Welcome Thio power forward this week.
I got one of my former brothers were my former Syracuse players.
He's still my brothers now, the former brothers, my current brother and will always be my brother.
Um, my Manny time Thomas.
I don't want to say anytime.
We just had that discussion.
Everyone, at least that makes that mistake upon you.
Eat time is actually a time Thomas, but let's get into a little bit of my man a time.
Tomas's career at Syracuse Most improved player while at Syracuse, and he's the first player in Syracuse history.
When defensive player of the year.
And they said, You know what? It felt so good, my junior.
I'm gonna do it again. My senior.
He won defensive player again, Uh, defensive player of the year again.
His senior year names the 12th overall pick in the 2000 drive 11 year NBA career.
But honestly, any time just like yourself, um, you know, just like myself.
I'm trying to do even mawr and better things often for, and I think you definitely accomplished that.
You're someone I definitely look upto in terms of the things you've done off the court.
I know LeBron gets a lot of credit for this more than an athlete thing.
But if I'm not mistaken, you wrote.
You've written four books, but one of your books was called more than an athlete way before this became just popular phrase.
So let's speak on that whole thing like, you know, your your Syracuse time writing your books your more than an athlete.
Now you see, LeBron, I don't know if they've ever been giving you credit for props for it or whatever, But I mean, can you speak in that? Because it is only right that my my Syracuse brother, with all that we've gone through, you know, the Syracuse brothers in the in terms of boycotting the games back in the day, Jim Brown being one the first African American prominence stars on on the campus at Syracuse, and the reason why water number 44 was because 44 people donated for him to go to Syracuse and make up for the lack whatever the scholarship is lacking.
So let's talk about that because it seems like is on Lee, befitting that you are a Syracuse player with your background and the way you are today.
And then we're gonna also later on in this interview touch on the whole Oklahoma toasting.
And then you have not that you and I have spoken about before, so I know that's a long intro, ladies and gentlemen.
But my man deserves it.
And now the floor is yours.
A time. Please speak.
I appreciate it, man.
You know, it was you said you look up to me for stuff.
I mean, I was like, Man, I remember being a continuing Tulsa, you know, watching you all the final four.
And I'm talking big noise because I had already committed.
I had already signed by then and I'm watching.
I remember in the cafeteria talking noise the whole way.
Houston, the house.
I'm sitting there rocking.
I'm like, No way.
I'm saying, Hey, we ain't going to class this period.
We're gonna keep what we're gonna keep because, you know, tournaments on during the day, You know what I mean? I was like, No, I have to get an excused absence for this one.
They're playing right? So teachers was like, Okay, that's cool.
Just get your work done and make sure you know what, but No, it's it's been a blessing.
I mean, it's it's interesting when you talk about the more than athlete Parker's people ask me that a lot.
And when they do the math, they're like, Wait a minute.
Your first book was called more than athlete way before it waas, and that was actually I got that idea from an article that was written about me in Tulsa when I was doing, I was doing speech and debate when I was in Tulsa and I was writing speeches and talking about racism and police brutality and stuff like that and the title of the article.
Waas more than athlete.
So that's what gave me the idea.
That was what I was in Tulsa.
But But, yeah, there's there's, you know, there's a long tradition of athlete activists and I'm S o, you know, proud of how LeBron is using his platform and and what he's doing and just the entire culture right now.
Athletes using their voice, you know, I think it's just a beautiful time because, you know, for a while, like in the nineties, it was kind of quiet for a little bit, you know, one, nobody really saying That's what we want to stop that time Because you did it when it wasn't popular to do.
And you you still went against the grain.
Basic? Yeah, that's true.
And, you know, it was definitely one popular and one of things that I always got.
I got a lot of support at Syracuse from the coaching staff, to be honest with you because they remember the first day off of school.
I was part of this, um, was part of this big demonstration on campus because there was there was protesting the DPS being able to use pepper spray, right, Because the thought was they was gonna pepper spray the mess at all the black and brown people every time something happened.
So there's a big demonstration, right? So me, uh, and and rolling Rolling Williams football player Big Bill cat, right? Yeah.
So we're at the protest, right? We're seeing we're standing there, and, um, they took a picture.
And the way the picture looked, it looked like we was leading the protest because we was all big in front of it, and everybody was else around.
They had a sister with the microphone.
Everything like that.
right, and then boom, that was on the cover of the daily Orange.
So so daily orange ain't even gotten past the first weekend of school yet.
So So Coach Boeheim brought me in his office and, you know, actually, I was I was walking by and he said, Come here for a second.
I was like, I was going on coach And then we started having a conversation and he was talking about how you know, he was like, so you you do a lot of his like I read about your speech and debate and read, you know, one of your speeches and all of that he said.
So I'm supportive of it.
He told me this piece of advice that was really one of the best pieces of advice is that I've ever received.
He said, Um, when you speak on something, be prepared for the backlash and be able to defend your position, he said.
But he was like, but other than that, just just be educated.
Know what you're talking about, everything like that.
But just be prepared to defend your position, and I was like, Okay, that's what's up and I didn't really understand what he was saying until later.
Tell them tell until I got the backlash and then I really like Oh, okay, that's what comes back I was talking about because, you know, some people they don't like when you you have a opinion that's different than theirs.
They love it when you block of shots.
You know what I mean? Uh, Duncan winning games, stuff like that, and say, Wait a minute.
He's talking about racism and Bruce brutality.
What was this? You know what I mean? And then the opinions could kind of shift a little bit.
So but But I got, you know, for the most part, I got a lot of love, and Syracuse people respected my positions even if they disagreed with me.
I got that a lot, you know, received that from people.
So you know, and that's how you got to be able to have dialogue and open yourself to different perspectives.
Um, somebody, somebody that has an experience that differs from yours, and that's that's That's where, you know, we just grow as a society, and I think it's only natural is probably in eight, inherently from being on Oklahoma and Tulsa.
And what happened in the early 19 hundreds out there? And I think that set set the course for, like, you know, I've met other people from Oklahoma, John Starks or so and kind of have that same mentality.
And I think from coming out there and maybe you could touching a little bit more because I don't know a lot about it.
I just know what I read.
I'm not from Oklahoma side.
You've got probably some, you know, real real background, some real stories.
And, you know, the real would happen out there.
