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2007, May: Kicksclusive – Jalen Rose

June 24, 2008

Kicksclusive1.jpgA "Rose is still a Rose" were the words, once voiced by the legendary
Aretha Franklin. But the petals on this rose aren’t all the same. They
all serve a different purpose. Jalen Rose, wasn’t given an out there
nickname like the "Matrix" or "Flash." He was given a moniker that’s
personified him to this day, "The Natural." And that’s the truth when
it comes to the Phoenix Suns star forward. If I could give the man
another nickname, it’d be "Jack of all Trades," because that’s what he
is. From being able to play 1s and 2s, and being part of the Fab 5,
numbers have always played a role in Jalen’s life. Damn, tell me you
remember the Fab 5? I was only nine at the time but I was part of the
craze. How can anyone forget the group of young men who ushered Hip-hop
into the national consciousness and had everyone in the hood rocking a
baldie and all black socks and sneakers. Now, after a decade of service
in the league, "The Jack of All Trades" as I like to call him is a
correspondent for shows like Cold Pizza and TNT, style editor for Hoops
Magazine, and when he has time he’ll bless you with 15 points and 5
assists on the ball court. Kicksclusive got the chance to speak with
Rose about his career and his love for sneakers. Time to let Phoenix’s
new "Sun" do the talking…

Kicksclusive: Is it true that growing up you and your friends built a
court out of lumber, bricks, and wood? How long did it take you?
Jalen Rose: That’s absolutely true (laughing)! It doesn’t take as long
as it sounds. Take some pieces of wood, crate for the bottom, square
piece for the backboard; put some bricks on the back and the rim so it
doesn’t fall. We built a full court from my house to a lamppost on the
street so we did all we could to get some basketball in.

K: Did you build that because there weren’t adequate courts in your area?
JR: I wouldn’t say all that but we just needed to create our own situation.

K: Growing up, was basketball always a passion considering your father played pro ball as well?
JR: It’s always been passion and been in my blood. Growing up, I
idolized guys like Isaiah Thomas who led the Pistons to two NBA tickets
with Detroit.

K: How cool was it when you and your father became the #1 father/son
scoring duo in NCAA history (the Burtt family has since passes them)?
JR: It was pretty cool (laughing). The irony is that I found this out
when we got passed by the Burtt’s a couple of years ago. So I was
uninformed to that point.

K: I’m pretty sure you know the state of Detroit today and how it has
one of the highest crime rates in the country. Was it as bad when you
were growing up or do you feel it’s worse now?
JR: Unfortunately, it’s basically the same because when I was growing
up the crime rate was being discussed on a national level. We were
always top 3 in crime and Oprah came out here and did a feature on
homelessness and studies arose indicating how the average income in
Detroit was lower than most U.S. cities.

K: Onto Michigan, the whole all black socks, sneakers deal. Was that a team decision or an individual player’s idea?
JR: It was a "Fab 5" decision and not a 12-man decision. We were going
to play Rice in Texas and Jimmy King and Ray Jackson went to the mall
searching for black socks and it sounds funny to you probably, but back
then they weren’t selling black socks. We went to multiple stores to
get enough pairs and they weren’t all Nike. We decided to wear them in
the game cause they fit our uniform and didn’t let the coaches or the
other 7 players know. We got on the floor and we were in our warm-ups
just to conceal what we were wearing and once we took it off it was
history.

K: Now was that an issue for Coach Fisher?
JR: It was never a problem. The one thing I loved about Coach Fisher
was that he allowed us to express ourselves as long as we focused on
out studies.

K: What kicks were you wearing in college?
JR: I was wearing all kinds of stuff. Barkley’s, Deion’s, Jordan’s,
Huarache’s. Before they were in the stores, we had them in our lockers.

K: You graduated from the University of Maryland recently with a degree
in business management. How important was education throughout your
life?
JR: I went to Michigan for 3 years majoring in communications and then
entered the draft so school put on hold. Last year, I graduated from
the University of Maryland with a degree in business management. What
I’m trying to do now is go back to Michigan and take my final
requirements to become a UM graduate. That’s my goal cause a lot of
people enter the draft early and talk about returning to school and
never do. It makes us seem like our only skills are handling a ball and
shooting it. I want to make sure I get the degree because you never
know what can happen to me in terms of my career and it could also help
me if I want to get into business and radio/TV on a broader scale.

K: Your thoughts on when the University of Michigan stripped "The Fab 5" Wolverine teams of all your accomplishments.
JR: A range of emotions man. From hurt, to sad, upset and disappointed.
Any time you make a choice like that you not only punish the people who
were involved in the lawsuits, but the other players not involved and
the fans, the coaches and the legacy itself. It’s a lot bigger and
deeper. I wish it would’ve been played out a bit further so all the
facts could rise to the surface. For example, if you look at what
happened with Ohio St. and Maurice Clarett, you never saw Ohio St. pull
down their banners. You see other schools go through scandals and never
take down their banners. But in the end, a lot of people hated our
whole movement and that gave them more ammunition to snatch our power.

