Former player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose was one of many NBA personalities in Madrid during the World Cup. HoopsHype caught up with him at the NBA House with Foot Locker before the Team USA-Serbia final.
Why are Americans not interested in watching Team USA playing the World Cup in Spain?
Jalen Rose: I think that's a misconception. I think if the USA was playing vs. Spain, it would be a highly-viewed game just like an NBA Finals game. The anticipation for the fans is there. What happens is, great players have already had their turn: Kobe [Bryant], [Dwyane] Wade, LeBron [James], Kevin Love had to deal with his trade speculation, Kevin Durant had to deal with being tired, Blake Griffin had a back injury and Paul George got injured. So we did not have a lot of our top players ready to participate. So while it's not the Olympics, it's still basketball.
Players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose weren't big stars in 2010 but after the World Cup in Turkey they had breakout seasons. Who do you think is going to have one after this World Cup in Spain?
JR: For me, when I consider a breakout season is not only getting statistics but also leading your team to a level that they haven't been. And I think Anthony Davis has that chance, being a young player, won a championship in Kentucky, has been never on a playoff team. Kyrie Irving, now playing with LeBron James, the stakes are higher for him. Playing with Kevin Love, now he goes from being the best player of a non-playoff team where he was an All-Star to being on a championship-caliber team. Also Stephen Curry. While he's become one of the best shooters in the league, the Golden State Warriors are not at the top of the Western Conference. Can the Golden State Warriors take the next step and become a legitimate Western Conference contending team?
How do you think is going to work out in Cleveland with the new Big Three?
JR: It's going to work out very well. You've got one guy who has won four MVPs, two championships, he's one of the best players in the league. You've got two guys that have been All-Stars, but never played in the playoffs.
Who's going to be the No. 3 guy?
Not Kevin Love?
JR: No. Because Love is one of the best rebounders and scorers and three-point shooters in the league. If I had to pick a player that I felt would be the most compatible of any player in the league with LeBron James, it would be Kevin Love. How about this? When is the last time he played on a team when one guy got a rebound, another guy got an outlet and he's actually able to run the wing? That's what he's going to be able to do in Cleveland. It's going to be exciting to watch.
Let's talk about your media career. Were you certain that you would end up in the media once your NBA career was over?
JR: Radio and TV was my major in college. I played in the 2000 NBA Finals. Around 2002, I got traded to the Chicago Bulls. In February, they had nine wins, so I said 'Hmmm, I guess we're not going to the playoffs'. So I had a relationship at BET and I pitched them the idea to allow me to cover the NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Nets. Just send the camera, I'll do everything else, get us credentials, everything. I did it, it was a good job, I took that footage the next year to The Best Damn Sports Show. They liked it, I started to cover the NBA Finals for them. This is my 14th consecutive year covering the NBA Finals. So while I played 13 years in the league, this is my 14th time covering the Finals.
How do you feel about the new Fab Five documentary Chris Webber is going to do?
JR: It's not a legitimate documentary if the other four guys don't participate.
Nobody asked you to participate?
JR: I haven't heard anything about it except from the media. And the other four of us, when you look at the national championship game, we're together. When you watch my Fab Five documentary, we're together. So about his project coming, best of love and can't wait to see what happens.
When was the last time you spoke with Chris Webber?
JR: I heard through mutual friends that he's upset that I said that I feel like he should have come out and apologize for some transgressions that happened at the University of Michigan. But I still stand behind that. Also I'm disappointed how the relationship with [Michigan booster] Ed Martin ended. Ed, unfortunately, in my opinion basically died of a broken heart. So while we're still brothers and I hope that we're going to make amends… One of the great things of being teammates and friends is we should be able to speak openly and honestly. And hopefully he finds a way to realize and apologize about what happened in Michigan. It ain't just about you. It's about the players, it's about the coach. Steve Fisher coached in three finals and won a championship in Michigan. You go in that campus, his name is nowhere. So it's bigger than just him. And the fans deserve it, the history of the University of Michigan deserves it. And all he had to do is say two words. It's not brain surgery. They are 'I'm sorry.'
What would it take for you to consider leaving the media business and do something else?
JR: I have a few NBA goals. One of my goals is that I would love to be in a minority ownership of the Detroit Pistons. Potentially be a general manager or a president of operations for any team – the right opportunity at the right time.