Thursday, March 26, 2015

Conversation with CP3's father

Here, Charles Paul (right) poses with CP3 and CJ Paul during a shoe release party.
I was collecting and editing a few conversations for my book earlier this week when I stumbled upon this interview with NBA superstar Chris Paul's father.

This interview was actually from May of 2007. Most of you that know me are aware that I am pretty tight with CP3, and have talked with him several times. So, I thought it would be cool to get the perspective of his father, Charles Paul.

This conversation definitely turned out to be another one of my favorites, as Charles is very cool, funny and honest. Charles and I talked about a number of things, such as Chris, Winston-Salem, which team would win a title and a number of other things.

Take a look at our candid conversation from a few years ago.

Anthony:  What's going on, Charles?
Charles:  Nothing much. Just sitting up here, watching the Toronto and New Jersey (basketball) game.
Anthony:  Who are you picking in that one?
Charles:  Jersey.
Anthony:  Which team are you picking to win the whole thing?
Charles:  Man, I'm going to tell you what -- I like the way the Warriors are playing. But I believe Detroit has that experience factor. I like the way both of them are playing right now. But if Chicago gets past Detroit then I think Chicago will win it all.

Anthony: That's my pick. Chi-town will win it all. Hey, give me your thoughts on Dirk. He looks to be slippin' this year.
Charles:  Man, he's not slippin.' (Laughs.) Those boys are playing some defense. They don't care how tall he is, or that he can shoot. They're just throwing bodies at him.
Anthony:  Has your impression of the NBA changed since you've gotten a chance to see it behind the scenes and up close?
Charles: A little bit. Some guys can still play when they want to. Overall, I usually revert back to the old days. I still think the boys from back in the day were deeper.

Anthony:  Is Chris (Paul) as good as most people think he is, in your opinion?
Charles:  Yeah, Chris does what he does. He likes to get everybody involved. If he can get everybody involved and they win then he's happy.
Anthony:  When did you realize that CP was the real deal?
Charles:  Probably his sophomore year, on JV. He played in the tournament at Carver. I told him that he took it (his game) to another level after that.
Anthony:  How much has your life changed in the last two years?
Charles:  The only thing different is the way people come at you. That's the only difference. We still live in the same house. We still hold the same values, believing and trusting in God first. We never expected either one of our kids to be at this level. We just knew that both of them were good enough to get a scholarship.

Anthony:  That's good. Hey, how's Robin (CP's mother) doing?
Charles and Robin Paul.
Charles:  She's doing fine. She's up here watching the game too. She's a ball freak too.
Anthony:  How much traveling do you all put in during a year?
Charles:  It's a lot of traveling. We just left from out here (Oklahoma) when Chris had his surgery.  Then we had to turn around and come right back yesterday. We probably go somewhere every other week. Robin is out here more than me because I am doing the AAU thing.

Anthony:  That's right. How are the AAU teams (CP3 All-Stars) doing?
Charles:  We're doing pretty good. Our 15s and 17s are doing really good. Our 15s finished second in the state this week. Our 17s have been to the LeBron tournament, and Charlie Weber tournament twice. Our 15s have played in the 'Melo tournament. Things are going really good.
Anthony:  Did you get to watch any of the (2007) NFL Draft?
Adrian Peterson.
Charles:  No, I didn't get to see it. But we know Adrian Peterson. I met him and his daddy. I just seen his daddy a few minutes ago.

Anthony:  Cool. What do you do during your free time? What do you do for fun?
Charles:  Play basketball. I play basketball and bowl. I try to stay in a little shape.

Anthony:  I hear that. Most people have heard the stories of you making Chris and C.J. (CP's brother) bind their hands behind their back and play full court -- among other things. Have you thought about becoming a basketball personal trainer?
Charles:  Man, I would love to do that. But I really don't have the time to do one-on-one stuff. That's why I coach AAU ball, trying to give it to the kids in that way.

Anthony:  Let's switch it up a little bit. What are you listening to a lot of these days?
Yolanda Adams singing.
Charles: Any Yolanda Adams song. I'm a gospel man.
Anthony:  Free association. Charles Paul.
Charles:  Normal man.

Anthony:  Winston-Salem.
Charles:  I love it. My home.
Anthony:  Essence Festival.
Charles:  Excellent event. Beautiful for our people.
Anthony:  New Orleans.
Charles:  New Orleans is still struggling. It's a struggle to get things back to where they were. We've been down there at least 10 times since Katrina. We went down there and met with Kenny Smith, Alonzo Mourning and all of them to help clean up...
Anthony:  That's what's up, Mr. Paul. I'm gonna let you get back to your night. I appreciate the time.
Charles:  I appreciate you.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Comedian B-Daht, aka Brian McLAUGHlin entertains

So, I was at a close friends house recently when I noticed another friend on the upcoming season of Nick Cannon's Wild N Out. 

