Positionless

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf On Staying In Shape, What The BIG3 Has Given Him, His Career And More.

July 20, 2019 Ball Is Life Season 1 Episode 29
Positionless
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf On Staying In Shape, What The BIG3 Has Given Him, His Career And More.
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Positionless
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf On Staying In Shape, What The BIG3 Has Given Him, His Career And More.
Jul 20, 2019 Season 1 Episode 29
Ball Is Life

From comparisons to Stephen Curry to being one of the most consistent players in the BIG3, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf discusses his career, Gary Payton and the coaching/playing dynamic with him, his LSU days, his beliefs and feelings and much more. 

Show Notes Transcript

From comparisons to Stephen Curry to being one of the most consistent players in the BIG3, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf discusses his career, Gary Payton and the coaching/playing dynamic with him, his LSU days, his beliefs and feelings and much more. 

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to another edition of positionless hosted by ball is life. I am as always, your host, Oliver Maroney and a joined with me today. I've got a very special guest. I've been working on this for a while now. I gotta be honest. Uh , Mahmoud Abdul Ralph did that. Does that come out right? Did I get that? Did I get that game perfect? Better than most. Okay. Okay. So first of all, I have to ask you, you know, you're in the big three. It's season three. Um , the one question I get asked quite frequently about you is how you keep yourself in the shape that you're in and kind of what you do to prepare and, and play that the way that you do.

Speaker 2:

Well, the general answer that I pretty much give everybody, I pray hard. Oh , I try to eat right, exercise a lot. I try to get proper rest. I grew up in that era where we took naps and at the same time, and I just tried to stay away from negative stress, but I stay pretty much in the gym. Uh , being in the gym is a lifestyle for me. Uh, not just playing the game, but , uh, strength and conditioning , um, is therapeutic. And so that's what I do pretty much every day,

Speaker 1:

man. It's a, it no, I know, I know. It may not seem like much to you. I know it's habit. Obviously the , that kind of creates this and um, but I mean your work ethic and just like what I see at least on the floor, practice games, et Cetera, it just seems like you , uh , from day one, I mean, look, season one in the big three, there are a lot of teams that, you know, maybe not be showing up to practices or whatever. I remember those very fondly, but at the same time, you guys, 300 monsters, you, yourself have, have put yourself in a position to succeed. And I think that's, that's, you know, something that I take away from you, but I want to go back a little bit. You know, NBA draft, I believe you were in the same draft as Gary Payton. Yes , yes , I was . Is what's the dynamic like with Gary now as your coach, technically of the big it 300 monsters and kind of a, do you ever look back on that , that draft class a little bit?

Speaker 2:

Uh, the dynamic with Gary, man , Gary is Gary, you know, he's going to run his mouth. He's going to try to get in, get in your head and uh, and push you. Uh , but as he said last year, you know, if it makes sense, I go with it. If it don't, he said, mom, who is the only one that don't really listen to me? So if it don't make sense, man, I got to go do what I gotta do. Uh, but , uh, you reflect on it, man. We're human. You reflect on it every now and then , um , especially during the big three. You know, when you, when you see each of them often, you know, we were in the same draft . He was number two. I was number three. I think Derek Coleman was number one. Yeah . And so , uh , it's interesting. It's interesting to say the least.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] I think it's just wild to see you guys back together, you know, after all these years and whatnot. And obviously to see the dynamic, he's now your coach. So, yeah, exactly that same man , like , look, I'm not a rookie. Yeah. It seems like he kind of treats everybody the same and that, that sense. Um, what is Gary's coaching style? Like what do you do ? What do you like about it? What , what doesn't, does make sense? You know, kind of talk about his coaching style and philosophy.

