Hello all. I'm a Sixers season ticket holder, and I won a contest in which I was a part of a panel of 7 other ticket holders interviewing players on Sixers media day. I should mention that I am not a media member, nor do I pretend to be...I'm just a dumb electrician who happens to be a basketball junkie...So, excuse the tone of which this is written, as I am sure Zach Lowe would have nailed this, but you don't get Zach, you get me. Nailing it. Anyway, I digress. Any quote is more of a paraphrase as if I'm telling a story, not exactly word for word what was said, because I don't have that kinda memory... It was a blast, and I'll get right to it.
We were seated in a corner of the court at PCOM while all the other Media Activities were going on around us - like pictures of players in their jerseys with Cat in the Hat hats on, Holiday gear, and other such promotions.
Special thanks to Spike Eskin who took the time to coach me his broadcasting expertise the day before. He gave me great advice about interviewing athletes, and I'm proud to say that I did get some gems that, without his help, I would probably not have gotten otherwise. Also thanks to Jake Pavorsky, and Roy Burton, both of which took the time to message me with helpful info, questions, and advice. Ok, I'll really, REALLY get to it.
I am a total hack at posting stuff on the internet, but I'll try my best. I'll include a pic or video, what I asked the player, what he answered, and any other thing that may be relevant or entertaining:
I really had NO IDEA what to ask this kid, but he was REALLY NICE. I researched a little last night and found out that not only did he go to Minnesota, he is also from Minneapolis. I asked him if he grew up a KG fan, and he said "Definitely." I also asked him what's up with Minnesota's mascot "Goldy the Gopher"? He said "Aww, Goldy's the MAN!" Everyone laughed, including him.
I told Khalif that I only watched one Temple game last year, when they played KU, and though KU is a powerhouse, I was impressed with his composure, and the fact that he wasn't afraid to take big shots and carry Temple. I then mentioned KU's meltdown during the tournament, and asked him "If YOU were on that KU team, would you have lost to Michigan the way they did, with the game well in hand?"
He said "It's tough. When the game's on the line, you need a killer, someone who's not afraid to be in the spotlight and take the big shots."
I said "Is that you?"
He said "YEAH." Smiled, and everyone laughed. That's 2 laughs, I'd call that a trend at this point.
I didn't get to ask Darius Morris a question, but he did mention that he had a good game in Philly last season, and I mentioned "Yeah, you were 5 for 8" he was impressed. I just so happen to remember that when I was doing research for this thing, and got lucky. Another really nice young guy.
"Arkansas" James Anderson
I knew that James is from Arkansas, so I had a good one here. I mentioned the whole Nets Heat nickname jerseys thing, and asked what nickname he'd want to have on his jersey. He was struggling to come up with something, so I said "Hey, Joe Johnson is from Arkansas, they call him Arkansas Joe. How about you be Arkansas James???" He laughed a lot, said he wasn't sure if Joe would appreciate it, and I disagreed. I told him that's his nickname from now on. I hope it sticks. ARKANSAS JAMES, EVERYONE!
Royce White was my favorite. God, this guy is dripping with charisma, he's so personable, he really is an easy guy to like. Yeah, I have a little bit of a hetero man crush on the man, I'm not afraid to admit it. His hands are HUGE. And I don't just mean long, but his fingers are as wide as the wide end of a pool cue, holy cow.
Anyway, after he told everyone his favorite tattoo is the one on his arm of Frank Sinatra, I told him that I always thought he was an interesting and intelligent guy. I asked him (btw, this is a question that Spike spoon fed me, and it really worked here) if he wasn't a professional athlete, what would he be doing right now.
I then suggested "Piano Lounge Player" since I know he can play piano. I know, I'm so cool with my knowledge and what not.
Anyway, he said lounge player "a few nights a week", but he'd really like to be a screenwriter. A SCREENWRITER!! How can you not love this guy?!?! Anyway, he added to that saying he's already WRITTEN some screenplays. I told him that Will Smith is part owner of the team, and a guy to know if you wanna make it in Hollywood. He said he knows some people that know him, and it's a possibility that could happen. I suggested that when Will Smith is sitting courtside this season, Royce should dive for a loose ball, then hand Big Willy the screen play. He laughed, everyone else laughed, He said he'd consider it.
