Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hornets guard Jarrett Jack chats

I recently spoke to New Orleans Hornets point guard Jarrett Jack at an event he and I both attended.

Jarrett and I had a great conversation, and I simply decided to record a portion of it for my blog.  I first met Jack while he was a star at Georgia Tech. I still remember him saying, "We came to Winston-Salem to beat up Wake, and now we're taking it to the house."

Take a look at some of the things we talked about during a recent interview.

Anthony: J-Jack. What's good. I'm just gonna ask you a few fun questions. Nothing crazy. We're just gonna have some fun. You with it?
Jarrett: Let's do it.

Anthony: How's the NBA been treating you, J.J.?
Jarrett: It's been nothing but a pleasure. I couldn't ask to be doing anything better. I worked so hard to get to this moment. I'm taking it all in, and enjoying every aspect of it.

Anthony: I'm looking around at all of these NBA stars. And, all of you are friends and hanging. Growing up it seemed like the best players didn't like each other. Did you ever think the NBA was going to be like this?

Jarrett: I don't think so. (Laughs.) But I think our friendship comes from having a mutual respect for everybody. When you get to know some of these guys off the court you'll see that they're pretty likable guys. That's how friendships start.
CP and Jarrett Jack have been friends since playing AAU.
Anthony: You and CP (Chris Paul) actually met during an AAU tournament when you like like 11 or 12 years old.
Jarrett: (Smiles.) It's kind of crazy how God brings people together. I was playing in a tournament when he was 11, and I was 12. He was watching me and I was watching him. His father even said that he came over and had a conversation with me at that particular time. I guess that was the a start to a good friendship.

Anthony: (Smiles.) How good were you back then?
Jarrett: (Smiles.) I was pretty good. That was basically why his father came and talked to me. He told me that I was going to be something special. Hopefully he was right. (Smiles.) I don't know.

Anthony: I hear that. What are you doing when you're not balling, J?
Jarrett: I actually like to go to the movies. I go to the movies by myself. It's kind of my way of getting away from everything. You know what I mean? That's pretty much all that I do.

Anthony: OK. Who was your favorite basketball player growing up?
Jack loves to watch movies.
Jarrett: I really didn't have a favorite player growing up. Everybody liked Jordan. (Smiles.) Everybody wanted to be like Mike. I just liked teams. I looked at teams and saw who was matched up against who.
Anthony: Give me your top 5 players in the NBA right now.
Jarrett: Top five right now. (Pause.) Kobe, LeBron, um.... I'd put Chris in there. He's my guy. Kevin Durant and D-Wade.
Anthony:  Cool.  Let's finish with free association. Point guard.
Jarrett: Myself.
Anthony: Georgia Tech.
Jarrett: Winning.
Anthony: Atlanta.
Jarrett: Black Hollywood.
Anthony: Chris Paul.

Jarrett: Good friend.
Anthony: The Joel. (Wake Forest home court)
Jarrett: A tough place to get a W.
Anthony: Toughest point guard to check in the NBA.
Jarrett: It used to be Baron Davis.
Anthony:  No doubt.
Jarrett: Right now it's probably Derrick Rose.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Past convo with Bob Johnson (founder of BET, former owner of Bobcats).

Former Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson with Maverick owner Mark Cuban.

Throwback interview with Bob Johnson (founder of BET, former owner of Bobcats). 

(Interview from March 23, 2004)

This was one of my favorite interviews of all-time. I talked to former Charlotte Bobcats majority owner for the first time in March of 2004. We talked right before the Bobcats were an official NBA team.

I still talk about this interview with some people today. I'm quick to point out that I know Bob Johnson. I didn't know him before doing this interview. I only admired him from a distance. We all know him as the founder and former CEO of BET. He also serves on the board of a number of businesses. Johnson has his hands in a number of things. He'll tell you that his life isn't that busy. And I'll continue to tell you and him differently. Busy or not, he's still the coolest guy in sports and business.

I've talked to Bob countless times since this interview. Yet, this is the conversation that I will probably remember forever.

Bob: Hey, Anthony. How are you?
Anthony: I'm doing good. How are you doing, Mr. Johnson?
Bob: I'm doing great.
Anthony: Is it OK if I call you Bob?
Bob: Sure.

Anthony: OK. So how's everything been going?

Bob: Things have been going great. Charlotte is a great city to live in. It's a great city to work in. And the town is a great sports town, obviously. The people have really embraced the new Charlotte Bobcats franchise, completely. I'm looking forward to the start of the season this fall.

Anthony: OK. Bob, how would you compare being the founder of BET (Black Entertainment Television) to being the owner of both the Charlotte Bobcat and Charlotte Sting (former WNBA team)?
Former Bobcat owner Bob Johnson.

Bob: There are a lot of parallels. You're in the entertainment business, in a way. Sports is very much entertainment. Just like at BET, you've got to deal with celebrities, stars and their managers, to some extent. And every night your players have to go and perform. Sports is also an emotional connection, just like drama. People cry when you lose and cheer when you win. There are a lot of parallels in terms of visibility as well.

Anthony:  Tell me how long you've wanted to own a sports franchise?
Bob: I've been looking into getting an NBA franchise, oh probably going back the last six or seven years. Again, it's a product that I understand. It was something that I thought I'd like to do once I left BET.

Anthony: You have a very busy life (Both smile.) Can you tell me what a day with Bob Johnson is like?
Bob: Well, Anthony. It's not as busy as you might think.
Anthony: Really?
Bob: No, I've got a lot of people who run the businesses that I've involved in. That leaves me with a lot of time to sort of strategically think of new business opportunities. It's more fun than it is work.
Anthony: Bob, tell me what some of your hobbies are.
Bob: I like to play tennis. I read books. I might learn how to play golf one day. (Both laugh.) I go out to dinner with friends, and that's about it.

Anthony: What sports did you play while you were coming up? 
Bob: I played a little bit of basketball and baseball. 
Anthony: Were you any good? 
Bob: Well, not good enough to go to college on scholarship.
Anthony: Which NBA team was your favorite to watch before you became an owner?
Bob: I used to watch the Chicago Bulls, just like everyone else. That's where Michael (Jordan) played, so everybody watched them. I also watched the Wizards when he played with them. I'm obviously fans of teams that are close to Philly. I like (Allen) Iverson. I also like C-Web (Chris Webber) because he used to play in D.C.
Anthony: Speaking of Michael, what happened with the partnership with you and M.J.?
Bob: Well, it wasn't a partnership. Michael and I have been good friends, going back 10 or 12 years. We've always talked about one of us owning a basketball team one day. He made his run at the Wizards and it didn't work out. Then I got the (Charlotte) franchise, and I started talking to him to see if he wanted to be a partner with this. He's like me and got the "ownership bug." So once you get that there's not much you can do except do your best to try to buy a team. And that's what Michael is doing. We talked about him coming with me, but at the end of the day he wanted to be an owner. As an owner I can understand that emotion. So one day he will be an owner. 
M.J. and Johnson sit courtside.
Anthony: (Smiles.) Let's switch this up a little bit. Tell me your favorite movie.
Bob: "Gladiators." 
Anthony: Who's your favorite entertainer?
Bob: Denzel Washington is a great buddy of mine. Of course, he's a great actor. Morgan Freeman is also one of the finest actors in the country.
Anthony: Do you have a any future plans do get into politics?
Bob: No.

Anthony: (Smiles.) OK. I'll leave that alone. Let's conclude with free association, where you simply tell me the first thing that comes to mind.
Bob: (Smiles.) OK.
Anthony: Earth, Wind and Fire.
Bob: Great band.
Anthony: Bill Cosby.
Bob: Funny.
Anthony: We're done. (Smiles.) Thanks for the time.
Bob: You bet.