Former NBA star Jalen Rose

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

Former Michi­gan and NBA star Jalen Rose will ap­pear on NBA Count­down ahead of ESPN’s Satur­day Prime­time game be­tween the Thun­der and War­riors on Feb. 24.

Jalen Rose knew he was good.

And knew he wasn’t as good as he wished.

The ESPN NBA an­a­lyst grew up in Detroit, the son of a former No. 1 draft pick he never knew. He had bas­ket­ball in his blood and an ex­pec­ta­tion he’d ex­cel at the game. But he knew there were lim­its.

“My great­est re­al­ity check is that Magic John­son was my child­hood idol,” Rose said last week. “And I knew re­ally fast that, ‘You’re good Jalen. You’re OK. But you’re no Magic John­son.’”

That’s why Rose started to pre­pare for life af­ter bas­ket­ball long be­fore he left the game. As a star (and part of the fa­bled Fab Five) at Michi­gan, he ma­jored mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions. As an NBA player, he sought out broad­cast work and took as­sign­ments with BET, MTV, Fox Sports Net, NBC and more.

Now Rose — who on Feb. 24 will ap­pear on NBA Count­down ahead of ESPN’s Satur­day Prime­time game be­tween the Thun­der and War­riors — spends much of his time on TV and pod­cast­ing.

But he’s also a ded­i­cated phi­lan­thropist who started the Jalen Rose Lead­er­ship Academy, a char­ter school in his na­tive Detroit and an out­spo­ken ob­server of bas­ket­ball and cul­ture.

The one rea­son why I al­ways im­plore and en­cour­age young peo­ple to play sports is the skills that come with it that have noth­ing to do with the score of the game. The life skills, the so­cial skills, the abil­ity to sacri­fice for a team, how to deal with ad­ver­sity; how to be an ath­lete as well as a stu­dent; how to deal with suc­cess, how to deal with fail­ure; how to deal with celebrity.

I al­ways ac­knowl­edge that young peo­ple lose their in­no­cence ear­lier now. They can type “www” and go wher­ever their mind wants to take them, whether it’s trained to di­gest what they’re about to see or not. There’s more curs­ing on the ra­dio. There’s more sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive things on TV. As I rewind our era, it was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent then.

Play­ers and young peo­ple now want to be liked and want to be fol­lowed. The Fab Five didn’t care about ei­ther.

In Detroit, you gained tough skin early. Every­body has im­per­fec­tions, and you get used to peo­ple crack­ing jokes about them — you’re too skinny; you got bumps on your face; you got bad teeth; you don’t have a dad; your bother’s in jail; your mom’s on crack. You can’t fight or be upset ev­ery time says some­body says some­thing. In cer­tain cir­cum­stances I grew up in, you could get mad if you wanted, but if you jumped up in the wrong per­son’s face, that gets you killed. So you learn the bal­ance of be­ing able to pro­tect your­self and ex­press your­self but be able to al­most func­tion in all ar­eas of life like a chameleon.

Grow­ing up play­ing John Mad­den Foot­ball or NBA Live — even in col­lege or in the NBA, when you got a house full of peo­ple and a cou­ple TVs — I couldn’t just take my loss and go home. I had to com­men­tate the next game. That’s how I got my start.

What I’ve learned about play­ers and me­dia and man­agers and ev­ery­one is that the peo­ple who say they don’t care about what peo­ple say are usu­ally the overly sen­si­tive peo­ple sit­ting in the bath­room check­ing their In­sta­gram mes­sages and their Twit­ter feeds.

Peo­ple re­spect and ap­pre­ci­ate when you’re gen­uine and you’re fac­tual. Ini­tially I re­mem­ber get­ting calls from play­ers say­ing, ‘Why you gonna do me like that?’ You were 3 for 11, you had seven turnovers and y’all lost by 50. What do you ex­pect me to say? I’m not on your staff. I didn’t say you were a se­rial killer. I said you stunk last night.

Grow­ing up looked at peo­ple that were my age that the world felt — be­cause I was a pub­lic-school kid — were ahead of me or smarter than me. I had a cou­ple of those to look at in Chris Web­ber and Grant Hill. It was like, ‘C-Webb came from the es­teemed high school. We know he’s gonna be able to make it at Michi­gan and make it in the class­room. What

are we gonna do with Jalen?’ I al­ways looked at how C-Webb and Grant were be­ing cov­ered and por­trayed and took pride in try­ing to be looked at in that sim­i­lar light.

In any other walk of life, you’re able to profit off your abil­i­ties no mat­ter how old you are. If you’re re­ally in­tel­li­gent at 15 years old and you can pass a test to get into Har­vard, they’re gonna let you into Har­vard. They’re not gonna hold you back. Only in bas­ket­ball and foot­ball do those re­straints take place. That’s a thing I hope and I think even­tu­ally will change.

When you sign a let­ter of in­tent, you’re ba­si­cally sign­ing a shoe deal also. And you’re not be­ing com­pen­sated. When you re­al­ize th­ese things, it starts to open your eyes to, yes, ap­pre­ci­ate that I’m get­ting a schol­ar­ship, but they’re get­ting paid back a hun­dred­fold.

The pub­lic per­cep­tion on col­lege sports has changed from ’Just shut up. You should be happy you’re on schol­ar­ship’ to ‘Wait a minute, they’re pay­ing Rick Pitino how much? They’re pay­ing Coach K how much?

Michi­gan got what in that shoe deal?’ Ab­so­lutely I feel vin­di­cated. No ques­tion about it. Now I just want my repa­ra­tions.


Jalen Rose, right, has been with ESPN since 2007 and since 2012 has been a stu­dio an­a­lyst for “NBA Count­down.”

Brett Daw­son bdaw­son@ ok­la­


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