Basketball is a sport embraced by all walks of life. The Western Conference finals proved that the Warriors and Thunder were must-see TV, as the masses around the world tuned in.
— AJ Ross (@AJRossABC7) May 28, 2016
She took a moment to talk about her love for the game, the origin of the video, and her NBA Finals prediction.
SLAM: Talk about your sports journey.
AJ Ross: I started playing basketball and a variety of other sports when I was 5 years old at the Boys & Girls Club. Pretty much anything the club offered from soccer, softball, swimming, track, even hockey—I asked my parents to sign me up. But it wasn’t until middle school ball became life for me. At the time, my parents transferred me from public school to Catholic school, and the only place I felt like I really fit in and made friends at first was on the basketball court. I had a great coach in middle school who drilled not only the fundamentals of the game into all of us but made us study plays. A lot of which he mimicked from Rick Pitino when he was coaching at Kentucky. In high school, I played for the best team in Pittsburgh, the Oakland Catholic Eagles, and we won three WPIAL titles in a row and won states my senior year. After high school I was burnt out from basketball and accepted a full academic scholarship to Howard University. Then I started to miss the game and walked onto the Howard women’s team my sophomore year. That same year my dad got diagnosed with cancer so I stopped playing so I could go home and support him. When my dad got better I played with the guys in the Howard intramural league. Since college I’ve just played pick up here and there.
SLAM: Explain the role basketball has played in your life.
AJR: From an early age, basketball taught me discipline, sacrifice and teamwork. But as my love for the game grew deeper over the years it also revealed things about myself I didn’t know I was capable of. How to deal with pressure and adversity, how to step up as a point guard and be a leader on the floor, and last but not least, how to persevere. Basketball has always been that one constant outlet where I could zone out and forget about stress in other areas of my life and just have fun.
SLAM: Where did the idea to do the video come from?
AJR: I talk a lot of trash… A LOT… but usually I can back it up. The other day at work I found a ball in the news truck and the photographer I was with (Justin Gunn) was skeptical about my skills. I told him when we pulled over I would prove him wrong and I hopped out and just started goofing around. He was impressed and recorded me playing around with Fat Joe and Remy Ma blasting from the truck speakers at Brooklyn Bridge Park. I’m sure anyone who walked by during all this was thinking news people don’t do any work. That’s definitely not the case, we work hard constantly usually covering some pretty depressing stories, so we have to cherish the moments in the day where we can find some joy and laughter.
SLAM: You definitely have game. the crossover and hesitation dribble. What did your hoop dreams consist of?
AJR: To be honest I never dreamed of playing professionally. I loved basketball, and still do, but always felt my calling or purpose was something bigger. I’m still trying to figure those dreams out but I think God has blessed me with a variety of talents.
SLAM: What position do you play?
AJR: Point guard, rocking No. 3 of course.
SLAM: Favorite team(s)?
AJR: I grew up watching Jordan so of course I was a Bulls fan in the ’90s. Later I became a huge Allen Iverson fan, so anywhere he went my loyalties followed. Now I don’t really have a team… but I can’t deny I love watching the Warriors.
SLAM: NBA Finals prediction?
AJR: Epic rematch of last year’s Finals, but with the Cavs healthier it’s going to go 7. I think the Warriors take it in 7.
You can't really defend perimeter assassins like Curry & Thompson. Both shots were challenged & both made them effortlessly #NBAFinals
— AJ Ross (@AJRossABC7) June 3, 2016
SLAM: All-time favorite basketball film?
AJR: Love & Basketball. “Double or nothing.”