My old buddy Brian Mclaughlin, who most of us call B-Daht, is on Season 6 of the show, which begins tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 7 on MTV). There's a shameless plug for my dude. I always knew/ thought he was going to be a great comedian one day. This is seemingly just the beginning for the guy who started his career as simply a very funny dude on a radio station in Greensboro, NC.

Watch B-Daht on Wild N Out.
That's where I met him. He also announced Winston-Salem State sporting events during my time as a sports journalist in Winston-Salem in the early 2000s. Brian and I sat down for a fun interview back in 2008, where we discussed a number of topics, such as Chris Paul, the NBA Draft, Josh Howard, Mariah Carey and a few other things that I may include in this blog.

I definitely enjoyed this one. I think you will too.

Anthony:  What's good, B-Daht?
Brian:  Nothing much, man. Coolin.' Just leaving the Goodwill.
Anthony:  (Laughs.) Were you dropping some nice stuff off?
Brian:  Nah, man. I'm shopping, dude. Stop playing. I'm shopping. (Both laugh.) My mom actually works at the Goodwill on the white side of town. I went by to see her. They also had a nice computer desk. I've had my computer on the nightstand for  the last couple of months. So I went ahead and bought that thang.
Anthony: (Laughs.) I got to ask you if you're finally over Nick Cannon marrying Mariah Carey?
Mariah and Nick. 
Brian:  I guess I'm over it. There's no point in hating. I just envy his position extremely. I don't even like Mariah like that. I wouldn't even holla at Mariah Carey if I was famous. I don't think she's even dope. Just the fact that Nick Cannon bagged her is crazy. Like Jermaine Dupree and Janet Jackson. It's like I had a shot, man.

Anthony:  (Laughs.) No doubt. How 's this year been going to be for you?
Brian:  It's been good. My son turns 2, Aug. 2. That's great. I was also on Maury Povich. I don't know if you saw that. I was on there for a secret crush episode. That was crazy. A lot of people still ask me if it was serious. Just look at the tape. Do you normally see Daht walk around with his pants up to his nipple. (Both laugh.) You don't see that.
Anthony:  I see that you're "Pranks" DVD is starting to pick up. Where did you get the idea for that? Were you a Jerky Boys fan or something?
Brian:  Nah, man. I am not even a fan of the Jerky Boys. That came out of the blue. That was like Punked. I do the same thing, except I do it on the phone. My idea was to just do celebrities, and them say they just got pranked. My first volume was extremely low budget. I might've moved eight copies. (Both laugh.) It was crazy. This time I went and hollared at my folks, Ricky Ruckus. He's a fool with Photoshop.
Anthony:  Big shout out to the homie, Ricky Ruckus.
Brian:  No doubt. Big shout out to the homie. As a matter of fact I need to holla at him tomorrow because we have a banger that I'm going to post on my page real soon. We're going to link it to Youtube and get a million hits. I'm telling you first, Ant.

Anthony:  That's cool. Let's talk about sports for a moment. Do you feel like this was the worst draft year ever?
Brian:  It depends on which team you like. I'm pretty sure Portland fans would say the '83 draft was the worst in history.
Anthony:  Give me your thoughts on the BET awards (2008).
Alicia Keys during the 2008 BET Awards.
Brian:  It was bootleg and poorly produced. I was excited to see Alicia Keys and that outfit. She killed it. And, she brought out SWV, En Vogue and TLC. I also enjoyed laughing at Rick Ross and his belly hanging out. I got crunk with the energy that Ludacris brought out. Al Green didn't know if he wanted to be gospel or gangsta. (Both laugh.)

Anthony:  (Smiles.) No doubt. Let's go into free association. 102 Jamz.
Brian:  Hottest station on the planet. I honestly mean that. If we were in New York it would be bananas. Everybody on our roster is talented. This is a hot station.
Anthony:  Chris Paul's Winston-Salem Weekend.
Brian:  Off the chain. Bananas. Celebrity-filled. Memories.
Anthony:  Definitely. Dream date.
Ray J with a pair of CP3 shoes.
Brian:  Kim Kardashian. That's my secret crush right now. But don't tell Ray J. I'm not even worried about Reggie Bush. I'm trying to get Chris (Paul) to fly me down to kick it with him (in New Orleans). Then, get around Reggie to talk to Kim...make it happen. Then, I'm outta there.
Anthony:  (Laughs.) Josh Howard (former NBA all-star).
Brian:  The mayor. I give him so much props. He's so underrated on and off the court. He's a smart dude. He just needs to watch the people that he keeps around him. He's a great dude that always gives back. A lot of things that Josh does goes unnoticed.

