and his amazing
career thus far in basketball.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Let’s start with your early years and work
our way up. How do you feel about the games at Michigan during your
tenure being forfeited because of alleged NCAA violations?

Jalen Rose: Being a fan of sports, in particular college sports and pro
sports, I’ve seen a lot of scandals go on, and in that I’ve never seen
that happen to any other team, whether what was alleged actually
happened or not. To make that more personal, for the allegations to
come about 10 years later after we had already gotten out of school,
but yet nothing still to this day has technically been proven. I just
think it was unwarranted. I think if you want to punish certain
individuals who you think have wrong doings, that probably is more just
than to try and punish the fans who rooted for the Fab 5, the coaching
staff, the team, the University of Michigan, and the Fab 5 legacy. I
just think it was unfair and I just think that a lot of people is
waiting to pile on the Fab 5 because a lot of people [were] pissed off
at us about our swagger and what we brought to the game anyway.

AHHA: The Fab 5 took the look of a basketball team to the next level
with the baggy shorts, black socks, bald heads etc. When all of this
was going down, did you think you were making such a long lasting
impact on the look and the feel of the game?

Jalen: What a lot of people don’t know is, growing up a fan of the game
I was a Syracuse Orangemen fan. Derrick Coleman went to Syracuse, he’s
from my home town, that’s my big homie. UNLV Running Rebel player
Anderson Hunt went to my high school Detroit Southwestern. I was
individually plugged into those situations. I took visits to both of
those schools before I signed with Michigan. I was already tied into
what they had done. For us to take it to another level meant something
to me to try to emulate what those guys had done for me personally.

I did know at the time that we were laying down and establishing a
legacy because it hadn’t been done. No team had the fortitude and the
opportunity to have five brothers out there on national TV being what
everybody considered in the early ’90s, and still to this day, brash
and cocky. We were being rebels with a cause – or without a cause,
depending on who you ask.

A lot of times when you’re a pioneer you gotta take the brunt to kick
down the door and lay it down for everybody else. We allowed players to
have their own personality, their own swagger, the attitude that, "No I
don’t have to wait for success, I want success now." That came with out
look, our big shorts, our black shoes, our black socks that nobody had
done. Whether you?re on a streetball court, whether you’re in a NBA
arena, or whether you’re at a football game, when you look down and you
see somebody with the black shoes and the black socks, that’s a direct
influence. That’s something that means just as much as anything,
because everybody wanna have an impact on the game. That’s why you
train, that’s why you play, that?s why you love it. For us to have a
impact that will never go away, that’s going to continue to grow
stronger means that much more.

AHHA: How was it for you handling the enormous hype of the Fab 5?

Jalen: I loved it, I embraced it and I wanted more. I was excited about
it, I felt like we deserved it and since it was all happening for the
first time nobody could really prepare. It wasn’t anything scripted,
everything we said and did was raw. It was live and uncut, it was just
like Hip-Hop. That’s why I was sitting at the Final Four forum with a
Naughty By Nature hoodie on that I got from them, or a EPMD hat that I
got from them, because Hip-Hop was in me just like it was in the Fab 5.
We listened to all of that. Our motto was "Gotta let your nuts hang"
because we got that from Geto Boys, or NWA whoever was crankin’ at that
time.

I got lucky because right after our freshman year I got a chance to
KMEL Summer Jam in San Francisco, back in the day it was legends out
there. I named a couple of people I saw to Hammer, Pete Rock & CL
Smooth, Too Short, up in a freestyle session with 2Pac and Redman,
Treach, Latifah, Digital Underground. For me going from being on that
college stage, to being backstage with them and recognizing, "Damn they
know who I am" is really large. That was amazing to me being a kid from
Detroit. I follow and love Hip-Hop just like basketball, so when I see
somebody like Scarface or NWA or EPMD I’m admiring them, I ain’t giving
a damn about basketball. It ain’t because I wanna rap – it’s because
I’m a big time fan.

