Interview TalesJune 15, 2012
Through the years, I’ve had the great privilege of interviewing many sports stars. Here are some answers to questions I often get:
The Packers Quarterback cursed me out after a loss when I was a scared intern for asking what he thought was a stupid question. Actually, his language was a little more salty and colorful than that.
Most intimidating person: Forrest Gregg
When he looked down at you with his nostrils flaring, it was scary.
Joe Dumars was like an oasis of civility.
Most Helpful: “Magic” Johnson
I was in Lakers locker room as college reporter in the early 1980’s when a veteran anchor from a local station tried to jump ahead of me for an interview. Magic said he would talk to me first because I was there first. I never forgot that.
The “Legend” was coaching the Pacers during a playoff series against the Bucks. A reporter asked him about something George Karl had said. I always remember Bird’s answer: “ I don’t get up worrying about what George said. Never have. Never will.”
Least Helpful: Charles Haley of the Dallas Cowboys
There was a technical problem the first time we interviewed him. Not only did he refuse to do the interview again, he left the photographer near tears when he said he should be fired.
I went out to the Milwaukee Mile guessing I would not like him. (Riding his father’s popularity, more endorsements than victories.) He was impossible to dislike. Humble and friendly.
Biggest News Name: Former President George Bush (the older one)
Interviewed him for radio at Bucks-Rockets game in Houston. I only had courage to ask him for interview after wanting Calvin Murphy but having it fall through at last minute. I was desperate. Bush had presidential cowboy boots on and was drinking a beer and having a taco.
Biggest Sports Name: John Wooden
With all due respect to some giants like Hank Aaron, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, I put the late John Wooden at the top of the list. I was young, dumb and fearless back in the mid-1980’s doing a radio show in Peoria, Illinois and called UCLA for his home number. They actually gave it to me, he answered and did the phone interview. I still have the tape and will actually play it this summer on Sports32.
I covered Michael Jordan’s first NBA road preseason game in Peoria, Illinois. I actually wanted to interview Bulls Coach Kevin Loughery but was offered Jordan as “consolation” prize. By the way, the crowd that night was less than 3,000. I’m guessing it would have sold out a few years later.
Favorite: Al McGuire
Others on a list too long to include everyone: Robin Yount, LeRoy Butler, Paul Molitor, Sidney Moncrief, John Anderson, Phil Garner and George Karl. I grew up with an older brother at Marquette from 1969-’73 so to interview Al was exciting. He exceeded my high expectations.
I’ve been blessed to have these experiences. I’d say 99 percent have been positive. I’ve been lucky.