Speaker 2:

Okay . Well, I mean we're , we're, we're at a stage right now where we don't need coaching on throne three. Really. If you want to be frank and honest, we just need managing. You know, cause we played this game for so long. Uh , so sometimes I think there gets in the habit, he over coaches, you know , uh, uh , uh, and we don't, we don't necessarily need that, but, but another thing, he's, he's, he's still competitive. He's heart knows he wants to win. Um, so you, you appreciate that, but there's a balance to everything and everybody's not receptive to the same approach. Uh, some people you can yell at and bring out the best of them. Some people if you do that, it will demoralize them . It'll deflate them. So , uh, that's the part we talked about last year at the end of the season that, you know , uh , we have to do better at because we are already facing one opponent we don't need to face to . So , uh, but he's, he's hard nose man and, and, and uh , that, that can be a plus. That can be a plus at times, but we're not, you know, we've played this game, we have some veterans on the team and we have guys that know the game. So when you, when you get into a three on three and you begin to coach a little bit too much, yeah , you can take away from it and you have, especially the younger guys, sometimes they begin to think too much and that's the last thing you want to do is think too much, just want to go out and play and have fun and compete.

Speaker 1:

Well, I look at the three on three game compared to the five on five game. I see the differences, you know, obviously defensively you have to be better. You can't just take plays off. There is no time off really and often sensitively. I think keeping the floor spread to an extent , uh, is the way that you kind of exploit other teams and stretch the floor. Uh , but it's very hard to do, you know, and the three on three setting, what are your takeaways from five on five versus three on three and kind of vice versa?

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean you pretty much hit, I don't know, three on three you exposed. Um , you pretty much, whether it's defensively, often, simply um, you , you have to play , uh , you have to recover quicker because it's more space on a five on five. You ever even five on five, every play for the most part ends up being broke down. It's a one on one, it's a two on two, three on three, even five on five. But , uh , of course you have two extra players that can make a difference and then its whole court. Um , you can get in transition , uh , and that can explore players a little bit more as well. But uh , I think three on three is just tougher. Um, it's a smaller space. Um, and it's like playing one-on-one in a sense. There's, in a sense, there's no help. It's , it's you have to guard and you have to be able to get rid of that guy off you to score. And if you do it enough, there's going to be helped and that's when things to open up for you. Okay .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Very true. I mean I think you see it obviously on the court. I want to go back a little bit to college. LSU now you played at LSU at a time where LSU was, that's a big deal. And I'm not saying it isn't now, I don't want to like throw shade or anything. It's different. What was that team? What was playing with that team like and then seeing those guys mature and grow, obviously grown into the NBA and see yourself do that as well.

Speaker 2:

I mean, you know, coach Brown had a way of man taking guys on that team and motivated them . Um , so we believe literally when we went out, we could beat anybody, even thoughs on paper. I mean, of course we had Stanley the second year, we had Shaquille the second year. And outside of that we pretty much had role players . Um, but it was, I mean, it was, it was, it was a fun time to be at LSU, man. I mean , especially for me. A guys would come in and, and they're recruiting, they're being recruited. And what do you think about LSU? I'm the wrong one. Ask . You need to go ask the guys who aren't playing much. You get a better because I'm getting minutes. Yeah , I got the fluorescent light. That's Kinda what it is everywhere. So I'm enjoying it. Um, and plus things were going well. I'm making my shots. You know, I'm being fortunate to do great things. But it was a fun time, man. It was, practice was very competitive. Uh, pretty much always. Uh , we kept the gym, the gym stayed packed. We played against some, some big powerhouses . We played the liable mayor months . It was like a tennis match. We played the , uh, uh, UNL viz , um, so some great competition back, back, back during that time. Uh, um , yeah. And to see and to seize shaky . I remember Shaquille in college actually sang something and Bruce Art Hall , I think that was the , uh, the dormitory we stayed and he said, I'm going gonna be the first guy that makes like 80, 90 million when he made, well, he, he, he, yeah , he had a vision. He knew something we didn't know, but he, he made well over that. Um, but he was always, you know , uh, aggressive and intense when he played. And you could see that if he kept it up, he was gonna he was gonna make an impact.

Speaker 1:

Now I think I recall, and then you can correct me if I'm wrong, you know, for me, I get some history mixed up. I believe when you came into the draft, there were some questions . I remember the only Grille question marks that I can recall were on like, are you in shape? How did you, how did you change that? And kind of it was that narrative even like real at all?

