Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles of the contributors to the blog. We are lucky to have acclaimed filmmaker Sari Braithwaite to (reluctantly) interview our first subject: her brother Ben.
By Sari Braithwaite
This week I sat down to do an interview with one of the specialist NBA bloggers at the Sportress, Ben (my brother), to find out what makes him tick.
S: So when did you first become interested in basketball?
B: When I was 8, as you know we lived in Chicago for 6 months and I became very aware about coolness. Things like having Chicago Bulls clothing and seeing shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before they were released in Australia made me a pretty big deal.
S: So people thought you were cool because of your clothes?
B: My Chicago Bulls clothes were very cool. In fact all American stuff was cool back then. I think that was a big part of why I became a jazz musician and NBA sports blogger as an adult.
S: To try to be cool?
S: I remember you had a reversible Chicago Bulls tracksuit you wore for years as a teenager. Do you still have that?
B: I got really drunk at a party in year 12 and lost the jacket but was able to find a pretty close replacement on ebay recently from a guy in Ohio. I’ve been wearing it a lot lately around Reservoir where I live. It’s a very cool tracksuit.
S: So you played Basketball a lot when you were younger. Were you any good?
B: Well I got two trophies for “Most Improved Player” and one for “Best Game Strategist”.
S: “Best Game Strategist”? Is that even a thing?
B: I’m pretty sure we lost every game that season and the coach just wanted everyone to get a trophy. “You’re all winners to me!” kind of thing.
S: So even though you lived in Chicago you don’t go for the Chicago Bulls do you? Why’s that?
B: Well in 1993 pretty much every kid in the school collected basketball cards. But because Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were so well known it was really dorky to go for them. With collecting basketball cards most kids would collect as many different cards of their favourite player as they could and that would be their team. Matt Byrne had 78 David Robinson cards! He was the coolest kid in school.
S: So who did you pick?
B: Latrell Sprewell of the Golden State Warriors.
S: Why did you pick him?
B: I read in a basketball magazine that he was going to be the next Michael Jordan.
S: I don’t think I’ve heard of him. Why did you think he would be the next Michael Jordan?
B: He was great at dunking which was really important in the 90s. Young people just don’t understand how important great dunking was in 90s basketball. And shot blocking as well! This generation doesn’t really get it. Today you’ve got the Spurs and Warriors and Hawks. Who are their best dunkers? No one. No next Michael Jordans in there. In the 90s we had Latrell Sprewell, Harold Miner, Isaiah Rider, Dee Brown…. I could go on. All great dunkers!
S: So how many Latrell Sprewell cards did you collect.
B: 48! He was a real role model for me.
S: What happened to him?
B: He got banned in 1997 for choking and punching his coach P.J. Carlesimo.
S: Why did he do that?
B: The coach asked him to make his passes crisper and he snapped. He was sticking up for himself. Sticking it to “the man”.
S: Seems like a reasonable request from the coach and a pretty unreasonable response from the player.
B: Nah, I don’t think so. It was the principal of the thing. Same thing happened later in his career. When he eventually returned from suspension he retired early because the Minnesota Timberwolves only offered him 21 million dollars for three years. As he explained at the time this was “disrespectful” and “[he] had a family to feed”. Super cool guy. Always sticking it to “the man”.
S: 21 million dollars is a lot of money!
B: Player has to feed his family Sari.
S: So how’s the jazz musician and sports blogging business going? Feeding your family?
B: Got 48 views on my last post. So pretty good.
S: Good job brother.