And for those of you don't know much about it. I know.
I think Russell Westbrook's working on a do***entary that's supposed to be coming out next year about the Black Wall Street Post. Oklahoma.
Think so? Can you touch on that a little bit of time, please? I mean, it's crazy because everybody from Tosa grew up with that education.
Like I group e literally just found this out like a couple of years ago, a time like I'm very no, no, no, But it's not just you know, I mean, I remember when I first when I first went to Syracuse.
I'm in economics class and we're talking about a big lecture hall and the teacher referenced it.
And honestly, me and two other people were the only people in the whole lecture hall that have even heard of the total race.
Right and the total massacre Black Wall Street.
And this is a bit, you know, our lecture halls.
It's 250 people, right? And so 11 personal to Oklahoma and one person was from Texas, and we're the only ones that knew about it.
But that's literally that's it so, so really, honestly, Where? Black Wall Street Waas.
I passed every day on my way to school like my mom lived like 10 minutes from where Black Wall Street Waas.
And it was basically in the 19 twenties.
Um, like all of the black residents in Tulsa, they formed their own community.
That's basically what it waas, and they didn't have to go across the railroad tracks, which was, you know, the segregation.
So you gotta go back to the twenties.
They didn't have to go across the railroad tracks for anything.
They had everything of their own.
Whatever you could think of banks movie theaters, car dealership where Everything that they wanted.
Um, they even had you know what I mean? Uh, airport like they had literally everything.
And so there was jealousy and, you know, it was burnt to the ground.
That's basically what happened.
And it was such a concerted effort.
The police helicopters, that drop bombs, everything.
It was, like orchestrated.
You know what I mean? Like a literally attack on American soil and eso We grew up with that with that history, but outside of Oklahoma is just recently, you know, coming thio tuition to what everybody else, you know, that's just that's just what it is.
But you have growing up with that.
Um, we just received a different level of education.
I mean, even we even received a different level of education when it comes to Native Americans because, you know, in Oklahoma, Oklahoma was, you know, so called Indian territory.
So we had ah, whole different level of education on that aspect for the time we were young.
So I remember coming back and coming to D.
C play with wizards and hearing the name the Redskins.
I was like, Oh, wow, that's a That's a terrible now you can call it that.
And and there's this big compensation about it.
And I was like, Wait, yeah, I don't know why you can't call it that.
You don't know why.
That's like people were really like, Well, it's not offensive to me.
I'm like, Man, it ain't about what's offensive to you.
You're not Native American, you know? I mean, but just without having that context of the historical background of what actually happens, you know, people don't know.
But that's why education is so important and the right kind of education.
A lot of times, people say, you know, education is important.
But if you're being educated the wrong way, you know what I mean.
You're being indoctrinated to think that, you know, this didn't happen.
This Onley your history happen.
You know you have to have the right kind of education.
You know what I mean? No doubt.
So let's talk about Syracuse a little bit right now.
Like you said, you're watching us in the tournament we lost in the championship game, but now you're coming in Your incoming freshman.
I'm leaving, I'm having I gotta get drafted in 1996.
You're coming in in 1996.
I wanna I wanna touch on.
Like, what was the vibe of you coming in with what was the expectation? And I was post like, how was it after I left? Like what? What was going on on that syrupy? I mean, it was alright.
So first of all, people don't remember Went for Walton, right? So one from number 44 he was the truth.
Like like people forget, you know, because he's part of my class that dude was about to blow up.
Like like in the rankings in that 96 high school class you would have, you would have like Kobe and you would have him.
That's where that's where it waas.
You know what I mean? And all the different rankings you have a mixture of like Tim Thomas.
He was usually ahead of Tim Thomas.
You know you have Leicester Earl.
People remember Lester Earl, different people sprinkled in, but it was really went for walking.
And, you know, he was Really it was about to be a special year.
And, you know, people look at like what Carmelo did the one year when he came to Syracuse, I mean, went for walking.
Could have done something like that to that level.
That's not even putting extra on the dude. Dude could play.
He was like, he was like a young John Wallace.
You know what I mean? Like, 69 could handle the rock.
Could take people off the dribble.
Could shoot. The three.
Could drive because score inside all this stuff he was like, you know, the thought was it was almost finding a replacement for John Wallace, even though he was just a freshman, You know what I mean? So so that didn't happen on, but whatever.
You know, I don't even understand all the stuff that didn't happen while he didn't end up playing.
Um, but that didn't happen.
So we was left with a different.
We still had a great class.
We had Jason Hart from L.
We had Romel Lloyd who was rocked.
He was number one player in New York.
You know what I'm saying? So we had we had stuff, but we had to all wait our turn because we had veterans ahead of us.
So we had oldest Hill I had this hill and I learned a lot like, Oh, this hill beat me up every day.
Oh, this hills who got me in the weight? One? Because I was a skinny cat before you know what I mean? We had left no weights in high school, and I was in high school, but he left.
No, wait, you know what I mean? We we just hoped that's what we did.
And so So I get thio Syracuse my freshman year.
Oh, this strong.
You know, it's strong, like bull.
You know what I mean? This is strong, and I'm like, I can't move this, Dude, I can't do nothing.
I'm getting frustrated.
But it was the best thing for me because it taught me what? How far I needed thio to to improve what I needed to work on.
And, you know, it was so so Rock Rock was playing behind Supola.
You know, suppose the Senate now J heart was in a different situation because Lazar is left with you, right? So Jay Hart got to play immediately.
Right? But if it wasn't for that, then he would have been waiting for with the rest of us you know what I mean? Because you know, Lazar's was gonna play, and so So it was a different.
It was like a transition year for us my freshman year.
And, you know, you know, and young guys watching this will understand.
And and that's why I always talk to young guys, you know, because I know the road that they have to take when they start off at Syracuse and they're not in that inner circle, you know what I mean? They're not in that rotation.
They're not in that That core group, they on the outside group now being on the outside is a lot different than being on the inside.
Now, you you came in hooping, so you don't know nothing about that, Jay.
Right? But for the cast, it didn't come in hooping when you're on the outside because they could be a little difficult.
I'll say it like that.
I'll just I'll just say it like that.
You know what really talk.
And so so you know, it took It was it was tough.
My freshman year.
