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Interview with Knicks rookie Cleanthony Early


By Tommy Rothman

Earlier this week, I reached out to Cleanthony Early, who was taken 34th overall out of Wichita State by the Knicks in this year’s NBA Draft.

Early, a 6-foot-8, 219 pound forward, has made a name for himself with his great athleticism, a dangerous 3-point shot, and his solid defense. Cleanthony helped lead Wichita State to the Final Four in 2013 and was a key member of this year’s squad, which went an undefeated 35-0 before losing in the 2nd round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Cleanthony was terrific in that final game against Kentucky, scoring 31 points on 12/17 shooting and pulling down 7 rebounds. Most projections had Cleanthony, 23, going in the mid-to-late first round, but New York managed to snatch him up in round 2 with one of the picks acquired in the Tyson Chandler deal.

Cleanthony, a Bronx native, was kind enough to agree to answer some questions for me. Check out what he had to say:

Tommy Rothman, New York Knicks Memes: How did you get started playing basketball? How did you fall in love with the game?

Cleanthony Early, New York Knicks: Started just watching my brother when I was real young and following after him. It then just escalated with the sport just being so easily accessed at all times, and from then on I played it so much… the interest in it just kept growing!

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Tommy: What was the entire draft experience like, from the combine, to the interviews, to the draft itself, to the moment you were drafted? How did you find out the Knicks were taking you? Did you get a call, or did you have to wait until your name was announced like everybody else?

Cleanthony: It was a great experience, everything you ever asked for. I was happy to be a part of it all. I got a call a couple of picks prior [to being drafted] so I kind of knew.

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Tommy: A lot of people expected you to be picked Early (insert pun here), but you fell to the Knicks at 34. How does it feel to be selected to your hometown team? Do you feel more motivated after falling in the draft to prove people wrong?

Cleanthony: It feels great, whatever team picked me up [at] 1 through 60 would of been a blessing. Not too many people get to live that moment of hearing your name called [on draft night] in general. Obviously the later you fall the more motivating it is for you… or at least me. I feel I have something to prove. I think I should of went earlier. But I didn’t. So therefore I have to make them remember the kid that was overlooked once again.

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Tommy: Do you think you are ready to handle the pressures of playing in Madison Square Garden, on the biggest stage in the NBA?

Cleanthony: Yes sir.

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Tommy: Who on the team have you gotten a chance to speak to so far?

Cleanthony: Tim, Swish, Shump, and Shane.

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Tommy: What is the best advice anybody has ever given you, as an athlete or as a person?

Cleanthony: Keep God first, keep working hard, and make good decisions.

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Tommy: How do you feel about working in a system created by Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, two established NBA champions?

Cleanthony: Blessed. Those are two people I got a chance to admire and observe as good and educated people at a real young age, honestly, and now I get to learn from them. [That] is the ultimate advantage on my side.

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Tommy: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Cleanthony: My Mom, and great people with a vision and work ethic to make what they believe in happen by the energy they put out into the world and into themselves. A lot of things motivate and inspire me on a daily basis.

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Tommy: What should we expect you to bring to the floor when you are on the court?

Cleanthony: A good basketball player giving his all to get those wins and hopefully a championship.

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Tommy: With the Las Vegas Summer League approaching, how excited are you to get on the floor as a Knick for the first time, even if it isn’t an official game?

Cleanthony: I’m excited just to be out there with the guys, going hard, learning the offense.

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Tommy: Do you have a nickname? “Earl The Pearl” is taken.

Cleanthony: (Laughs) Most people call me “Cle”.

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Tommy: What was your pregame routine in college? How about your postgame routine?

Cleanthony: I listen to music and say a prayer before the game and after. But I do that a lot regardless so I don’t know if that counts.

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Tommy: What advice do you have for young athletes out there?

Cleanthony: Keep God first, keep working hard and make good decisions. Watch who you keep around you, and the things you might say or do, because someone is always watching. Be smart.

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Tommy: What are your hobbies outside of basketball?

