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.