I tell people all the time and the behind before Julie, his wife and a he's completely different he's a much nicer more or call guys.
The guy we had as a coach.
You know, man, he was a guy's head off sometime.
It's like two different people.
E a different thing.
Let's let's let's stay on that topic because, you know, post behind and you know, you're a big man like myself.
So I'm sure you work with Bernie. Fine.
E Bernie and Boeheim helped you and I on anchoring at 23 defense.
I know, you know.
Now you see the Miami he basically got to the finals, like playing a lot of zone.
And when we were coming out of colleges, looked at his, uh, to your detriment.
Own player, You can't play defense.
Obviously, you could play the your two times Defensive Player of the Year in a best content time.
So can you please something that, like, what did Bernie and Boeheim means to us? Syracuse and your development? And how was it? The anchor that 23 vaunted zone defense.
So, first of all the Bernie drills that we did, uh, but those drill e No, you didn't like him.
You know what I'm saying you was on that with the forwards, right? You won't even messing with him.
So you ain't part of this.
You ain't Bernie drips e I remember having a gloves on and be like Oh, man, right.
But I would be I will be honest with, you know, I coach my my son's AU team, and I use a lot of those Bernie drills in my big man like I had them eso with the gloves.
You put these like, construction gloves on and then you do rebounding drills, right? So you're rebounding the ball, throwing it with heavy ball and stuff like that.
And then when you get to the game, it's just easier to rebound because the gloves make them all slippery and the rebound is hard to grasp, so you've got to really secure it.
So when you get to the game and you secure the ball, you got it like it's you know, you used to doing the gloves so that that part is great and the heavy ball like pounding it off the rim or dunking and stuff like that.
We be in there killing ourselves and the forest being out there, just shooting jumpers.
You know what I mean? What will pull us like eso? And we had to do this and we had to do this before practice.
You know what I need.
So y'all just sitting there, chilling you all in the line.
You know what I mean? Hop over there.
Y'all smiling when those smiles with us like you could look down with a big man with nobody ever smiling, y'all would be working out smiling, shooting shoppers now drills, drills was great.
No, man, I gotta be honest with you.
And then he had the one where you're the big man to work on their footwork.
So he would have you just slide in and out of the lane, like if you had to get burnt.
Yeah, he'd be burning.
But when I get to the game and I have to go and rotate to the other side, it was the ball, this one and have to go and rotate trying to block the shot.
You know what I mean? Like, I was there, so I mean, I understood I didn't understand what the devil we was doing at the time, but as long as you get older.
You're like, Oh, those are those are some good.
Just like I said, I used them now with my my young cats And when I when I got to the day when I came back to Syracuse I apologize, Bernie, because you're right.
E only did work.
It made me a better player.
And I wish I had bought into him at a at a younger age.
Honestly, my freshman year, sop****re year.
I just I just want trying to dribble with the goggles on the gardener gloves right back.
I'm just pointing out the forest, just going.
Yeah, but, you know, but you know the glove.
Alright, So you're dribbling with the gloves, right? And then you have those things on and you can't see the ball.
So now it's so funny because I look, you know, you'll be scrolling through the internet and you see them advertising little things like you know, where these glasses So you can't see the dribbling the ball like Bernie was doing that back in the day.
You know what I'm saying? You know, put on these gloves that help you.
They have all these products.
I'm like they don't look Bernie would go get some construction gloves for the hardware store, and we will be doing that same thing now, people charging like, you know what I mean.
You'll be able to get this special products I'm like, Oh, yeah, I'm always making a joke out of it.
So when comrade, you know, God bless you, that if you reach down working out, I'm like, I'll be looking on the ground like they're bringing the ball up the court for us. We're in trouble anyway.
You know, Conrad, that was my man right there.
I remember when he came by.
And this is the thing.
This is the reason why I always reach back and talk to the young players, right? Especially young big man.
Y'all guard, You'll be all right.
But it's the big man that need to love, right? And so, like, I remember Conrad coming back and talking to me my freshman year.
I remember Roosevelt buoy coming and talking to me and just encouraging me.
Remember, Conrad being a young fella, you're gonna be all right, man.
He's like, don't worry about it.
You know what I mean? Just get past this year.
Oh, this is gonna be going after this.
And then it will be your time.
He's like, so you just keep working hard.
That's what he told me.
I remember Roosevelt buoy.
So I'm gonna tell you this.
Let me tell you this real quick, right? My freshman year, right? It was the Donovan McNabb game.
Remember that game that Donovan AB against Georgetown, Right, So? So, Otis.
Oldest February because All star weekend, right? Remember that all eyes was on that game, right? All eyes, like literally ESPN all eyes on the game.
So So we're playing Georgetown in the dome is packed.
It's crazy s o Georgetown had jihadi white jihadi white was £295 quick off his feet, tearing the rim off like shock.
That's that was jihadi white, right? So I didn't I was really playing my my freshman year again, right? So Otis got in foul trouble, right? And l Veer had something going on back home.
You know, maybe he was from Boston, right? Right.
So they have something going home.
So he wasn't there.
Coach Boeheim threw me in.
So go, go, go Guard, Jihadi.
I was like for real, man.
I am playing in, like, seven games.
And now you want me to go guard? Jihadi white National T.
All right, so I get in.
Right? And as soon as I get in, I see Big John say, going inside, They went inside to jihadi.
Every single play, every single play, right? And he's trying to dunk on me every single play.
So I'm just like I try to block one shot.
You know, you just kind of swinging for your life with big jihadi, right? I'm fouling him.
I'm not saying like I'm not fouling him.
It's either get dumped on or Fallon's.
Dude, those are really the only two options, right? So I set the record for the quickest foul out in Syracuse history.
I set the record.
I found out, like, in five minutes.
I remember that.
All right, so I found out in, like, five.
I'm sure, dog, it was on National.
That was like a big, huge game.
Right? So that game afterwards, when I tell you that people was killing me, uh, people from back home because they all saw because that was like that was nationally and the people back back home, They all wanted me to goto ou Rosu.
You know what I mean? Kind of like, you know, went up to Syracuse and you said they're looking terrible, You know what I mean? And so in the papers and Syracuse was dogging and stuff like that, I remember Roosevelt buoy coming up to me, right? It was like, the next day at practice coming up to me.
He was like, Young fella, you were going to be fine.