AHHA: How do you feel about the old Fab 5 jerseys being worn by current players?

Jalen: A lot of people that follow college basketball will know this,
no disrespect to any college player that gets his number retired,
because anybody that gets his number retired done put in some work. I
can’t say anything negative or compare the two, but let’s just be real.
If you’re talking about retiring numbers and you’re going to retire a
legacy, you gotta retire a legacy and the numbers of a situation that’s
never going to get duplicated, first and foremost. That’s what we’re
talking about when we talk about the Fab 5. There’s no way those
numbers shouldn’t go up in the banners and in the rafters for everybody
to appreciate and enjoy, and understand why they’re hanging up there. I
think at this point it hasn’t happened, but I think with due time it
may happen. I think time heals all wounds, and I think over the course
of time the relationship of us having our banners snatched down and the
numbers not being retired, and things of that nature will eventually
hopefully go away.

AHHA: Are you in contact with any of your old Fab 5 teammates?

Jalen: We’re all still brothers, within the last week I’ve talked to
all of them literally. That’s the one thing I love about being a point
guard, finding a way to keep everybody connected has always been one of
my niches.

AHHA: Indiana is a state that’s crazy about basketball. How was playing
there different from any other place that you’ve played?

Jalen: The grand thing about me playing in Indiana is the five and a
half years that I was there, we had the best record in the NBA. Couple
that with the fact that I consider Indiana to probably have the most
basketball crazed fans of anywhere. Their motto is: "In 49 states
there’s basketball, but this is Indiana." When you play there you
understand that. I also got a chance to play for my favorite mentor, a
guy who I rooted against my whole life as a Pistons fan, Larry Bird,
who ended up being a mentor, a big homie, a coach, an administrator,
for me in my career. Here’s Jalen Rose, this brash guy with these big
shorts trash talking with this bravado that we hate, standing next to
Larry Bird who is a favorite son. For him to embrace me, that situation
did a lot for me as a player on and off the floor. That’s my guy.

AHHA: Who is the most talented player you’ve ever played against, or the most difficult to defend?

Jalen: The most talented player I ever played against was a guy I call
the "Black Cat" who’s my homie. He wears a certain number 23, named
Michael Jordan. I got a chance to play against him in the 1998 Eastern
Conference finals. The Pacers were the only team in the Bulls six
championship run to take them to seven games. A lot of people consider
him the greatest to ever do it and he was my responsibility. I was
guarding him, and he was guarding me. It wasn’t like I was sittin’ on
the end of the bench watching. It’s hands down Michael Jordan.

AHHA: Who do you feel defends you the best in the NBA?

Jalen: Nobody. The great thing about my game is that I’m versatile. I’m
one of the only guys who can brag about being able to start at point
guard, shooting guard, small forward and still go out and get you
numbers and eat a position. I always find a way to make my versatility
in my favor. Now if I’m off, I’m off. Anybody can be off, but I can’t
say that I’ve played against a guy where I was like, "Oh, his defense
is so good. I hate when he comes to town." A lot of times you
concentrate even more against those guys, and you actually end up
having good games.

AHHA: Are you proud to be among the handful of people who have dunked on Shaq?

Jalen: Anytime you talk about Shaq you’re talking about legendary
status. Whether it’s scoring a basket or scoring a dunk or hitting a
jumper in his face, as a player it all feels the same. But for trash
talk it does feel good. It feels just the same to me when I run a pick
and roll and he’s standing in front of me and I do a dribble move
between my legs and I pop that jumper in his face. That feels exactly
the same.

AHHA: A Philly fan wanted me to ask you, were you nervous the first time you played against Allen Iverson?

Jalen: Iverson is like my brother to this day, that’s my boy first off.
When I was in Indiana we played against Philadelphia three years in the
playoffs and we beat ’em every time. In one of those series me and
Reggie Miller had 40 points in the same game, only five times in NBA
playoff history have two guys on the same team done that. We did that
against the Sixers. So I wasn’t scared at all.

