Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
Whenever Jalen Rose is on the scene, he is known as someone that is entertaining and outspoken. He is also a man of the people and a person who is known as a giver and loves to give back to his community.
Last weekend, the former NBA star and one of the hosts of the ESPN show, “Jalen & Jacoby,” came out to Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2 in Brooklyn in promotion of the Puma Clyde Hardwood sneaker. When he was introduced to the crowd by emcee Larry “Mic Larry” Agee, many of the kids in attendance gravitated towards him and asked for pictures and autographs.
Since last year, Rose has been an ambassador to Puma’s basketball division and has been very supportive in the sneaker company’s effort to get back into the basketball scene after its obscurity for the past two decades.
When asked about Clyde Frazier, the legendary NBA star famous for helping lead the New York Knicks in the 1970’s and the impact that Puma had on him as a youth, he replied, “My father, [Jimmy Walker] was in the same draft as Clyde Frazier. Watching Lee on ‘Beat Street,’ with the thick shoestrings in ‘em and breakdancing growing up, and stuff like that, and the Suedes, and the windbreakers, and all that stuff. So, I’ve always been a fan of the brand, so it was really organic.”
“And then I always appreciated how they embodied urban America, and became a pulse in hip-hop culture,” Rose continued, “It’s one thing to sign LeBron James or Steph Curry or whatever, but it’s another thing to hire Jay-Z to be an ambassador, to sign Nispey Hussle early in his career, to sign Meek Mill at different points in his career, and I always appreciated that about Puma, that they embodied break dancing, graffiti, art, rap music, because that’s what the culture represented. Everytime you see [NBA} players get off the bus, what do you see them doing? Listening to their headphones, now they’re doing it on their court. I remember a time when they were like, ‘What you doing with them headphones on the court?’ Like, you couldn’t do that, and so, now that it’s appreciated, embraced, and Puma is at the forefront of that, I’ve always been a fan of the brand, and it was organic.”
Rose talked about various topics, such as how the Lakers and Clippers not facing each other in the Westcrn Conference playoffs and how other teams in the West would fare during the season.
In regards to Puma, he also spoke about two of the New York Knicks’ finest young talent, second-year forward Kevin Knox and rookie R.J. Barrett, both of whom also have endorsement contracts with the brand.
On the subject of the duo as far as a marketing standpoint with Puma, he replied, “The great thing about sports is, first you got a ball. And once you take care of the 95%, as I call it the 95-5 theory, you take care of the balling part, which I think both of them can and will. I think Knox is slept-on, I think he’s going to have a breakthrough season. R.J. Barrett, I think anytime you’re playing alongside Zion [Williamson], people actually sleep on the fact that he led the team [Duke] in scoring, so he put in work, that dude, and I think both of those guys have potential, I think they’re both versatile. You know what I like about both of those guys? I say this as a member of the media, but also as an elder statesman of the league, I always bet on guys that would be successful if they didn’t have basketball. Like, if you look at both of them, they come from good families, like, they’re well-spoken, they’re humble, they’re smart, you know, they’re measured, and they just so happen to be talented athletes. To me, those are characterstics that embody success that I think they both have.”
When asked about the organization itself, he replied, “So the goal is always to sign the top-tier player, like in high school, if you’re going to college, like if you’re Duke or if you’re Arizona, if you’re Kentucky, you want to sign a McDonald’s All-American. But if you can’t do so, you’ve got to recruit a team like Gonzaga, or like Michigan was doing before where you develop the players.”
When asked about free agency in the NBA, Rose replied, “So the Knicks, of course you want to sign KD [Kevin Durant], of course you want to sign Kyrie [Irving], but his injury took a big effect and he even talked about how he was considering the team, and then he was almost like the lead recruiter, to the point when he got injured, Kyrie became the lead recruiter. And ultimately, he wound up signing with the [Brooklyn] Nets. They didn’t know he was coming, he announced it on IG [Instagram]. And so, the Knicks were in the conversation, and so if you can’t get those guys, to me, you have to try to get two at every position, and I like that they tried to get 10 or 12 guys that are going to show up at the game, like the Clippers did last year, that the Nets did last year, to feel like, ‘I deserve to play and I’m going to play hard,’ and then the coach, unlike having a No. 1 receiver, per se, can spread the ball around. And being how, you hope to become attractive for other top-tier free agents that become available in the next couple of years, you know, we don’t know what’s going to happen with the ‘Greek Freak, [Giannis Antentokoumpo] or [Donovan] ‘Spida’ Mitchell, or a lot of guys that are going to become free agents, so to me, they help stabilize their situation to the point where they’re going to gain respectability, it’s a team that Fiz [David Fizdale] is going to coach hard and then now all of a sudden, when a star player becomes available, he’s going to consider the opportunity to come join their squad.”
On the subject of the Nets, he added, “I love what the Nets have done, because, moving to Brooklyn, they didn’t have a history, and I remember being on our show, saying, ‘They got Captain America’s statue hanging in front of the building?’ Like they shouldn’t be able to play Mos Def, Fab, Jay-Z, B.I.G, nothing, until they get their squad together, and then there became a time when like, ‘Ok, we helped them get rid of the Captain America statue, like where’s B.I.G’s statue, Notorious don’t have a statue in front of the building?’ And so, as it relates to on the court, that creates a culture, in the building, you know, they got the DJ, they got the little club [40/40] area, they’ve created a fun environment, and now all of a sudden, you get a lot of young guys that want to play together. Caris Levert was having an All-Star year until he got injured, and then after came D’Angelo Russell’s opportunity [to shine]. So now I think Caris Levert is going to play really well with Kyrie Irving, I like [Spencer] Dinwiddie, Allan [Crabbe], he couldn’t play against bigger bodies, so you bring in DeAndre Jordan, because he struggled against Joel Embiid in the playoffs, so I like what the Nets have done, but now Kyrie gets a chance to boogie.”
On the subject of Irving, the six-time NBA All-Star, Rose replied, “Going to Nets games is [going to be] like watching Rucker Park play. Kyrie’s gon’ be between the legs, behind the back, getting the oohs and ahhs, and he knows that the light at the end of the tunnel ain’t a train, because KD’s coming back.”
When asked if he could go back into a time machine and go back to 1991, when he was 18 years old and a McDonald’s All-American at the now-defunct Detroit Southwestern High School and give advice to his younger self, he replied, “Pattern and everything, long shorts, black shoes, black socks, the name Jalen, everything. Pattern everything. And so, these are the type of things, there were pioneers for me that I loved, that laid it down, the Bad Boy Pistons, the Showtime Lakers, Larry Bird and his Big Three Celtics, Muhammad Ali and athletes that I love, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Bill Russell. And so, that’s what happens. When I meet an Allen Iverson, he comes up and tackles me and be like, ‘Yo, thanks a lot, man. Y’all are the reason I can wear corn rows and wear a do-rag and be an MVP,’ so as I look at somebody like LeBron James, who now gets an opportunity to actually do that (make an impact), to the point where he was actually trying to trademark ‘Taco Tuesday,’ like you can’t get that, you can’t own that one, man. So, that would be the advice that I would give him.”
Now that he’s a sportscaster with his own show on ESPN, Jalen Rose continues to entertain, but also inform the public on basketball matters. But on a Saturday in Brooklyn, he was definitely a fan favorite amongst the many youth in attendance who watched the dunk contest, in which he was one of the three judges, and also someone that the reporters love to talk to. With his powerful words, the kid from the South Side of Detroit, manages to change the game.