FORMER U.S. SENATOR AND NBA GREAT DISCUSSES POLITICS, SPORTS AND MORE
One-on-One with Bill Bradley
Senator, Hall-of-Famer, Rhodes Scholar, NBA All-Star, All-American. Those are just a few of the adjectives that usually precede the name Bill Bradley. A native of Crystal City, Missouri, Bradley possessed unique characteristics as not only an exemplary basketball player but an even better student. After maintaining an "A" grade-point average and a 38.0 ppg scoring average on the court during his senior year in high school, he chose to continue his education and basketball career at Princeton University, where he gained national recognition for his work ethic both on and off the court.
Bradley delayed his basketball career in order to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. When he finally arrived in New York, the Knicks decided that two years was worth the wait for Bradley, who gave them 10 Hall-of-Fame seasons and led New York to NBA titles in 1970 and 1973. Teamed with the likes of Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere, Bradley was often seen as a determined, selfless team leader on some of the best squads in New York Knicks history.
Upon retirement from the NBA in 1977, Bradley served three terms as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey, from 1979 to 1997. Since leaving the Senate, Bradley has been an educator at the University of Maryland, Stanford University, and most recently, Notre Dame. Bradley currently is touring the country as promotion for his fourth book, Values of the Game.
Nu Wexler from coladlp1.scsn.net at 5:29pm ET
I'm a Democratic basketball fan and I'd be very interested in working for a Bradley for President campaign. Are you considering a run in 2000?
Bill Bradley at 5:31pm ET
I haven't ruled it out. I'll make a decision internally before the end of the year. There are two threshold questions I have to answer: one is, considering my abilities and my energy, could I add appreciably to the public welfare, in other words, does ability match moment? The second is with my family. Do we want to jump off a 50-story building without any idea if there's a net (laughs)? So, I have to answer those two questions before I make any public decisions.
Philip Courter at 5:31pm ET
I was recently in attendance at your speech at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Missouri. I just wanted to tell you I really enjoyed it and would like to ask you if you would please have Willis Reed as your running mate if you run for president at the next election.
Bill Bradley at 5:32pm ET
(laughs). I usually say that (Dave) DeBusschere or (Phil) Jackson should be my Secretary of Defense. Willis is a great friend and I'm sure he will be involved in some way with anything I do.
sammy the k from law.berkeley.edu at 5:33pm ET
You were recently teaching at one of the last schools in the country -- Stanford University -- able effectively to balance academics and athletics. How does Stanford do it and what can the rest of the country learn from its example?
Go Bears! (Sorry, had to get one dig in.)
Bill Bradley at 5:34pm ET
Last year I taught at Stanford, and this fall I am at the University of Notre Dame. The key to balancing academics and sport is not compromising academic standards. You have to see sports as a complement to education. I think that to have a sound mind you have to have a healthy body, and both those universities do that.
Peter at 5:34pm ET
When you were young, did you know you were going to become a pro basketball player?
Bill Bradley at 5:36pm ET
When I was in high school I wanted my team to win the state championship. When I was in college I wanted my team to win the NCAA Championship. But when I was 14 I didn't think about playing professionally, even when I was playing three hours a day during the week and five hours on the weekend. And I write about that in my book, Values of the Game. It's not something I designed, but it came about through setting goals and hard work.
Jay from remote.umass.edu at 5:36pm ET
Do you think the season will start on time?
Bill Bradley at 5:38pm ET
I hope that the season will begin soon. I hope that both sides can get together. The game is too good and the examples of excellence are too prevalent for us to miss them this year. I hope that an agreement is reached soon. It's in the best interest of basketball that it happens.
I think Michael is the best in the league. Do I think Scottie is second-best? I don't know. He would be on my all-defensive team, I know that. I think you might have to go with a center as the second-best player in the league. I think that even in today's game, the centers play a tremendous role. I might be dating myself here, but a (Patrick) Ewing-(Hakeem) Olajuwon matchup helps explain that. In Values of the Game, I have an incredible photo of Ewing blocking out Hakeem. And I have a photo of Bill Russell and Wilt (Chamberlain); both show the incredible intensity of center play.
