For Whom The Bell Tolls
Charlie Bell talks about lockout life, Mark Jackson and growing up Sparty.
by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
Charlie Bell is definitely a “glass half-full” kind of guy.
For a man who has played for four different European clubs and three different NBA squads, Golden State Warriors guard Charlie Bell has this lockout life all in perspective. Bell, 32, has solidified himself as a mainstay in the Association and, with the lockout in full effect, the man is not sweating a bit.
He’s been cool like that since he was a Flintstone. I had the chance to chop it up with Bell a few weeks ago to discuss the real opportunities for players overseas, his thoughts on new Warriors’ coach Mark Jackson, and of course, growing up in Flint and as a member of Sparty.
SLAM: How is a lockout summer different than a regular off-season summer? Is there optimism from the players?
Charlie Bell: It’s different because of the uncertainty of the future. You’re not sure if you’re preparing for the NBA season, playing overseas, or just waiting it out. Some players don’t know if they’re going to be paid, and it causes a lot of uneasiness. Its tough. The players are trying to be as realistic as possible, as there’s no real pressure to get a deal done right now. Until we get closer to a deadline date, both sides are trying to create leverage. Players are talking a ton about Europe, Deron (Williams) going to Turkey… Dwight (Howard) going to China… but the owners are counting on the players to make them money, so we’ve got hold out as long as we can to get this deal done.
SLAM: Now you played in Italy at Benetton Treviso for a while before you broke through in the NBA, are there that many jobs available in Europe? Are those jobs better suited for the lesser known players, or should the stars take those gigs?
CB: Those jobs overseas would be better suited for the younger players and role players that are in the NBA currently. Do the players like Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams need those jobs? No, but they want to go play for the love of the game and the money isn’t the end goal. For other guys that might not play as much and want that exposure, its an opportunity to play and get that paycheck. I’m lucky that I’ve been over there before, so I’m used to it. Other players are uneasy about it, and are unsure on their next move. Most of the Euroleague teams only allow two foreign players per squad, and some of my friends over there are also nervous because some of the NBA guys could take their job.
SLAM: What are some of the pros and cons to going overseas to play?
CB: First off, you get to make some money and you get a chance to play! If you go over there and do well, then you build your reputation with the European teams and if the NBA doesn’t work out, you can come back and get a gig. The risk of getting hurt. The teams can’t prevent players from joining other teams, but if you get hurt then you have to cut through the red tape and deal with some real issues with the team.
SLAM: Golden State hired Mark Jackson as its new head coach a few months back, what are your thoughts?
CB: He’s a great basketball mind. I watched the NBA Playoffs, and he’s probably my favorite announcer—hearing his insights and his thoughts about the game of basketball. He’s a point guard, played for a long time, and he’s been successful, he knows what it takes to win in this league. He hasn’t been coaching, but he’s been watching and with the conversations he’s had with coaches he’s getting all the way up to speed. As far as the team, he’s giving the entire team a clean slate. Everyone is the same, and when the lockout’s over, he wants everyone to come in and work.
SLAM: Can you talk about the impact on the team in regards to the rumors of the potential movement of Monta Ellis?
CB: Everyone sees the rumors, but we’re a close team. I talked to Monta, everyone talks to him, and the team really wants consistency from the organization. Seems like every 1-2 years there’s a radical shift in the team, there’s different players coming in and out, and it’s hard to get a good flow with the team. Monta likes it in the Bay Area, he likes the guys on the team, and whatever the deal is Monta is going to be ready to play. I love the way he plays and he gives his all to this team, every night. Unfortunately, we all know this is a business. At any given time you could be sent somewhere you don’t want to go, and other times you do. You just have to be ready to go out there and play.
SLAM: Can you talk about the influence that Tom Izzo has had on your career?
CB: Coach Izzo is going to try and push you to the limit at all times, both on and off the court. From the classroom to the court, he puts maximum effort in everything that he does, and that’s what he expects from his players. He’s a family man, and he sets the example. He’ll call me up and just check up on me, even though he always calls private so you don’t know if that’s him or not.
SLAM: What is the impact of the former players at the Spartan program?
CB: It’s one of the things that drew me to signing with Michigan State. Just having the opportunity to talk with former players and coaches. One thing at Michigan State is that former players would always come back to play pick-up. From Eric Snow, Shawn Respert, Steve Smith, even Magic Johnson…even though Magic always calls a lot of fouls, but he’s Magic so you’ve got to respect it. One thing we pride ourselves on is being available to current players, just to talk and give advice if needed.
SLAM: You’re known as being a member of the Flintstones, but Flint in general produced a ton of athletes. Can you speak about growing up in that town?
CB: Flint is a basketball city. If you’ve been to Flint, you’d know it. I played against Mo-Pete, Antonio and those guys and the four city schools were all dope. Folks would scalp tickets, and the games would be packed, standing room only. We loved the atmosphere, and we thrived off of it. The city really appreciates the prep scene, because there’s not a ton going on otherwise in the city. Flint takes pride in their prepsters.
SLAM: You’re big on social media with your twitter, website, etc. What’s your experiences been like?
CB: I love it, I love interacting with fans. Even before twitter, I’d go on to message boards and the forums to see what folks would say about me. Eventually I created a profile and answered questions on sites like RealGM, and the fans appreciated that. Sometimes when you have a bad game, the fans won’t say anything. When you play well, they have plenty to say. Going overseas also humbled me, and having access with the fans is awesome.