Blogs and Q&A: union stories
1. What prompted you to write “Fight For Your Dreams?”
I think my story is exciting. If it weren’t my life, I knew I still would have wanted to read it. I feel it will inspire youth in today’s society, especially the kids who don’t have any outlets and there only option is the streets. My book is about embracing your dreams, even if that’s all you have to hold on to.
At the age of 34, I’ve written my first book, and I know my story has never been told. Everybody has their opinion of who Mike James is, and you’ll understand who I am and why by the end. This book is an interesting ride.
2. Why the decision to write your memoirs now, as opposed to after completing your NBA playing career?
I’m from Amityville in Long Island, NY, probably one of the last neighborhoods that you would want to be in. I made it out of nothing. I saw everything and witnessed it in my hometown for the first time. I saw the million-dollar drug deals, saw how crack affected people’s homes, the murders. My hometown is infested with all of that, but it prepared me for everything. That’s why I loving going back, and I thank God for being as hard as it was.
In my neighborhood, kids don’t want be to like Kobe, MJ or AI…they say, ‘I want to be like Mike James.’ The time is now for these kids to start believing in their dreams. My book is a blueprint for kids to get out of these ghettos with little or nothing. I did not want to wait to share my message. If one person can get something from it, then the time is now. I want to do so many things for my hometown…the kids there are struggling.
I read AC Green’s book, and his life intrigued me. Being able to live a life of celibacy on a team where they were a dynasty…what a strong and powerful man. I read Billy Graham’s book, he also intrigues me. If there is anyone on Earth I’d like to talk to, it’s Billy Graham and Joel Osteen.
3. You have taken a very active role in a number of the NBA cities in which you have played ball. Why is it important to you to leave your mark in each of these communities?
I am me. Wherever I go, people enjoy my company. I talk to security guards, cooks, receptionists, etc. They embrace me, and people need help everywhere. I don’t try to wear too many hats, but I enjoy children, I majored in children’s psychology. If we don’t invest in our children, who will? They are our future. They are the generation coming up right behind us. This generation is like watching an AND1 Mixtape Tour. If we don’t invest time in them, it will only get worse. If we don’t start teaching, then this world is really going to destroy itself. I have to leave my mark everywhere…I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.
4. You have recently hosted the Mike James Annual Celebrity Golf Outing and Mike James Day. What kind of impact have you witnessed as a result of these community events?
Oh my goodness, these events give the kids something to look forward to. I remember one time I went home to Amityville, and I always had a fence separating my house from the park. There were about 10 kids playing pick-up ball. I hopped the fence to go play with them and the kids could not believe it. To these kids, I’m a star. I’m not trying to be the league star, but I’m the neighborhood star…and I love it.
5. Talk about the Mike James Scholarship Fund…
I give scholarships to underprivileged and at-risk kids. I love the development of kids, helping them believe in their dreams. You have to continue to instill the right messages – there’s more to life than a sport. It’s about getting an education, going to school so you can make the money and have a successful life. The scholarships help them to reach their potential and achieve their dreams. We’ve given about 20 scholarships out all over the country…gave some in Houston, Milwaukee, New York…And I’m going to keep doing it.
ABOUT MIKE JAMES
Point guard Mike James is a native of Amityville, New York. Finding solace on the basketball courts as a kid, he was a standout on the Amityville High School squad, before attending Duquesne University on a basketball scholarship. Finishing ranked third all-time in steals (201), James was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference 1st team in his senior year. However, he was not drafted and went overseas to play, where he enjoyed stellar seasons with both the French and Austrian teams. He began his NBA career when he was signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat in 2001. Since, he has played for Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Houston and Toronto. As the starting point guard for the Raptors during the 2005–06 season, he averaged career highs of 20.3 points and is the first undrafted player in the history of the NBA to average at least 20 points a game in a season. He and his wife, Angela, have four daughters, Jadon, Amaya, Michal and McKinly. James is very active in the community, especially through the Mike James Foundation, which provides scholarships to underprivileged children. Visit his Web site, MikeJames7.com, to learn more about him.
The NBA veteran reveals all about his favorite interests and experiences on and off the court. Don't forget to check out exciting information about him and all your other favorite NBA Players at NBPA.com
We’ve been on the road a lot, so when I have free time, I like to just relax, stay home, talk to my family on the phone and watch TV. I love those TNT and TBS shows…like Dark Blue and CSI. I also like to play ping-pong, my second favorite thing after basketball.
Coach and I talked about how he was also a second-round draft pick – I didn’t even know that until he told me. He said as long as I keep doing what I’m doing – practicing, working out, training hard and focusing – I would do well. It was motivating to hear that because he was a great player during his playing career, and he’s a great coach now. And I want to be a great player in this league and a coach one day.
Playing alongside some of the best players in the league is a great experience for me. I’m learning at a young age how to be a professional, the importance of having a good work ethic and how to handle myself, on and off the court. I learn from everybody on the team, and players pull me aside to coach me through things or teach me how to improve. One day it will be Paul Pierce helping me out, one day Rasheed, one day Ray Allen, KG, Kenny Perkins, Rondo or Marquis.
The coaching staff is really great! They know what they are doing on offense and defense. If we stick to their game plan, we are going to have a great season.
This is the first time I’ve been so far from my family. It’s very hard because talking on the phone is not the same. But, I try not to think about it too much. They know I’m doing something I love to do, and I’m fortunate to be in a great situation right now.
My grandma used to cook all the time, so I miss her meals…miss being with my parents, sister, brother, nieces and nephews, playing with my dog. Even though I miss them, I think I’ve handled the adjustment well.
Right after the NBA Draft, I went up to Boston. I was working out, just trying to get into the best shape I could in the off-season…so I could be the best player I could be when the season came. It seems like it paid off, I’m in pretty good shape now.
When the season started, my mindset was mixed. I was nervous, but also very excited because it was my dream to make it to the NBA…I always wanted to play in this league! I was nervous because I’m on a great team, and I didn’t know how I’d play and adjust to new teammates.
But, it’s going really well, and everybody gets along. The coaching staff and players are great. They get on me if I make a mistake so I can adjust it…they are trying to make me a better player.
I know I can be a good player in this league – I just have to keep learning and stay focused…and go out and play hard every night.