K: Tell me about draft night 1994?
JR: Like Jay-Z said: It was a gift and a curse. A gift because all my
dreams came true and a curse because I was like Randy Moss at the
draft. I was a multiple All-American and played in the National
Championship game and a lot of guys who got drafted ahead of me didn’t
have that on their resumes. It was a night of mixed emotions but I
don’t take anything for granted. Everything happens for a reason.

K: Now, you’ve been on six teams throughout your NBA career. How has
moving constantly affected you and how do you like Phoenix so far?
JR: The good thing about moving around is that you get to play with
different players and learn about different cultures and environments.
There are more advantages in my eyes than disadvantages. It’s not like
I’m just a journeyman. I’ve produced throughout my NBA career and have
been a player that’s always been looked at by GM’s because I’m
versatile. In terms of Phoenix, I’m playing with a great group of guys
and playing on a championship contender. I can’t ask for a better
situation.

K: How did you enjoy your time in NY? Also, what are your feelings on the current state of the Knicks?
JR: I loved being in New York. The fans, restaurants, and lifestyles
were all great. Good music was played on the radio stations, which you
don’t get in other cities. When I got to the Knicks, the team wasn’t a
championship contender and with the whole Larry Brown saga things
didn’t work out. I still have friends on that team and my childhood
idol Isaiah Thomas coaches the team so I wish them the best.

K: You have done a variety of charitable efforts throughout your
career. What drives you to philanthropy and tell me about the award you
received from Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the community’s top
philanthropists?
JR: When I received that award, I was extremely honored. I was the only
athlete mentioned in that list and to be grouped into a category with
names like Bob Johnson and Oprah Winfrey was amazing. Philanthropy
comes straight from my heart. I don’t do it to receive press or awards;
I do it because I feel it’s my duty to help those in less fortunate
positions.

K: Now you’re considered one of the most stylish men in the league. I
see you in suits all the time now. So has you sneaker game taken a
back-seat to your shoe game?
JR: I’m into all kinds of gear man. If I’m in New York in the winter,
you’ll probably catch me in a bomber, Timberlands, and some jeans. Now,
if it’s on TNT commentating, you’ll catch me in my suited look stepping
into my Mezlans. Dressing is more than just clothes; it’s how it fits
you, color coordination, time of the day, etc.

K: What are your favorite sneakers out now?
JR: I got a contract with Adidas so you know I have to say them unless
I want to get sued (laughing). Growing up, I was a big Adidas fan
anyways. I know about the whole AF1 craze, but when I was younger
people around me weren’t into that. In the D (Detroit), we rocked
Adidas Concords, snakeskin Adidas, the Patrick Ewing joints. The steps
Run DMC were rocking. When I was growing up, it was just like now. Fab
5 rocked the all black and you went into any inner city court and you
saw just that. Same goes with Jay-Z telling people to button up and how
his call was answered. That’s what I did with Run DMC. I followed them
because they were people I looked up to.

K: Tell me your favorite sneaker of all time?
JR: The ones I’ve never had. I’m still searching for them man. The
original Gucci gym shoes that the S.Carter’s took its design from.
Those Gucci’s were my favorite pair ever man, but they just cost too
much in the ’80s. Obviously the Jordan’s too.

K: Any particular pair?
JR: All of them! The original joints (1-red, white, black) and the snakeskins.

K: I know your heavy into music. How long have you been DJing?
JR: I was making tapes for my friends and teammates when I was much
younger and I would through together a compilation and we’d rock to
EPMD, Gangstarr, NWA, Pac. Movies like Beat Street, Wild Style, and
Krush Groove influenced me. All of that good stuff. I break danced
growing up. Hip-Hop is a part of me.

K: Where do you like to spin the most?
JR: Toronto because when you step in a club out there, 9 times out of
10 everything is going to be right from the atmosphere, music and the
ambiance.

K: As a DJ, who did you look up to and who do you listen to on the regular?
JR: DRS-ONE, Rakim, Big, Pac… I love Ice Cube (N.W.A.)… Damn, I’m
going to end up saying "Why didn’t I say him after this is done." I
can’t forget Scarface man. As far as DJ’s, Jam Master Jay, Jazzy Jeff,
Premier, DJ Scratch… Clark Kent and Kay Slay are my people’s too.

K: Did you hear about your former teammate Chris Webber producing a track called "Blunt Ashes" on Nas’ Hip-Hop is Dead album?
JR: Yes, that’s real big man! Great look for him. I’m a huge Nas and Hov fan.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?
JR: Man… you might see me interviewing people on TNT, balling in the
league, behind the scenes trying to get things done. I will continue
the philanthropic efforts. Like Puff and Jay look up to cats like
Russell Simmons, I look up to people in my field like Magic, Isaiah,
Bird and Jordan cause their influences in my life and I try to follow
in their footsteps.