Athletes, Celebrities Talk NBA
Basketball and football players discuss hoops at Justin Tuck’s billiards tourney.
Ray Rice, running back, Baltimore Ravens
SLAM: You watching the NBA Finals?
Ray Rice: Yeah, I’m watching. I’m definitely watching.
SLAM: Who’s your team?
RR: You know what…right now, I think it’d be a good story if the Heat won it all.
SLAM: Who’s your favorite player in the NBA?
RR: I got so many different guys. LeBron is one of my guys. I am part of Take A Sheet, LeBron’s company. We got a chance to do some deals together; Amar’e Stoudemire is one of my guys. I’m just a fan of sports.
SLAM: Take A Sheet is interesting because a lot of guys look to stay fueled throughout a game.
RR: Oh yeah, I’ve been using it…we get product beforehand so I be using it, especially before team workouts. It gives you that extra boost before workouts.
SLAM: You don’t have that extra Gatorade in your stomach.
RR: Nah, it doesn’t make you bloated, none of that stuff.
SLAM: I’ve heard some NFL teams use coconut water for hydration.
RR: I use coconut water, as well.
SLAM: How many NBA games you go to per year?
RR: I watch as many as you can; I haven’t been to any playoff games. It’s actually better for me to watch it at home, less crowded, less distractions.
SLAM: You have any thoughts on Shaq retiring?
RR: A great legacy; he really had a great career.
SLAM: You meet him?
RR: I’ve met him before. But just the legacy he’s gonna leave; he’s just a strong player. He defines the big men in the league.
SLAM: What have you been up to these days?
Cliff Robinson: You know, actually, I’m keeping myself busy. I’ve actually been trying to get back into coaching.
SLAM: At what level?
CR: College or professional.
SLAM: What’s the process you need to go through to make that happen?
CR: I volunteered for the Nets a year ago; I volunteered for a few things. NBDL tryouts. Just staying in contact with a lot people who I’ve known who are in the position to make decisions like that.
SLAM: What coaches would you draw from to develop your identity?
CR: I would try to take a little bit from all of them. Throughout my career, Adelman was a great coach. Danny Ainge, I thought, was a very good coach, in Phoenix. Rick Carlisle in Detroit was a very good coach.
SLAM: Was there one who helped you more than any other?
CR: You know, I think Rick [Adelman] had more influence out of all of them. I came in on a veteran team with Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Buck Williams, a lot of veteran guys and he actually gave me an opportunity to get out there and make some mistakes. He gave me a chance to mold how I was going to become a professional.
SLAM: Are you watching the Finals?
CR: Oh yeah.
SLAM: What do you think of the series?
CR: I think it’s going to be a tough series. Both teams have a lot of talent. Dirk has been playing tremendous, but Miami is really playing at a high level defensively. LeBron, Wade, if they can continue to make plays like they did [in Game 1] then it’s going to be tough for Dallas to beat them.
SLAM: When you came into the league it was accepted that every team had to get their bumps and bruises in the playoffs for a few years before breaking through to a title. Now, it’s different. Boston won a title in its first year together. Now Miami is in the Finals in their first year together.
CR: I think what those guys have done individually – Wade, he’s been there and won one before. LeBron has been there and lost. But he’s had the growing pains in Cleveland. Bosh, who played at such a high level in Toronto and never really had a chance to get over the hump…you bring that together, that’s a lot of guys determined to get some points fairly quickly.
SLAM: You have some Shaq stories? I know you have a couple playing all those years against him.
CR: [Smiles] Yeah, I stepped on that big-ass foot all those years. [Laughs] I twisted my ankle on that big-ass foot. No, you know what, Shaq was a tremendous player, always funny.
SLAM: He wasn’t funny on the court right? He was a beast.
CR: Oh, he was always a beast on the court. I enjoyed playing against him. He was a class act. I do remember one time he caught me in ’02…me and Ben Wallace was hacking him pretty good. He thought we were just flopping and hacking and he got determined one time and I think he carried both of us to the basket for an and-one dunk. It was pretty hilarious.