I didn’t cover as many games this season…maybe 60% of the home games as opposed to around 85% the last three years because of the book…but the one constant is how Anthony Gilbert, Devon Givens and I interact with whatever professional athlete is in front of us fielding questions. This isn’t about a race reaction because we would be the same (and do the same) if no one else was present. You do not have to be a name everyone knows just to aspire to be great now. Raise the bar for yourself. Don’t worry about what everyone else does. What I want to get across to folks is there is another way of blazing a definitive journalistic legacy while remaining objective. Study the thoughts, mannerisms and stats of the players and watch how they respond. When they look you in the eye when answering your questions in front of the entire media throng, there’s a connection. Don’t go into a presser thinking it’s all about you or your story. You can be shrewd without being arrogant. Have a conversation.Try to go above and beyond what is the norm and everyone eventually will follow. We still have a lot to learn but at least we’re growing. Challenge yourselves.
I’ll post two interviews with Dominique Wilkins (it is ridiculous) and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford (took it way back to Jordan/Erving All Star games) next week. You will be moved. In the interim, dig this chat with Anthony Gilbert, ESPN radio’s Devon Givens and I walking through the parking lot after the Sixers well deserved win. Just wanted to give you the reader the mindset behind what we do.
Michael Tillery: Simple question fellas…what do we (those with our style) add to the game?
Anthony Gilbert: We do what the athletes do at home on our computers. We give it the necessary feel that it requires because this is the real world. The real world is a melting pot. You can’t just have a one sided view. We come in there and we round it out. It’s kinda like math. We round it out and everybody is happy. The players are happy because they get to see us at our job after we watch them at their job. Other races may have a different angle (because of their relation or experience). A lot of times we just go in there as brothas and talk. We are just having conversations and that’s how everything is rounded out. All bases are covered.
Devon Givens: We want to do the same things others want to do. However, since we can’t make it as far as others (for whatever reason), I’m gonna make sure I come in here and make sure some don’t look at me with the slanted eye like some may do others. We add a different understanding to the game and are not just asking questions. Things are deeper. Actually being on the floor as if the players are that (you the reader) teenager when you were playing…playing in that pick up game trying to reach that level. We give the people what they want…the view they want to see. The way it’s supposed to be seen.
MT: No specific names are necessary, but how does what we do stack up against other journalists or forms of journalism?
AXG: We are a hot commodity. We are a rare breed in this industry. A: We’re not on the pay scale as everyone else that is out here in our field and B: We actually have a human touch and feel to our approach. Players, no matter who they are, can appreciate this. It’s unfortunate the ones that really care…and not to say people don’t care about their jobs…but we actually have a different sense…a different eye. When we walk into a locker room…I see it all the time…we resonate far more than anyone else because the players can see themselves. They look at us and are like Ok…alright…well whassup? It’s like the other day…when you walked in…you wrote that you felt an instant feel…an instant connection with CDR. He gave you a great interview. That doesn’t happen. It might happen over time with other writers and other TV personalities but we are able to walk in there and have that view…we can walk in and just kick it. That’s what it’s about…good relationships and really good conversation.
MT: Devon when you see Anthony and I talking to a player with so many professionals in our midst, what are you thinking, what are you seeing?
DG: Just starting out, I want to learn how it’s done right. I’ve sat in press row, watched and tried to pick up things from people I respect. I get to watch you two interact with the players not just to do it, but to get the real job done. When I watched the guys that I thought I idolized…and it may be right for them…but when I look at you guys I see this is really what it is about. This is really how it’s supposed to be done. As Anthony has said, when you see a player greet you guys I say you know what, if I do what I’m supposed to do in the long run I may get that same respect when they see my face. I may not get that same long conversation, but I may get a handshake. I remember a case last season when O. J. Mayo came in the locker room and he really didn’t want to give anybody the time of day. After the game…and walking back into the arena…I happened to see him and everything was good then. He saw me by myself so it was cool to say whassup. I don’t know if he would do that with other journalists.
MT: Last question fellas. Of course we are professionals but how the hell hard is it not to cheer in press row occasionally?
(we all crack up)
AXG: Well for me, the world knows I’m a big Kobe fan.
Kobe is the one player…and LeBron James as well…
I have to really put screws down and keep my composure because they do things…like Devon said earlier, we all grow up playing this game and other sports. As a competitor and former athlete, you can appreciate the really good ones. Tonight…with Andre Iguodala flirting with a triple double for a good twelve minutes was torture. You just really want to see that brotha do well in the midst of a tumultuous season. You had to let loose tonight, high five and cheer. Kinda like if we were kids again at the Spectrum.
DG: It was hard. It still is hard. You could feel it in press row that Andre was going to do something special. Either Jason Kapono was going to hit that shot or Andre was going to tear that rim down. All I could do was turn around to you and give you that look. It’s that look that only we know as if we are speaking outside our minds to say, “Did he really do that?” He was looking down at the rim! It is really difficult not to cheer. Sometime you have those cases where you have guys next to you who are cheering but you just don’t know.
Then on the other hand when you have Jamal Crawford deciding he wants to shred someone’s tendons (we all laugh) and you think man, I wish I could do that! That’s when that fan comes out.
AXG: Andre (Iguodala) actually has a love for the game. You definitely have to have an appreciation for it. It’s the same with what we do. You can’t just be another person who is simply going through the motions. It will show in your work. A lot of times you will see signs of haterade in people’s work. You think, why would they even take that angle?
Let’s all go on a road less traveled. Let’s think and do something differently.
Some get paid. I don’t (we again crack up)!
Hey…it is what it is.
Hip Hop is our journalism…