The Good Word


The Good Word With…Sam Perkins


Q: We are just passed the All-Star break. Thoughts on the season thus far?
It’s hard to say where teams will be at the end of the regular season. Everyone is playing on cruise control right now, with games almost every night.

As far as surprise teams, it’s still somewhat the Spurs I believe. Indiana is also surprising, they are the ones under the radar. Minnesota is promising, but it’s tough because that’s a team that doesn’t get a lot of publicity…they’re not the Knicks. Now when it comes to Philly, last year the team wasn’t really together. But, with the young team they have now, in addition to Iguodala, they all seem to be on the same page. That turnout is surprising – they went from in the cellar to near the top of their conference.

Jeremy Lin, that’s a whole other story. From coming out of nowhere to getting people fired up and making up slang and nicknames for him, he has changed the dynamics on and off the court. All of the attention has gravitated toward him, and he’s all over the news. He’s not the prototype we are used to, like Deron Williams, CP3, Rondo, but you have to guard him like you would anybody else.

But I think that if he weren’t in New York, Linsanity probably wouldn’t have happened. If he played in Houston or Sacramento, it would be a story and that would be it. But because it’s happening in New York, he’s in the center of things and all the headlines. I’m sure it will die down.

Q: Your alma mater UNC is having quite a season. What’s your prediction on how March Madness will go for them?
I honestly don’t think they will fare well. I think they need shooters. They get blown out, they have lapses in the last seconds. They are up and down. Look at Xavier, Kentucky, these other teams are so hungry – they come out with conviction. I’ll definitely watch UNC play this month, but it seems they have so much inconsistency that it will be hard to put things together.

Q: Which current NBA player reminds you of a young Sam Perkins?
The closest guy would probably be like a Chris Bosh for a few reasons. He’s left-handed, and he’s not necessarily the guy that gets the pub, but he’s a team player and goes out there and plays hard. I think that’s a fair assessment.

Q: You have really evolved into a global ambassador of the game of basketball. Any particularly interesting trips lately?
I recently went with Dikembe to assist him in Sudan, the home of Manute Bol. We were there to talk about NBA ideas and see if we could develop a rapport or even try to continue what Manute was trying to do in his homeland when he was alive. The people there talk about what he was trying to do for his people, and his relatives are trying to fulfill his dreams and further his quest to help the people of Sudan.

In parts of Africa, the NBA already has implemented some programs, and they were interested to see if Sudan was a possible consideration for NBA programming like Basketball Without Borders. There were a lot of meetings, of course, but we also did some camps with boys and girls. A lot of the locals were taken aback by the idea of women playing basketball – many feel they should be home doing the domestic stuff. But these females were young, and they could play. Sudan is a well known soccer country, but we are encouraging them to try to get behind basketball.

Dikembe and I have been friends because of our Association with the NBA, and we travel in the same circle of people and have been on trips together before. But this was more about he and I trying to collaborate and get ideas to send back to the NBA. It was a really good trip.

Q: And what else do you have going on these days?
A lot of people don’t really know, but I am an assistant coach with the D-League’s Texas Legends in Frisco, Texas. I’m doing a little player development, trying to help the young guys in the Developmental League play at a consistently high level. I never thought I’d be coaching. I’ve had a taste of management, player development, and of course playing, but I never thought I’d coach.

Now I can see why you have to invest so much time as a coach. You have to pay close attention to it; you can’t help but go home with it. I’ve learned a lot from our head coach Del Harris. It’s challenging in the D-League because we have like 35 players coming through the door at any given time, and you have to deal with the highs and lows of players getting cut. The door is swinging a lot…it’s a lot for a coach to take in.

I’m also on the Board for the Special Olympics, which I’m very involved with. There are a lot of things keeping me busy, especially raising my twin girls. I am trying to get them in the right mode for applying to colleges and am making sure they are doing well in the academic world.

ABOUT SAM PERKINS
A 17-year NBA veteran and lethal three-point shooter, Sam Perkins, also known as “Big Smooth,” remains an NBA fan favorite. Selected fourth overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1984 NBA Draft, the 6’9” power forward/center enjoyed a successful NBA career with teams including the Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle Sonics and Indiana Pacers. In addition to making NBA All-Rookie First Team and recording the only 30-20 game in Mavericks history, Perkins was the co-captain of the gold-medal winning 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team. A college standout and graduate from the University of North Carolina and member of the 1982 NCAA Champion North Carolina Tar Heels, he was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team as one of the 50 greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history.  

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 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.