First Person Singular

(KK Ottesen)

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Most of the guys know I'm a little different. I'm into poetry, into politics. I'll be sitting there watching "Meet the Press" in the locker room. Sometimes it's not really their thing or their interest, but teammates and different people around the league respect it. I mean, we'll be in the middle of playing, and they're like: "Hey, man, I read the article that you wrote talking about the war. That was all right, man. Keep it up." A lot of the guys, more than people would think, are into politics. I'm just a little bit more vocal.

After I came out against the war, the mail that I got was really kind of amazing. I got a lot more from supporters, but, you know, the hate mail kind of stands out. I have no problem with people disagreeing. That's fine, let's talk about it, let's have a debate. It's just that when people act like you're not supposed to be allowed to have an opinion, I'm like, well, why not? Why can't I have an opinion? If it's the same as yours, then it's okay, but if it differs from yours, "Aw, why don't you just play basketball." I'm like, wow, I have to be reduced to that?

That's why I like talking to young people, going to schools and youth prisons, just listening and giving words of encouragement. And that came from my mother. I would always have to go talk to her class, whether I wanted to or not. And she taught high school! I was like: "Mom, what am I going to tell them? I'm just a little bit older than them. I haven't done anything!" And you start hearing their stories. Like this little boy, he has to take care of his little brothers and sisters because his mom works -- a maid. He has to put them to sleep and all, like he's the parent. They're kids, but they're dealing with grown-up problems. It just makes you realize how blessed you are. I mean, things might not be going right [in] basketball -- maybe you have a bad game, maybe you have a bad stretch where you don't play a lot. Then you hear about different struggles that people go through, and it just puts everything into perspective.

Interview by KK Ottesen


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