Speaker 2:

You mean? You mean leaving college or once I get, yeah , I don't know where that came from. Um, because actually the second year, the first year I was like one 85. Yeah , I was taken how dog previously in , in, in, in, in high school. So that caused me to gain a lot of weight, but I was still able to, and I, I look back and I pinched myself, say, man, I was overweight and I average 30.2 . Imagine if I and man, imagine if I was in shape and the second year I ended up getting down to like one 69 so I don't know where the outer shape came from. Now coming into training camp. Yes. I went about it the wrong way and I gained back. I think I went back to like one 85 and it was ugly, ugly weight. And that's at a time when we had Paul Westhead coming in, wanting to run the Loyola Marymount all fence. Um, but um, what did you say? I'm losing my train of thought. You just asked me a question and I was trying to go somewhere with that.

Speaker 1:

No. Uh , uh, in shape coming in in shape.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well, yeah, but, but the thing that really, I remember more than anything, which was w which was surprising to me, they questioned two things. Therese Syndrome , the neurological disorder, and then they questioned could I hit the NBA three. And I remember going to Dallas for a trial and the agent I had at the time was Eddie Miller out of , out of Mississippi. And he didn't tell me before, he told me after , uh, he said they questioned if you had the ability to shoot the three. And when I went into his private workout, the guy had me literally coming from full speed, half court between my legs pulling between my legs, crossover again to a spot pulling between my legs, around my back into a spot. I mean all type of stuff going full speed. The first shot I took hit the front room and , and, and, and I missed it. And I can remember, cause after he told me at the end what the guy said, I said, oh that's what that look was for . He looked at Eddie Miller and Eddie Miller did this. But after that it was history because the next 25 like when all net if, if one hit ram , I be surprised. And he came in at the end, he looked at at the middle of , he said, man, I've never seen a shooting exhibition like that in my whole life in the NBA. So at that point, but I didn't know that that was a question. Yeah, exactly. You know, cause I'm not one of those players that just shoot, I'll shoot what you give me, I'll take, if I'm , if I can get close to the line, I get it through , I'm going to shoot it. I'm just not shooting d for the sake of shooting it. But anyway, those were the questions marks.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting. And then you talk about, obviously now you have Steph curry in the league and you, I mean I've mentioned it a million times, you know, you're very similar in a lot of senses. To what Steph is. Um, what do you think about the comparison? Obviously, look, Gary has his own opinion on a comparisons. I've already heard that before. Don't compare any player to any player. It doesn't matter era era. But what do you think about the comparison and what does it, you know, how do you feel about that comparison?

Speaker 2:

I disagree with Gary. I mean, comparisons are going to happen. I think you should just be fair with the comparisons. There are different areas , but we do have similarities. Uh, he gets his shot off quick. I was known to have a quick release. Um, he's a player that he really doesn't need a , he can isolate you. He can come off screens, he can shoot the deep ball, he can shoot the mid range , um, and he can pull it at different angles. And those are the things that I , you know, especially at my size, he's a bit taller than me. I think. What about three, three more inches. But , but that I , that I prided myself, we've been able to do and had to do plan against bigger guys . So there's definitely some similarities , uh, to our plate , but it's a different era now. They're shooting threes . Like we shoot shot twos. You may have been 13, 15 attempts back then. We, that just wasn't what was , uh , promoted. Take it to the big man work off. Even if the big man was not a force, you go through the big man working and you don't shoot that many threes. That was every blue moon. Yeah . Uh, but it's definitely nice to watch, man. He can, he can just flat out play and I love to see it.

Speaker 1:

So the other question I have was, you know, the , the anthem stuff came up throughout your career and I just wanted to get some clarification on it because I think a lot of people , uh, similar to the out of shape thing or whatever you want to call it , uh, don't really fully understand it . Can you kind of like go through what it was like going through what you went through in terms of the anthem and what proceeded?