He was like you.
He was like, a lot of those times the way he was.
Like, the fact that you even challenge those, um, those dunks to try to block the shots lets me know that you will go down in history as a great shot blocker, Uh, that this school has ever seen.
That's what he told my freshman year.
And I was like, clairvoyant.
That's what he said.
And I was like, Yeah, I know.
I don't know, sir.
I was like, That's not looking to e.
I appreciate it, but I don't know if this is gonna work out here.
This is not looking good at all.
He was like trust me, You're gonna be fine.
He's, like, keep being positive.
Keep talking to culture because culture were, like, Work me out.
You know, sometimes when I was just just late and I see now, they could just go to the mellow center any time they want.
We didn't have that way.
Have manly or we have the Remember the girls building the other auxiliary gym building that over there? Yeah.
We had to go, Archibald.
Yeah, We had to try to figure out how to go in there and talk to the janitor, the lettuce in with the keys and all that stuff. We had to do all that.
They could just go to the mellow center.
But I would go there and work out with culture late at night and stuff like that.
And and you know what I'm saying? It worked out.
But having the guys like Comrade and Roosevelt buoy coming back and talking to me, man, that really help, man, they're really help.
I'm happy you touching that because that's that.
That's that Syracuse Brotherhood were one of the few schools really the only school that have basically that that one common denominator that we all played for the same coach.
So we all have the same stories.
And, you know, I just I challenge our Syracuse Brotherhood against any other school in the country.
I don't think every school pales in comparison to our brotherhood.
Let's switch from our Syracuse days.
You know, your Syracuse days.
Let's go to the NBA draft by the Wizard playing there until 2000 and nine, but early into your career, arguably that.
You know that is not arguing to us, but the greatest parrot have ever touched the ball played with.
Can you speak? How was the play with Jordan at that stage in his career? What was practicing like Like, can you just speak on some, You know, some things you went through and how did he did he help you at all? And, you know, do you have a nice Jordan story that you could share? Man? So listen.
So my first the first two years, they I'm sitting there and MJ comes out of retirement and literally the whole Now the Wizards were probably worst team in the league at that.
Before that, they want like it was like 17 games.
You know, like I remember going up there and you know, Coach Leonard Hamilton was there, so I knew him from when he coached Miami.
Really cool people.
And so he was like, Yeah, stuff out here.
I was like, it looks like I was like, man, but he was really cool.
But then he got fired right after the season.
So then after that, um, you know, uh, came out of retirement and so it was crazy because then it's like every single time we go anywhere, it's like traveling with Michael Jackson or like the Beatles or something like that.
And it's like we arrive someplace and there's thousands of people, you know what I mean? Cameras, you know, like how when you see back in the day with with Michael Jackson, he'd be traveling overseas and you would see people just start screaming or like, looking him and just start Just start crying.
Yeah, or like fake.
I literally saw that with my own eyes.
People looking at NJ and just pass out.
It was the craziest thing that I have ever seen in my life.
They would literally pass out and looking at it and just start crying and I'm like, Do you get that all the time? Is that regular for you? Everywhere you go, this happens.
Eso we couldn't do anything regular, so number one time we had to have this team dinner.
We was out in Cleveland, remember? Cleveland was right next to that hood mall.
It was cool mall with that hood, All right, that we always we owe a That's the only way you could describe it. A.
Alright, So I remember we there and they had to shut them all down for MJ to go through it and for us to go thio dinner because they want to have this team dinner at this restaurant over there and literally they shut down the whole ball.
We walking out, there's nobody.
And that football was completely empty, You know what I mean? And I was just like, Wow, this is this is different, man.
And he was like, Yeah, you know, And then I was like, you know, does that get kind of old after a while? They have to like, you know, do that like you can't like.
Do you go to the grocery store? Like what? Do you what do you do it? He was like, Yeah, I can't really do regular stuff.
And I was like, you know, so you don't really know, like, at first it seems like Okay, that would be cool.
But then after a while, you're like, Well, you can't do nothing regular, you know, like you.
And then his kids had to have, like, security around them like they are the president's kids.
Like it was just a whole different.
And I never saw that.
I didn't really know what It's hard to really understand it unless you just see it up close.
And but, MJ, I mean, every game was sold out every game way saw everybody like when I say everybody that those two years I saw every celebrity that exists, you know what I mean at some point and is crazy because they were like fans.
So you you looking at like celebrities, people who you, you know, you see them on movies, you see them, you got the album's everything like that and they waiting in line after the game to see MJ like like this, with their with their little you know what I mean.
I'm like, Wow, it was that way, Jay.
It was a great experience, and it was also experience where so I was fortunate to again have to wait and learn and watch.
So just like I watched and learned from Otis my first years in the league, I watched and learned from Oakley and Popeye Jones and, you know, MJ and Christian Laettner.
And it's crazy cause I hated Christian my whole life.
But he was the coolest dude once you met him, you know what I mean? Really cool.
He's really cool, man.
The coolest dude.
I mean, I'll tell you I would call back and people were like, Hey, so who? Who's cool on the team like, hey, with my lock was right next to laters And I'd be like, You know, I talked to my boys.
I would like you're not gonna believe this, But Christian Laettner, it is really cool.
And they'd be like Christian Laettner, Christian later, Christian later, that stepped on a man stomach Christian, Later that Christian later from Duke Christian.
I'll be like, I'm telling you, he's the coolest dude on Earth.
Like everything we thought.
It's not who he is he's really cool people.
But that was that was that was a great time, though.
I gotta I gotta say, that's the time where I mean, how many people can say they played with the greatest player of all time? You know? No, no, no doubt.
So let's get back to your more than athlete because listen, I wanna I wanna give you credit through, you know, obviously the the title of the book.
You've already spoken about a little bit earlier in your interview, but now that this whole activist activism in sports and you know that started with you know the Bill Russell scream of doing Jabbar's Jim Brown, Jackie Robinson's of the World, you're you're of that ill.
Honestly, I noticed, you know, it's it's something to be bestowed upon you, but you're definitely of that because you've been doing those things since you got kind of a platform that many.
You've got a platform.
You started speaking on these things, So let's let's speak about like the activism that's going on in sports and the athletes that are stepping up and the honestly following your lead because, you know, there I say you're one of the first guys of this whole modern air the really step up, Um, the fact that more than an athlete is taken off and is turned into a show and all this other thing.