Anthony:  I agree. Um, B-Daht.
Brian:  Still grinding. The funniest dude around. I'm really about to take it up a notch in this comedy. I'm just now getting my foundation started too. It's a nonprofit called D.A.H.T (Daht attempting to help teens). I'm geared at helping 13-19 year-old kids. Also, the Pranks DVDs are out. I'm looking for some more spots to sale it. Right now you can order them off my site or pick them up at Fresh Flava's at the Walkertown shopping center. I'm still grinding. Just trying to keep moving forward.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Past conversation with Stephen A. Smith

This interview with Stephen A. Smith is easily one of my favorite Q&As simply because the entertainment value of this conversation.

You must know that the following conversation took place in 2004, years before ESPN's First Take and the spike of his popularity and income. He and I spoke for the first time when Smith was 36 years old and still working for the Philadelphia Inquirer. My man was starting to get a lot of guest spots on ESPN that year, which is why I thought it would be cool to speak with him.

I felt something more coming along for Smith. Besides, I had already been a fan of his since I was in college. Also, weeks before this interview took place I had spoken to his former college basketball coach, Bighouse Gaines. Coach Gaines couldn't stop talking about his former player, in a humorous way. So I instantly began working on getting some time with Smith.

I will admit that he got a little upset with me about publishing some of his comments. He assumed they were off the record. I didn't feel that Stephen said anything that bad. Actually, I found it all to be engaging and funny.

Take a look at SOME of the things he and I discussed on July 20, 2004.

Anthony:  What's going on, Stephen?
Stephen:  I'm exhausted. But other than that -- I'm cool.
Anthony:  You should be. (Smiles.) Man, I see you on television 24/7.
Stephen:  Man, you have no idea. People don't realize that I don't ask for this. They (ESPN) literally call and ask me to come in. My contract calls me to do NBA Shootaround and NBA Fastbreak. I usually do NBA Shootaround every Friday, for the most part. And, I do NBA Fastbreak once or twice a week on the weekends, during the NBA season. You understand.
Anthony:  (Laughs.)
David Aldridge
Stephen:  That's all my contract calls for me to do. My contract doesn't call for me to do that other stuff. But I've gotta hang.
Anthony:  Have you basically taken David Aldridge' spot on ESPN?
Stephen:  No. A lot of people are under that impression. That's actually not the truth. What a lot of people don't realize, Anthony, is that David Aldridge and I don't do the same thing.

Anthony:  OK.
Stephen:  We're both insiders, but only because that's what I do. I dig for information. But my job at ESPN is an analyst, you know what I'm saying. I'm on the shows. All David Aldridge does is strictly reporting. I'm also responsible for bringing ESPN the ratings too. (Both laugh.) It's a different role for me. Do you want to know who's very similar to David Aldridge?
Anthony:  Who's that?
Stephen:  Jim Gray, because that's what he does. He does the sideline reporting from games. I don't do that. I'm similar to do David because I have sources around the league and I'll break some stories. But, for the most part my role is to be on those shows.
Anthony:  Got ya. Now that the Kobe and Shaq situation is over and done with -- at least for now, what are you going to be talking about?
Stephen:  Well, it's a combination of things. I also do Ol Skool, Nu Skool on SportsCenter every Sunday morning. That's me debating against Skip Bayless on a variety of issues -- not just NBA issues. Other than that, you have to remember that it's free agency time around the league. So teams are going to make moves. Decisions are going down.
Anthony:  True. Why do you always seem to be going at Kobe. Don't you blame Shaq for at least some of what's going on in L.A.?
Stephen:  First of all, it is Shaq's fault. I'm not gonna lie to you. I don't think I'm hard on Kobe. A lot of people feel that way. That's not what I think. I'll give you an example. John Thompson once said something to me that I think was the absolute truth. Coach Gaines said it about me too. If you want to know how I feel just ask me. I don't have anything against Kobe. But if I watch him in a press conference and I think he's lying don't ask me if I think he's lying. And, I won't tell you. But if you ask me then I'm going to tell you.
Anthony:  (Laughs.)

Stephen:  When I think about Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O,Neal, and think about the relationship they had, and then see Kobe on national TV -- in front of everybody, saying he had nothing to do with this. (Both laugh.) Now you have gone too far. I never said who was right or wrong in terms of Kobe's relationship with Shaq. What I said was, "Who gives a damn?" He's (Shaq) 7-1, 360 pounds. He's the most dominant force in the game. Find a way. Kobe wanted Shaq gone. Everybody knew that. Then, Kobe gets in front of a camera and says how much this angers and hurts him. He talked about how he loves Shaq, and how upset he is that his partner in crime is gone. Now that's insulting our intelligence. That pisses me off. People aren't stupid. There would've been nothing wrong with him saying, "Ya'll don't play with him everyday. Ya'll ain't here from training camp where we bust our butts during the off season, and he (Shaq) ain't in shape." That's all the man had to say, Anthony.
Anthony:  You're right.
Stephen:  I am who I am. If you don't like it, it's just too damn bad.