Speaker 2:

Uh , man, I accepted this land and I never was a guy who really, I mean, I could read and write obviously, but I wasn't a guy that read a lot. Um, and once I became most of my , began to read more and I was introduced to a lot of material and not just Islamic authors , I mean the Noam Chomsky's, the Guava Dal's just a host of different people. And I'm reading and I'm coming across inflammation I've never heard before. And I've always been a child and I grew up in a Christian background. I was always taught to believe in higher power, to be courteous, to be kind, to be truthful, to be just, you know , uh, to the extent that they taught me. So coming across this material, make a long story short man. I was like, wow, I didn't know all of this was happening. And you know, it pricked my conscience and for me, if something is on my conscience, it bothers me. At some point I'm going to do something and say something about it. Uh, and that was gradual. I wasn't always that way, but you know, even as a child you see things and it doesn't make sense. You can't really put your finger on it, but it bothers you. Um, and so meg alone still short , the , the more I began to read, I began to share. And then you see that a lot of people have some similar thoughts and then you develop eventually confidence and the confidence turns into courage. Like, I gotta do something about this. Um, and it just so happened tidy Lee , the assistant GM , uh, said that someone caught wind of it , a reporter and wanted to interview me. And I was at that stage in my life, look , man , there's something I have say I'm going to say it, whatever the consequences. And I gave him an interview and I didn't know that it was gonna blow up like that. Um, because these are things we talk about all the time on the bus, on the plane, on the streets. And it's different though when a public figure and athlete says something like that. And then just somebody regular. And next thing you know , uh, I was suspended and fine and it went global. And just to, the thing that toughest thing for me is man, that when people don't know you and they are quick to gravitate to what they hear in the media , uh , and the media was literally , um , uh , yeah, I usually use the term assassinate my character. Yeah . They didn't know who I was. They didn't know what my heart was, you know, and saying all of these things, you know, he's a troublemaker . He's this, he's that which was the furthest thing from the truth cause my teammates and I got along with everybody. Uh, and that , that was the toughest thing to swallow because it's hard to defend yourself against this massive entity, this, this media. And it's constantly everywhere you look, this is what's being said. And so, but I ended up having two officers as a result of that. Uh, uh, uh , you know , the anger that I had inside of me, I had to go to the hospital twice to get [inaudible] , you know, put on me because I was just furious. Was listening to all of what was being said. So yeah, it was, it was a tough time. It was a tough time getting death threats. Uh, let us tell you to go back to Africa and I was,

Speaker 1:

well , one here , some of them was humorous, but at the same time it's like, man, come on . For Real. Yeah. Oh, no question. No , there's no question. Does it, does it kind of amaze you that we haven't come further in that time? It just seems like it's still, we're still no question for whatever reason, we're still in that kind of period. In some ways. At least we are. I believe you.

Speaker 2:

It's a , in some, in some ways it amazes me in some ways it doesn't , um, habits are hard to break, you know, and, and, and a lot of what the hate that people carry with them, it comes from a place, it comes from an education. You know what I mean? Uh, uh, from when you're younger, things are taught to you , uh , and you grow up seeing the world no different than what you were taught. And some of us change and many of us don't. Some of the same things that was taking place in the sixties and seventies are taking place now is just a different look. It's a different phase to it. Right? And I tell people all the time, when I go to speaking engagements, I'll say, if you take what was what's happening now and you put it in black and white and you look at what was happening during those times in black and white, they're very similar. Uh, so it's, it's, it's sad that we , we view ourselves as intelligent and enlightened, but we can't get past racism. You know, we tend to look, the co you telling me the color of a gang on man's skin is enough to just have, it's crazy to me, man. It's crazy. So it's sad, man. It's very sad. But I mean I'm , I'm the type of person, I don't care what color you are. I don't care what religion you are, if there's an injustice, man, I just hate it. And we have been just as he is, whoever , whoever's against, I don't like it. And if I have something to say, I'm going to say something about it. So

Speaker 1:

I mean it makes a lot of sense. I mean, like I said, I just , uh, you know, I've had l hill on this podcast before and people like that and uh, you know, she's endured similar things. There's a lot of people who have, and it's not just, you know, I , and that's today and then you tell your story about that, you know, 20 years ago, it's like the same, it's over again. Um, I did want to touch on, so when I watch you play, you're very methodical and calculated, or at least it seems that way. How do you process that information and kind of go through step by step what is happening during again , because I , and I mentioned it, I think it was to Rashad mechanics , I think in season one even. And we were talking about players and , uh, I said my moods like a step ahead and it just seems that way a lot of the times. What do you attribute that to or, or do you even see that to yourself?