I was concerned about Tony because I may or may not have heard that he wasn't that nice of a guy. Untrue. He, along with everyone else, were nice as can be. The only one I would say was a little aloof was Spencer Hawes, and he really wasn't THAT aloof either. Anyway, I digress.
I knew he was a Seattle guy, so I asked him if he was a Sonics fan growing up. He lit up. He discussed his love for that team in a passionate way that every Philly fan could get behind. I asked him if he thinks the league should move a team or add a new one to get an NBA franchise back in Seattle. He said "Brand new one." without hesitation. He said he knew they'd be a little watered down at first, but the city would build them up right. I was inspired.
This guy is from Germany, but his English is pretty great. This was a very happy and enthusiastic guy - said he couldn't wait to be in an offense that runs up and down the court because he "can run all day." I didn't get a chance to ask him a question, but what he talked about was how much he loved walking his dogs in Fairmount Park, and how to pronounce his last name. The best way I can describe it is that the CH is pronounced like we pronounce an SH.
This poor kid. No one knew who he was. So, we asked him, in the nicest way possible, "who are you??" He was a great sport about it, though. He's from LA, grew up a Clippers/Lakers fan, he explained that by saying the Lakers were the team that owned the town, but the Clippers were the team you could actually go to the games. I get that, I love going to games, too. He went to Georgetown. So did Iverson. This kid just might work out.
Evan was my 2nd fav interview. He was so personable, so interested in our questions, just so invested in having a conversation with us, that he really won me over as a person. I had to ask him a question first, and I was nervous - usually other people went first and I had time to think of something good. This time I was all "uhh umm uhh...so you're still friends with Andre Igoudala"... stupid stupid... "Oh Jrue, and Lou, too? That's great, shows that you're loyal..." STUPID STUPID STUPID... I dunno. I'm sorry, Evan, you deserved better.
Anyway, he got into a discussion about things that happen in the stands, things people yell, negative things that happen, and he said he knows it's not the season ticket holders, just some jerks that show up for one game and feel entitled - but it's difficult to talk about that with the press, because it could be interpreted as "he doesn't like Philly Fans" which he says is completely untrue. I mentioned how disgusted I was when the crowd cheered when Jaokhim Noah went down with an ankle injury, and he lit up, and said "EXACTLY." Basically he's saying he hears the stuff in the crowd, but he knows it's more complicated than all vs. one. It's just some individuals being ignorant.
My interaction with MCW was the equivalent of a stand up comic bombing on stage. He looked VERY nervous, I was comfortable at this point, I just wanted to see him crack a smile, but it didn't work. I said "So, Mike, you're from New England, Brett Brown is from New England, Nerlens Noel is from New England...Why y'all tryin' take over my team?!?!" Clearly I was joking, some people that got it laughed, but mostly it went over MCW's head and he had a sort of shocked look - I cleaned it up by saying "Of course, I'm joking, I was just wondering if that type of connection you guys have can translate to the court blah blah blah blah...." He said yeah, next question. He is a nice kid, he was nervous, and I guess he might be a little sensitive. Hey, he's a kid. I'm 33, and I'm STILL sensitive, so it's all good.
Jason Richardson still has a great smile, was very forthcoming about his injury (January-Febuary), and was very disappointed about it. He said this is the 1st time in his 13 year career he's had an injury that took him out of the game this long.
So, anyway, I told him this: "Jason, you're a 2 time NBA Dunk Champion, you're a great 3 pt shooter. How would you like to be the only player in NBA History to win both the Dunk Championship and the 3 pt championship?" He said "Lemme tell you a story." He then said that the league contacted him a few years back about being in the 3 pt championship, but his wife just gave birth to his son, and he wanted to be home with the family, so he declined - but the league NEVER CALLED HIM BACK AGAIN ABOUT IT. So, I told him "Jason, if you say the word, we will start a Twitter campaign and get you at that 3 pt contest!" He was very happy and gave me the green light.
Look, Sixer fans - we don't have a whole hell of a lot to cheer for this season - let's have some fun on the internets and start a Twitter campaign to get J-Rich in the 3 pt contest. He would make history, and it would start RIGHT HERE ON THIS VERY BLOG! We need to come up with a good hashtag though. #DoubleCrown #JRich3andD unk... I dunno, we can come up with something.
