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2008, March 27: 411 Movies Interview: ESPN Analyst and Former NBA Star Jalen Rose Interview

June 24, 2008

March 27, 2008 — 411’s Tony Farinella sits down with Jalen Rose to
talk about his production company, his NBA career, and a whole lot
more.

In his 13-year NBA career, Jalen Rose played for the
Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers, the Denver Nuggets, the Toronto
Raptors, the New York Knicks, and the Phoenix Suns. He was also a
member of the Fab Five in Michigan, a group that is still talked about
to this day. Needless to say, it was hard for him to say goodbye to
basketball and move on once and for all. That being said, Jalen Rose
has kept himself very, very busy since his retirement. He has started
his own production company, Three Tier Entertainment, and he’s also an
NBA analyst on ESPN. In my interview with Jalen Rose, we talked about
his production company, the current state of the NBA, his career,
Chicago, and a whole lot more. I hope you enjoy my interview with Jalen
Rose.

TONY: How have you adjusted to life after the NBA? Did you have a plan for all of this to take place?

Jalen
Rose: Sports is entertainment, and, at The University of Michigan, my
major was Mass Communications, so as much as I appreciated and enjoyed
my thirteen years of playing in the NBA, I also had an opportunity to
be in the media as well for six years. I’ve been covering the NBA
Finals since 2001, so between media, now I do work for ESPN as an
analyst, and entertainment, which I’ve always been a part of, it was
only a natural situation for me to start my own company, Three Tier
Entertainment. And it’s a tremendous project that we’re doing with our
play, and the timing just actually worked out great.

TONY: How have people responded to your play, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, so far?

Jalen
Rose: Some positive feedback. A lot of people are very excited about
the play and thought that it was hilarious, thought that it was
well-written and directed. The actors and the actresses did a
tremendous job. And I’ve really heard nothing negative about the play,
and that’s very exciting for me and the cast members.

TONY: Has
anything surprised you about the entertainment industry so far? I know
you mentioned earlier that you had some experience in the media world,
but has anything caught you off guard?

Jalen Rose: Just like
basketball, most of the work that gets done, the world doesn’t get a
chance to see the time, energy, and passion that goes into it. They
only get a chance to see and appreciate what ultimately becomes the
final project, and when you work in entertainment, that’s really what
it’s all about: Pleasing your fans, putting on tremendous performances
and shows and quality projects. And that’s what it’s all about for me
and my company.

TONY: What type of projects do you want to release in the future?

Jalen
Rose: I’m excited to represent a full-fledged entertainment company.
Whether you talk about representing actors or actresses, movies, or
plays … the sky’s the limit, really. And I’m tremendously excited for
the opportunity, and we’re working real hard on this project right now,
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. And we are focused on that, because
any time you’re talking about going to X amount of cities in X amount
of weeks, you really have to put full passion into it.

TONY: If
someone is close to retiring or thinking about retiring in the NBA,
what’s your advice on how to handle it? What’s the best way to handle
life after the NBA?

Jalen Rose: You play your sport or your
chosen field of entertainment, especially if it’s athletic, for a
segment of your life, and hopefully if you live a long life, which I
hope that we all can and have the opportunity to, you have many more
years to live. So, from that, find situations and scenarios that you’re
good at it, you’re passionate about, and you really believe in, and
approach them with the same intensity and the same focus that you
approach something that you’re naturally talented at, like a chosen
sport or an entertainment endeavor.

TONY: Since you had a long
career in the NBA and you know what it’s like dealing with the media,
do you have a certain sympathy for the players when you analyze certain
games? How do you keep everything in perspective while being a member
of the media and a former player at the same time?

Jalen Rose: I
really got lucky, because I started to take the media scenario very
seriously, as I mentioned I’ve been working the NBA Finals since 2001.
And I’ve been working for various networks doing jobs for TNT, ABC,
MSNBC, The Best Damn Sports Show Period, ESPN, covering The MTV Movie
Awards, boxing events. And I got a chance to get tons of experience,
and along the way, which is more important, especially when I’m
covering my NBA peers, I was able to gain the respect and appreciation
of my peers that I was really serious about it, one, and, two, they
appreciated the job I was doing. To be accepted by your peers and allow
them to respect you when you’re presenting an interview or appreciate
you when you ask a tough question, as opposed to being upset about it,
that means a lot to me. And I just try to do the best I can and have my
facts correct and talk about situations as they happen.

TONY: As
a former NBA player and now an ESPN analyst, how do you watch the game
of basketball today? What do you see in the game that maybe the average
fan might not notice?

Jalen Rose: A lot of things, from body
language to understanding the wear and tear that goes into it, talking
about an 82-game schedule …. there are gonna be ups and downs. And
sometimes you have to play four games in five nights. Dealing with
playing against a former team that you’ve been traded from. What it’s
like to play against your former teammate. What it’s like to have a
great game on national TV on the big stage, where every move and shot
is gonna be analyzed or overanalyzed. So I understand what it takes,
and I can appreciate it from both sides of the coin.

TONY: In
today’s media world, everything that you do as an athlete is criticized
and analyzed. How do you think NBA players today are handling all of
this new pressure?

Jalen Rose: They’ve done a fabulous job,
because the scrutiny nowadays and the outlets for media information are
endless. You have the Internet, and everyone has a computer nowadays.
With TV, there are multiple sporting outlets, there are multiple
outlets that cover sports, and there are more newspapers, magazines,
and the list goes on and on, so players have to be more responsible and
always conscious of the things that they do and say, because it’s more
people that they can get a chance to influence on a daily basis because
there are so many outlets. And I think guys have done a great job, for
the most part. Yeah, you’re gonna have situations in sports where
certain athletes may end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time
or doing things that they’re not proud of or the league is not proud
of, but they represent the minority and not the majority.

