Q+A: Muggsy Bogues


Photos: Jeremy Igo

Muggsy Bogues has always garnered more attention due to his height rather than his game, when in reality, it should have always been the other way around. Bogues played an integral part to the Charlotte Hornets success and held a solid team that included Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson together. To show respect for an under-appreciated player, our friends over at K1X are paying homage to the point guard’s career by collaborating with him on a series of tees and shorts that feature Bogues exclusively. Check out their Q+A with the point guard below.

by Christian Trojan

K1X: You are now coaching a high school team at United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, NC), you have coached in the WNBA and you obviously know a thing or two about the men‘s pro game as well. What players do you enjoy coaching the most?

Muggsy Bogues: I don‘t really try to search for a specific type of player. But it‘s always easy to coach talent. Once you have that, you can give them more input and try to propel their career. I just love the game, love teaching. It doesn‘t matter what type of player he or she is. I just love to pass on the information that I have about the game.

I wasn‘t fortunate enough to have people like myself around me when I was growing up. That‘s why I try to provide that to young kids today. Try to challenge these kids. Attitude-wise, it doesn‘t matter. As long as they understand one thing and that is that it‘s all about team. That‘s the beauty of it. Seeing a kid going from one place to another place, that‘s a treat for me.

K1X: You were part of the NBA in what many might consider the golden era of basketball: The ’90s. What is your take on the whole Dream Team vs. Team USA 2012 debate?

MB: Oh man (laughs). There‘s just no comparison. Kobe, to his credit, is a competitor. What else is he going to say? But the Dream Team had eleven Hall of Famers on its roster. It‘s the most amazing team ever assembled. There will never be anything like it again. I recall how we went over in ’86 and competed in the World Championship. And in ’88, it was the last time that college players competed in the Olympics and it didn‘t turn out too well. So I guess that‘s when they decided to send the pros and it turned out to be a special, special team with the Birds, the Magics, the Jordans, the Ewings … That was an amazing team.

K1XLike you mentioned earlier, you represented the USA as a college athlete, an idea that has been tossed around again lately. Do you think that USA Basketball should go back to players under the age of 23?

MB: No, I think that we should send the best players available to represent our country. I prefer to continue the way it is at the moment. And I think that we might fare well with collegiate players going over there but with so many players going to the NBA early, the NCAA talent pool is not as deep as it used to be. It‘s professionals they are competing against so I think it‘s fair to send the NBA players.

K1XWe found this great quote from Garry St. Jean, the Sacramento Kings coach in the ’90s, on your legendary Hornets team with Zo and LJ: “They’ve got the two horses, but Muggsy drives the wagon. He feeds ’em the oats.” Did you feel like it was that way back in the day?

MB: I felt like I was always the leader on the floor. And my teammates knew and respected that. And I tell you, that‘s the way I had to play. I had to understand what it took for our team to win at all times. That‘s what my position called for. And if you want your guys to trust you, you have to display that attitude in a certain way. But we all made it easier for one another. We were all driving that wagon, so to speak.

K1XSpeaking of the Hornets, do you feel more connected with the franchise or the city of Charlotte?

MB: Along with Dell [Curry], I might be the one who played the longest with the team. I played here for nine years and I still live in the community. Even though I played for other teams I always had my home here. Everywhere I went, it was always Zo, Larry and Muggsy who stood for the Hornets.

K1XLately there have been a lot of speculations that the Bobcats might change their name and that the New Orleans franchise might give up the name Hornets. Would you appreciate if the Hornets returned to Charlotte? Let‘s be real here, teal and purple suit you a lot better than orange.

MB: (Laughs) That was a really special color. Not only in the community but in the entire region. I think the Bobcats are fighting a ghost because we did so many special things when we were here. I just don‘t think that they have that appeal right now that the Hornets used to have. But I think winning changes everything. If they start winning a lot of people will jump on that bandwagon.

But if they don‘t want the name Hornets down in New Orleans I certainly wouldn‘t mind the Hornets coming back to Charlotte. It would bring that stamp back to where the team started. And I think winning a championship with the Hornets would be bigger in Charlotte than winning with the Bobcats.

K1XI read that you used to take a basketball literally everywhere you went as a kid. Is that true?

MB: Absolutely. It was my girlfriend for the longest. (laughs) It took it with me when I went to bed, I even took out the trash dribbling a basketball. Every work around the house that my mom made me do, I did with a basketball until I was 14 or 15 years old. So in a way I have to credit her for my ball handling skills (laughs).

K1XThis is the only height-related question, we promise. But you spent time on the same team with Manute Bol in Washington. Do you think it was basketball related or was it more of a marketing move?

MB: No I think it was more of a marketing tool for the Bullets. At first, I didn‘t see it that way. I was just so happy to be drafted, playing back in your hometown. But after a while it felt like a marketing move. The tall and the short of it. I‘m sure they thought they could use it to their advantage, sell some tickets with it.

But Manute and I never bought into it. We played the game for what it is and approached the game for what it was.

K1XThe last question has to do with our man Charles Oakley, whom you played with on the Raptors. We heard this story about Oak taking his teammates to his mom‘s for southern food on road trips. Is that true?

MB: That is so true. Besides Larry, Alonzo and Dell, he is the best teammate I ever played with.  True teammate. He got your back at all times. He goes to war for you. And he got the warmest heart. That‘s why he‘s able to extend his mother‘s house out to his teammates and invite us all to have some great food. Great food. I tell you, you can‘t beat it.