Monthly Archives: February 2012


The Good Word With…Bernard King

Q: You had a tremendous career, but no NBA Championship. Does that weigh on you today?
If you look back through NBA history, you will see that other than when Hakeem won the title with Houston in 1994 and Dirk with Dallas last year, no team has won an NBA Championship without at least two All-Stars in many years. I never had the opportunity to play alongside another All-Star, and this was an era where you had Moses and Doc in Philly; Boston with four Hall of Famers; the Lakers with Magic, Kareem, Worthy; Detroit had Isaiah and Joe Dumars, and of course, the Michael Jordan era. I came through a period that without two All-Stars, you wouldn’t even go deep into the playoffs.

Looking back, the only thing I wish was that Patrick Ewing and I had the opportunity to play together. If we had played together, I firmly believe we’d each have a ring.

Q: How about the Hall of Fame situation?
I did not grow up thinking about the Hall of Fame when I played or when I was growing up. My goal was to help my ball club win, play consistently, and be in the upper echelon of players in the league. Those were my objectives – to do what it took to win on a nightly basis.

Would it be an honor? Certainly. I was MVP one year, but nobody is guaranteed. Do I, in a humble way, think I am deserving? Yes I do.

Q: You haven’t been nearly as visible as some of your NBA peers since retiring in 1993. How about a snapshot of your last two decades?
After retiring, I got involved in broadcasting with various outlets on the college and pro basketball side, along with hosting a radio show in New York. When my wife and I had our first child (a daughter who’s now 14), we thought it was important to spend time making sure we raised her properly, which meant I didn’t want to be on the road. I stopped broadcasting and traveling, and we decided to move to Atlanta to bring her up in a diverse and family-oriented atmosphere. We are very pleased that we made that move a number of years ago. I know my in-laws were not as happy, but they come visit quite often!

Once my daughter started to get older, I began taking a look at the business environment – where I could best fit and what would be marketable and ultimately profitable. So about six years ago, my best friend and business partner Ricky Thompson and I launched Bernard King & Thompson Energy. We help municipalities reduce electrical utility costs, which are significant savings for them year after year, and we have been able to make our inroads into the arena of energy efficiency. I have – and continue to – study the energy business.

I was involved in real estate, but we know that market is under water at this time, so I’m out of that. I’ve also been doing some speaking engagements and appearances, and working with the MSG Network as well.

Q: Knicks fans have enjoyed seeing you in front of the camera this season. How’s the MSG broadcast experience going for you?
Well, I began working with the network last year when I was doing the pre- and post-game studio shows during the playoffs. It went well, and now I am doing TV alongside Clyde whenever they ask me. I treat this role like everything else…I spend a lot of time preparing for each game, especially when I’m next to the greatness of Clyde, so that we mesh properly. There’s a tremendous chemistry, I believe, that we have together, and it translates on the air. Feedback has been good. I hope MSG is pleased!

Q: What lessons from the court have translated to the business world?
All of the lessons I learned as an athlete in the sports world, those are transferable to other endeavors. I use them every day…the ability to set goals, plan, self-motivate, focus, be disciplined. These are all necessary attributes one has to have to be successful and work well with others. I built a great foundation from all of the lessons I learned in athletics.

I am also very analytical, so if there’s something I don’t understand, I will learn it. And that goes for everyone. We all have talents and capabilities to learn anything if we are willing to spend the necessary time to learn and understand the field we have an interest in.

Q: Talk about the camaraderie on your Knicks teams…
My time with the Knicks was a great experience for me beyond the camaraderie. Growing up in downtown Brooklyn, I had the chance to play at home. I followed the Knicks in my youth, but playing for the Knicks, wow, that was a dream for all the kids playing ball in the playground.

When I joined the team, I was overjoyed and exhilarated to put on the uniform worn by Earl Monroe, Clyde, Bill Bradley…and the history it represented. I had a great experience playing with wonderful guys like Darrell Walker, Paul Westphal, Bill Cartwright, Marvin Webster, the list goes on…

Q: With your size, long arms and scoring ability, you epitomized the small forward position of the 1980s. Talk about how the position has evolved…
A player at that position today has great athletic skills. But what you don’t see as much today is a player in the small forward position posting up on the low block…most of the play is done on the perimeter.

Like today, small forwards were versatile, including some of the greatest players in the game…Dr. J, Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Alex English, Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre. Every night was a challenge.

