Looking at the people out there playing, I’m like, Damn if I just really, really focused one year, one time for six months…I can probably still do it, but I won’t.
The headlines were predictably harsh, and the attacks on Twitter and in comment sections even more unforgiving.
Hell yeah. Respect to Mr. Dolan in New York. About how both Steve and I attended Montgomery Blair High School—and though for vastly different reasons, neither of us played more than a handful of games in a Blazers uniform. When you’re playing, it’s hard as shit to go back and try to look at what you really did. SLAM: What do you remember about shooting your last SLAM cover, the summer you got traded to Orlando? Tell me who can say they lived their first dream at 32? I’ve got two kids, I’m in the best place of my life. SF: Yeah, All-Star Weekend. SF: I’m more of a dad, I’m wiser. Just dump it into Yao every single play. 1 Pick In…, Report: Chris Paul Trade Could Lead To Carmelo…, David West: Bosh and Bargnani Were ‘Damn Near…, Report: Timberwolves Open To Trading No. SLAM: What about during your playing career, how much partying did you do? Your fairytale career, from the Vancouver thing to being the Franchise in Houston, it’s over. His positive efforts—like the Steve Francis Foundation, which has offered scholarship aid for at-risk youth for years—are rarely mentioned.
Rockets Face Franchise-Pivoting Offseason, Report: Ty Lue Has ‘Significant Momentum’ for Rockets Head Coaching Job, Steve Kerr Would ‘Resign’ Before Instituting Rockets-Style Offense in Golden State, Report: Rockets Interviewed Kenny Atkinson for Head Coach, Report: Timberwolves Open To Trading No. Coach Rudy T—imagine a coach who won two championships, and is a Hall of Famer, and his jersey’s hanging in the gym, he’s like I’m going to give you the ball in my city where I played. 30 years and no respect. Not disrespecting the coaches or their staffs, but those are the people I played for. When you get drunk, you get drunk. SF: I ain’t saying done.
Kelvin Cato, he wouldn’t let me go out. Social media, whatever. But Steve and I both grew up in Maryland’s Takoma Park-Silver Spring area, which borders Northeast Washington, DC. Respect for that owner who gave me that money. We talk briefly about Drake’s new album, which he’s blasting from a portable speaker, then about mutual acquaintances from Takoma Park. People do things to feel like their chest gets out there a little bit man, to each his own. There was so much shit in New York, it wasn’t even no injuries, it was coaches and players. Me and my wife and my kids are great with having a good career. Questions that frankly, I wish I didn’t have to ask.
SLAM: In your eyes, what’s your legacy as an NBA player?
I ain’t no nigga getting in no fights or beating anyone up. Hell yeah.
He followed me everywhere. Dump the ball into Yao.
People said, He’s doing drugs—Hell no, I wasn’t doing no drugs.
I gracefully bowed out.
Was it ever out of control? After All-Star Weekend, when I went there and just said, Hey guys, I’m really not going to play.
I traveled everywhere, I relaxed and rewarded myself. It wasn’t like I was trying to kill myself.
So I told him about how as a 10-year-old I fell in love with his ’99 University of Maryland team, and about how I had a poster of him from the ’00 Dunk Contest on my bedroom wall. SF: Basketball wise? This is the point where it’s going to make or break what happens to you the rest of your career. I’m not disrespecting no players, but I’m cool with the people who asked me to play. SLAM: Just to be clear, you are saying you never used drugs? SLAM: What happened when Tomjanovich stepped down and Jeff Van Gundy took over as head coach? A few weeks later, on a cool, drizzly late-April morning, I find Steve behind the Westin Hotel at the National Harbor, sitting on a bench facing the Potomac River.
Of the one from May of ’03—which he shares with Yao and a cover line boasts, “The Dynasty and The Franchise,” he says, “When that one came out, I thought we’d probably still be playing today.” A few minutes later, Wink stares out at the water. Since playing his last NBA game at age 30, the media hasn’t been kind to him.
I don’t play Madden.
So I’m cool. So what I do? I play on social media. That’s it. “That wave,” he says, reflecting on the way coaching changes and injuries swallowed up what might have been of his too-short NBA career.
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