Should athletes be paid to play professional basketball?
Retired NBA basketball player and Villanova alum, Tim Thomas recently chatted with me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast about that. He also said he was scammed in high school.
Check out our Q&A below!
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Do you believe that college basketball players should be paid to play the game of basketball in the NCAA?
Tim Thomas: Yes I agree with that. The reason why is because there’s so much money being generated, I see that it’s only fair and it’s only right. Players are not able to benefit off their name and merchandise and things of that nature while you’re in college so I mean at some point they’re gonna have to do something to kinda make it an even playing field out there.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: LeBron James recently said that the NCAA is a corrupt organization so the NBA should further develop it’s minor league system to give young ball players a viable alternative. More specifically he said “I don’t know if there’s any fixing the NCAA, I don’t think there is”. He said that’s been going on for many, many, many, many years I don’t know how you can fix it. I don’t see how you can fix it. If you ran the NCAA for a day or two or longer, maybe a month or a couple years, how would you kind of implicate some sort of paying system? Like what would you to do make sure players are being taken care of? Is it more money on their meal cards? Is it a stipend so they can just live or give to their families? How would you fix the system monetarily?
Tim Thomas: I think all 3 of what you just mentioned. Especially when you’re talking about kids coming from the inner city, you know, you receive a scholarship… you’re on campus, you don’t have money for extra stuff so you’re eating campus food all the time. You know, and then inner city kids you know parents are most of the time, struggling. So why not give the parents some cash so they, you know, so they won’t have to worry about their son or daughter that’s at school, you know while they’re at home doing whatever to take care of the family? I mean, I just, I don’t know man it’s a tough call it’s a tough situation, I agree with everything LeBron said it’s been going on for years… and at some point something has to be done so I’m hopeful that the NCAA will find a way to fix things and make it work for the student-athletes.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Scoop B radio on the line with retired NBA player Tim Thomas, make sure if you’re listening to this interview you go over to Wooter Apparel and use the promo code SNOOP, you can save 20% on your first purchase. Make sure you guys check out Scoop B radio’s Scoop B apparel online and speaking of apparel we talk about LeBron James when he was in school years ago, there;s this big controversy about LeBron James accepting throwback jersey from a local store, antique store (a sporting good store). It was just big controversy involving that as well as him accepting a car or rather his mother buying him a car and everybody was making a big thing out of it. Comparatively, when you were in high school there was a situation where you were given clothing from a gentleman named, well rather his company, a guy named Ahmad Mattari… he was a New Jersey clothing store owner turned sports agent with just one client and recently in the Kentucky-based Courier-Journal he’s been kind of vocal about (I guess) his involvement with you. He basically said he was a buffer between the sharks and the players and often gave you gifts and your friends from the neighborhood gifts. The Courier-Journal said you were unavailable for comment, I kinda wanna get your perspective on what Mr. Mattari said, obviously you read the article?
Tim Thomas: (laughs) Yeah.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Your thoughts on what Mr. Mattari said?
Tim Thomas: Well I mean he’s completely putting out lies, I mean this man gave clothes to everyone in the city of Paterson, New Jersey… everyone. And if you walked in the door with me at that particular time, you was gonna get free clothes. So I mean that’s just what it was but the guy was a shark himself that tried to use my cousin, Elias Thomas, into trying to become an agent and it just didn’t pan out for him. I don’t know what’s the real reason behind everything else but it is what it is. It was a guy by the name of Al Manarosian, who pretty much took care of me and my family for four years while I was at Paterson Catholic. This guy was a great friend of the late Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, who Ironhead saw the potential in me and had Al reach out to me to make sure me and my family was good going through the situation that we was going through at that particular time with me being the number one player in the country, having a lot of attention and having family members that were just coming around for the money at that particular time. He kinda guided me in the right direction, you know Ironhead, God rest his soul… was a mentor to me. He told me a lot about what I was going to be getting into as far as the sports life and things of that nature, he was the guy that was right next door from my hometown in New Jersey. So Al Manar Osian is the guy that this guy is claiming to say things that he has done, but Al is the guy who has taken care of me and numerous other guys that had talent that was coming out of the inner city that wanted to do it the right way. That’s all I got to say about that.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: I wanna take a step back for a second, with the climate that’s in the NCAA basketball right now, basically from just combing through this article in the Courier-Journal it seems as though Mr. Mattari was saying that he basically gave you gifts, he gave you clothing, basically it seems as though it was an exchange for what was to come , he wanted to represent you as your agent. What kind of validity, if any, is this? I mean did you guys meet, did you guys talk? I mean the clothes he gave you, he must’ve gave you $200 worth of shirts and jeans… what’s facts and what’s fiction in this situation?
