Interview date: 03/14/2008
Run date: 04/21/2008
Born and raised in Detroit, Jalen Rose, a former member of Michigan's "Fab Five" basketball team is well aware of the blue collar worker's mentality. That's why after he retired following a very productive 13-year NBA career, Rose wasn't ready to put his feet up and watch re-runs of the A-Team. After playing his final basketball game in 2007, Rose started Three Tier Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based management and production company. When he's not serving as a NBA analyst on ESPN, Rose is working on Three Tier Entertainment's first project, a national tour of the stage play "Mary & Joseph," also coined as "The Greatest Love Story Ever Told." He was kind enough to sit down with Bullz-Eye to talk about his company, and how important he feels it is for today's athletes to pursue careers after their playing days are over. Of course, we couldn't let him go without getting his opinion on this year's best NBA trade, what Western Conference team he thinks will miss the postseason and who the dark horse is in the East.
Jalen Rose: Hey, this is Jalen Rose.
Bullz-Eye: Hey Jalen, how is everything?
JR: Great, you?
BE: Very good. So talk a bit about Three Tier Entertainment – what inspired you to get into this type of field and how you got started.
JR: I had a couple of great idols growing up – guys like Magic Johnson – who I saw do these same type of endeavors in entertainment, and doing things from a business perspective. I always knew something like this was in my future and I encourage guys to do similar things because ultimately you want to play basketball forever, but that's not the reality. You do plan on living a long life, however, and I always wanted to be a guy coming out of the Midwest – a blue collar scenario in Detroit that's always had a worker's mentality – to keep active. So it's great to be quote, unquote retired, but you're only retired to me when you're not living. (laughs).
BE: Absolutely! Are you familiar with the Novi (Michigan) area?
JR: Yes I am!
BE: I lived there for four years, and you being a Michigan man, I wanted to ask you if you were familiar with the area.
JR: Right off of I-96? Absolutely – no doubt!
BE: One of the great things about the city of Detroit is something you hit on before, which is the whole blue collar mindset and worker's mindset. I love the Pistons slogan of "Going to work."
JR: Right! One of the most underrated things about my basketball career in the NBA is that yes, I played 13 seasons, but I was also doing media and covering the Finals since 2001. I played in the Finals in 2000 and I was covering it in 2001. So I understood that I had other things that I was excited about, like going to Michigan for my major – radio, TV, mass communications - and I was into more than just playing ball. And Three Tier Entertainment is just a great opportunity. I have some projects that I'm real passionate about and the greatest love story ever told ("Mary & Joseph") is the one I'm very excited about right now.
BE: How important is it for younger athletes to pursue different careers once their playing days are over?
JR: It's extremely important. It's imperative because every basketball player wants to be Michael Jordan. Every football player wants to be Tom Brady on the field. Every baseball player wants to be the next Derek Jeter. But ultimately you're going to be judged by those years you played your perspective sport, and why you chose or took that path you were allowed to take. But ultimately we're all going to be judged for what we're doing right now.
JR: Look at Michael Jackson – who sold more albums than anyone could ever think about selling. When you see him now it's not always about what he did then, it's about what he's doing now. And unfortunately that's the way life is – the way society is – and you have to be able to evolve with the times, think out of the box and also chase your dreams, chase passions and have the same intensity, the same work ethic you have in the weight room or on the treadmill or the practice court in the office. And that's the approach I'm taking to Three Tier Entertainment. I'm in every morning and I'm cutting the lights off every night when I'm not on ESPN. And I'm really passionate about the project we have right now.
BE: What kind of avenues do you see Three Tier Entertainment going down after the production of "Mary and Joseph?"
JR: I look at a similar blueprint to the one Tyler Perry used. He took a lane that, I'm going to put out projects that I feel passionate about, but I'm not going to necessarily sit back and write this big check and that's going to make the project work. He saw himself build projects through plays he was doing and that put him in a position to put his own movies out, have his own film company, then have his own film studio.
BE: Can you talk a little about "Mary & Joseph?"
JR: I'm very excited about the play. I'm very excited that it's something the whole family can enjoy whether you want to take your kids or your parents or grandparents, or your mate. It has the kind of Christian and God-fearing overtone that I appreciate as well, and it's the greatest love story ever told. Ultimately, however, the story is about something we hear a lot about, but we haven't really heard or seen it done as a comedy, and that's the immaculate inception. We understand that Mary was a virgin and Joseph was her fiancé, but what kind of faith did it take for her, her family, her friends, to actually believe that she was not only the mother of Jesus, but also to everybody else and wow, you're still supposed to be a virgin. (laughs).
BE: Right! I could only imagine the comedic elements that could come out of that.
JR: Exactly! How do you tell your fiancé and your mom that you're pregnant, but you're supposed to be a virgin?
BE: Right, not only that you're pregnant, but also that you're giving birth to the Son of God!
JR: (laughs) Right, exactly! So, it's a romantic comedy with music, but it's very entertainment-orientated and it's a stage play that we're really excited about. And like I said, it transcends race. It transcends age, because it's something the entire family can enjoy. And those are the kind of projects that I want to be excited about. When you talk Three Tier Entertainment, I'm not just trying to do a project that I'm not proud of or passionate about.
BE: Well, I think it's great what this means to you, because as you hit on before, you could write a check and watch this thing take flight, or you can be more hands-on and work through the entire project.
JR: Right, exactly. And I'm really excited to see this project work and then allow people to see the kind of professionalism and the kind of projects that we can create. This play ultimately allows other projects to snowball into other positive scenarios.