Anthony:  Give me your thoughts about my man, Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul.
Stephen:  He's got a nice game. I haven't seen him play much. He's got a lot of heart. He ain't scared of anybody. He's a streaky shooter, if I remember correctly. They say that he has tremendous upside. I've got to see more of him next year.
Anthony:  I mentioned this earlier, but you're kind of big in the world of sports right now. Did you see this kind of success coming?
Stephen:  Not at all. I've been blessed. My mission was to be a general sports columnist. There's over 4,000 general sports columnist in America. Only 21 of them are black, and I'm one of them.
Anthony:  How was your game back when you played at Winston-Salem State University?
Stephen:  I was good. Coach Gaines signed me to a scholarship on the spot. The problem was that I developed tendinitis in my knee by the time I reported to the team. Coach Gaines used to always ask me if I knew what they did to broken horses in Kentucky. They shoot them. That was his favorite thing to say to me. "Boy you came here limping."It was true. I was never healthy. I could shoot, but I couldn't run with anybody. That always depressed me because I worked so hard, but couldn't stop limping.

Legendary basketball coach Clarence "Bighouse" Gaines.
Anthony:  Let's conclude with free association. Simply tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Coach Gaines.
Stephen:  Icon.
Anthony:  Allen Iverson
Stephen:  Super star. No, no. Misunderstood.
Anthony:  Larry Brown.
Stephen:  Genius.
Anthony:  Winston-Salem, NC.
Stephen:  Educating.
Anthony:  Favorite TV show.
Stephen:  Law & Order.
Anthony:  What's next for you?
Stephen:  I'll be doing this for at least 20 more year. But my dream is to do something like 60 Minutes.
Anthony:  Cool. Steve, I appreciate you taking the time to let me drill you.
Stephen:  No problem, man. Take care of yourself. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Conversation with Baltimore Ravens Anthony Levine

Baltimore Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine has always been a great example of the phrase: Good things come to those who wait.

In high school, he was easily one of the premier athletes in high school sports. But he wasn't getting scholarship offers or attention like most expected. Days after signing with Tennessee State University on national signing day, he was offered a scholarship from the University of North Carolina.

But Levine decided to stick with TSU, and make the best out of his situation. He ended up having a great college career. Yet, he didn't hear or read his name on draft day in 2010. Levine was eventually signed by the Green Bay Packers, where he was a member of their Super Bowl team that year.

He's now entering his third year with the Baltimore Ravens, and is ready to take his career to another level.
Levine expects to do big things for Ravens next season.

I spoke with the rising defensive back earlier this week to talk about a few things. Levine and I talked about Richard Sherman, the CIAA, fatherhood, and a few other things during a phone conversation. Take a look at some of the things we discussed.
Anthony:  (Smiles) My dude.
Levine:  Hello.
Anthony:  Levine, what's up my boy. Can you hear me?
Levine:  Yeah, what's up man. How you doing?
Anthony:  I can't call it. Just trying to make it, brother. What's up with you, though?
Levine:  Ay, I'm just trying to be like you when I grow up. (Both laugh) That's all.
Anthony:  I hear that. (Laughs.) Give me your thoughts on the Super Bowl that just past. I am sure you were watching that game with some interest.
Levine was college teammates with Broncos DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Levine:  No doubt. Man, that game was crazy. I mean, I figured Seattle was going to take it because of the way them boys play defense.  But I wanted Denver to win because my homeboy, Dominique (Rodgers-Cromartie) plays with them. So, I was definitely hoping he would get another championship. But it wasn't meant to me, and Seattle wasn't playing out there.

Anthony:  No doubt. A  lot of attention has been on their cornerback Richard Sherman. He said he was the best DB in the league. Is he the best defensive back in the league right now.
Levine: No. He's good, but he's not the best. I can name three right now that are better than Sherman. I'm not taking anything away from the dude. But he's not the best.
Anthony:  Name three better than him.
Levine:  Dee (Darrelle) Revis,  Cromartie. I'm talking Dominique. And, I'll go with Asanti Samuels and a few other guys. Sherman is not the best right now.

Anthony:  I got you. So, what can we expect from Levine? Are big things in store for next season?
Levine: Definitely, man. We 'bout to turn it up a lil bit. 'Bout to get into Levine 2.0. Ya feel me? I talk to coach (Derrick) Speas almost every single day. He keeps me right. He's gonna have me right when he returns from Russia. You know he's over there with the Olympic speed skating team right now.
Anthony: I spoke with Speas before he left. (Note: Derrick Speas is a local trainer/ coach based out of Winston-Salem, NC. Speas trains and mentors Levine)
Levine:  Yeah, so we about to turn it up. I'm expecting big things for next year. I'm working to be a starter and a solid contributor. Plus, this is a contract year coming up for me. I need to put myself in the best position to maximize my contract.

Anthony:  I feel you. What's new?
Levine:  I'm a dad. That's new.
Anthony:  I didn't know that. Congrats my dude.
Levine:  Yeah, it's crazy how excited I am about being a dad. I love my little dude. I can't wait to go get him from school. I gotta be there by 4. Just watching him grow. He's 19 months now. (Laughs) I think I'm ready for a little girl right now too.
Here, Levine works with kids during a clinic.
Anthony:  (Both laugh)  I hear you. Hey, the CIAA tournament is coming back to Charlotte. You trying to kick it again this year?
Levine:  (Laughs) Nah, man. I'm not gonna be able to make it this year. I did the Super Bowl. We kicked it hard out there. Imma head to New Orleans for all-star weekend. I'm not gonna be able to make it to the CIAA this year.

Anthony:  When was the last time you hit up Winston-Salem?
Levine:  I was just there last week.
Anthony:  Cool.
Levine:  Ay, what happen to your Crimson Tide in the bowl game?
Anthony:  Come on, man. I can't believe you brought that up. We weren't really interested in playing that game. The guys were disappointed to not be playing in the national championship game.
Here's a shot of Levine during recent practice.
Levine:  How can a former football player say something like that? You're supposed to have an attitude like, "We gonna beat their (Oklahoma) a$$ so bad ya'll gonna question why not playing for a title." That's how they should've went out 'der. A football player does not go into any game not wanting to win. I don't care what you're playing for, bruh.

Anthony:  (Smiles.)  You're right, man. I was just making excuses. We just got beat. But we'll be back next year. Roll Tide. (Both laugh.) Let's finish up with some free association. Uh, Anthony Levine.
Levine:  Great player. Expecting to do big things for Ravens this year.
Anthony: Charlotte, NC.
Levine:  (Smiles) The Queen City.
Levine shows A. Jackson love.
Anthony:  R.J. Reynolds High.
Levine:  Memories. Great school. Where it all started for me. Track state champions.
Anthony:  Archie Barrow. (Reynolds teammate/ former Johnson C. Smith standout)
Levine:  Great athlete. Friend.

Anthony:  We're done my dude. Thanks for the time, bro.
Levine:  You know it's no problem, Ant. We go way back. Hit me up anytime.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Past conversation with NBA star Gerald Wallace

I was very familiar with former NBA star forward Gerald Wallace for quite some time before I sat down with him for this interview in 2005. He was almost the Lebron James of Alabama during his high school days.

I was in college three years before him, but I had been hearing about him way before he enrolled at Alabama. Wallace ended up being “Mr. Basketball” in the state after scoring 59 points in a prep game and being named to the 1999-2000 McDonald’s All-American Team. It took Wallace only one year of collegiate basketball to realize that he needed to be in the NBA.

He was then drafted by Sacramento with the 25th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, at the age of 19. He had a decent rookie year, which was highlighted by his second-place finish in the NBA Slam Dunk contest behind Jason Richardson.

Now, he’s doing bigger things in the NBA for the Boston Celtics. G-Wallace was a standout for the Charlotte Bobcats during this interview. He shocked me when he said he regretted signing with Alabama. Take a look at some of the other things he and I discussed during a fun interview a few years back.

Anthony: What’s good, G-Wallace?
Gerald: Nothin’ much. Nothin’ much.
Anthony: I know you’re dealing with your injury right now, but what has been going through your
mind as you prepare yourself to get back on the court?
Gerald: I’m just trying to get back as soon as possible. I want to get back. I don’t want to put myself in the risk of coming back too early and suffering a re-injury. I’m trying to get back as soon as possible, but I want to come back in the best condition.

Anthony: Now, you’re one of the key players in the NBA now. You’re the steals leader and all. What was your mindset like heading into this season, compared to seasons past?
Gerald: My only difference from this year and last year is I’m more comfortable now. I’m settled here in Charlotte. I just signed my deal this summer. So I’m comfortable here. I’m not worried about my contract being up at the end of the season. I mean, that takes a lot of pressure off you when you don’t have to worry about other things. Now I’m just focused on going out there and performing to the best of my ability.

Anthony: No doubt. And, congrats on getting that money.
Gerald: (Laughs) 'Preciate it, bruh. You know.
Anthony: (Smiles) I know you’re happy to be closer to Alabama. Tell me how happy you were to
finally get out of Sacramento, though.