Tim Thomas: Well the problem is we don’t have any information to know anything as far as people’s plans or what they have going on, then it becomes an issue. Like I didn’t wanna hear that my cousin was trying to put together something to make money off of me, you know what I mean? So I can’t really harp on his thoughts, all I was doing was just trying to stay out of trouble. You gotta remember I’m a junior/senior in high school so the hang out spots was the mall, downtown… you know I’m trying to stay away from what’s going on in the community in the inner city like the heart of it. So that’s what it was so at the end of the day man, Elias Thomas which is my cousin that was trying to find a way to get his hands on some money, cause the articles is out there you gotta remember I was a senior in high school and there was 20 million dollars on the table… from a shoe company and if I was top 10 as far as the breakdown with the money. So there was people coming around from everywhere (laughs), you know so… but aye man like I said the guy Al Manarosian, I wanna thank this guy, I know Ironhead appreciates him, all of his sons appreciate this guy Al. He was the guy who helped Ironhead get to his situation as far as the NFL and all of that and he definitely helped me and my family while I was in Paterson Catholic during high school days. So whatever this guy is talking about, if you wanna sell the story sell the story. But facts are facts and it is what it is.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What point did you or your family feel like you were being taken for a ride or there was no legitimacy to what he was offering you?
Tim Thomas: It was nothing to, listen, we had an individual taking care of us, there was no need for this individual this is what I’m telling you. And this individual was not tied to any agent, any university, he was a local businessman that had his finances in order, that was making sure that kids, he was a sports junkie and he was making sure that kids from his area that had talent gave us an opportunity to go reach our potential. And at the end of the day all he wanted was his payback if we made it, and that was it. That’s it that’s all.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: How common is that in sports?
Tim Thomas: It’s tough now because there’s so much money out there and you know with the AAU world, it’s tough. I’m pretty sure it’s pretty common with anybody who’s on the verge of becoming successful, a rapper, and actor or whatever. You start finding people trying to get close to you and sometimes, hey, it could be family members. So you gotta watch everybody when you’re in that position as far as becoming a celebrity or whatever you wanna put it.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: We were talking off air just about the self-fulfilling prophecy that the movie “He Got Game” was, I was a huge “He Got Game” guy, Ray Allen played in that movie, former Milwaukee Buck… For you, watching that movie that movie back then how realistic do you think that film was for your generation back then and how close is it now to today’s athletes?
Tim Thomas: I just think it’s all in the individual and the lifestyle pretty much that’s around them. Because for me I didn’t see a need to cheat or to try to go to a university that was gonna pay me whatever whatever. Because I consider myself to already be a pro. So for different people it’s different situations and circumstances so I can’t sit here and harp on the next person and what they might do and what they might take and stuff like that. I just know in my situation it was really no need for it.
Brandon ‘Scoop’ Robinson: Scoop B Radio on on the line with Tim Thomas, he is promoting his “I am Tim Thomas documentary” which will be seen locally in Paterson New Jersey, or in the state county area as well as Paterson, New Jersey in select theaters and you guys can find it online as well… Tim, your documentary kinda touches on the start to the finish. There’s a fascination with the prep school athlete particularly in the early 2000’s you had guys like Lenny Cooke, LeBron James, even guys like Len Bias from years prior… We’ve seen documentaries like this with Lenny Cooke and even Schea Cotton, why should people be keyed in to what you have going on with this particular documentary?
Tim Thomas: I just think everybody’s situation is different, pretty much most guys come from the inner city so some of the storylines are gonna be the same but I mean it’s a different life. I can’t speak on someone else’s life I can only speak about my life and what I’ve seen from an early child age up until I was able to get into a situation where I was able to make it. So I lived through a lot of different things, I mean the crack era, there’s just so much that I had to go through as an individual as far as seeing because there’s so much trauma that happens in the inner cities. And a lot of kids once it happens to them they can’t recover from it. So it’s a lot of things man but you know everybody’s story is different and if you’re a fan of mine or you wanna know my insight this is what you wanna check out.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: So with your documentary it goes from, obviously you played against or with guys like Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, what have you… does this documentary talk about those playing days in the mid 90’s with those guys?