Ernie Stein @ aol.com at 5:39pm ET
Tell us a story about your old roommate Dave DeBusschere - one that you never told anyone before?
Bill Bradley at 5:41pm ET
(laughs) He and I have an agreement to never tell the stories that we've never told anyone before (laughs). He was a great roommate and a great friend. He taught me about resiliency. When I first came into the league I used to take losses very hard. It used to take me a few days to get over a game. Once, we had a tight game in Philadelphia; I made a bad pass and cost us the game. (Dave) came back to the room and said, "You can't live like that. You have to get ready for the next game." I learned from him that you can't make the bad past affect a positive future. That's what I learned from Dave.
Julio from totalsports.net at 5:41pm ET
Senator, who in the government has serious game, and who do you respect? I've heard Gore and Quayle are fair players, and McMillen was also. Who are your PTP'ers baby?
Bill Bradley at 5:42pm ET
Nobody. None of them can do it at all (laughs). Tom McMillen was a pro, obviously, so he could play. But other than that, nobody. It's just ridiculous.
AndyW from uoregon.edu at 5:42pm ET
What was your experience like shooting those commercials for ESPN?
Bill Bradley at 5:44pm ET
It was a lot of fun, particularly the interview for the job where I was asked, "Have you ever done any writing?" Well, yeah, I've written three books, one a best-seller, including the Tax Reform Bill of 1986. And they said, "Have you done any public speaking?" And I said, yes, I've given the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, and he said, "Well, we mean before big audiences." It was a lot of fun. The people who do the commercials are a lot of fun.
David Janis from warwick.net at 5:44pm ET
What do you remember most from the 1970 championship season?
Bill Bradley at 5:47pm ET
What I remember most is the fifth game against Los Angeles, when Willis (Reed) fell and injured his leg. We went into the locker room and redesigned our whole offense. We ran a zone offense against the Lakers, even though they were playing man-to-man. And we won that fifth game. We couldn't have won the series without that. What I also remember, which I write about in Values of the Game was before the seventh game. We didn't know if Willis would play, but we heard this roar as he came out on the floor, and Jerry West and Elgin Baylor stopped their warmups to watch him take the floor. Then the first time he touched the ball he hit about an 18-footer and the crowd just went wild. Those are the moments that I most remember.
chris from splitrock.net at 5:47pm ET
I heard you used to dribble down the cobblestone main street with your eyes closed in Crystal City?
Bill Bradley at 5:48pm ET
No, it is not true. I would wear glasses that prevented me from seeing the ball, and I would put chairs in the gym, and I would dribble around the chairs with those glasses on. But I didn't dribble down the cobblestone streets. What I would do as a kid on those streets is walk with my eyes facing forward while trying to use my peripheral vision to see what was in the store windows.
Jack at 5:48pm ET
During your NBA career, which player gave you fits on defense?
Bill Bradley at 5:49pm ET
John Havlicek was the toughest player for me to guard by far. He constantly moved, and the second he had a half-step he would get the ball. He was relentless.
Joe Ramsay (L.A.) at 5:50pm ET
Sen. Bradley: Can you picture Phil Jackson becoming a politician, and running for office?
Bill Bradley at 5:52pm ET
On some days I could picture that. Phil is very bright; he cares about public issues. He understands people and likes people. He has never talked to me about doing that, but I could see it someday. Although with him taking a year off, I can see him coming back and going to work for another NBA team for several years. He is an extraordinary coach. He writes the foreword to Values of the Game, where he talks about our friendship.
Bill Bradley at 5:52pm ET
I appreciate the chance to chat on NBA.com. Maybe I can come back over the next few months and take a few more of these questions. It was very enjoyable, and I love this game.
at 5:54pm ET
Thank you for joining our live chat with Senator Bill Bradley!
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