But your book was before all that, So speak on it from your perspective.
Speak on how you think you've influenced today's athletes I fully think you have.
Whether they give you credit or not, you definitely have.
I mean, e appreciate that, though, but I mean, you know what I did more than the athlete.
My first book, I was here with these in D. C.
And ah, lot of people didn't know how to respond to it, you know? And it was right before social media.
So we have social media then, but it was like one of those things, and it's actually saw.
My latest book I wrote was called We matter Athletes and Activism, and I got a chance to interview all of these different athletes that I grew up admiring and like Like, you know, Bill Russell, Kareem John, Carlos Makhmudov do our Craig Hodges all those I interviewed Mohammed Ali's daughter, Laila Ali.
You know what I mean.
Malcolm X's daughter, Ellie Al Shabaab.
So I'm interviewing all of them, right? And then I interviewed the current athletes, like, you know, Eric Reid, who was taken to me with Kaepernick the whole time.
Russell, Westbrook and D.
And you know, that whole group, Carmelo and all the guys that were using their voices now and it's interesting because And I didn't really notice that people were paying attention to what I was doing until I started doing this book and they always saying it, You know what I mean? Like Oscar Roberts saying, Yeah, I've been following you for the longest.
I'm like, really? You know what I mean? Like, it is humbling when you hear it.
But when I was in it, I was just speaking and doing what I felt, You know what I mean? So So I'll take you back to the D. C.
You know, when I was always speaking about, you know, you know racism and police brutality and things of that nature.
But I'll take you back to 9 11 and 9 11 happened.
Playing with wizards, right? So 9 11 happened, and then right after that, George W.
Bush declared that we were going to invade Iraq.
And so I had my younger brothers, you know, cast.
I remember when I was in high school, they were younger than me that had joined the army, right.
And they were And he was telling me how they were being shipped to Iraq and they were preparing themselves to me.
And I'm like, Wait a little and is going to Iraq with the devil and like so, all these little young soldiers, You know what I mean? We're going to Iraq.
And then I was at the airport and I saw because, you know, in D.
This is like right before they go over there.
So I saw all these soldiers, right? And these cats, honestly, jade up.
They look like little babies.
They were so young.
They look so scared, like in their eyes, they look terrified.
I'm like, Wait, These they're sitting these cats to Iraq.
And so I'm looking at everything, and I'm like, Well, wait a minute.
What is 9 11? What does Iraq have to do with 9 11? Like, I'm not seeing the connection like, why are we going over to Iraq? like what? Like why? Like I'm asking questions and stuff, You know what I mean? Yeah, but no.
But but then I'm like, I'm asking.
And so really, at the at the at the time, nobody was really speaking like now, if you talk to people, whether Republican or Democrat, everybody will say, Well, we should have gone to Iraq.
That was a good idea.
We should, you know, they say that now.
But back then, I mean, when when when Buddhist was like, either with us or against us.
And it was like, we have to do this because they attacked us here.
And I'm like, Wait, I'm not seeing no evidence Where? How do you know that? Like how you just fingering them to do it, you know? So I'm asking these questions, so I started to write about it.
Now, remember, I'm in G c.
The nation's capital, right? And I'm doing these poems in these speeches all around D c about it, right? And so back then, the only people that was speaking out only, you know, public figures that was speaking out publicly about Iraq was like the Dixie Chicks like Michael Moore like to other people.
You know what I mean? It really People weren't weren't saying anything.
It just wasn't that time because it was really like, if you do, you was considered anti American.
And so I'm speaking at all these different places and speaking at these things all over D. C.
And then there was one in particular that I spoke at this huge rally right on the mall.
Right where? You know what I mean? The march on Washington happened.
We have the monument and everything.
All the people, thousands of people, right? And I deliver this speech and it went viral before going viral was a thing.
Because remember, we don't have social media.
So So this this this reporter wrote an article about it.
Then it just went everywhere.
And it's crazy because, you know, all right, remember I told you I play with empty right? So m j would remember this before Social media M J would get boxes and boxes of fan mail every day, every every single day.
Boxing, boxing, fan mail.
I would get like, a letter to from people from Syracuse or something like that.
You know what I mean? So but After that, I started getting boxes and boxes, so I'm looking through them right.
And there was some people that were, you know, really complimentary.
But there was a lot of people that was really upset.
Like you don't deserve to be in America upset like you.
Ungrateful n word upset.
You know what I mean? Like, you need to go back to Africa and relinquish all your like, upset, upset to the point where I was like, you know, these people really mad.
I might need to get some security or something going on, like they really upset, right? So And it just so happened that the late a Poland who was the former CEO of the Wizards, you know, he called me in his office one time, and I was like, Oh, this this might be it.
I didn't think about it.
I didn't think this all the way through, but and he came in, I came in and he had this big smile on his face, and it just so happened that his son was at the rally and he agreed with it, and he was, you know, agreed with my top.
But if he had a different opinion that might have been it for me with the Wizards.
You know what I mean? To be honest with you, So after that, I heard from a lot of different athletes who would say, Hey, man, I really respect you in the position that you're taking man like I would be literally I remember playing against the Pistons, right? Ben Wallace, right on the line against him.
And he was like, Hey, man, I read your speech, man.
I was like, Oh, thanks, man.
We're on the free throw line.
You know what I'm saying? I've been playing shrimp do Rahim like he's doing work and stuff.
He was like, Hey, man, like, you know, just different people like, you know, throughout the lead, just telling me, Hey, I really respect you, that's that's dope how you stand up for yourself and stuff like that so that that kind of birth me being kind of known as you know, being an activist and being somebody that spoke out things of that nature.
But really, it's like you said it wasn't popular at that time.
One that was that was a little bit of a quiet time and in those early two thousands.
And you know what I mean? Going back to the nineties? Yeah.
It was quite you had Craig conscious and moved up through the roof in the nineties.
But that was really it.
They got black on and they got blackballed out the league.
So So And I heard that a lot.
I heard a lot of people saying, Hey, you gotta be careful, man.
You don't want to get, you know, done like do our roof, man.
You don't wanna, you know? And it was just and I honestly, honestly jade up.
I didn't even think about all that.
I just saw something.