Gerald: I’m very happy. They actually didn’t want me to get in the expansion draft. They tried to keep me protected, but I made a point to my agent that I wanted to get out. I didn’t want to be there anymore. Nothing against the organization or anybody there. I had been there three years already,
and I was promised more playing time every year. I felt like the best thing was to go somewhere else
Former Alabama star Rod Grizzard.
and try another team.
Anthony: All right. Of course, we’re both Alabama guys. I miss those days, man.
Gerald: Yeah.
Anthony: Hey, what happened to your boy Rod Grizzard (former UofA baller)?
Gerald: I don’t know, man.We were talking about that the other day. One of my homeboys said that he saw him in Birmingham. I don’t really know what that guy is doing. You really have to have your heart in basketball, and I don’t think he has it there anymore.
Anthony: Do you think he left too early?
Gerald: I don’t think he left early enough. I think he should’ve left after his freshman year, when he was doing so well. He was performing at a high enough level that he would’ve been a lottery pick.

Anthony: Now you left college after your freshman year. Do you wish that you would’ve gone straight to the league out of high school?
Gerald: Actually I do. I am not very happy with my decision to go to Alabama. That is something
that I really regret. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.
Anthony: What?
Gerald: It has nothing to do with the university. When the assistant coach that recruited me died of cancer, everything kind of went downhill from there. He died the day the we started classes. That was a bad situation for me to come in after that.

Anthony: Hey, our boy Shaun (Alexander) is in the Super Bowl. Do you think the Seahawks
are gonna win it (2005)?
Gerald: I don’t know. I like the Steeler defense. (Giggles.) But I’m not picking anyone. I’m just
going to watch the game.
Anthony: (Laughs.) A’ight. Who was the best player you’ve ever faced?
Gerald: I actually played against Michael Jordan. So he has to be the best I’ve ever faced.
Anthony: OK. Give me your top three players of all time.
Gerald: I’ll take MJ (Michael Jordan), Magic (Johnson) and Larry Bird.
Anthony: Oh yeah?
Gerald: Yeah, but I also like Isiah Thomas.

Anthony: I’m surprised you didn’t say Scottie Pippen, as much as people compare you to him.
Gerald:Yeah. I might put him in my starting five. I’d put Isiah at the point. I’d put MJ at the shooting
guard. I’d put Larry Bird at the four. I’d put Shaq in his prime, at five. Then I guess I’d put Scottie at the three because he guards all positions.
Anthony: OK. What is Gerald Wallace doing when he’s not playing ball?
Gerald: Man, I’m either asleep or playing video games.I’m going through the Madden season right now. I run with New England.

Anthony: Cool. Let’s conclude with free association.Um, Chris Paul (NBA star point guard).
Gerald: Good, good. Better than I thought he was.
Anthony: Charlotte Bobcats.
Gerald: Building. We’re young, but we’re building.
Anthony: 81 points.
Gerald: Wow.

Anthony: Gerald Wallace.
Gerald: Arising star.
Anthony: Childersburg, Alabama.
Gerald: Home sweet home.
Anthony: We’re done, dawg. I’ll hit you up later.
Gerald: All right.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Conversation with former Panther DB Chris Gamble

Gamble owns the Panthers record for career interceptions.
With the big NFC playoff battle between the Panthers and 49ers coming up with this weekend, I couldn't help but think about former star defensive back Chris Gamble. I also ran into him while eating lunch in uptown earlier today.

Ya'll remember Chris, who was a starter from the day he was drafted by the Panthers in 2004. The former Ohio State star DB STILL owns the Panthers' career interceptions record (27). Gamble also ranks second in interception return yards and third in career tackles for the squad. Gamble abruptly retired after being released by the team last year, after nine seasons. I still remember our first interview, where Gamble told me he wanted to play at least 10 seasons in the NFL.

"I’m trying to stay in the league as long as I can," said Gamble, during an interview with me during his rookie season. "I am going to try to play for more than 10 years. How ever long the Lord wants me to be in the league is all I can say. But I’m striving for double digit years."

Take a look a few other things that Chris and I discussed during an interview during the summer of 2004. 

Chris: What’s up.
Anthony: (Smiles.) What’s up with you, man? Tell me what the deal is.
Chris: (Giggles.) Ah, you know. I’m just trying to get through training camp and these two-a-days and have fun at the same time.

Anthony: How did you feel when you heard or read your name on draft day?
Chris: Ah, man. I was excited just to hear my name, and the Panthers have a good team. They had just (gone) to the Super Bowl. So I was like, we’ve got a good team coming back. When I was in high
school, we were also called the Panthers. So it’s like I’m another Panther. That was a really good feeling for me.
Anthony: OK. How have you been adjusting to being in the NFL so far?
Chris: I mean, it’s been going good. Training camp has been going good so far. I’m just waiting for the season to get started. I’m gonna try to help out wherever I can.
Anthony: I hear that. Has coach (John) Fox talked to you about possibly playing some offense?
Chris: I heard him talking about it in mini camp. I mean, if they want me to play a little bit of receiver, then I’ll do that, but they haven’t talked to me about it yet. So I’m just waiting.
A n t h o n y : How’s your relationship with some of the defensive guys so far?
Chris: It’s good. They’ve been talking to me, and telling me some of the little things to do. You know, I just look up to those guys like Mike Minter and Ricky Manning. I just shadow them and look at them. I watch how they practice and see how they work.

