On Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship. Jamaal Wilkes has strong ties with this winning team. He was a Warrior and NBA Rookie of the Year back in 1975, when Golden State won its only other NBA title. Groomed in college by legendary UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden and known for his "slingshot'' shooting style, Wilkes also helped the Los Angeles Lakers win three championships. He recently released his memoir written with journalist Edward Reynolds Davis: Jamaal Wilkes: Memoirs of the Original Smooth as Silk. Wilkes, 62, lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Valerie. They have three adult children..
What is on your nightstand?
The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John Maxwell. I also have several biographies about John Wooden.
Is there a particular Wooden biography that you're interested in?
I think I'm kind of more interested in reading biographies by his former players. I enjoy reading about that inside view.
Here's a Father's Day question. I know your dad was a Baptist minister. When you converted to Islam, how did it affect your relationship with him?
My dad was a Baptist preacher, and unlike others, he was pretty open-minded. He read a lot about Gandhi and always encouraged us to pick for ourselves. That's what I thought I was doing. When I told my parents my decision, my mother was upset, and my dad tried to understand, but I could see he was hurt. He was more hurt than upset. It took a while to work through it, but we always managed to agree to disagree, for a lack of a better term. They did try to accept my decision but it was hard for my mom. For my dad, it was sensitive, but I knew he loved me. There was a lot going on with the civil rights movement at that time. It was all challenging.
If a parent asked you how to handle that constant battle with kids over electronic gadgets versus turning them off for reading, what would you say?
I'd take what they're interested in and somehow not force-feed them but make them aware that there were books and e-books on that subject available. It's important to encourage young people to find more time to read. It is so valuable. You're able to go to different times. You can experience things in other people's lives through reading. It just opens up so many doors and windows to life. ... I really encourage young people to find more time to read more books.
Sorry for this, but would you comment on the Lakers' poor performances recently?
I think the death of Jerry Buss, one of the greatest owners in pro sports, left a tremendous void at the top, in the leadership. Also there was the passing of Bill Sharman, who is in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, as both player and coach. This created a natural void that the children of the former owner have been trying to figure out. There's also the unexpected retirement of Steve Nash. He wanted to play so bad. Also there's Kobe Bryant's situation. It's clear he has desire to perform at a high level, but he just can't. But he can still be a valuable piece for the Lakers. He'll have to find a happy medium on how much time he plays ... every team goes up and down. They've had down time, and now they can begin working toward turning it around.
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