I felt it, and I just spoke.
That's really all that happened, and everything else came from there.
But that's that's that's how it happened.
And so back in 2000 and eight, you know, we were all part of that Obama, you know, like, just couldn't believe that we're actually seeing that now.
You Ah, black presidential candidate.
But at that point, we were like he's about to win, like we're about black president.
So everything started changing, you know? And, you know, I felt like he had a great rain.
And now Joe Biden is, um, on Camilla's with him as the first black female vice president.
He's speaking at a little bit because this is like like if there's anyone that's qualified to speak on it on someone that shouldn't make a statement about it, it is is definitely you because you were like I said, you were doing all this stuff when it wasn't popular.
You're going against the grain And like you said, some people are saying, You know, we appreciate what you're doing, but they weren't speaking out on it like you were.
That's not a knock against him, but it just it is genuine.
It's in your heart what you are, and then they feelings that you have that you have to share.
So can you please speak on how you feel about Biden Camilla in that whole situation? Well, you know, even going back before that, we're talking about with Obama.
You know, I'm here in D.
So D C is just ritual political energy.
So you're here and there's just you know what I mean.
It's it's literally, you know, it's all over the place here, and I remember I connected with Obama before he became the president.
When he was running against Alan Keyes, he was in Chicago, and so I connected with him there because I really was against Alan Keyes.
Eso I want to connect with whoever was going against him.
And so I started supporting him, and I liked what he I was like, Oh, this he's pretty good that I saw him speak at the convention and I was like, Okay, let's see what and then boom, he was like, off to the races.
Remember? It happened quick, like he he went up quick, right? And so I became a surrogate for President Obama.
And then I became part of the campaign and I became part of, you know, that I wrote my book, my fatherhood book, and then he appointed me to a part of the fatherhood initiative and then, you know, after that was part of my brother's keeper.
So I was working closely with the Obama administration for eight years, and it was amazing, like literally like I would be, you know? So then, of course I would get you know, people always ask me, how are you always at these different events with Obama's like, How are your kids at the Easter egg roll? How you always at this like I was like Well, it's because I was working with them before they even, you know, became president before he even started the campaign.
But it's interesting because even with Obama, you saw a shift and the shift was the thinking that OK, now we're in post racial America because Obama became president and that was the talk, like all over the place.
That's all you heard.
And then the eight years was up, and then we had a different administration and a lot of things changed.
E could say it like that.
A lot of things changed and a lot of things.
You know, A lot of people started coming out the woodwork, and a lot of people were like, You know, yeah, racism didn't go anywhere, but but that's what a lot of other But we were like what y'all thought it really did.
You all thought racism really just left because we have a Bible for eight years? No, that's not what happened.
And it Z you know, it's interesting because sports can be something that unites people you know when you have people of all different races nationalities, cultures, beliefs, economic backgrounds, everything else.
And they're all rooting for their team.
And it's interesting seeing that dynamic, you know, being in Syracuse, coming back to Syracuse and people who have heard me speak on political topics or heard me speak on topics that they may not necessarily agree with and have.
But I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of wonderful experience.
Now I've had some bad experience.
You get me wrong now, but but really wonderful experience and dialogue with people who have told me, Listen, you've opened my eyes to different things that I never was even aware of because I was a fan of you at Syracuse.
So they wanted to read Mawr about what it was that I was into, and they learn different perspectives.
That they didn't know before doesn't mean they always agree with me, You know what I mean? It doesn't have.
You don't have to, and that's the thing that people think.
You don't have to agree with somebody to respect the point of view.
You can, you can you can have a completely different point of view.
But you could just respect the fact that okay, I see how you got there.
Now I'm I'm someplace different.
But I understand why you feel what you feel, and that's that dialogue.
And that's the beauty of of sports.
So I I've experienced that so much like I'm telling you all the time Whenever I go back up to Syracuse, somebody is telling When I went there for your for your your retirement ceremony and I'm walking around with my son and people are all stopping me, saying, Hey, I love your Syracuse.
Hey, I love what you're doing after Syracuse and they wanna have a dialogue about something that I've written or something that they were seeing.
We're sitting there walking, You know how busy it is around there, and they just want to say, Hey, I read what you said about this.
So I read what you said about that I heard you on the radio talking about that.
That was a really good I never thought of it like that.
And I think that's that's the part where you know we have to keep using sports as being a unifier, You know of bringing people together and exposing people to different.
Like I even took take over over Chino.
I didn't know that about Bosnia, but I was coming into Syracuse.
I learned all about the Bosnian culture and everything that they was going through and everything that's happening.
And he educated me just being his teammate, you know what I mean? So I think that's that's the beauty of sports is powerful and sports is the great equalizer.
And it just kind of smears all the racial lines and all that other good stuff.
But let's talk about, you know, back I think it was 2012.
If I'm not mistaken, we went to when we went to rifles, I Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, that was amazing.
Martin started my Christmas, our style, e honestly, I tell people all the time, you know, that was my first time going to write Thank down.
But going into that gymnasium, they had, like Patrick Ewing Jersey Bernard Key.
They had my jersey.
Yeah, yeah, it's just like, you know, I'm you know, I couldn't that that stuck on my mind because obviously so long ago that with the fact that they still had it up.
There was It was amazing, I guess, the guy said, You know, he is explaining it to me about I guess is like accused guys like one of the correction guys.
And I'm right to the Knicks that year.
So e But let's let's really talk about what was important about that day, you know, we're going there speaking basically, it's like a bunch of teenagers and young men who are locked up, and some of them, some of them are gonna be in there for a long time.
Um, you know, we did our panel, and I felt like from the responses we got from some of the young men that they were either gonna change from our panel where they were actually filling it and tryingto be receptive of what we were trying explain to them about.
You know, basically you made one mistake.
Don't make another mistake.
Once you get out of here, change your life and don't ever come back here.
Let's try to decrease this recidivism in all these Britain.
How do you feel? You know, I know this is something that you know near and dear to your heart in terms of helping.
Ah, young men and the whole car incarceration rates and all that.
How do you feel? The rates are now? Do you feel the system is getting any better or is it has it gotten worse? I mean, first of all, let me just say you have always been supportive of me, Um, doing anything, like all the time.
Like we You know, we don't even have to give you all the details.
