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2005: BLACK MEN MAGAZINE

June 23, 2008

March/April 2005 — Toronto Raptor Jalen Rose gives us a birds-eye view
of the player-fan relationship in the wake of the basketball brawl that
marred last year?s Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons games. One-On-One
with Jalen Rose…

BM: It seems that in the wake o the incident that took place in
Detroit, the image of the NBA has taken quite a beating. What are your
thoughts about the Ron Artest incident that happened?

JALEN: I thought that it was just a crazy incident that saw no
winners. I mean, nobody wins in that kinds of scenario- the players
don’t win, the NBA doesn’t win, the fans don’t win, and then his
teammates don’t win, because now, they have to play without him for X
amount of games – IT just sets a bad precedent and hopefully, it’s just
an isolated incident that will never happen again.

BM: But. Taking a hard look at player-fan relations for a spell,
what are some of the worst things that you have heard from fans during
your time in the league?

JALEN: Well, to be honest with you, I come from the Detroit
Public School League, so I know what it’s like to be in a really
hostile environment against a rival team inside of a packed gymnasium,
where the stands and the bleachers are packed, and you can’t inbound
the ball because of people standing underneath the basked and on the
sidelines too. That, to me, is hostile environment – where you’re
trying to leave a rival team’s gym and the fans of the team are trying
to tip over your bus?

BM: Whoa!

JALEN: Yeah! Or playing at the University of Michigan, going to
play against our rivals at Michigan State, and after winning the game,
being verbally confronted by fans, and they’re throwing beer and
spitting at us as well. So, I’ve been a part of situations like that,
but if you play long enough, there are going to be incidents like that
– you’re involving thousands of people every time that you’re at an
event. Unfortunately, there are some people who are not about the good
grace of the game. They’re about having a good time cheering or jeering
however you choose to do it. For the most part, I just don?t like the
fact that incident, and say the players aren’t good. I actually feel
and know that it’s great.

BM: For you, where does it reach a point where a fan openly crosses the line into being abusive?

JALEN: I think that the point a fan crosses the line is when he
goes from cheering and jeering a player to being personal with that
guy. What I mean by that is that now., there’s so much Internet access
and what not. The game has changed so much from just simply being a
player with a uniform on. You can go online and research and find out
anything about somebody – from their mother’s name , where they’re from
and where they live, or situations that they’ve been in that are good,
bad or indifferent. I just think that when it’s not about basketball,
those would probably be the things that a lot of the time players would
get very upset about.

BM: Man, that sounds like borderline stalking!

JALEN: (laughs)That’s not too far from the truth?

BM: But do people really go to those lengths to find out that kind of information, because it just sounds scary.

JALEN: Well, there fortunate and the unfortunate thing about
being a celebrity is that you are in the public eye, and sometimes when
you’re in the public eye, some people look at you through rose-colored
glasses, while others are looking at you through a set of binoculars,
some people look at you with X-ray vision. Because of that, you really
have to watch what you say, watch what you do and try to always be in a
good position. When you’re in a bad situation, unfortunately, just as
fast as your success rises, it could also become your downfall.

BM: What do you enjoy about being in the NBA?

JALEN: The thing that I like about the NBA is that it’s
fraternity that everybody in the world __ whether you’re in a the
backyard playing against your brothers and sisters, or whether you’re
in the park playing against your friends and homies, or whether your at
your high school or college or wherever, minor leagues, overseas, or
wherever at the end of the day, the majority of people, their dream is
to play in the NBA. To be one of the select 350 or so people to have
that blessing, it means so much not only to myself, but to most of the
guys who are in the league. But, also, it’s the kind of industry where
people don’t understand that it’s here today and gone tomorrow, just
like anything else. Every year, there are 30 first-round draft picks
that sing three or four-year contracts, so from that there are at least
30 less jobs. So, there’s 30 people who are in the league right now
that won?t be in the league next year. If you think about it, the
staying power isn’t that long. For you to have longevity in this
league, that really means something.