Before the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden ‘Beyond the Court” panel at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago I on Friday afternoon as part of the kickoff of NBA All-Star Weekend 2020. Where they had a panel discussion with Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Iman Shumpert, I got a chance to briefly chat with Kenny, who many know more so from his broadcasting days today rather than his playing days. That being one of the few subjects we got to talk about. As well what it was like to play with the GOAT, Michael Jordan.
Nello for TheHipHopDemocrat.com: Hey Kenny, my name is Nello Rubio and I’m with TheHipHopDemocrat.com
Kenny “The Jet” Smith: OK, nice.
Nello: A lot of people from my generation don’t really know that besides obviously being a broadcaster. You played too and you were a pretty good player. Won two championships with the Rockets, were a McDonald’s All-American and played with Jordan at North Carolina. So what do you got to say about that younger generation that knows you more so for your broadcasting work with TNT?
Kenny “The Jet” Smith: I think the good thing about today’s generation, is that they’re very tech savvy. So all of those games are not gone. So every now and then I will get an, ‘Oh, I didn’t you were such a great dunker. I didn’t know you were such a great player.’ Cause they can see it. They can go to YouTube. They can go online and that’s the beauty of today’s generation. They could find out about the history much easier than I could. You know there’s certain players that I grew up hearing about. That I never really had an opportunity to see because it wasn’t recorded. So I’m just happy to be a part of the culture of basketball still in such a large way. To have an opportunity to tell people and give my opinion on basketball.
Nello: Obviously playing with Mike at North Carolina. He obviously has a big influence here in Chicago with the Bulls and all the championships we seen here growing up. What was it like playing with him in college?
Kenny “The Jet” Smith: While I think overall I don’t think we could see the greatness that he has reached. So we are all happy. We always say though the work ethic and dedication. You couple that with all the things that he had athletically and mentally. I think his biggest attribute is his mental toughness. His ability to mentally tough through all moments to me is what made him the greatest player to ever play basketball.
Nello: Obviously working with TNT. You have been with them now for over 20 years. You, Shaq, Chuck and Ernie have such a great chemistry with one another. I actually got a chance to go up to the House of Blues yesterday for the broadcast and event you did there to see it up close and personal myself. What do you think it’s that makes your guys chemistry so great together?
Kenny “The Jet” Smith: I think what it’s we don’t try to do anything but be ourselves. We continue our unique personalities. We don’t change things up. We don’t try to read something that is not there and we love the game. We love the game of basketball. We don’t cheat it. We don’t want it to be cheated. We have a great time.
Nello: Basketball and Hip-Hop is something that has always kind of been hand and hand with one another. So your daughter actually sings and is pretty good. So what has that been like to see that as a father?
Kenny “The Jet” Smith: Oh, that’s fun. Anytime you see your kids doing anything that they are passionate about and they have the opportunity to have success in it. It’s just an unbelievable feeling as a father and an accomplishment. Every win she has or they have feels like yours. As well as every loss feels like yours too. So it just feels great to have that happen.
Nello: Kind of going back with that intertwining between basketball and Hip-Hop. How do you think it has evolved over the years where they shunned it away before to now kind of embracing it? Like the event where you guys had Anderson .Paak yesterday and different events of that nature you can see it.
Kenny “The Jet” Smith: Overall I think it’s great. Hip-Hop and basketball married together. It’s the bravado attitude. The only emotions that Hip-Hop brings those are the same emotions we bring in our sport.