SLAM: Does the NCSA have any concerns about shoe companies and the power and role they play in recruiting?
LM: Ahh, I think they’re already embedded in the culture of basketball and the culture of sports, in general. When I came up in high school, that was big business, as well. We did Top 100 camps that were sponsored by adidas or were sponsored by Nike or were sponsored by whoever. The shoe companies are always going to be there – that’s just part of the game.
They have groups of people that are associated with them, especially an AAU circuit. They have the adidas vs. the Nike guys vs. the Under Armour guys competing. But it depends on if that kid is in that top percent, if adidas or Nike will have any say on where they go, in terms of what their market is for the next level, the college level or the NBA level. But that’s a rare few [players].
What we’re talking about is reaching the masses. When you think about the masses, a free shoe is going to really sway anybody to do anything [laughs].
SLAM: What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals?
LM: My goal is to be out there educating the kids, educating the parents on the recruiting process. If I can reach one or two people to let them know and have them get on-board to where they get a chance to have a scholarship at any level. And educate myself, as well. Keep abreast of what’s going on, the latest rules changes that will affect my kids for the next couple years. So, if I take that as a whole, I’m doing the best that I can do. I have a platform for my kids and to reach other kids in the area who have a chance to play at the next level.
SLAM: Let’s talk about the NBA lockout. What’s your sense of how the labor talks went?
LM: Uhh, I think it got a little personal for a minute there; the last few weeks. I was really happy that they were able to get back to negotiating for real and then stop all the posturing. To get back to getting the season on and going.
SLAM: Were you a team rep at any point during your career?
LM: No, [my teammates] wanted me to be a rep at one point but I didn’t see myself doing that just because of how I felt at the time. I just wanted to play ball; I didn’t want to be in the politics of basketball and the game. The more I sat down and went to those meetings, you kind of say, ‘Oh, I might have something to add.’ You learn a lot more than you thought you would’ve learned by showing up to the meetings.
That’s the one thing I can say that I regret, that I wasn’t a rep—at least a team rep. And at that time, a team rep was just mandated to show up to meetings and just be there representing the team. But in terms of being a president or a vice president, those opportunities were there for me. But I didn’t take advantage of it.
SLAM: That’s something I didn’t understand on the player’s side. There was a lack of communication from the top down. How some players didn’t know what was going on with the process. I was surprised by that.
LM: Yeah, you know, there are a lot of things that go on in the meetings when the guys reported back that weren’t being said in the media. For the guys that weren’t showing up, they were going by what the word on the street was or the word in the paper or the word that was publicized, that they lost out on a lot. Me sitting in on those meetings, I learned a lot about the mindset of the owners, the mindset of the players and the mindset of business, in general, and how it’s conduced. They lost out on a lot, those [players] who didn’t show up.
SLAM: You still play ball these days?
LM: Yeah, I play with my son. Pickup here or there but nothing too serious.
SLAM: Has he beat you in a game?
LM: He did last year but I had a bad knee [laughs]. But my knee recovered this year, so he has yet to get a win right now. He’s a little upset about that.
SLAM: There needs to be an asterisk next to his wins from last year.
LM: Yeah, that’s what I like to tell him every day. But it does good for him. To get him working hard, you know.
SLAM: Is there anything else you want to add about college recruiting?
LM: Yeah, I just want to say that people have to understand that when they go off to college, it’s not a four-year experience. It’s a 40-year experience. Those same relationships that you have on campus carry with you throughout life. That networking is always there. So, just like what I say, it’s not just four years, it’s a 40-year decision. That’s one thing we like to stress with the recruiting process.