Mike James: I was surprised and I’m glad that we were able to reach an agreement because now there are are lot teams fighting for a position and I want to try to help somebody get to a better situation. I took a buyout and I thought it was the best thing to do for myself because I was on a team where I didn’t have an opportunity at all in Washington. I felt I would hopefully sign on to a contending team where I can try to come in and help as much as possible.
Would you sign only with teams that are contending for the title or would you sign also with a playoff team who has no shot at it?
MJ: Of course. I just want to play basketball. I feel like this season has been almost lost for me. I’ve been in training camp the whole entire season. I haven’t played many minutes, but I trained hard… as hard as I’ve done in my career. But I didn’t get an opportunity to play. I was still one of the first players in the gym and one of the last players to leave. To be in that situation is hard and unfortunate, but I just want to play basketball.
Why do you think things didn’t work out for you in Washington?
MJ: Coach just didn’t get along with me. I don’t know whatever the reason was. I don’t believe it has anything to do with basketball because if it had something to do with basketball… I trained hard every day, I practiced well, I did everything I was supposed to do… I didn’t have any answers on why I was in the situation I was put in. I just knew I was in it.
So you think it was personal?
MJ: I don’t know. All I know is it wasn’t basketball. I’m a great locker room guy, I’m a veteran. I’ve been in this league for over nine years and I’m a double-figure scorer for my NBA career. I hadn’t gained any weight. And if you liked me in the past, you would have to like me now. The only difference is I may not be able to do a windmill dunk like I used to in the past. But I can still dunk. It’s tough that I can’t play the game.
Have you heard from any NBA team already?
MJ: Yes, I’ve heard from some teams in the NBA. There are some teams that I’ve spoken to. We’ll see what happens. If nothing comes up, I just accept the fact that I lost a season in the NBA this year.
Any of the top teams?
MJ: Yes. It’s some good teams that I’m talking to and are serious about bringing me in.
What went wrong with Washington this season? Even before the Gilbert Arenas incident, the team wasn’t doing well. What was the problem?
Had you ever been on a team with so much drama?
MJ: Never. Never in my career.
What was the atmosphere like on the team after the Arenas incident?
MJ: After that, the atmosphere on the team was good because nobody wanted to have more problems. There was no more drama after that. The atmosphere was much more relaxed.
Do you think all the criticism Gilber Arenas has taken is justified?
Looking back at your career, you have had a pretty wild ride. You’ve been on a lot of teams – first in Europe, then in the NBA. Is that your biggest regret, that you were not able to stick around with the same team for more than two years?
MJ: Not at all. I’ve had a great NBA career. I was successful when a lot of people were telling me that I wasn’t going to be. How many American players do you know that first started their career in Europe and come back to the NBA and have a successful NBA career. It’s not too many. I’m thankful for my career and I still say I’m going to play three more years in the NBA. I want to sign one more deal in the NBA and then I’m going to Europe to finish my career.
But didn’t all those trades hurt you personally?
MJ: You know, I wasn’t accepted from the beginning. Just because I went to Duquesne and I played three years outside of the NBA, nobody knew who I was… And I wasn’t accepted from the beginning. That’s the reason I wrote my book, because so many people tried to tell me that I can’t be something. Many people tried to tell me that I could never make it in the NBA. I continued to fight and believe even when the odds were against me. It’s an inspiring story to basically let kids know that no matter what they do, they can never give up on themselves. They have to always believe in what God has for them.
What do you think is the highlight of your career? Winning the title with Detroit or that season in Toronto when you averaged 20 ppg?
MJ: I believe it was the season when we won the championship. We was the last team standing. It was a great moment, winning it with a team that was really doubted by everyone. It was definitely a great feeling to win the NBA championship with those guys.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to do when your playing days are over?
MJ: There’s so many things set up in my head that I can’t… Coach. I have businesses, I have my own development company… I don’t know what’s going to be the thing that gives me the challenge basketball has given me. I’m not looking for the thing that’s going to get me the most money, but mostly for the thing that’s going to challenge me the most in life and make me want to get up every single day like basketball did.