BE: You mind talking a little NBA, Jalen?
JR: Not at all.
BE: Great! Putting aside the Gasol trade, because obviously that was the best, what other moves did you feel were the biggest at the trade deadline?
JR: Obviously the Gasol trade that you mentioned – I mean, I'd be a fool not to repeat that one because it's such a great move. But, you might think this is head scratching right now, but the Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix trade.
JR: The reason I say that is, it either gives them a chance to be a champion or it shows them that they have to go back to the drawing board. So Phoenix, as much as we love their style of play – and I loved being there as a player last season – that style of play has not proven that they can win a championship. And the Phoenix Suns organization as a whole -- a lot of people haven't realized it -- has never won a championship.
JR: So, to try and go for (a championship), I really have no problem with it. I think it was a win-win for Shaquille O'Neal and for Shawn Marion. But ultimately, it gives the Phoenix Suns a different look and a different angle to either play big against San Antonio, which that's the team you're going to have to beat four out of seven games, or the Lakers when they get (Andrew) Bynum back and they'll have two 7-footers with him and Gasol. It also gives (the Suns) the opportunity to play small if they want to, with Amare (Stoudemire) moving to center.
BE: Do you think they're a bigger threat now in the playoffs than they've been in years past?
JR: I think they're a bigger threat now because they're more versatile. I don't think they have the shooting, athleticism, or the chemistry they've had in the past, but if they can all be on the same page at the same time and catch favorable matchups in the playoffs against teams that allow them to play a certain way, they're going to be a tough out.
BE: Is it tougher for a team to adjust to a new point guard than it is to adjust to a new player at another position? My question mainly focuses around Jason Kidd's move to the Mavs.
JR: Well, the evolution of the game is this: the game used to be – even when I was growing up – the majority of the time the point guard had the ball. Obviously the point guard plays different roles for different positions. Yes, Daniel Gibson and Delonte West are point guards, but ultimately LeBron James has the ball all the time and he leads the team, and that's it.
JR: So those positions have changed, but in the case of Jason Kidd, he's going to be the guy that has the ball because he's used to being the guy that makes the decisions. It's going to be an adjustment with him because like the quarterback - or the center for that matter – when the ball is taken out of bounds, they give it to the point guard. And that's Jason Kidd. As opposed to (a player like) Shaq, who on those possessions when he doesn't have to run back because guys shoot the ball quick, or possessions where he just doesn't touch the ball.
BE: Obviously there's going to be a good team that doesn't make the playoffs in the Western Conference. What team is that?
JR: Well, so far, we consider the Portland Trail Blazers to have had a good season – especially with the way they came out of the starting blocks. I thought they were a young team that would sizzle like they have and not make the playoffs, but they will be a team that people will consider had a good season. The Denver Nuggets can be the team that you and me describe as a team that is a good team that may not make the playoffs, but frankly they haven't been a good team.
BE: I see what you're saying, sure.
JR: They've actually been an underachieving team to be the ninth seed in the Western Conference - even though the West is as tough as it's ever been. When you look at the Nuggets roster, you would think that they should be in the middle of the pack. They, in my opinion, will be the team that's the ninth seed in the West. I think Golden State will be the eighth seed.
BE: It's disappointing that with all that talent, that the Nuggets might miss the playoffs, especially since they had a nice story last year.
JR: Yeah but (the media) gave them the great story-scenario last season, when really they lost in the first round.
BE: That's true.
JR: But (their performance) gave us the expectation that they would learn from it, go back to the drawing board and improve.
BE: Boston, Detroit, Orlando and Cleveland – they're obviously your favorites in the East. Do you have a dark horse in the East that people should watch out for?
JR: Well, first off Boston and Detroit are having tremendous seasons. Boston got out of the blocks so fast it's hard for us to appreciate the lead that they've taken as far as having the best overall record in the NBA. Detroit has established itself as being the deepest team in the NBA, so those two teams have the potential to meet in the Conference Finals and it wouldn't surprise me if one of those teams wins it all.
JR: But you talk dark horse in the East – you have to obviously mention a team that has an MVP candidate in LeBron James, and not to mention is the Eastern Conference Champions. And I like the moves that they've made in (hurting) their opponents – (trading for) Ben Wallace, a former Piston, and Wally Szczerbiak, a former Celtic. So I think they can be a dark horse in the East, definitely.
JR: If you want to talk West dark horse – New Orleans has been a dark horse all year. You talk about them as a team that may lose in the first round, but as you see Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West really improve, you're not as surprised to see them beat San Antonio by 25 points.
BE: This might sound crazy, but is San Antonio considered a dark horse, too? It always seems around this time of year that nobody is talking about them because you just come to expect that they'll be in the postseason.
JR: Right. Second longest win streak in NBA history. There's something that has to be said about that. And then another team that people need to talk about in the West is Utah. They quietly go about their business, Darren Williams is Chris Paul of last year, Carlos Boozer is still 20 and 10, and they made it to the Western Conference Finals last year. So, there are some intriguing scenarios and matchups and it's probably going to be the most exciting stretch run and opening round of the playoffs in some time.
BE: I have to ask you this before we go – is UM ever going to turn things around and get back to the tournament?
JR: I hope! I really like Coach (John) Beline – I just hope he's able to get some productive blue chip players in there and make Michigan one of the top programs in the country again.
BE: Jalen, I really appreciate you talking with us.
JR: No problem. I appreciate everything and stay in contact.
BE: Thank you – take care!JR: You too.