From the fan's perspective, the NBA is a wide, vast world of endless athletic possibilities. While true, it's very small and insular for those who are part of it. In fact, many former players will refer to it as a fraternity when speaking on television broadcasts. With 15 roster spots on 30 teams, approximately 450 of the world's best players get to be a part of this exclusive fraternity. Things can get tense on the court, but it can lead to great friendships and bonds off of it. During this most recent episode of One Hundred: The Ed Gordon Podcast, former NBA star Jalen Rose discussed some of the special bonds he built with the league's legends during his 13-year NBA career.
Early in this week's episode of One Hundred: The Ed Gordon Podcast, Ed Gordon asked Rose if his expectations of playing in the National Basketball Association matched up with the reality of being in the league. Rose talked about becoming the breadwinner in his family, traveling a lot and earning a few accomplishments along the way. After talking for a bit, Rose reflected on how being in the NBA allowed him to be a part of a number of major events like leading the Indiana Pacers to their only NBA Finals appearance and of course, witnessing Kobe Bryant's infamous 81-point performance.
"[For me] to come back and win Most Improved Player, that was a big thing. [For me] to take the Pacers to their only NBA Finals, that was a big thing. [For me to break the], Nuggets rookie assist record, that that was a big thing. So, I am really fortunate that I got a chance to play as long as I did," he told Gordon.
"And some of the dubious things that happened, I love now. Rest in peace to Kobe Bryant, the black mamba. Oh, I'm so very grateful that I was a part of his 81-point game because there are going to be people called upon to speak upon that brothers legacy. They're going to call Phil [Jackson]. They're going to call Shaq [O'Neal]. They're going to call a couple of people, but they're going to call me. I'm happy to I get to be a spokesperson."
Kobe Bryant is not the only legend that Rose faced off against during his time in the NBA. As a member of the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit native played major minutes in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. While Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen's Bulls emerged victorious, The Last Dance recently showcased how far Rose and company pushed Chicago in that seven-game series.
"A lot of people recently saw The Last Dance. It chronicled Jordan's final championship run as a member of the [Chicago] Bulls. A bug on the windshield were our Indiana Pacers in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. We played against them and it was the only time that [Jordan's Bulls played] seven games [in a playoff series]," Rose recalls.
"And I was going to say, until then, I think people forgot how tough y'all played them," Gordon chimes in.
"Correct. The night before that game, I remember laying on the bed. We were in Chicago. I had gotten suspended for a game...or like Reggie [Miller] got into an altercation with...Shout out to Reggie Miller, Larry Bird and all of them. So, Reggie had gotten into a little altercation, a little tangled up on the other end. I walked out on the floor. [It was a] petty rule, a dumb rule. They suspend me for a game [and] we get blown out [in Game 6]. Anyway, the series ends up going [to a seventh game] and I remember just laying on my bed in Chicago feeling like Scarface. [I felt ] like the world is mine. You know what I mean? Everybody thinks MJ and Scottie are about to have a second three-peat, [but] I'm about to go out here and make a name for myself. I'm about to be on the map. I remember that feeling. That's what I love about sports. The beauty that one play can change your life. Look at Jeremy Lin and Linsanity. The list goes on. So, I'm thinking about to go out there and change my life...we lost the game."
The stories don't stop there. Rose has stories about playing college basketball with Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, meeting his wife, Molly Qerim, at ESPN and much more for this week's episode of One Hundred: The Ed Gordon Podcast.