AHHA: What’s the funniest thing that a heckler has ever said to you?

Jalen: "Who’s your daddy?" – because my daddy, for NBA fans, was the
number-one pick in the 1967 draft, a guy named Jimmy Walker. Anybody
that knows that also knows that I’ve never met him still to this day.
Hopefully we’ll meet. I guess if I go knock on his door and I’m
standing there when the doorbell rings I’ll meet him. I guess I’m
willing to do that because I don’t have any hard feelings. It’s not
like I’m unhappy with my life or I’m living under a freeway. He did
give me this direct seed and talent, I give him credit for that. That’s
probably one of the craziest things fans say when they try to get
personal.

AHHA: What do you think of And 1 basketball players?

Jalen: I think they work hard. Basketball is just like rap, everybody
has their element. It’s kinda like I don’t buy Will Smith CDs, but I go
see his movies – but when I talk about great rappers he’ll never come
up. Them brothers got a talent at not only playing streetball, but it’s
hard doing them damn tricks. For anybody that plays ball, you think
that because you’re Clyde Frazier you can be on the Harlem
Globetrotters, that ain’t true. [And] just because you on the Harlem
Globetrotters, that don’t mean you could be Clyde Frazier. They put it
down, I support them and watch it on TV. I actually play with a
streetball legend in Rafer Alston. My favorite streetball player right
now is probably Hot Sauce.

AHHA: Does the NBA allow you guys to discuss the failure of the WNBA?

Jalen: You could say anything you wanna say, at least I can. I’m a
basketball fan so I root for the WNBA. I don’t know if [it’s] because
of marketing or if the masses haven’t gravitated totally to
professional women’s sports.

AHHA: Do you think that there’s anything they could do as far as changing the schedule that would be beneficial?

Jalen: I think it would be more beneficial to the WNBA if they find a
way to tie in literally to the NBA and not keep it so totally separate.
I ain’t sayin’ they should be a JV team, and then we come out there and
play, but I think they should try to tie it in a little more.

AHHA: You do a lot of charity work. What’s been the best part of
participating in the Raptors All-Star Reading Team, and then your
efforts with your Jalen Rose Foundation?

Jalen: The best part of charity to me is it’s genuine. A lot of people
come up to me and they say they wish more people did what I do
charity-wise, or they tell me how much they appreciate what I do. I
tell them charity comes from the heart. Just because you got a big
contract, you had a good game last night and you got a famous face,
don’t make you charitable. Charity to me is always to lend a helping
hand. I’d like to use the term, "Everybody needs somebody to put ’em in
the game." Wherever you work you needed somebody to hire you. Whenever
you play you need the coach to put you in the game, you need a teammate
to pass you the ball. It all ties in together, so the best part for me
is to do what I’m supposed to do which is to lend a helping hand.

I’m a God fearing man – that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m just
blessed, so I try to do what I can to bless others, because I know what
it’s like not to have. Me not having doesn’t make me charitable either.
For example, the disaster with Hurricane Katrina, let me give you an
analogy. You could help more than just giving money. You could give
clothes, time and energy – you could help carry the supplies to the
people in need. It’s always ways to help.

AHHA: You DJ in pretty much every city you play for. What’s your favorite city to spin in?

Jalen: Toronto is my favorite city to spin in, ’cause really when you a
DJ it’s all about the club. It ain’t really all about where it’s at or
who’s saying what or who’s there. It’s about the atmosphere, the day,
the sound, the lights. It’s all on the crowd, but the first thing that
comes to my mind when I say music is New York. Straight up, that’s the
only place I’m getting off the airplane and I’m jumping in a towncar:
"Yo, put on the radio. Lemme see what [Funkmaster] Flex and Wendy
[Williams] talking bout." That’s the only place that’s like that. I
must give it up, New York is the mecca for me when it comes to that
music.

