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Paul Shirley
Paul Shirley
Position: -
Born: 12/23/77
Height: 6-10 / 2.08
Weight:229 lbs. / 104.3 kg.
Earnings: $29,832 ($49,135*)
Misconceptions about salaries for professional players overseas. Paul Shirley: I taught here in LA for five years at a prep school for the police academy teaching creative writing and English. One day, my kids were like, ‘Hey, Mr. Shirley. Why are you doing this? You played professional basketball, so you have enough money that you can do whatever you want.” I asked them to take a guess at how much money I made every year I played until I let on that the answer was I averaged about $80,000 a year for nine years, which is better than a lot of jobs, but it’s nowhere near whatpeople think, and it’s also not nearly enough to retire on. While I was telling the story, one of the kids was looking at me wide-eyed and I said, “Does that sound like a lot of money?” He’s like, “No, no. Mr. Shirley, do you know that a police officer in Los Angeles’ starting salary is $85,000 a year?”
Paul Shirley: Behind the scene of the 2003-04 Bulls team. Shirley: That was a really poisonous locker room. I don’t want to speak too out of turn because when I was in Chicago that was also the time that I had my kidney and spleen rupture 12 days into my time with the Bulls and finished out the year with the team but spent some of that time in a hospital bed and was afraid I might die. However, I do remember that there was even like a pamphlet, like a weekly pamphlet, that would circulate in the locker room written by an anonymous sort of rabble-rouser basically saying Scott Skiles doesn’t know what he’s doing and other guys should be playing and all this sh*t. It was real bad. Eddie Robinson was on that team, and I actually really loved that guy because he just didn’t care whatpeople thought of him. He wasn’t playing because Skiles said to him if you don’t do X, it was something in warmups, then I’m benching you. Robinson was like, let’s see if he’ll do it, and then he did it.
Behind the scenes of the 2004-05 Suns team. Shirley: Steve Nash was willing to be the grease that kept the machine running, and you had to have that. I went to a week long tryout with the San Antonio Spurs at some point in the middle of their heyday. I was talking to R.C. Buford and I think it was him whotold me the reason the Spurs were good was because their best player was also their best guy, Tim Duncan. He said that’s the reason you guys are so good in Phoenix.
How different of a writing process did you find this book to be compared with your previous one? Paul Shirley: My first book was a far more haphazard affair; it was more a collection of my journal entries. There was a through line in that as I moved through the four years of basketball chronicled therein, I got more and more disenchanted with professional sports. But I’d say about two people picked up on that. This book was more cohesive, as a project. Its beginning was nebulous, in that it occurred to me that I had a whole bunch of stories that I often tell on dates, but the process was more regimented: draft, edit, draft, edit, etc. It also helped (I think) that I spent about four years working on a novel that is now in the trash. And even though that book will never see a bookshelf, it helped me learn how to tell stories. Or rather: learn more about how to tell stories.