Q: What is your relationship like with the Tennessee basketball program?
I have reconnected with the program. I was the first basketball player to have my uniform retired, which certainly was an honor. Since then, Ernie Grunfeld had his retired. I have to say that the greatest chemistry I’ve ever had with any player was with Ernie…it’s very rare or unheard of that you had two guys on one team each averaging 25 points a game.

For the last 25 years, I have maintained a scholarship fund at the University. Each year, a young person of merit has an opportunity to draw from that fund to help them pay for college. It’s always touching hearing from students who say they wouldn’t have been able to go to college if not for the scholarship. One student told me that because of the scholarship, her 98-year-old grandmother could see her graduate. That’s beautiful thing.

Q: Which current player reminds you of a young Bernard King?
I’d say Carmelo Anthony…because of his spin moves, basketball IQ, toughness, ability to get the shot that he wants (which is a very large part of being an effective scorer), willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team win. For whatever reason, Melo says he models his game after mine, which is an honor.

He and I did a commercial together for Nike. I received a call from Nike, and they indicated that Melo personally requested my participation in his signature commercial, which I thought was a nice thing. That was my first opportunity to interact and talk with him.

ABOUT BERNARD KING
A four-time NBA All-Star and 14-year NBA veteran, Bernard King, an explosive runner and outstanding scorer, is highly regarded as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Selected seventh overall by the New York Nets (now the New Jersey Nets) in the 1977 NBA Draft, King scored over 19,000 points, earned an MVP award and was selected to four All-NBA teams during his playing career, which included stops in New Jersey, Utah, Golden State, New York and Washington. A native of Brooklyn, he attended the University of Tennessee, where his number 53 jersey was retired by the Volunteers in 2007. To learn more about Bernard King & Thompson Energy, visit http://bktenergy.com/.

The Thing We Love To Hate (Myself Included!)

Networking, sigh.

It’s like going to the dentist- you know you’ve got to do it, but nobody actually enjoys it. By nobody, I mean about 82.6 percent of people would rather watch Kathy Griffin’s new talk show (spoiler alert: it’s really happening).

But, like it or not, networking is an essential component of growing any business, and, more importantly, developing your own personal brand. For some, it means getting outside of your comfort zone. For others, well, selling yourself to strangers is your wheelhouse. Regardless, it must be done.

I am of the belief that positive working relationships are the foundation of all successful business practices, especially for entrepreneurs. And networking allows you to expand your reach and meet people that actually leave you thinking, “Hmmm…not only do I not want him/her to [insert something very bad], I may even want to have frozen yogurt with him/her.” See, that’s the spirit! Why not give it a shot? Imagine a world where you work with people you actually like? It’s a beautiful thing.

For small business owners, and often for those in the corporate world, there are many important reasons for doing the deed, including:

  • Increasing your chances for referrals: the more folks that know you and your business exist, the more likely you are to receive referrals from people other than your parents.
  • Picking up “how to” tips: while you may be awesome at what you do and how you do it, someone else is probably doing it better, faster and at a lower cost. The cool thing is that those people love to brag about such topics. Those are the brains you want to pick…and take notes.
  • Giving yourself a new perspective: it never hurts to see what’s new in your industry and learn about emerging trends. You can fight the trend kicking and screaming (this is me, the proverbial pot, calling the kettle black), but eventually you will have to adapt or your biz will face extinction.
  • Building strategic alliances: the yin and yang approach is a powerful tool. You’ve mastered the sales pitch; your new networking cohort prefers the deskwork. A match made in heaven.
  • Finding new products or services that can better your business: for example, when I attended the New York XPO For Business this past fall, I learned a ton about all of the companies out there working to bolster your social media practices. It’s good information to keep in your back pocket.
  • Practicing grassroots, word of mouth methods: according to author Malcolm Gladwell, Hush Puppies saw an unexpected resurgence in the 90s as a result of word-of-mouth marketing. Apparently Starbucks’ success story is similar (except we’re talking coffee, not business-casual, suede footwear). It’s amazing what can happen when people spread information – positive or negative – throughout their network. It’s time consuming, but worth the effort.
  • Making friends with people who share your interests: if you are at a particular networking event, chances are that there’s another person in attendance who shares your interests, etc. Whether that means finding a new BFF or your soul mate, it can happen. Maybe.
  • Landing a new gig: as far as I’m concerned, this is key. You never know when you will be seeking a new job opportunity – the time can come sooner than you think. Networking leads you to people who can offer job leads, advice/info about a particular company or industry, and connect you to others.