TONY:
Right now, I love watching the NBA, because you have so many great
superstars and so many great stories. I love watching Chris Paul and
the New Orleans Hornets, the Lakers, and the Celtics. Is the NBA better
than ever today?

Jalen Rose: I think it’s a tremendous time for
the NBA. I never remember seeing a playoff race like the one currently
happening in the Western Conference. Any time the race between the
first seed and the eight seed is only divided by four or four and a
half games and it’s not because all of the teams are bad and mediocre,
it’s because they actually hover right around fifty wins, that’s
tremendous for the game. As you mentioned, tremendous young players
that are responsible off the floor and have become good role models as
well as superstar-type players: LeBron James. As you mentioned, Chris
Paul, Kobe Bryant … MVP candidates this year. Kevin Garnett, and
what’s going on in Boston. The San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan. There are
a lot of stories in the league that are to be proud of, and it’s great
for the game.

TONY: I live in Chicago, so I have to ask you about the Bulls. What can they do to save their season?

Jalen
Rose: Ironically, they still have an opportunity to make the playoffs.
They’re only a couple of games out of the eighth spot. In the Eastern
Conference, maybe the sixth through eighth seeds are actually gonna be
teams that may make the playoffs and have records that are under 500.
And that could include Chicago and Philadelphia and New Jersey, teams
that are hovering around the eighth spot right now. So, actually, they
have an opportunity to get in the playoffs, still.

TONY: What do you remember about playing in Chicago? What was it like?

Jalen
Rose: Oh, it was amazing. It was totally amazing, because that team has
so much history, especially when you talk about the Jordan and Pippen
era with Phil Jackson. Being one of the most storied franchises in the
NBA, to actually play for The Bulls and actually be an effective and
go-to-guy for that team, it meant a lot, because the fans are
passionate, they’re knowledgeable, and they really love the home team.

TONY: When did you know it was time to retire? When did you say to yourself, "It’s time to hang it up?"

Jalen
Rose: When I was thinking about playing for the Miami Heat, the Detroit
Pistons, and the Phoenix Suns, and I chose to play for the Phoenix
Suns, because I thought that would give me the opportunity to be a
productive player on a team that was a championship contender but also
have an opportunity to win a championship at the same time. To go to
that team, be an effective practice player and do everything I was
supposed to do to put myself in a position to be a guy that can
contribute for the team, I’ve been a guy that’s scored double-figure
points, basically, my entire career, including the year before that
one, to go to Phoenix and actually have X amount of DNP’s, that soured
me to the fact of maybe it’s time to think about doing something else.

TONY: What was it like having Jalen Rose Day in Michigan?

Jalen
Rose: It was tremendous, and it means a lot. I’m a Michigan native, a
Detroit kid, and you grow up bleeding the Maize ‘N Blue, and I wish
Terrelle Pryor knew that, as he chooses Ohio State, being the top
quarterback in the country, over Michigan, but, anyway, that’s another
subject for another day. (laughs) But it meant a lot to me and my
family. The Michigan Wolverines are a family, past, present, and
future, and to be embraced and to be acknowledged and to still be loved
and adored by so many people I was lucky enough to touch, but more
importantly how they touched me.

TONY: How do you want NBA fans
to remember you? If someone is just discovering the NBA and they ask
someone about Jalen Rose, what will your peers say about you?

Jalen
Rose: They’re gonna say what everyone says … he was the leader and
the point guard of the Fab Five. Not only one of the greatest college
teams we’ve ever seen … that had the flare for the dramatic
personalty and happened to be the only team to start five freshmen in
the national championship game. And then do the same thing again as
sophomores, but also changed the game in a totally different way from a
fashion standpoint: The long shorts, the black shoes, the black socks.
And from a personality standpoint, we had a nickname, the Fab Five, we
had a swagger, and we had all of the things that come with greatness.
So, to be acknowledged for that means a lot to me. And any time someone
comes up to me and says, "I named my kid after you, Jalen," or "I have
a nephew named Jalen," or "I was in the store and I heard a woman
calling someone named Jalen," that always makes me feel good also.

TONY: Do you ever wake up and say to yourself, "I can still play, and I’m ready to go?"

Jalen
Rose: I still love the game, and even though I’m not playing in the NBA
this season, trust me, I plan to dominate the summer circuit. (laughs)
I love the game that much. And I got lucky, because I never had any
big-time injuries that required a lot of surgery or a lot of time
missed. I was very durable for my career, and before I got to Phoenix,
I was a starter in Toronto, I was a starter in New York, so to go from
a team that I was a starter to a team that I wasn’t playing at all, my
body feels great.

TONY: Finally, what are your plans for the future?

Jalen
Rose: Three Tier Entertainment, that’s my plan for the future. ESPN is
a plan for the future, obviously, being a studio analyst as well as
potentially getting into a front office situation and/or be a potential
college or NBA coach. Announcing basketball games is a potential. The
Greatest Love Story Ever Told is a potential. It has great potential,
and my company, Three Tier Entertainment, is gonna keep me busy and has
kept me busy the last year or so since the inception of the company.
So, a lot of things are happening, and I’m very excited about them. My
idol was Magic Johnson growing up, and not too many people can be the
kind of player he was on the floor or the kind of businessman and
entrepreneur he is off the floor, but that guy is always my model.