Q+A: Pete Rock
Talking Knicks with the legendary hip-hop producer.
by Audley Stephenson / @TheAudman
If you didn’t already know, DJ Pete Rock is one of the biggest New York Knick fans out there. On game day, his Instagram account tells the full story where he can usually be found draped in blue and orange in support of his beloved Knickerbockers urging Knicks Nation to unite. While his calling card is tied to the production of hip-hop classics, his other passion puts him right next to Spike Lee as a diehard follower of a team he grew up watching as a kid. SLAMonline had the opportunity to catch up with Pete to chat about his devotion to the Knicks, and his excitement for the team radiated loud and clear.
So without further ado, “Let’s Get Wreck With The Creator”:
SLAM: You definitely don’t hide the fact that you’re a big New York Knicks fan. Describe where/when your love for the Knicks got started.
Pete Rock: It probably started when Bernard King became a New York Knick. I was very little then but I loved the fact that every time he shot the ball, it went in the basket. I became a quick fan of the Knicks right then and there.
SLAM: He’s had a lot of big moments in his career—is there one that stands out in your mind?
PR: Him acquiring the scoring title like Melo has done in this day and time. Plus him taking some tough shots over people. Those are some of the things that stand out in my mind when I think of Bernard King and the Knicks.
SLAM: Have you ever met him?
SLAM: How big of a thrill would it be if you did? What would you say to him?
PR: Man, it would be crazy if we ever met! I would simply tell him thanks for the great memories that made me proud to be a Knicks fan.
SLAM: How close are you to Spike Lee when it comes to being a fan of the Knicks?
PR: I’m probably number two [laughs]. He’s definitely No. 1! Without question, Spike Lee is a great supporter of the New York Knicks regardless of him being from Brooklyn and them having the Nets, he’s still a Knicks fan and that’s what I admire about him. Not only his movies but him as a Knicks fan and how he supports the team.
SLAM: Do you remember the last time you missed a Knicks game?
PR: No I don’t [laughs]. I’m sure I’ve missed a game or two over the years but I can’t remember.
SLAM: Your favorite Knick rivalry of the 90s? Pacers-Knicks or Knicks-Heat?
PR: I’d have to say the Pacers-Knicks. There are a lot of memorable moments in Knicks basketball. Look, everybody remembers the dunk John Starks had against the Bulls when he dunked on Michael Jordan but as far as rivalries goes, it has to be Reggie Miller and the Pacers.
SLAM: Do you remember where you were when John Starks threw that dunk down?
PR: Yeah, I was at the game three rows from courtside. The big roar almost bust my ear drums open when he did that [laughs].
SLAM: How do you think guys like Mason and Oakley would fare in today’s NBA?
PR: Mason and Oakley brought toughness to the Knicks, they didn’t take no mess from nobody. I have to say that we have that and some but we just need to turn it on down low. Tyson Chandler is a great defensive player, I think Amar’e Stoudemire, when he’s good and healthy, is a great defender and he’s a big body. K-Mart as well, acquiring him this year helped our team a lot and brought us out of the first round into the second round against the Pacers. I feel we came a long way by winning the Atlantic Division and Melo winning the scoring title, and next year we’ll come back even stronger.
SLAM: I remember speaking with you earlier in the season and you thought the Knicks would advance further in the Playoffs than they did last season. Is this about where you saw them ending up?
PR: Not really…I thought they would move past the Pacers but I have to give it up to Indiana, they’re a great team that’s great at the defensive end and they’ve just awakened that rivalry with the Knicks. They’re a tough team and we just have to be tougher.
SLAM: You mentioned Melo—he did get one first place MVP vote. What does he need to do to bring his game to the next level?
PR: Stay healthy! He’s on the right track. Stay healthy, pass the ball around—move that ball. Even play as a decoy in the game, I think he’s a great player overall. He’s a great shooter and great defensive guy. I think Melo’s game is right where it needs to be. Just needs to stay healthy.
SLAM: Melo gets criticized for putting up too many shots. Is this fair?
PR: He gets criticized because he’s the actual star of the Knicks. He’s the leader so they’ll look to him and he’s gonna take the brunt of everything. As far as him taking too many shots, it’s the team that encourages him to do so but I feel like that he wouldn’t take as many shots if his teammates didn’t edge him on to do so. Having said that, you do win games by playing together as a team so I’d like to see him take shots and pass the ball around and make everyone better around him.
SLAM: You mentioned using Melo as a decoy. He’s such an offensive talent that he has to take those shots as a way of getting others involved in the game.
PR: Yes of course, it gives them a sense of confidence that they can win a game by playing together and playing strong D. Knicks are a great defensive team and the already have great offensive shooters so if we just apply that to defense, I think we’ll go all the way to the finals next year.
SLAM: Speaking of shooters, a lot of people point fingers and criticize JR Smith, he was the Sixth Man of the Year but was absent during the series with the Pacers. Do you think that’s fair?
PR: Yeah, sort of, maybe…He hasn’t been the same after the Boston series. After he got ejected because of the Jason Terry shenanigans, he hadn’t been the same. It happens to not only to him but every player. He’s not the only one to struggle. For people to single him out, I get it, but he’s only human and people get their groove back so I’m not worried about JR Smith. He’ll be alright.
SLAM: From a rebounding standpoint, that was a struggle for the Knicks as well.
SLAM: Being an Incredible Hulk fan, I’m sure you’d love him to come down and use that inner rage to grab some boards?
PR: [Laughs] Of course! Smash those boards! We have enough big men that can have that Hulk mentality and get rebounds. Amar’e Stoudemire, Chandler and K-Mart…We can snatch those rebounds and when we do that, our game gets much much better, our confidence builds and we win.
SLAM: It’s been reported that Chris Paul has expressed an interest in joining the Knicks. Imagine him on this roster…
PR: Don’t even play with my emotions like that! He’s one of the best today! You already know what it would be if CP3 was on the New York Knicks. We had our chance to get him and acquire him and I wish we did but if that day ever comes, I hope the Knicks organization pulls the trigger on him and gets him on that team. That would be great.
SLAM: You’d have to get some season seats next to Spike and be there for every game in that case.
PR: Yeah man. If he ever comes to the Knicks, boy, oh boy!
SLAM: I know you’ve been a guest DJ at MSG a few times this past season—describe what it’s like being there as a fan.
PR: Man, it’s my honor and pleasure to be on such a big stage because that’s Madison Square Garden of all places. To me, that’s one of the biggest helms of sports in New York. It was a great feeling to see your name in the middle of the court and then they show you DJing on camera. I had a ball and I felt so honored to be a part of that.
SLAM: Who’s the coolest celebrity you had a chance to see down there?
PR: Ahh man, I mean everybody. You know, I’m a New York Giants fan as well so I got to see the Giants walk right past me when I’m DJing and Spike Lee, Katie Couric and John Leguizamo. All these great people I watch on TV and movies and stuff.
SLAM: I appreciate you taking the time, and I know you’re excited about the team moving forward and the foundation they’ve built for themselves.
PR: Yeah definitely and I can’t wait until next year. I had to deal with a lot of Knick haters but that’s just part of the game [laughs].
SLAM: No doubt, your Twitter and Instagram feed tells the whole story.
PR: Oh yeah, you see me going crazy about the New York Knicks. I always have my Knicks hat on or some orange and blue sneakers. I bleed orange and blue baby!