If none of the above reasons appeal to you, networking is always a good excuse to get out of the house and out of washing the dishes.

And you are almost always guaranteed a decent skewer or two of chicken satay.

The Good Word With…Mitch Richmond

 

Q: What’s your take on the current state of the NBA?
A: I think when the lockout started, my state of mind was bleak – I didn’t know what was going to happen. I went through the 1998 lockout, and my take on it now is that hopefully we can get our players on the right schedule for next year. You don’t want guys getting injuries playing three games back to back.

When the lockout was going on, fans were upset there was no basketball. Now that you have basketball every night, people are enjoying turning on the TV and watching games. I’m excited about seeing a game every night…sometimes two, three and four.

Q: You had 14 successful NBA seasons. What was your key to longevity in the NBA, mentally and physically?
A: You have to make sure your legs are strong to take the beating, always have to be strengthening your legs. In the off-season, doing things like yoga and stretching is helpful. One thing that saved me was stretching my limbs all the time and getting proper treatment. Each summer I expanded that regimen. It’s different for today’s players because the game is not as physical as when I played. A guy like Kobe does not have the real wear and tear on his body that we had –he can probably play 20 years.

I always had that mental edge because going from Golden State to Sacramento, where we were not winning, and going to a young team that didn’t have much success, I had to be very focused. I always tried to play a game within the game. On many nights, I knew we wouldn’t come out with a win, so I tried not to look at the score and play every position hard, so I could keep my mental state right. I took my frustrations out on the opponent we were going up against.

Q: What’s going on with the “Run TMC” trio these days?
A: We still stay in contact. I think we are playing together in a celebrity game or something like that during All-Star Weekend, against Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson and some of the other Magic guys from those days. Nothing is definite yet about that though.

We are all good friends. I talked to both Tim and Mully a few days ago. When I am down in Miami, I always see Tim. And Mully, who lives in Oakland, is right down the street from me in L.A., so we see each other all the time.

Q: You were the 1989 Rookie of the Year. Who’s your favorite for this season?
A: To be honest, I don’t know too much about the candidates right now. So a truly early call for me is the rook Norris Cole, who has been playing well for Miami. He might be in the running as far as an early candidate.

Q: Your #2 jersey was retired by the Sacramento Kings, your home for seven years. You won a championship with the Lakers, and you worked as a scout for the Golden State Warriors, where you started your playing career. Where in California is home to you?
A: Right now I live in Los Angeles, but my heart is always with the Warriors, the first team to give me an opportunity. That was one of my favorite teams to play with and my favorite group of guys to play with…guys like Tim, Mully, Ralph Sampson, Jim Peterson, Manute Bol, Vincent Askew, Mario Elie. It was my first sniff of the NBA.

Sacramento grew on me. The fans embraced me from day one; it was just a difficult place to be at the time. But I love the people there, and they love their basketball. They came out every night when we were a bad team to watch, so a little piece of my heart is always with them.

And the Lakers also gave me a good opportunity…playing with Robert Horry (who’s a good friend), Shaq, Kobe, Rick Fox, Derek Fisher. It was a pleasure to go down my last year with an NBA Championship.

Q: What else is going on in your life these days?
A: Well, I was just at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas for the second year, where retailers come to show new products. I was there showing off my product line that we are coming out with, MR2, which is a series of bluetooth wireless headphones and other electronic products. Hopefully, we will launch in Los Angeles this year.

I actually got involved with this project because I met a guy from Beijing named Richard Chiang through a mutual friend. We started talking about technology and electronics, and knowing Dr. Dre has had so much success with his headphones, Richard and I decided to partner up. I flew to China, and we came up with a prototype and some designs. We have a bunch of different designs, like Rock Sleek, Rock Steady, Rock Hybrid, Rock Sports. You know, my nickname was Rock in the NBA, so it just worked. I feel really good about it.

Between this company and my kids, I am keeping busy.

ABOUT MITCH RICHMOND

An NBA Champion, six-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medallist, guard Mitch Richmond is a 14-year NBA veteran. Selected by the Golden State Warriors fifth overall in the 1988 NBA Draft, he played three years with the squad, where he teamed with Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway to form “Run TMC,” a high-scoring and fan favorite trio. He went on to spend seven seasons with Sacramento, three with Washington and one with Los Angeles, where he won an NBA Championship. Richmond earned a number of honors throughout his career, including Rookie of the Year and All-Star MVP. A graduate of Kansas Sate University, and a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., he is one of only four players to average at least 21 points in each of their first 10 NBA seasons. Follow Richmond on Twitter @mitchrichmond23.

