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2005: SMOOTH MAGAZINE – Seasoned Vet

June 23, 2008

smooth_photo_web.JPGMay 2005 — Jalen Rose: Seasoned Vet. IN A LEAGUE FULL OF YOUNG BUCKS
(AND WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT G-UNIT), JALEN ROSE IS A GROWN-ASS MAN.
WITH 11 YEARS PLAYING EXPERIENCE AND ALMOST 20 MORE AS A FAN, HE’S
WITNESSED BEAUCOUP CHANGES. SO WHO BETTER TO DISCUSS THE NBA’S PAST,
PRESENT, AND FUTURE AND GIVE SOME ADVICE ON WHAT EVERY BALLER MUST HAVE?

How has the league changed since you were a fan?
Growing up as a fan of the league, I used to like the fact that I could
root for my favorite team or favorite players and know that they might
be in place a couple of years. But with free agency, players, coaches,
managers, and teams come and go. Back in the day, to get acknowledged
as a true player, you had to ear it. You had to win some games. You had
to be in some tight situations and come out of them. Nowadays, players
are anointed before they actually earn it, and in some cases, when
people don’t live up to expectations, they’re considered
disappointments.

What about the money?
If you got a guy getting a million dollars, in ten years that money is
going to be worthless, so the money is always going to increase. The
NBA has great fans. We have great TV contracts, jersey sales, ticket
sales, concessions sales. Basketball is more of a business and an
industry now that it was in the 1970’s. Back in the 70’s it was more
about the game. Now, the business is bigger than the game. Now they
don’t promote teams, they promote individual players. Now they don’t
trade players anymore, they trade salaries.

What do you say to people who thing money is hurting the game?
There are people who can analyze what’s wrong wit the game and say they
don’t like how much money the players are making. But the reality of it
is, it’s not the player’s choice, it’s the owners’ choice. If you don’t
want to draft a 19- or 20-year-old kid, then you don?t have to. If you
don’t want to sing a guy to a multimillion-dollar contract, then you
don’t have to.

Have you had any problems with fans?
I played in Detroit public schools, so I know what it’s like to play in
a small, crowded gym with people standing underneath the baskets so you
can’t even take out the ball. I know what it’s like leaving one of your
rival’s gyms and there are fights in the stands and fights on the court
and people trying to tip over your team bus. The things about the word
"fan" is that it means you’re passionate about the team you root for,
and sometimes fans can be brutal with the stuff they say. But as an
athlete, it’s acknowledged that we should always be the bigger person
if situations get sticky.

You’ve been a pro for 11 years. Have you started thinking about life after basketball yet?
I’m one of the few people in the league, I think, who is actually
participating in what I want to do while I’m playing. A lot of people
don’t know that while I was at Michigan, my major was communications.
Being on TV or in a video or a movie is something that comes natural to
me and that I can actually do while I?m playing ball. So when the
season is over, I’ll be sitting on the panel on ESPN or TNT because
that’s a passion of mine.

What do you see in the league?s future?
I think the league will get younger, because now it’s about potential
over performance. They’re drafting guys and saying, "Oh he’ll be a good
player in a few years." I also think there’s going to be a lot more
players that fans don’t initially know because they come from overseas
or from high school and junior colleges.

Does everybody in the league want to be a rapper?
Every athlete, especially basketball players, wants to be a rapper or
in the hip-hop field in some form, and vice versa. A lot of time, as
Black, the people we see shining are the guys that are getting money
the dirty way. And when we get a little older, we see that we can
become and entertainer and get some money, so we gravitate to our
entertainers. When I was young and Run had on his shell toes with no
shoe string in them, that’s what I had. I saw Slick Rick with cables.
Now you see guys like Jay-Z and Nelly who are owners of teams. If Jay-Z
says we’re doing button-ups this summer, then we’re doing button-ups. I
think it’s more about love and respect between the hip-hop community
and the sports world.

What must you have to be really ballin? out of control in the league right now?
What you must have is credit. I’m a little older. I can get into the
material things, like "Such-and-such got a Maybach or Phantom," or
"Such-and-such has a million-dollar house or the biggest chain and the
biggest Jacob." All of that stuff is cool, but when you’re making the
kind of money we’re allowed to make, you got to find a way to keep some
of it. That’s what’s up now. You ain’t got to spend it all. But I ain’t
gonna front. Just like everybody else, I want to be fly. But at the
same time, you have to stay within you means.