Tim Thomas: Yeah well I talk about those days we played AAU ball together, the greatest AAU team ever. We definitely gotta talk about that, but it’s so many different things man through the timeline and hopefully you find some things that’ interesting.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: No for sure, and one thing I found interesting that you shared with me, you’re a local guy to New Jersey… Malik Sealy was a local guy to the Bronx, God rest his soul, former Minnesota Timberwolve,, LA Clipper… got in a head on collision while he was a member of the Timberwolves. Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with Malik Sealy?
Tim Thomas: Yeah Malik was special man, God rest his soul, he was special. When I was in high school my principal at the time, Sister Gloria, she was principal when he was in high school-
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Wow
Tim Thomas: -and he was, no I don’t think he was at Saint John’s still, or he might’ve been in the league… but anyway he came to visit me, he came to Paterson, he came to my high school and he came to visit me man we sat down for about 2 hours. Kept me out of class and we was in the conference room we sat for about 2 hours and he was just giving me game man as far as like the things that was coming for me like as far as picking a school, you know making sure the people around me is right and things like that he experienced and it was a good thing man it was a good thing. Like I said God rest his soul, shoutout to his family and all that. 21 will definitely be remembered forever.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Malik Sealy went to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine high school out in the Bronx, my earliest memories of Malik Sealy was when he was Stacy Patton in the movie “Eddie”.
Tim Thomas: (laughs) Yeah.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: So taking a look at the NBA season a little bit, do you subscribe to the theory that the Golden State Warriors are a lot or do you think the Houston Rockets could make a run for their money, give them a run for their money in the playoffs?
Tim Thomas: Man one thing about sports, you gotta play it out. You have to play it out so I mean, there’s a lot of teams that I feel that could compete with them, especially in series but you still gotta play it out man. You never know what’s gonna happen, a guy might go down or a guy gets suspended or gets some techs, whatever the case may be you never know, but you just gotta play it out. You gotta play it out man. You know that’s the beautiful thing about sports.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Are you paying attention to college basketball this season?
Tim Thomas: Yeah I watch my Wildcats all the time, but you know what man I got like 3 tv’s in my living room and like with my AAU program a lot of the kids that play throughout the college season and stuff like that throughout the last maybe 10 years, I get a chance to watch these kids, because I haven’t really been around to see them in the summertime and stuff like that so I get a chance to check the kids out, even the kids that’s in the NBA. The kids that came through my program I get a chance to check them out so you know, I kind’ve watch a little bit of everybody man you know if there’s a game on I’ll just tune in to watch. But you know I’m always tuned in to the Wildcats.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Objectively speaking, who do you like in the tournament this year?
Tim Thomas: Georgetown.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Why?
Tim Thomas: Because my wife went there. (laughs) No of course Villanova but I’m keeping a close eye with Georgetown so I like what Pat Ewing is doing and around this time of the year me and my wife always go through it with the Georgetown/ ‘Nova rivalry and all that. Yeah man that’s the only thing that’s happening in my household. If it’s not ‘Nova then it’s Georgetown or vice versa.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Million dollar question, had you never gone to the NBA what would you have done?
Tim Thomas: Oh man that’s tough, I don’t know I mean I was a kid that was inspired by a lot of different things like I was in tune to sports of course but I loved action movies and all of that, I like what the confidence and swagger that lawyers have when they’re doing their jobs, I mean that was intriguing to me so, I mean it was so many different things that I was in tune to when I was younger but once sports got into my life that was it man, my mother once said (well she told me every day), that when I was a baby when I was younger the only thing I ever wanted as far as a toy was a ball. She said when I was a baby I had asthma really really bad and sometimes I would be in the hospital and getting treatments and stuff like that, the only thing that would soothe me if I had a ball while I was going through my procedures. So to say that it was sports, sports was everything for me.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: When you talked about superheroes all I could imagine is you could be a Chadwick Boseman and you being the Black Panther, could you imagine Tim Thomas as the Black Panther?
Tim Thomas: Well I’m dark enough already right? (laughs) The Black Panther, that’s a dope movie man that’s a good movie.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Yes sir, I checked it out the other day, well we talked basketball on the amateur level and the NCAA tournament, the Black Panther and your documentary I think we’re done here Sir.
Tim Thomas: Yes Sir, yes Sir.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Thank you once again for joining Scoop B Radio!
Tim Thomas: Yes sir, co-owner of that thing! Remember that.