You know what I mean? I'm like, I'm like, Whoa, I got some more explaining to do about the program, like, man, just tell me what time to be there and I'll get out and I'm there.
I'm like, All right, that's what's up.
So we remember All Star weekend.
We did the black lives matter rally panel with all we had, like 2500 black and brown.
You know, young men, all that that was it was amazing, right? It was right after it was It was right after Eric Garner was killed.
And we're sitting there pouring.
Yeah, we're pouring into them, telling them that their life matters, telling them that there that they're intelligent, that there could be anything they want to be that don't you know it? And so even going to Rikers Island.
You know, that's not Rikers Island.
Ain't really something that a lot of people would jump in going to if you ask, May I'm gonna do a panel at Rikers Island.
Would you like to go? That's when you don't get a text back from people.
That's what they say.
They too busy to text you back so they don't respond to that one.
You know what I mean? But you hit me right back.
You're like, Oh, man, I love too, man.
And it was, really, you know, I'm still in touch with them.
I actually just did a zoom presentation with them a few weeks ago.
And Esso they are, you know, it's a whole new group, because that was a long time ago to new group.
And what was important about that day, though, is that and this is coming from the different people, you know, like they didn't They didn't think that we could hold their attention for that long without there being an incident number one right? There was like, Wait, we're gonna put them all on.
They had people who were opposing it because they were like, No, this is we don't wanna put them all there, like in the because usually they space them out differently.
Stuff like that, right? Because really, for one, I didn't know that there was that many young men there, right? Because it was like, 506 100 kids and we were talking to write all they felt filled up the whole bleachers.
And so when you saw way started talking, nobody moved.
Nobody had to leave.
Nobody wanted to go to the bathroom.
They were locked in on everything that we said And we're speaking positivity into them, you know, telling them that they Yeah, they made a mistake, but they could still right this wrong they because some of them were going to get out once they're 18, you know, they were like young.
They were, like, 15, 16 and some of them certainly creating, they're going to get out.
And so they had second chances.
And you know, of course, in a situation like that, you have good examples and bad example good stories and back story, because I always do follow ups and everything, and I hear all different stories.
Some of the guys are doing great, like, literally great.
Like I'll tell you what I was I was in New York.
Um, just had to be a couple of years ago, and one of the guys that were in there stopped me on the subway.
He was like, I know you don't know who I am, but you came when I was in Rikers Island.
You brought a whole group down there.
He was like, and I'm doing good right now because, like, I just wanna tell you right now, I'm doing good.
But but the thing about it is I get stuff like that from people that that's what keeps me going with this man.
You know what I mean? Like when I get positive feedback from that positive stories, like, I get positive messages from somebody.
Something that I spoke at a long time ago, you know, You know, I started doing this speaking thing, and at Syracuse, I was doing that back then, you know, going to speak, going off campus.
You know, it was one thing being on the in the bubble off of the university, right? I always wanted to go outside the university, you know, and connect with different organizations and stuff like that and speak because my mother got me into doing that when I was my mother was a teacher, so she would always have to come and speak to the class.
And every every year, no matter what.
You know, I had to come and speak to the class, and I just started doing that in high school.
And I was like, Mom, I ain't even done nothing while telling these cats they I'm close to the age.
She was like, No, just.
And so that got me.
So I so I just always did it.
But it's Syracuse.
I would go outside of Syracuse to start speaking in the community and doing different, and and those those were really impactful for them.
Because I remember you remember when you in high school in middle school and you had, like, an athlete to come and speak to you? Like I remember being in middle school and John Starks came and spoke to us.
You know what? They leave May Barry, You know those people from Tosa they came, spoke and literally we listened to every word they said, like every word because it was John Starks.
You know what I mean? Like of course we go list.
But so I I realized the power that we have as athletes that what we say to them is gonna be impactful.
And we could either be We could either be positive influences or negative influences, but we're gonna influence them one way or the other.
And being in Syracuse, you know, there's no professional team in Syracuse, so they looked at us like we're professional team.
We speak of this different schools and stuff like that and they looking at us the way that I was looking at John starts a limit is dealing them.
So I just thought so.
I just kind of kept doing it, and I'm still doing it.
It's like when you're when you're blessed the way that we are, I feel like you have to be a blessing to somebody else.
You know what I mean? You have to pay it forward type thing, and so we're in that position to be able to do that.
So that's why you know I appreciate you.
You was impactful for them.
For the young man at Rikers and young man in Harlem.
We spoke that, and during All Star weekend, it was definitely impactful.
And I got the actual feedback and the testimonies, not just saying they were impacted by me looking at them and saying, You know what I mean, like, Okay, they felt what I was saying, but literally the testimonies.
Two and three years later, off of what they did with their lives and then writing about how looking back at that event and how impactful it was for them and that's that's that's special.
E recently had another Syracuse alum on my podcast, Shavon Dargan we were speaking about She ran track of Syracuse during my time, and we're speaking about how like we were at school, We don't have any racial situation.
It was great for us.
I mean, we didn't have any distances on.
Everyone knows you were up there speaking with the not against that. Not again.
That's you people, that whole form.
So can you speak on that? And, you know, how was your time at Syracuse? Did you go through anything and you know were you a za Paul as I was when you heard what was going on at our school? Because that's just not the school I know.
So my my spirits to Syracuse, I have no issues, You know what I mean? Like, it was great.
I was I had no problems like that, you know? I mean, but But when we when? When I read about all the different stuff because that made national news, and it happened in Syracuse.
And so it was like it was like, the movie High learning, You know what I mean? It was like Remmy was walking around and they was having a swastika on the N word over here.
They had a white supremacist manifesto emailed to students like that.
All these different things happen, and I'm like, so so actually, I was.
It was when I went up for your retirement ceremony.
That was when I went.
And so I was like, Well, I'm here anyway, so let me, uh you know, let me let me holler at the Not again.
That's you students.
They were They were pro testing and having a sit in in the old management building.
It was a school of management when I was there, and so I had a roundtable with them in the round table.
It was supposed to be like for 45 minutes they dub me and my son Malcolm.
We was talking to them for, like, three hours, just talking, just listening to them like our mouths were wide open.
Like I was like, I can't believe that all this stuff happened like it was terrible And it was just like we left there from there.