AHHA: Are you a record collector? Do you crate dig?

Jalen: I’m a big time record collector. The great thing about my record
collection is that technology rules now. As much as I’m old school, I
still kinda warm up to the scratching on the CDs and the big computer
monitor where you can type in and get the songs. Im warming up to that,
but it ain’t nothin like that wax.

AHHA: What would you say is your favorite record that you’ve found or discovered?

Jalen: They got big breakbeat type records, it depends on the crowd. We
can go anywhere from Debarge to Rapper’s Delight, from Run DMC to
Jadakiss. The music don’t stop. The great thing I love about actually
being from Detroit is we had Motown, which is a soul feeling in music –
but I grew up in the Hip-Hop generation. Just as much as I know about
Young Jeezy, I know about Jill Scott. Just as much as I know about
Cassidy, I know about Alicia Keys and can appreciate it.

AHHA: Have there been any up and coming artists that you’ve heard about that maybe nobody else knows about yet?

Jalen: Right now I can’t say one, and being a DJ and being a big time
music fan and having so many friends in the music industry, artist
development is one thing I never actively pursued. When I’m with Beanie
Sigel and I’m hanging out it ain’t because I’m trying to get in and put
my artist on. I don’t wanna have an artist and I don’t wanna rap, I
love it too much to rap. I’ve been around dopeness, how I’m a rap? I
done sat up and kicked it with Biggie before. How the hell I’m a rap?
Even if I was dope I ain’t dope when I done been around it. I done been
to East Islip to the boondocks and sat up with Erick [Sermon] and
Parrish Smith for days, and Redman when they was trying to bring him
out, and Keith Murray when he was young – K-Solo, Das EFX, Naughty. The
great thing about playing sports for me is that I got a chance to run
with all the people I love in Hip-Hop.

AHHA: Do you have any video cameos coming up that people should know about?

Jalen: All of those cameos happened out of love. When I’m in Luda’s
video that’s because I’m in ATL and Shaka Zulu’s calling. I was about
to be in Sheek’s "Kiss That Ass Goodbye" video, but I left town before
it happened. I’m going to be in the new Mashonda video, me and Treach.
I had to show the versatility. I ain’t just a cutthroat hardcore
killer. I get down with the chicks too.

AHHA: Considering you have a degree in communications, do you intend to
break into broadcasting or an analyst job after your NBA days?

Jalen: I’m lucky and I’m blessed that I’m already into it, I’m already
doing appearances on James Brown’s radio show, and I’m getting my own
show – and they pay me actually to do that. I’ll be on ESPN’s Cold
Pizza and they pay me to do that, I [was] on The Best Damn Sports Show.
I’m not a guest anymore, I’m a host. I’ve actually covered events like
boxing, I’ve covered the NBA Finals for Fox the last three years. I
done been on with Bill Walton, Snapper Jones, Charles Barkley and Kenny
Smith. That’s where I say I got lucky, because a lot of times when you
go to college as kid when you dream or you pursue something, that’s not
necessarily what you get a chance to actively do. The things that I
actually went after are things that I can apply and I still do.

AHHA: What can people expect to see from you in the next three or four months?

Jalen: The next three or four months the season’s about to start.
Really it’s gonna be about basketball first and foremost.
Unfortunately, right now I?m not on a team that’s picked to win a
championship by no stretch of the imagination, so basically I gotta
grind and be a pro about it. I’m gonna do the best I can and lead the
guys that I play with, because I’m the captain of the team. I’m blessed
to embrace the situation that I’m in. Am I jealous of San Antonio?
Yeah, I want a championship, but I know I’m about to be playin’ about
five or six more years, so I’ma lean back. Then when I get the
championship or whatever I’m trying to accomplish, then I’m gonna go
sit up in somebody’s executive chair like Isiah [Thomas] is doing, like
Larry Bird is doing. I’ma try and put me a team together while I’m
listening to Lloyd Banks or whatever.