The Real Deal About NBA Players

One question I continue to receive since embarking on the NBA PR world more than a decade ago is…what are NBA players really like? And, undoubtedly (well at least 8 times of out of 10), that question is followed up with more loaded questions, like, they must be stupid and/or they’ve got to be divas, or some variation of the two. I suppose the latter are more statements than questions, but I feel the need to “answer” nonetheless.

I find myself sharing the same anecdotes about players done good and rattling off the names of guys who are simultaneously running businesses, completing college courses and shelling out their own cash for community service projects. The stigma that all NBA players are morons and live beyond their means has become personal to me. Sure, there are plenty of stories about players who lose their millions and find themselves in hot water. It’s very real and a serious problem, and there’s no denying that. But why should the proverbial bad apples (too harsh?) ruin it for the rest?

This rant may sound naïve – most likely absurd – to some, especially to reporters whose player experiences can be less than pleasant. This particularly happens when attempting a post-game interview with a half-naked player who just lost in a buzzer beater and is about to board a plane to Sacramento. I’d be giving ‘tude too. In the media’s defense, this is their job, and Lord knows I’ve been on the mic-in-player’s-face side of things many times.

What was the question again? Oh yes, what are NBA players really like?

From my own experiences, which include working with current and retired players in a number of facets, my answer is quite simply that they are “normal” (for the most part).

Many are proud Dads who pride themselves on “family first.” D-Wade shows off iPhone pics of his two boys whenever he gets a chance (I don’t blame him, those kids are damn cute), and Melo made sure to personally take his little girl trick-or-treating amid the madness of New York City’s Upper West Side, even if it meant bringing along a bodyguard and trying to go incognito in dark sunglasses and a black ski hat. Jerry Stackhouse speaks about his wife of 11 years Ramirra and their kids as highly as any family man can, and Raja Bell often brings his parents along for NBA-related events. Far more interesting than that is how much Raja and his Mom look alike. It’s uncanny, really, and a very close second to Ray Allen and his equally famous mother, Flo.

A good majority (read: majority) of players are just nice dudes. Of course, like in any situation, some are more personable than others. Guys like Baron Davis, Tyson Chandler and James Jones make a concerted effort to remember folks’ names and are big on pleasantries. I’m not giving a medal to these guys for saying please and thank you, they are just a few that stick out as particularly respectful. And there are the ones who always ask how others are doing – Keyon Dooling inquires about my Mom every time I see him, and I’m pretty sure they’ve never met.

I have had some of my more interesting conversations with NBA players. Yes, it’s true. Talk to Samuel Dalembert about his upbringing in Haiti and the work he has done post-earthquake – I’m talking Brangelina style – and I dare you not to be fascinated. Luc Mbah a Moute also has an incredible story about growing up in West Africa’s Cameroon and his journey to the U.S. and eventually the NBA. On a lighter note, Matt Bonner can talk a blue streak about the best roast beef in New Hampshire. The Bonner part really has nothing to do with anything, but it’s a fun little tidbit, now isn’t it? P.S.: That’s a rhetorical question.

There are hundreds (a rough estimate based on no scientific facts) of players actively involved with their own non-profit organizations and/or supportive of others. Paul Pierce, through his Foundation’s Truth on Health campaign, has quite an operation in place that is working to combat childhood obesity. And Dwight Howard’s Foundation has more events and programming than the Kardashian’s. These are just two examples of many. And education is certainly up there on the priority list too. This past summer, nearly 50 players took college courses around the country. Royal Ivey and Maurice Evans even graduated! Check this out: http://www.nbpa.org/nbpa-news/pomp-and-circumstance

I could easily get into the negative (and often more popular) stories about players going broke or accruing baby mamas. Maybe that would get me more Twitter followers or, better yet, a book deal! But for what? It’s about time to shed light on the “good guys” – the players dedicating their time and money to charity, the players serving as positive role models to young people and, especially, the players who are just normal, nice, family guys.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t see halos on any NBA players, and I am not attempting to paint that picture. The point is that for years the unfortunate behaviors of some have tainted the image of the greater sum. And I’m here to share the “glass half-full” approach, which isn’t what usually makes the headlines.

Does that answer your question?