Anthony: Last year, you were balling at Ohio State. Did you watch the Panthers while you were in college?
Chris: (Smiles.) I mean, I caught a couple of their games, like the
Eagles in that playoff game and the Super Bowl, but that was about it. I thought they were a good team.
Gamble played with Clarett during his OSU days.
Anthony: Let me ask you this: What’s up with your boy Maurice (Clarett)? What’s new with him?
Chris: The last time I talked to him was Memorial Day weekend. I hadn’t talked to him since then. I mean, I don’t know what’s going on with him.

Anthony: Tell me some of the athletes you looked up to before you got into the league.
Chris: I used to look up to Charles Woodson when he was at Michigan. I liked Deion (Sanders). I liked Randy Moss when he was at Marshall. I like Santana Moss too.

Anthony: What type of things do you do during your free time?
Chris: You know. (Laughs.) I just play video games, watch TV and talk to my girl. That’s about it.
Anthony: Let me jump back into football for a moment. Have you checked Steve (Smith) yet?
Chris: (Smiles.) Yeah. I always go one-on-one with Steve. He’s real good. He’s the toughest person that I’ve ever checked. He’s so low to the ground. He’s so fast. But I try to go against him every chance that I get. That can only make me better.
Anthony: No doubt.
Chris: I also like to go against (Muhsin) Muhammad. I like to go against the big, physical guys too.
Anthony: OK. What number do they have you sporting this season?
Chris: 20. DeShaun (Foster) got his college number (26) again.

Anthony: What are some of your goals as a player?
Chris: I just want to do everything right. I want to make big plays. I just want to make things happen every time that I’m on the field.
Anthony: You’re a Florida boy. How have you been enjoying Carolina?
Chris: It’s been going good. I’ve just been here with my teammates. I’ve gotten to know everybody real well. Things are really going good for me.
Anthony: What was the last CD you bought?
Chris: That Lil’ Wayne (CD).
Anthony: What was the last movie you checked out?

Chris: Uh, “Bourne Supremacy.” That was a good movie. (Remember this is from 2004)
Anthony: What was your favorite cartoon when you were younger?
Chris: (Smiles.) “X-Men.”
Anthony: Tell me the name of the first woman on TV you had a crush on.
Actress Lisa Raye.
Chris: Lisa Raye, when she played Diamond in “The Players Club.”
Anthony: (Smiles.) No doubt. If you could date anyone now, who would she be?
Chris: If I didn’t have a girl it would probably be Halle Berry, man. I can’t even mess with her like that right now because I (have) got a girl.
Anthony: I feel ya. (Smiles.) Let’s conclude with free association. I’ll say one thing and you just tell me what comes to mind.
Chris: Aight.
Anthony: Mike Minter.
Chris: Good guy. He’s a leader.
Anthony: Ohio State.
Chris: Tradition.

Anthony: Eddie George.
Chris: Heisman winner.
Anthony: Deion Sanders.
Chris: Trash talker.

Anthony: Chris Gamble.
Chris: (Laughs.) “Everythang.”
Anthony: Good luck to you, dawg. I can’t wait to see you get down.
Chris: Thanks. I’ll talk with you later.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Conversation with Lil Wayne's bodyguard

Me with Lil Wayne's bodyguard, Big John.
The following dialog is an interview I did with rapper Lil Wayne's bodyguard, Big John. We talked during the summer of 2008, a couple weeks after the release of Weezy's "A Milli" video. It was cool because Big John was actually featured in the music video.

He got a lot of face time in that video. I used to hit John up once every few months to see what’s good. He’s cool, funny, knowledgeable and very down to earth.

This was another one of my favorite conversations simply because Big John was really putting me on to some new knowledge. Take a look at some of the things Big John and I discussed a few years ago.

Anthony: Big John.What’s good, man?
Big John: Nothing much, bruh. How are you doing?
Anthony: (Smiles.) I can’t complain. I’m feeling pretty good right now. Let’s talk about you real quick. You got major face time in Lil’ Wayne’s latest video. How was that for you?
Big John: It was cool.Know what I’m sayin.’That was really Wayne’s idea. Most of the time I’m kind of laid back. I’m not trying to be in too many videos. That was really Wayne’s idea. But it was cool. It was like I was working.