Speaker 2:

Um , men training, the way I train, always trained. Um , even now when I'm, even if I'm by myself, I'm imagining two, three different people guarding me. I would even as a child, I come down and I'm dribbling and I looked the other way, not throw it and I'll let the ball leave my hands and there's a space on the court, on the grass that it had the land into and I'm coming down and I'm so I trained that way. Um, and when you train that way, where you seeing two , you plant against two or three individual people and you're imagining scenarios constantly. A lot of it becomes like second nature. And especially when it's clicking and you see two or three moves ahead, you're like, oh my, that's when the game just opens up in. It's so fun. Cause we all have our days, we all have our little slumps. But um, I attributed to that. Just constantly training that way. And then putting yourself in scenarios, you know, it's just not about training by yourself and envisioning those people. You have to actually go out and you have to search out the talent. That's going to push you and there's going to elevate you. And it's like Bruce Lee says, and enter the dragon and he's about to fight this guy. And he got puts up the board and he hits it. He said boards , he said he, he breaks the board and Bruce looks at, he said, boys don't hit back. You know, so you have to implement the, you know, some people that are just drill with cones, but then I visualize it imagining the game. Uh , and then some people they just play a lot and they're not out there and working on their skill developing. So it's a combination of the two.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it makes sense. Um , I'll get you out of here in a couple of last questions. First of all, the big three , what does it mean to you? It's season three now. You've been playing in this for three seasons. I know it's been a long , uh, it feels like a long time, but it also feels very short. Sometimes. I went back and looked at some videos. I think it was like in La, it's like Andre Owens versus a Rashard Lewis GP is talking smack Gilbert Arenas is watching. He's not even playing yet. And uh , it just seems like it's been, yeah, long and short, I can go back and forth between that, but what , what is your opinion on the big three, the league where it's at and just , just, you know, talk about it from your individual perspective as well? Of course. First. Oh Man .

Speaker 2:

Every, most , every time I see ISQ I go up to him and his wife and I thank him because this is, this is for , for many of us, man , it's just, I don't know if reawakening, what's the word I'm looking for? Um, I always use the word blessing, but it's , uh , you know, basketball. I mean, like some professions you , you can stay in until you're 60, 70 years old. Basketball is not like that. And so he's given us really the opportunity man to relive , uh, what we grew up wanting to play and wanting to be a part of a years . And some of us still have something left. And I always say that when it's gone either , uh, it's tough to get it back or you never gonna get it back. And so for me it's a huge blessing man. Just to be out here, cause I still have it in me to compete. I was just talking to Dr Jay Today on the plane. I said, man, I'm 50 years old. I still get pissed off man, when I miss a shot and when we lose and when I don't play whale , let's say the ones we lost, I'm like I king, I want to play them again. You know, I say when will they ask? And I'm happy to feel this way in a sense, but at some point I'm like man, and if I don't stop, man, it's going to kill me cause I'm just so I'm just hyper competitive and, and to see all of these guys too , man, that's some of some of them that I don't even know . I'm 50,000 and I was like in my twenties or something like that, when some of them were born, maybe end up still be able to hang in there and execute and get to my spot . You know , I said , man, cause I joke with them sometimes. I say, man, you've got everything to lose when you play me. They say, Huh? I say, well look at it. If we play and I get the best of you, we're human. We have our days that I get the best of you. You look bad. I said, if this is close, you have 25 and I have 20. You look bad. I said, if you happen to get the best of me, they gonna say the man is 50 years old. So you have everything low . You know. So I , I look, man, I absolutely love it. I'm going to try to play this as long as I'm healthy and I've, you know, I have the heart to compete. I'm going to try to be in it for as long as they have me. Man. Uh , it's a God's saying really. It's a Godson . And on the other end too , man, there are some people that this is saving financially, you know, because you know, I'm , money is messed up, so it's just across the board and it's constantly growing. You know, I think from the first year to now, I don't know the numbers, but it seems like the attention is given to the big three is escalated. Uh , they're thinking about, from what I heard, I don't know how true it is bringing the big three, I mean, being bringing three on three to the Olympics. Yeah. Uh , there's talks about going overseas with the big three, so you can't do all of that if it's not grown in popularity. So I think it's , I think it's gonna get bigger. Um, they're going to fine tune some things. It's going to get better and this is going to be something that I , and even walking the streets, man, people like some people like I like watching the big three more than I like watching the NBA and that's like, wow, that's huge. Yeah . And not everybody's in the shape they should be. And that's another thing I said, know ice cube that for, I said, man, I just wished that people took this series everybody , because imagine how great it could be because I try to think longterm that if we come in and we play our part and we do well, imagine how much this type of league can save lives down the road. Like willing to say people with financial or helping people get back into the league or overseas professional basketball. So don't just think of yourself, let me come out here and get this money. Do no state, stay in shape. Try to perform at the highest level. Try to grow this league as if though it was yours. So when it's all said and done, if somebody down the road may benefit from it. And so that's just the way I think. And that's another reason. That's another reason I tried to stay in shape. It also not only because it's the lifestyle, but because that's on my mind when I think about this league and I just think about the future and and trying to help. That's one way we can try to help people too . Definitely.

Speaker 1:

Uh , I'll get you out of here on this last one. I always try and ask one , um, if you look at a younger, well I guess you'd say Chris Jackson or Mahmoud , what would you change? If there's one thing you could change, what would be that be? Is there something you would change or do you take it as just a, you know what, this is, I'm supposed to go. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I'm going to answer both because

Speaker 2:

do say that and I believe that the , what I went through, I was supposed to go through to get to where I am. But in hindsight, you know, looking back , uh, you're talking about in terms of what would I change in basketball or just period,

Speaker 1:

you can say period. Honestly, I , man, I would've , I would

Speaker 2:

have taken more seriously my education , um, and I would have taken more seriously playing both ends of the Fluor because with my quickness and speed , there was no reason I couldn't do both and my training. But what happened to me in high school was, and I love my coach, I think it was the best coach I ever had. Uh , my high school coach, coach Burt Jenkins . Um, but he ended up doing something I think that I, I crippled myself with. He said, if you get beaches , Holler help and there'll be, so I play. But when I, when I get beat out, reach Ron help and that became, got it and I, and it's second nature at that point. Right. And then , then it got to the point, you'd have to Piss me off for me to play defense. Like one year in Denver I came back in shape and Dennis was like, man, all this talk about he can't play defense. That's untrue because I had decided and your for awhile pissed off but I don't , I don't want to have to get pissed off to play. And that's , that's something that I definitely would've changed , uh, coming up.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. Well, I really appreciate the time. Uh, like I said, I've been meaning to do this for a long time. I look , uh, it's been great watching you play, obviously. Great. Watching your career in general and just, I mean, I , I've , I've , uh , one went by back right before this and watch the NBA TV special that you had. It was, I don't know how long ago, but it was a while ago. But when I was looking at it at to lie , I'm sorry, I didn't mean to throw that in your face. I was just looking because the is like pixelated . When I was looking at the video, I'm like, what is going on? I just, any , I didn't know if it was youtube, my computer, what was going on, but I went back and watched it all. And , uh, it's just for your career. Uh, first of all, very inspiring and motivating for anybody. But I'm honestly seeing you out here with all these guys and seeing what you do. And like I said, even the small things, they don't go unnoticed. And I hope that you understand that and know that.

Speaker 2:

So I appreciate that man means a lot to me and keep doing what you do and I appreciate it. Thank you.