Catching Up With Mike Glenn
While making over half his shots is not impressive for all players (and would certainly be a great goal for any player), one would normally expect that kind of production from a center or post player. However the 6-3 Glenn was a guard, and it's not often you see perimeter players hitting shots so consistently (of the 21 players in the NBA currently hitting more than half their shots, only five are guards - with former Hawk Jason Terry leading the way at .518).
Since retiring from the NBA, Glenn has branched out to interests outside of playing, including becoming a successful author and speaker. Recently he also became the commissioner of the World Basketball Association (WBA), a fledgling league spread throughout most of the South. Hawks.com had a chance to talk to "Stinger", as he was known in his playing days, to find out about all of his current activites.
Hawks.com: As it is referred to in the title of this feature, we have to ask: What are you doing with yourself these days?
Mike Glenn: I am keeping busy. Right now what takes up most of my time is I am the commissioner of the World Basketball Association (WBA). It's the league's second year, and we are just trying to bring a lot of growth and stability to it. We are going to different cities, speaking with the city councils, mayors, and other leadership. We are just doing everything we can to make the league sound and continue to grow at a reasonable pace. We had seven teams in the first year, and we will have 12 this year. So I am overseeing the growth of the league as commissioner.
Hawks.com: How did you get involved with the league?
MG: I've known the founder of the league, Leroy McMath, for a long time. He asked me if I would serve as commissioner, and I said yes. I saw it as an opportunity to get involved in the community and in the lives of young athletes, so I chose to do it. It has taken me in a different direction, provided me with new growth and new challenges. It's definitely been energizing.
Hawks.com: Have you spoken with (NBA Commissioner) David Stern about the difficulties of being a commish?
MG: (laughs) No, not yet. But I would like to talk to the NBA's league office and the league's GMs to firm up relationships with them.
Hawks.com: How do you view the placement of your league with all of the other leagues out there (NBDL, CBA, etc.)?
MG: I maybe view our league a little differently than others might. I think our league is a separate entity that has its own life. A lot of people see it as a showcase for players to move on to other leagues, but I see us as a part of the communities we are involved in. We are bringing help to the people around us, and our players have to understand that coming in that they are going to play a role in giving back. We are there for these kids' futures, we want them to aspire to go as high as they can go, but we also are living in the present and its important that we stay a part of the cities we play in.
Hawks.com: With your busy schedule, do you have time to keep up with the league still and the Hawks?
MG: I've kept up some, but not as much as I used to (as a Hawks broadcaster). But I have a lot else that takes up my time other than the WBA.
Hawks.com: What other things are you working on?
MG: Well, in just a couple weeks, I am releasing my third book "Lessons From My Library, Volume II: The Integration of Sports History". Basically, it's about how many of the black sports pioneers sort of get lost in the shuffle behind the ones that everyone knows, like Jackie Robinson. Even black history scholars tend to gloss over the subject. When you are dealing with subjects like lynching and the right to vote, the integration of sports sort of gets marginalized and swept under the carpet. Some of the great sports heroes have been forgotten, and it's a shame that people haven't seen some of the best African-American athletes of the first half of the 20th century.
Also, the book will coincide with the opening of my new exhibit at the Decatur Library in downtown Decatur. It's a collection of rare books, newspapers, and other artifacts, and the title of the exhibit is "From Molineaux To Michael: African-Americans in Athletics". It will show athletes all the way back from Tom Molineaux, who lived around the turn of the 19th century, all the way up to present day.
Hawks.com: What do you think of the state of the league these days?
MG: I think the league is doing fine. They are doing a great job of growing new stars. It's a very exciting league, and the athletes are just tremendous nowadays.
Hawks.com: As a former sharpshooter, what do you think about the shooting prowess of today's players?
MG: I think it's less. The athleticism has begun to outweigh shooting and some of the other facets of the game. The three-point shot has become such a vital part of shooting, and I think it affects the psychology of shooting. You can shoot 34-35% from 3-point range and be considered a good shooter. I know for myself, since shooting was my expertise, shooting less than 50% from the field really bothered me - I couldn't sleep when I was missing shots. So to me, shooting 35% is horrible! I would hate myself for that - but now you can pat yourself on the back for that. People aren't as concerned about missing anymore. You have to really care about missing, care about hitting your shots, care about shooting a good percentage to be a good shooter. But today's emphasis on the dunks and three-pointers has seen the in-between game disappear, and the in-between game is where the jump shooters live.
Hawks.com: Any players remind you of yourself?
MG: I look at guys like Allan Houston, Ray Allen as players who are similar to how I played. Those guys have such pure shots with the release and the rotation on the ball. And I guarantee they are aware of how many they make and miss!
Hawks.com: What do you think of the young players on the Hawks?
MG: I like them, in particular Josh Smith. He has such potential, it can't even really be measured now. This is a golden time for him. The team is doing a great job of developing him, by allowing him to grow and make mistakes. Players need a chance to grow, to see what they can become. It's like being a teenager - you need time to find yourself before you can become an adult. This is his opportunity to find what he can do and what he needs to work on - but he must continue to be challenged. If he is still challenged, he can be a real star in this league if he stays on the right track.
Mike Glenn's Hawks Statistics
Throughout the year, Hawks.com will be featuring interviews with former Hawks players. Check back periodically for more articles as the season continues! Information about the release of Glenn's new book as well as his latest exhibits can be found at his website, www.mikeglenn.com. The second season of the WBA begins later this spring.
Micah Hart is the Assistant Web Editor for the Atlanta Hawks