And we was going over to the mellow center because, you know, he wanted to go and go to the mellow center and see everything.
So we're talking and he's like, Why they keep saying that they didn't feel safe.
He was like, Was it like that when you was here? I was like, No, he was like, That's terrible.
So I was like and I was like, You know, there is no reason why any students should not feel safe on campus, but for all of them to be saying how they didn't feel safe, and so I just was like, we got to do something about this like this, you know.
You know what I mean? We have to figure this out somehow.
So So I It's interesting.
Later on, a few months after that, I got a call from Brian Tarrant.
Bryant Durant was, ah, former football player at S U Black, Yeah, for black oranges.
And he said he was gonna put together this organization and he won't have a collection of different black as Thio athletes and try toe, you know, use our collective voices to be ableto make Syracuse better.
And it was right after George Floyd happens all across the country, people were trying to do things and I was like, Oh, man, I'm down Let's do it like I definitely so So we started doing Our numbers have grown.
We got like 405 100 different athletes are all signed on and ready to do so We have strong baby, really strong and like so we had, you know, did events with the voters drive this stuff with, you know, things like that, but and we each have different sections of things that we have focused on.
Really wants to improve the numbers off of black and brown students on campus because he said how much they dipped since he was there.
So they want he wants to, like, right? Like, right, Right, right.
And it's different now.
So it's like he wants to, you know, formulate a scholarship and things of that nature and try toe, you know, And me, I wanted Thio.
I wanted to really, you know, focus on this issue with GPS and students on campus feeling not safe.
So we did a funny about DPS because, like when we were at school, DPS weren't even able to get out there.
Carter, address it? Not at all.
They had to talk to us from the from the Yeah, but But now, now they fully armed, like regular police.
Yeah, a lot of people don't know that.
They're So when s I said earlier how we was protesting them being able to use pepper spray? That was what we were protesting in 1996.
Right now they are foot.
Like if you look at their belt, it looks like a regular police belt.
They got the gun here.
They got everything that a regular policemen have.
They have, right, So so Now there's a there's a there's an element of of the same things that we see in society E no, like, why guys that even necessary.
But But when you're listening to these to these students when I was listening is not against you.
Students speak on it.
They were talking about how they feel afraid and why they feel afraid.
And I was just like, Yeah, that's not supposed so So we had a roundtable with black oranges with not against you students, cause I wanted I wanted all of them thio here, Everything that I heard, you know, when I did the round table with them when I was up there for your retirement ceremony.
So they broke it all down for all the black oranges, and everybody was like, prize, like, wow, like this is because, you know, you read about it, but you don't know all the details about everything that happened.
If there's a lot that happened, so after that, we did a follow up and I was like, Okay, let's see how we can, you know, because during during the game, um, the Chief Maldonado from DPS came up to me during the game and him and a few other officers.
And they said, You know, we watched your whole, you know, round table that you did with the students.
They were like that was really you know, they just kind of paused for a minute.
I was like, All right, well, you know what you think.
Where is this going? You know what I mean? We're in the middle of the game. I'm like, Okay.
Is it gonna be so It's just here, you know, like, literally, we're right in the middle of the of the of the game, like you lining up with your family over here.
You got different alumni, and they asked me that, right? And there was like, No, no, no, it was It was good.
But we would like to chance toe to sit down and talk with you and see how we can, you know, because obviously a very passionate about that.
And I was like, Okay, let me have your car, and I'm gonna take you up on that.
And there was like no for sure.
Gave me his card.
Right. Chief Maldonado gave his car.
And so so later on months later, um, with black oranges.
Reach out to him.
I say, Listen, I'm taking you up on your offer that you made back in February.
You know, we don't even know if you remember.
I was like, All right, cool.
I wanna take you up on your offer and I want to do a town hall with you.
And let's talk about ways that we can improve the relationship between DPS and students on campus, particularly black and brown students.
And he said I would love to.
So we sat down and we talked.
We did a town hall.
It was like for an hour and a half, like we was going and it was a great first step.
Now then we solve everything An hour and a half.
You know what I'm saying? I'm not saying that, but we were able to talk about different things that we could implement he and ensured us that it wasn't being just swept under the rug because that's the way it appeared.
You know, they really said nothing about it since then, and it seemed like they were just sweeping it under the rug.
and going about their business.
He was like, No, no, no.
The investigation is underway right now.
And he was like they were, you know, getting those results.
We're gonna implement different this.
And And I was like, What if you had the students be a part off the hiring process of DPS officers? And he said he and he was like, I love that idea.
I think that's great.
That's like, I think they should be involved.
He's like and And I was like, Okay, what do you think about black? Orange is being kind of a We could give you suggestions of different ways because, you know, we have a different connection with the students that y'all won't won't have and different things, different new things that you could implement that would kind of just help the relationships.
Oh, yeah, we were definitely So it was a positive first step.
So I left that that town hall in that meeting, you know, feeling real positive about it.
And, you know, we just have to keep pushing, but, you know, being able and that that's just a way of leveraging our position of being former S U athletes.
You know what I mean? That he would have came up to me if I wasn't a former athlete and just went and spoke.
Thio not again, s u and it was So you gotta just leverage that.
We gotta use it.
We have it, You know what I mean? I mean, it's gotta be more than just you know what I mean? People people recognize us and say hi want pictures and stuff like that.
But we have a certain level of, you know, notoriety in a certain level of power, but now is using it collectively with black oranges.
You know, we're gonna try to get a lot of things done, no doubt.
Well, the time my brother once again, I always appreciate you taking out time for me.
Um, ladies and gentlemen out there that the accused nation goto etan Thomas dot com check out everything's guy going on.
Check out the rematch.
His podcast that he's been doing.
He's got four books more than an athlete.
Fatherhood, which are the two books e voice of the future.
And then we matter athletes and activism.
Yeah, that's my latest one.
I'm about to I'm about to do the next one to, though.
So I'm gonna keep writing. I'm quarantine.
So I got I got time.
So just keep writing.
So about my next one, we appreciate anything, e.
And, uh, for those of you out there, you go to my podcast, check it out.
Live on a sports catchers on Tuesday on on Spotify and Apple on Wednesdays.
I have Julie Day.
I really appreciate you taking your time today. Thanks so much.
I talk to you soon, my brother.
That's what's up, man.
Much respect to you.