Greg Anthony Q + A
A sit down with the NBA TV and CBS College basketball analyst.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
Greg Anthony is one of the brightest basketball minds on television today. After an illustrious collegiate playing career and a lengthy and solid NBA career — most notably with the Knicks — Anthony as has made a seamless transition from professional athlete to broadcaster. His knowledge of the game shines through no matter if he’s discussing the intricacies of the college game or the nuances of the NBA.
Greg sat down with SLAMonline to discuss his own playing career and to give his take on both the college and NBA basketball seasons this year.
SLAM: That UNLV team you played on with guys like Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and others were the first real “rock stars” of the college game and was the precursor for your current NBA TV colleague Chris Webber and his Fab Five squad at Michigan to come together. What was that time was like for you personally?
Greg Anthony: It was an amazing experience and I think when you’re going through it, you really don’t have perspective on how it’s going to resonate nationally and how much staying power it has. You know when you’re a kid, you’re just kind of in the moment. I remember how much I enjoyed being around my teammates, how much I loved playing the game and playing for Coach Tark [Jerry Tarkanian], and being on that stage and being regarded as, obviously, a really good team and having a chance to win a championship and all those things, it was an unreal experience in a lot of respects.
SLAM: What was it like playing on such a loaded squad that really, everyone liked and everyone cheered for?
GA: You know, you hear it all the time about young people who aspire to be athletes and dream of winning a championship and I always had those dreams as well, but I never could’ve dreamt that we’d win it in the fashion that we did. So for me, in a lot of ways, it was better than a dream. There’s not a day that doesn’t go by, literally, where I’m not reminded of it or it’s not brought up by somebody. So to have it be that significant or relevant twenty-some-odd years later, it does the heart good and it gives you a tremendous amount of pride.
SLAM: You’re an analyst for college basketball now, what differences do you see in the game today as opposed to when you played?
GA: Well, I think the game has evolved and the talent continues to get better, but the one glaring difference for me is simply that the elite teams rarely feature a lot of experience. Duke comes to mind last year in a lot of ways as kind of different and kind of unique because kids now are going to college for one year and coming out or coming out in their second year and that wasn’t done nearly as much when I played. So I think you might lose a little bit of an attachment to a group because they’re just not there as long but I think the game itself is every bit as exciting because of the talent and the athleticism. People always like to look back and say “the good old days,” but I feel like every day that you watch the game is a better day because I do think that athletes evolve both physically and intellectually and I think you’re seeing the game right now being played at the highest level that it’s probably ever been played at.
SLAM: I think we can both agree that Duke seemed to be everyone’s favorite to win the National Championship this year prior to the Kyrie Irving injury. But with him being out for what could be the entire season, do you think that changes the landscape a bit?
GA: Yeah, I think so. I think that Duke had a chance with Irving to be, I don’t want to say dominant, but I do think their best basketball was ahead of them. Any time you can return the type of talent that they did off of a National Championship team and you can bring in arguably the best freshman in the country and you’ve got arguably the best coach that’s ever coached the collegiate game, that’s a recipe for a lot of success. Taking Kyrie Irving out of the mix makes it a big adjustment for them. But I think there’s a lot of parity this year and I think there’s probably ten teams that legitimately, if they’re cutting down the nets the first week of April, I wouldn’t be surprised. I think that’s great for the game and I think what you saw last year with Butler getting all the way to the championship game is great for college basketball.
SLAM: Can you name some of the teams that you think have a legitimate shot to win it all this season?
GA: Well, Ohio State is impressive, obviously. Pitt, UCONN, Syracuse; the Big East has a lot of really good teams. Kansas, and Kansas State. I think Michigan State — even though people have been disappointed with them early — they tend to get better as the season progresses. There’s a lot of good teams that have a really great chance.
SLAM: Being that you’re both an NCAA and NBA analyst, is there a switch that you have to flip when breaking teams or players down? How does that work?
GA: It’s different. Both games are really different and you have a different mindset. When you’re dealing with the college game, my philosophy is I’m not nearly as critical because these are kids. Even though some of them are obviously going to become pros, the vast majority are not pros. They’re playing because they love it and obviously they have a certain level of talent, but you can’t approach the collegiate game the same way you do the professional game because of the skillset and the fact that they are pros. You’re going to be a little bit more critical of the pros and the expectations are going to be higher from a professional standpoint and the way they approach the game.
SLAM: Obviously the levels of play are different, do you have to adjust to that mentally when you’re watching as well?
GA: To watch the two games is just so vastly different in a lot of ways. I remember when I started doing college a couple of years ago, It was a huge transition for me because I had been involved in the NBA for so long — playing for 12 years and broadcasting for 6 — you think that the game is played like that at every level but the reality is that it’s not. So there definitely was an adjustment but it’s been a wonderful one.