AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 10
-- Prior to the start of Game 3 of The Finals, NBA.com caught up with NBA legend Spencer Haywood, who shared his thoughts on the New York City jazz scene back in the day, the Lakers-Pistons matchup and his all-time favorite player, Kobe Bryant.
Spencer Haywood grabs a rebound during a 1970 NBA game against the Philadelphia 76ers.|
What was your favorite franchise to play for during your career?
Haywood: "My favorite franchise was Seattle , and my second favorite, which is very close, is the New York Knicks. Seattle because it's where I started and it's where everything was happening for me and I had great years there. And New York because I just love New York , playing in the Garden, playing for those fans, and those knowledgeable fans. And secondly, the life that I wanted to lead, which was always the arts and also listening to a lot of jazz. I got a chance to hang out a lot in the Village and listen to a lot of the great jazz players and hang out a lot with jazz cats. So I was in heaven, following the jazz-mobile during the summer months."
Q: Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
Haywood: "All of them. We have our meetings and I'm a member of the NBA Retired Players Association, so I'm in touch with all the guys."
Q: Anyone in particular with whom you talk regularly?
Haywood: "Yeah, Garfield Heard, one of the guys that I really admired and he's done really well with himself. The guys that I see around town here -- Rick Mahorn, Dave Bing. Dave Bing and I play tennis together all the time. Some of them are not teammates but guys that I admire -- Earl Monroe and I always talk. Mel Davis and I spend a lot of time, too many hours."
Haywood poses with the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy.|
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
What is your take on this Lakers-Pistons series, and what's your prediction?
Haywood: "I guess they call me torn between two cities, a man without a home. Because I'm from Detroit , I went to high school here, I went to college here and I never played ball here, but I played in L.A. and I won a championship in L.A. And I came back to Detroit and I have my business here and my family's here and everybody's from here. And my four daughters are all Pistons fans and my wife, and I'm a Laker. And my brothers, my sisters are all Pistons fan, and I'm a Laker. So I guess I'm sort of torn between two worlds. And my father was a general manager here and a scout for the Pistons and put together all these great teams, Will Robinson. So I am rooting one way and rooting another way. And then I'm sort of pulling for Karl and Gary Payton because they showed me something that I think our society needs to see right now, which is to give up the big salary sometimes for the goal, for just the chance to win a championship, and the importance of winning a championship. Because everybody now is so much about the money and so much about the bling-bling, so to see that, that kind of warms my heart too. And so once you're a Laker, you'll always end up being a Laker, so I guess I'm a Laker."
Q: How much do you think Karl's injury will impact the series?
Haywood: " Well, I don't know. If he's not going to be able to perform, then I think you've got to use other players, but I think that he has made such a sacrifice that if they have to wheel him out there in a wheelchair, he'd be one of those guys you could wheel out there and throw him on the floor and he'll play. So, I would like to see him play."
Q: Is there a current player whom you most enjoy watching?
Haywood: "Yeah, Kobe Bryant is my favorite player, and I'm not saying he's my favorite of this era here, but my favorite player, period. I've chosen him over Jordan, so people all say I'm sort of nuts, but time will tell. I love his game. And my second favorite player is Kevin Garnett because he acknowledged me as the guy who made it possible for him in terms of the Spencer Haywood rule and the early entry. So, those two guys have been my favorite guys. I love their game, I really do. I have personal affection for their game."