Looking Back: Gary Grant

Former point guard Gary Grant played 13 NBA seasons for four different NBA teams, but the man known affectionately as "The General" will always be remembered for his time with the Clippers.

One of the top all-around guards in the NBA during his time with the Clippers, Grant played seven seasons (1989-95) in Los Angeles before retiring in 2001 after 552 NBA regular season contests. Grant's nightly enegy he provided on the court quickly made him a fan-favorite.

Grant, who still resides in Southern California, has continued his passion for basketball as he works with area players on improving their skills.

Q:: You were born and raised in Ohio and you played collegiately at the University of Michigan before spending your first seven NBA seasons in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Can you talk about that early adjustment to the West Coast?

Gary Grant: It was a wonderful fit for me. I grew up in that snow and to come to California, and to wake up every day with sunshine, it was just great. I hated to shovel snow. It would be freezing and my hands would be frostbitten so I caught on real quick with all this sunshine.

Q: Though you made your debut with the Clippers, you were actually draftedby Seattle in the first-round (15th overall). What led you to being traded to Los Angeles?

Grant: The day of the draft I remember sitting there and I knew the Clippers had multiple picks that year and they were interested in me. I knew they wanted me somewhere down the line, and after Danny Manning went one, I knew something might happen once Seattle drafted me. I knew right away there might be a trade and someone said not to wear my Seattle hat for too long. About a minute or two later, I took it off.

Q: Though you would later play for the Knicks, Heat and Trail Blazers, I think most NBA fans associate you playing for the Clippers. Is that how you look at it?

Grant: No question about it. Playing here seven years and making it to the playoffs two years in a row was great. I just wish our group could have stayed together longer. We had a good thing going, but this is a business. I liked playing for Coach Larry Brown. It is a shame, as we could have built something better than we did. But I had a lot of wonderful times with the guys and with the Clippers.

Q: You, of course, were a point guard. Is that a position you played while growing up?

Grant: Yes. I always played the point but occasionally I would play the two-guard position. My thing was the point and I love the position. I liked to also play the position defensively. I liked to distract opposing point guard to try and take them out of their rhythm.

Q: For fans who didn't see you play, how do you describe your offensive style out on the court?

Grant: I think I was more of a risk-taker. I tried to thread the needle. Sometimes it wasn't really there but I still tried to thread that needle. I loved the big guys running the floor -- Ken Norman was one of my favorites along with Danny Manning -- and I would hit them running the floor and they would get some great dunks. I was also a little flashy to the point where I tried to get the crowd involved. I liked to do that. Sometimes that flashy play would get me in a little trouble, but that is how I played.

Q: Is there a point guard you followed while growing up, or maybe someone you played against that you really admired?

Grant: Isiah Thomas was a guy I met when I was young. Mo Cheeks was another guy I liked a lot. Those two guys were guys in the NBA that I really admired. They played so well and they played quick. When they had the ball in their hands they made great decisions. I looked up to them a lot. When I got older, Magic Johnson was someone I admired for what he did and the way he saw the floor. Those guys were also on great teams. That is why I go back to missing out on some great things I think we could have accomplished if we had stayed together.

Q: Known as the "The General," did that nickname come from your point guard role?

Grant: Yes and that goes back to high school. I played at Canton McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio, and I was a part of the team that won that school's first state title. I played with a lot of great players even back then and we won it and it was great. I played the point, I directed guys and we ended up having tremendous success. We were the No.1 ranked team in the country a couple of times in fact. I got my nickname back then and I took it from there.

Q: A lot of people probably associate that nickname with Ralph Lawler and hearing his voice. How much association do you have with him and this franchise?

Grant: There is no question that he is always associated with the Clippers and the Clippers with him. Even since I have been retired, or even when I was with other teams, I would turn on the games and hear him. When he says "BINGO!," I love it. It brings backmemories to when I played there, even though I wasn't a three-point shooter. When I did hit one, I could hear him say it and it pumped me up. He is most definitely the voice of the Clippers and he should be there for life.

Q: Can you tell the fans what you are doing now that your playing career is over?

Grant: I still live in the L.A. area, as I make my home in Calabasas. Two years ago I bought a minor league basketball team called the So Cal Legends of the ABA and we played in the Championship Game in Rochester, New York. We lost by three points. Now I continue to work out players, including college players, on my own time. I do a lot of individual work at different gyms in my area. I love to take the time to work them out. I also would like to one day get back in the NBA in some capacity. I love the game of basketball -- I watch so many games still.

  • Related: Catching up with Bill Walton | Looking Back at Randy Smith