Was there any significance to your jersey numbers (25, 12, 7)?
Yes, 12 was my high school number, 25 was my number here in Portland and when I left Portland I wanted to keep a combination of 2 and 5 since 25 was already taken I went with 7.
Why did he select Longwood? Was it because it used to be a women's college and he thought the female/male ratio would be really good?
(He laughs) I got a lot of offers from Division 3 schools coming out of high school, Longwood was the only Division 2 school that offered me any kind of scholarship. They offered me a full four years. Also I had a friend going there on a baseball scholarship and he said it was a cool school so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
You were one of the most consistent high effort players in league history. Was there a particular motivation or pregame routine that enabled you to bring it every night?
No, I just think it was a love for the game. You get ready for the battle, you just try to protect your territory out there. Winning is always good so I was always trying to win.
Better dunker, you or Clyde?
I don't know, two different kind of dunkers. Clyde had the bigger hands, I didn't have the bigger hands so he could move the ball around a little bit more. He was more of the flashier dunker, I was more of the power dunker. So, two different styles.
Did you feel like you got robbed when you came in 2nd to jordan in the 87 slam dunk contest?
That year I think I did. The thing about that is they said we couldn't repeat dunks and Jordan ended up repeating the same dunks. It was a good match but actually I think Terence Stansbury should have ended up in the finals against myself.
Who was your favorite player to match up against as a Blazer?
Not any favorites because we had so many rivals up and down the west coast.
Oh man that's a tough, hard question, I could have Xavier one night, McDaniels... Xavier because he played that same physical small forward position, he had good size, but then I got James Worthy of the Lakers some nights, and Thurl Bailey who was 6'10, 6'11 at Utah. I had a lot of tough match ups.
(Laughs) You gotta realize guys utilized their talents in different ways sometimes, I'd say Stockton, Malone at times and all those guys I'd play against in Seattle.
When you played, who was the league's most underrated player we've forgotten?
Duckworth, he didn't get all the accolades he should have. People didn't realize how good Duck was, I watch film now and Duck is getting up and down the court, he's getting dunks on breaks, for a guy to be that agile at his size was pretty incredible.
Did the players dislike the Lakers as much as the fans did?
We disliked everybody! When we stepped between the lines we didn't like anybody. It's a little more buddy buddy right now, guys shake hands and get a little chummy before the game but when we stepped on the court there wasn't much of that buddy buddy stuff. We felt like every night you're the enemy, you might be a friend but you're not my friend until after the game, not while the game is going on at all.
Of the 3 great teams of the early 90's (89-90, 90-91, 91-92), which team was the best?
90-91, a 63-19 team, lost in the conference finals to the Lakers. I often talk to BJ Armstrong, he played on the Chicago team that year and he's like, "We're glad the Lakers beat you that year." We had their number, we had a great team that year. We'd all come together that first year in 90 but we came back the next year and that was our best team.
What was your favorite playoff series?
The one against Phoenix Suns the first year we finally went. We beat Phoenix down there after we closed them out in the Memorial Coliseum. That was a great series between the two teams.
Favorite Kevin Duckworth anecdote?
Duckworth was always fishing or hunting somewhere, he was always out in the back woods. There were some places out in Eastern Oregon where we went. There was one place out by some windmills we went to go hunting. I told him better have called someone to tell them where we were, it was in the middle of nowhere. We'd sit there for hours fishing, finally I'd tell him I have to get back to civilization.
Do you ever drink out of your own glass?
They gave us some back in the day and I still have a few sets of them in the pantry. All my friends have them and they'll drink out of one and send me a picture.
Jerome, how has the modern game changed from your heyday as a Blazer?
The game is played from the outside in today. Back when I played it was centers, forwards, now it's guards, 2 guards. Mostly guard play, a lot of guard play. Most of the teams play from the free throw line and in instead of from the box and out.
Recently Gary Payton was interviewed at OSU and he said he couldn't play the modern game because they don't allow hand checking or guys to play physical defense, do you agree with the Glove?
I agree with that. At some part in the game you have to let men be men. Now they let more go on in college than they do in the pros. People don't get hammered like the Knicks teams and the Bad Boys of Detroit used to do. I couldn't imagine trying to guard some of the guys I had to back in the day if I couldn't touch them. It would have been a lot of free throws. You can't really put a body on anyone or give them a hard foul today, you'd get tossed out of the game for what we used to consider just a normal foul. Nobody ever got killed... not quite anyway.
Are there any rule changes to today's game that he would like to see?
The hand checking rule should be relaxed a little bit, you won't kill anyone if you put a hand on them. You gotta be a man about yours. I think the hand checking rule slows the game down.
What do you think of sleeves (on jerseys)?
I don't like them and like LeBron I could never play in them. "I want to meet with the commessioner..."
Do you have any interest in coaching again?
I'd entertain the idea, I'm going to be 52 coming up and I wouldn't turn down an opportunity if it came along. College or pros but getting back on the road all the time is rough. I did it for 17 years. I'd rather teach young people how to play basketball the right way it should be played.
How important was it for you to go back to college and graduate in 2006?
It was very important, I have a daughter, a family, it was important to show them to finish what you start. I tell all my buddies I went to Longwood with that they graduated from a college but I graduated from a university. Longwood is a university now so that's good.
Your daughter recently tried out for American Idol, did she get her musical talent from you?
No, I sing a little bit here and there but she got it from her mom's side of the family.
Have you been following Lillard on instagram for 4 Bar Friday?
Yes, but that's for the young people.
No, no contributions. I'll let the young guys do that, they have plenty of thoughts and plenty to say.
What was the attraction of Portland as a place to make your permanent home after your retirement from the game?
I spent 11 years out here, I've been here longer than I've been anywhere. A lot of guys are out when the season is over but the greatest months here are the summers. It's a great place to raise kids. You can take the family to the beach, the mountains, it's a really relaxing place for me. Plus growing up in a small town like I did this city gives you that same feeling without overwhelming you.
How was it winning a ring with the San Antonio Spurs?
When you're the best at what you do, the best in the world, there is nothing better than that. My only regret is that I didn't win one here with the great group of guys I played with for so long. That's what you play this game for, to win a championship!
Just a couple quick things in closing, that was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had as a fan of any team. Jerome was friendly and eager to hear and answer all of your questions. A huge thanks to him for taking the time to do this.
Also a huge thanks to TJ Ansley for setting up the interview.
And a big thanks to BlazerCaravan for taking the time to help me edit the questions and set up the interview so it flows.
I had an amazing time!