Spencer seemed to be the most "canned response" "Bull Dhuram-y" of them all, though he wasn't rude or impersonal. Just antiseptic. I asked him the same question I asked Tony Wroten about the Sonics - he did light up when talking about them, said he was "absolutely" a Sonics fan growing up, but wouldn't say whether he would want a team moved, or a new one added. He said that was for "better minds" than his.
I didn't ask him about his meeting with Mike Levin. I dunno. It just didn't feel like good timing to bring up "Did you get any tang last night?"
THE GENIUS (Sam Hinkie)
I literally called Sam Hinkie "The Genius" when I shook hands with him. I did that. Me. To his Face. Because it's TRUE.
The video I have posted is terrible because I had my stupid thumb on the mic the whole time.
I have a 6 minute 41 second video of him talking about all kinds of things, but youtube says it's too big, so I gotta figure out another way to get it to you guys.
He was awesome. It was all more of the same "development, time, patience, step by step" stuff, but damn, it's great to hear, especially in person. I didn't have a question for him, I basically just told him that I loved him and if I was a woman I'd bear his children. Ok, that's not what I said, but it's what I meant. I said I was tired of running on the treadmill with a 1st round exit, and I appreciate what he's doing with the team, and I just wanted him to know that.
There was a long lull between players, and he was just there, so he just sat down and started chatting with us. It was way more informal. I asked him if last year was a tough year for him - it sounded like that on the radio. He said it was because of the Bynum thing, but the silver lining for him was Doug. He loved talking to Doug Collins off the air about basketball, he considered him to be a world class commentator, and he will miss that aspect of Doug's tenure. He also said he has a very good basketball memory, and can recall many of the Sixer games.
For a 7 footer, this guy is very soft spoken. We all had to lean in to hear him - but that doesn't mean he's aloof in any way - he was very sincere when he was talking to us. I asked since his mom is from Haiti, can he speak French - he said he could.
HEY, NERLENS NOEL CAN SPEAK FRENCH!! I feel like this should be a bigger story. I think that's really cool.
Before I could ask him to say something in French, Thad approached him and said "Scram, rook." It was really funny. The guy next to me protested because he still had a question, Thad was kind enough to let him ask it, then complimented the guy for the question (he asked him about draft night, I have part of his answer on this video, but I really couldn't hear him, too much commotion) Thad is also in the Vid.
Thad is such a southern gentleman. He had no sense of time, he answered every question as if he was just having a conversation outside on a rocking chair sipping lemonade on a hot summer day. He even hugged one of the lady's in the panel, he loved her compliment so much. He took so long answering, in fact, that I wasn't able to get a question in because he was cutting into Lavoy's time, and Lavoy had places to be. It's all good, though. I wish nothing but the best for Thad.
I should mention that he believes there is no one in the league that has more hustle than him. It's hard to argue.
Lavoy is the funniest guy on the team, bar none. Case in point: One of the panel members asked him "What have you been working on this summer?" He said "My rap career. I've been in the studio, I'm doing big things." Hilarious!
So, I went right along with it.
Me: Lavoy, the last time I met you was at a season ticket holder event right after you had just autographed somebody's baby.
Lavoy: I did?
Me: Yeah, you did. I was there.
Me: So, how many baby's have you autographed since last we met? Is this, like, a thing that you do?
Lavoy: Umm, man, I dunno...
Me: Well, let me put it this way - You're a new dad with a baby. Is there an artist or athlete out there that you would be ok with autographing your baby?
Lavoy: Justin Beiber.... And maybe Miley Cyrus...ha, nah. But definitely Beiber.
(The whole room is laughing at this point)
Me: Ok, Beiber. So, was that the only baby you ever autographed?
Lavoy: I think so.
Me: And I was there to witness it?
Lavoy: Yeah, you were there. You witnessed history.
And that's my story. Hope you liked it. I can be reached on Twitter @mrdangdang - Also be sure to check out Spike and Mike's Sixers/NBA podcast "The Rights to Ricky Sanchez", always a good time.
Me and some friends are giving podcasting a go, you can find some episodes on the itunes podcast app under #TOTWArmy - It's fun and basketball related.
Holla atcha boyeeee!!!!