I recently had the chance to sit and chat with Jermaine about his career, what it was like coming into the league straight out of high school and how the league is different, to him. He’s all for kids going straight to the league out of high school because he said nothing can prepare you for the NBA.
On a side note, this is the interview that the infamous Rasheed Wallace steps in on (when Mitch Lawrence said he was no where to be found). You can hear Jermaine and Rasheed greeting each other around 2:47. Left that in there just for you, Mitch 😉
Check out excerpts below:
On how the league has changed since he was drafted
A lot has changed…rules, obviously the league is a lot younger, it’s about scoring more now. Rather than the “slow down”, 85-80 old school games where defense was everything, now the league promotes scoring. The fans want to see more of the ball going into the basket rather than half court sets and team structure. All in all, I think the game has grown a lot.
At this particular point in time, the league is in another transition. I look at back when we came in- Barkley, Jordan, Ewing, and all those guys- it was kind of like a changing of the guards in that era [you know, the 95’-96’ class] and now it’s the same thing. We’re looking at some of the younger guys like Lebron and Carmelo and those guys so things have changed a lot.
On Players Being Allowed to Be Drafted out of High School
I think the biggest mistake that people make is evaluate an entire situation [early entry] based off one or two players. Personally, I’m all for players going pro because if you have the opportunity to do something you’ve dreamt about and you can take care of your family all at the same time, it’s the way of life. It’s our constitutional right.
I think overall, the league has shown that guys who have made that transition has done well. It’s hard to say if guys can still do it now- it all depends on how hard they work. There are still guys who go to college for 3-4 years who don’t pan out. Guys who were in the most prime universities in our country. This league is a league within itself. Nothing really prepares you for this league. [The only thing that prepares you] is being in it- working on the job. It’s really just a state of mind. What do you want in your career, why you’re doing it…that’s what it really comes down to.
On How Important it was to Leave Portland
I knew what I wanted to do with my career and I knew it was going to be tough. Whatever I went through, win-lose-draw, I was going to prepare myself for the task at hand. Coming out of high school, you had a lot of negative outlooks on (1) were you educated enough, and (2) were you physically capable enough to do it. Making that jump from high school was tough within itself but what I did was basically use that as a college tool.
I made friends- guys like Rasheed Wallace and those guys helped me grow into a young man. Once I got the opportunity to go to Indiana, I knew I was ready. I already knew that I did everything that I could possibly do to prepare myself to try to be successful. That’s just really been the process of my career up to this point. It’s just about being able to make adjustments when different things present themselves. It’s a roller coaster…it’s a roller coaster ride. It can be a lot of good AND bad.
I’ve had a ton of guys from Cliff Robinson to Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, Brian Grant, Stacy Augmon, Damon Stoudamire, Greg Anthony…Reggie Miller was probably the most inspirational guy for me. I’ve been blessed to play with a lot of guys- played for Isiah Thomas- a lot of guys had a lot of insight. I asked a ton of questions…and my foundation was my mother, brother and grandmother.
They really helped me understand the importance of this business- because it IS a business. Probably more than anything, my daughter. I had my daughter when I was 20 and I think the core value in being a parent is to show them how to get knocked down, get back up, dust yourself off and keep going.
Favorite Moment Playing in the League
It was definitely stepping on the court the first time. you go from watching it for many, many years to being there. I tell these guys- this is a privilege…To play something that not many people can do, and get paid to do it. It gives you a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things, create a lot of different relationships. I’ve had a lot of great moments in my career but that’s probably the best one.
Listen to audio of the interview below: