by Drey Wingate / @ProStatus85
Former Boston College legend and NBA player Troy Bell has come a long way since his childhood dreams growing up in Minnesota. His time in the NBA may have been cut short, but his career as a professional basketball player is one of longevity. We caught up with Bell to talk about his time in the NBA and abroad, his R&B hobby and more.
SLAM: It’s been a while since you were last seen in the League—how has your career overseas been over these last few years?
Troy Bell: My pro career has been a mirror of my life. Many ups and downs, but never any time or reason to complain. I’ve worked through injuries, adjusted to difficult situations and hopefully inspired and excited fans along the way. I feel very blessed to have done, seen, and experienced so much in a short period of time. Overall it’s been great! An eye-opening and view-changing experience.
SLAM: You had a great college career that ended with you becoming Boston College’s all-time leading scorer. Did you ever have any doubt about how you would perform once you got into NBA?
TB: The NBA was never my ultimate goal. I knew all about the statistics of players that actually make it there. So as a kid my goal was only to earn a scholarship. My dad told me when I was about 9 that if I didn’t have college plans he would kick me out at 18 (laughs)…So I was on the clock early. It wasn’t until after I won my first Big East Player of the Year award that I started thinking about the NBA. Then I stayed my last two years because after playing on the college USA team I realized that the NBA would be a complete hit or miss as far as peace of mind and enjoyment went. Outside of financial reasons, of course. And I thought it better to honor my commitment to Al Skinner and BC for believing me, then take on the world with a clean slate and all my responsibilities fulfilled. I play with heart first and everything else second. I took pride in putting on my BC jersey and playing for my teammates, coaches, fans, the city of Boston, and anyone else who cared at that time. It’s always been difficult for me to do anything if my heart wasn’t in it. On the right team, the NBA could be one of the best experiences of one’s life. But in the wrong situation, much like a bad relationship, it also could be one of the most frustrating and difficult situations as well. Much like what I experienced (laughs). But still I’m thankful for that opportunity.
SLAM: How did the transition of being traded twice and waived early in your professional career affect your confidence?
TB: It didn’t bother me much. When you’re injured, being an athlete is tough job. You can’t lose faith simply because you’re hurt. You find out who you really are in difficult moments. I’ve always known who I am: A person who never quits or makes excuses. It wasn’t a fun period from a career standpoint, but I learned a lot during that time. Almost everyone I know would’ve quit trying years ago if they had to take my path (laughs). That’s the best part of it all for me. The story is in the struggle.
SLAM: You were a first round pick in the 2003 Draft, known mostly as the draft that included LeBron, Melo and DWade. How did you feel to be one of the higher picks in such a prestigious draft?
TB: Back then I didn’t think about it. But looking back now it’s cool to say I was there. More than anything I’m happy that at least I made it to the pros before I encountered a terrible injury or a bad playing situation. Many times in life timing is more important than talent. A little luck never hurts either.
SLAM: After all this time, do you feel like you belong back in the League?
TB: I believe that people are in their situations for a reason. My grandmother always said to ask God for what you want and not what you deserve. It’s not for us to determine what we are entitled to. So do I have the ability? Yes. But I’m perfectly fine with where I am in my life and career.
SLAM: In your opinion, how much do you think the game has changed since you been out of the league?
TB: I think the game is evolving. But I don’t think that its very different.
SLAM: Who do see as the top point guards in the League?
TB: For what I believe a pg to be, which is someone who can control the tempo of the game for their team, get the right people involved, and take over when needed, the best pgs this year to me are CP3, Rondo, Parker, Rose and Westbrook.
SLAM: As the Playoffs get closer, who do you see as the favorites for the NBA championship?
TB: If I was to bet, I’d put my money on the Thunder or the Heat to win it. Kobe’s a beast when it matters though and I never count him out. The Spurs are experienced with good chemistry so it will be interesting this year.
Other than basketball, Bell is making his mark in another profession, the world of R&B…
SLAM: How long have you been singing?
TB: I used to sing when I was young, but never saw myself recording. I’ve been recording seriously since ’08.
SLAM: Who inspired you?
TB: All the R&B and pop greats. i believe that everything we experience or encounter effects us in one way or another. I listen to many different genres of music.
SLAM: Once you’re done with the hardwood, is singing going to be a full-time thing for you?
TB: I would like to always be involved with basketball and music. I think that people should always make it a point to do the things that bring them happiness and fulfillment. Otherwise what’s the point (laughs).
SLAM: Do you have plans on getting back into the League, or are you content with where you are in your career now?
TB: I turned 31 this year. At this point you just take it a day at time and work hard everyday. Every year the competition pool gets deeper with all the young college guys coming out. I focus on my goals and that’s it. I don’t know anyone that out works me individually and I feel better at 31 physically than I did at 21, so that’s good. I Benched 330 lbs this year and did some other impressive things for guy that only weights 186 lbs that’s not gearing up for the NFL combine (laughs). So overall I’m happy with where I am on and off the court.
SLAM: Do you have any regrets about how your time in the NBA went?
TB: I would’ve loved to get NBA minutes and more of an opportunity when I was healthy. I played 34 minutes in seven different games and had 11 total points. If you call that a chance, then so be it. But life goes on. I’m sure that if I could go back I would do a few things different, but all in all I have been very blessed. I’ve had the chance to meet many good people and experience many great things along the way.
SLAM: In one word, how do you want to be remembered when you decide to move on from basketball?
TB: I’d say “relentless,” because there was always so much going on behind the scenes that almost nobody knew about. When I see a successful person, I see handwork. Almost nothing comes easy in this world and I understood that early in life when my dad had me dribbling in the basement around old furniture with two balls in the dark. I’ve been grinding in one way or another since day one.