Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 at 11:13 am  |  5 responses

Bass Country

Louisiana product Brandon Bass reflects on a childhood that gained some much-needed structure from hoops.

Humble, hard-working Louisiana product Brandon Bass reflects on a childhood that gained some much-needed structure from basketball.

by Adam Figman | @afigman

SLAM: Tell us a little about your hometown.

Brandon Bass: Growing up, I had three phases. From 1-9, I was living in this little town called Erwinville right outside of Baton Rouge, LA. And my mom passed when I was 9, so I moved to New Roads, LA, for one year, and then after that year I moved into the city of Baton Rouge, and moved in with my aunt.

SLAM: When did you get into hoops?

BB: As young as I could remember, my mom watched all the Chicago Bulls games, because we had the WGN channel. That’s when I really got involved with basketball. I got one of my neighbors to put this wood backboard and rim on the telephone pole in my yard, and I been shooting and working on my game as far back as I can remember, when I was like 5 or 6. I was able to shoot on a big goal once it was up, but I always had little goals in the house that I always managed to tear down, and I got in trouble for that lots of times [laughs].

SLAM: When did you get involved in an official league?

BB: When I was 10, I played in this 11-and-under team in New Roads. I played on it for a couple months, then I moved to Baton Rouge, where I started playing at parks with the older guys.

SLAM: Were there any specific spots where you spent lots of time balling or hanging as a kid?

BB: The Sports Academy. That was the gym back home where one of the coaches picked me up and asked me to be on his AAU team. I used to ride my bike or walk to the gym to play or get shots up and do different drills.

SLAM: How important was AAU ball in helping you realize you could really compete?

BB: I’d seen LeBron was on the cover of Sports Illustrated when I was in 9th or 10th grade, and one of the guys who I trained with showed me that he was the No. 1 player in the country and was going to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. I asked him what it would take for me to play in the McDonalds All-American Game, and he was telling me to play AAU and play the guys that are ranked already and beat them out of their spots. So I said, What do I need to do? He said, “You gotta be in the gym everyday.” From that day forward, I think I was 14, 15 years old, I’ve been in the gym since.

SLAM: You were pretty highly recruited in high school. Why’d you go with LSU?

BB: The reason I went with LSU was I wanted to be home—I was just comfortable there. I felt like with my putting God first and working as hard as I possibly can, I could make it to the NBA from anywhere.

SLAM: When did you realize you could actually make the NBA?

BB: Probably around 16, [when] I was starting to get ranked. People were saying I could possibly be an All-American, and then when I became one, that’s when it stuck in my head that I could possibly play in the NBA one day if I continued to work.

SLAM: You spoke about watching the Bulls—if you could only watch one guy while you were growing up, was it always Michael Jordan?

BB: Yeah, it was Jordan all day. To be honest with you, I didn’t even know other  players existed. It was always the Bulls. I don’t even remember nobody else but the Bulls and Jordan.

SLAM: Do you remember the first pair of basketball sneakers you owned?

BB: The first basketball sneakers I can remember were Patrick Ewings. When I was young, my mom couldn’t afford Jordans for me because my foot was so big. I remember my brother—he was a baby and I was probably 7 or 8—had little feet and he got these Jordans, I forgot what number, but I was so mad because I wanted them, too. She was like, they’re too much for your feet [laughs]!

SLAM: Do you get to give back charity-wise at all?

BB: Since I got to the NBA, it’s been a goal of mine to reach back to underprivileged kids in my neighborhood and my surrounding ones. I have a Brandon Bass Reach Back Day where I give away food supplies, book bags, have a cookout. That one day shows youths in my area that you can achieve your goals, because I was once y’all, and now I’m on TV and in the NBA, and you can do the same, versus being someone that you see every day on the corner like I saw when I was growing up.

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  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    I expected so much more of him when he got the starting role for Orlando.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    This was a great interview. Solid dude.

  • Courtney Hurst

    The little league he’s talking about that got him started was Rosenwald Youth Basketball League in New Roads, LA. The league is no longer established, but we all played in it. It was something that the youth could do to stay out of trouble within the community. Brandon is a great person and his interview was great.

  • Damarius

    The Sports Academy gym he speaks of in Baton Rouge is the gym in the city where anyone whom wanted to or could hoop came through there from Keith Smart, Shaq, stromile, big baby, and a ton and I mean a ton of some of the finest ballets out the south. If u really want a story this gym is it. Ran by the late Lester Roberts.

  • http://smartgilas.com.ph deezndhaus

    i really thought this guy could have been a cross betwwen Chuck and Mcdyess even when he was in dallas. but I think he’s not that kind of an athlete. how long has he been in the league? great person though as far as the interview goes.