Anthony: Is that kind of what goes down behind the scenes during a Weezy video?
Big John: Yeah, somewhat.It was still directed. That particular video was done in ONE TAKE. That was the kind of video Wayne wanted to do. He actually shot three videos that same day. He was actually leaving
one video before doing that one.You can see that at the beginning of the video.
Anthony: What’s it like to work for Lil’Wayne?
John followed Wayne throughout the video.
Big John: It’s a fun experience.He’s a really smart dude.He’s really about his business.He’s probably one of the hardest working dudes I’ve ever been around.
Anthony: How did you two come in contact with each other?
Big John: Um, I actually used to work for Juelz Santana and Dipset. I got hooked up with Wayne through Juelz. They used to hang with each other quite a bit. But I really got the job during a Chris Brown tour in L.A. I had a fight with four Samoans.
Anthony:  Say what?
Big John: (Laughs.) Yeah. Everybody left me out to hang. I guess they thought I was gonna take an L. I came out of that one.
Anthony: (Smiles.) That’s wild. I know that you used to play football, but what kind of training did you have go through to do what you do now?
Big John: I’ve been doing this for 14 years. I was doing this while I was playing football, during the summer time.
Anthony: Were you a bouncer?
Big John: No, it wasn’t really bouncing. I was working with other guys. My first job was with Mad Lion (Dancehall rapper). They would call me and my crew when they came to town.We would hold it down as
long as they were in town. It’s been since ’95.
Anthony: How much do you miss playing football?
Big John: It was a good experience, but I don’t really miss playing. I’m at a different time in my life. That was what I did when I was in school. Now, I’m into my career. I more so miss the guys I played with. I miss the people.

Anthony: How much did you come in contact with coach (Bighouse) Gaines?
Big John: I used to come in contact with coach Gaines quite a few times. I was trying to play basketball too. I was all right on the court. I wasn’t sorry. (Both laugh.) But, I talked to him (Coach Gaines) a lot. He was
always in the coaches office, and we would sit down and talk.He helped me with different things.
A n t h o n y : What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced on the road in the last year?
Big John: One girl wouldn’t move her car. She parked her car right in front of the bus, like bumper to bumper. That’s probably the craziest experience I’ve ever seen. It’s not really a point of me seeing a lot. It’s really about me keeping Wayne safe at all times, because different people feel differently about Wayne in every city. That’s all.

Anthony: How do you have a personal life with your schedule and duties?
Bryan "Baby" Williams.
Big John: It’s hard. I’m married and I have kids. So, it’s difficult. But I do everything for my family and my kids.
Anthony: That’s what’s up.Hey, what’s Baby (Williams) like?
Big John: Baby is cool. He is real laid back. He’s the boss. He knows how to take care of things, and he keeps the same guys around him at all times. He’s like the people you see in movies. He’s the boss. It’s funny because people don’t think of Baby like that. He’s probably one of the most cool, laid back guys that you would ever talk to.He makes being there a lot better.
Anthony: I want you to tell everyone how much love Chris Paul (CP3 was a star for New Orleans at the time of interview) gets in New Orleans.
Big John: Man, Chris Paul has his face on the side of a building. He’s doing a crossover or something. Yeah. Right downtown.

Anthony: So, New Orleans is Lil’Wayne and Chris Paul?
Big John: Yeah. I would say that now it’s more Chris Paul because he’s physically there. Right now the city
belongs to Chris.
Here, CP3 poses with friends Game and Kevin Hart. 
Anthony: (Smiles.)Who do you keep up with the most from Winston-Salem?
Big John: I talk to Josh (Howard) and Chris most of the time. I also go back to see coach Blount every now and then. But I really don’t have too much time to keep in touch. I stay busy.

 Anthony: Are you treated like a celebrity when you go places nowadays?
Big John: Oh yeah, especially in the airports. A lot of people recognize me from the video. That’s the main thing. I honestly sign autographs and everything.
Anthony: (Laughs.) Speaking of that video. Where did the idea for the Mohawk come about?

Big John: I was getting a haircut. And, I was asking Wayne’s barber to give me a cut that makes me look big and crazy. He said that I was already big. He asked me if I would do the mohawk. (Both laugh.) I told him that I would try it. I’m going to keep it. Wayne messes with me about it all the time.
Anthony: When are you going to see Wayne again?
Big John: Actually, I’m going to L.A. on Thursday to do a video with T-Pain. I’ll see him on Thursday.

Anthony: Cool. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing what you’re doing today?
Big John: (Laughs.) I’d be doing bail bonds. That was one of the things that I was doing.
Anthony: OK. Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Big John: Oh, I roll with the Redskins all the way.
Anthony: What? You don’t like the Cowboys?
Big John: Cowboys? Who are they? (Both laugh.) I have been a Redskins fan since I was a kid.

Anthony: I hear that. Let’s finish with free association. Uh, Big John.
Big John: Works hard.
Anthony: Winston-Salem State.
Big John: Best school.
Anthony: Coach Kermit Blount.
Big John: Great man and coach.
Anthony: Tory Woodbury.(Former WSSU QB)
Big John: Good player.
Anthony: Young Money Records. (Lil’ Wayne’s record label.)
Big John: The best.

Anthony: No doubt. That’s what’s up.