Cleanthony: I like to watch movies, listen to music, read here and there, just chill and relax.

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Tommy:  Bonus Question: Are you ready to get some serious fashion tips from Clyde Frazier?

Cleanthony: [Laughs} I’ll take it.

*End of Interview*

Thanks to Cleanthony for taking the time to answer these questions for us! You can follow Cleanthony on Twitter here and Instagram here

You can follow Knicks Memes on Twitter here and Instagram here

-Tommy Rothman

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Interview With Knicks Big Man Jeremy Tyler

By Tommy Rothman

Jeremy Tyler might not be a household name yet, but he certainly has the potential to become one. Tyler, who left high school early to pursue a career overseas instead of playing in the NCAA, was drafted with the 39th pick of the 2011 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. After seeing limited action in Golden State, Tyler joined the Knicks’ Summer League team. New York waived Tyler after he suffered a foot injury, but brought him back to their D-League team and added him to the NBA roster in January once his rehab was complete. In the past week, Tyler has become a part of Coach Mike Woodson’s rotation, and has showed off his impressive athleticism on both ends of the floor. Tyler is averaging 18.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes through his first 10 games as a Knick. I reached out to Jeremy through his media team a couple weeks ago, and he was kind enough to agree to do an online interview with New York Knicks Memes. Keep reading to see what Jeremy had to say about himself, his journey, his teammates, his coach’s smile, music, and his first month as a Knick.

Tommy Rothman, New York Knicks Memes: Hi, Mr. Tyler. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Your path to the NBA was a bit more complicated than the standard prep-to-college-to-pro journey. Even before making your NBA debut with the Warriors in 2011, you had already played in a professional setting. But the NBA and the bj league (in Japan) are two very different things. What was the most difficult part about the transition to the NBA?

Jeremy Tyler, New York Knicks: The pace of the game is a little faster here and [there are] more athletic players. And the seriousness of each game [is higher].

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Tommy: Have there ever been times where you have felt that having experienced professional basketball outside of the NBA has helped you handle the pressures and the spotlight of the NBA?

Jeremy: Yes, it definitely has, and it’s been really good taking the experiences I have over there and [using] them in everyday life here, and [it’s] helped me become a better person.

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Tommy: You landed a spot on the Knicks’ summer league roster and were very impressive. You earned yourself a contract and then, just when it seemed you were a lock to make the team, it was announced that you would miss several weeks with a foot injury. How did you respond to that mentally? What was it like rehabbing an injury while trying to fight for a roster spot, physically and emotionally?

Jeremy: It was hard at first but I learned the injury might have came to teach me patience. And with patience it taught me to use each setback as a comeback. I think because I had my head on straight and a good support system, I was able to get through it.

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Tommy: Immediately after the Knicks waived you, they expressed interest in bringing you back to their D-League team to give you a chance to prove yourself. You were very impressive in the D-League (your final  game with the Erie Bayhawks having been a 21 point, 15 rebound performance). The Knicks decided you’d earned a shot on the NBA roster, and you recently signed an NBA contract with the team. So after a half-year of uncertainty, you are finally a New York Knick. How did it feel when you finally got signed? How has your first month as a Knick been?

Jeremy: It felt great. It felt like I accomplished the first step of my big goal. With the first month being here, I found myself. I’ve been learning, getting in great shape and working on my mental and physical performance.

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Tommy: Playing in New York City is no small matter. Do you feel ready to handle the pressures of playing in the most famous arena and the largest media market in the NBA?

Jeremy: Yes, I am ready to accept any challenges that come my way. I am well-prepared for adversity and am excited.

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Tommy: There are a lot of fans who haven’t gotten much of a chance to see you play. Which part of your game do you think Knicks Fans should be most excited about? What should we expect from you on the court going forward? What do you try to bring to the table? In other words, who are you when you step on the floor?

Jeremy: My sense of urgency. I like to play at a high level energy wise. I am a very fun and outgoing player to watch whether on the court or supporting my team on the bench. On the court going forward, I’m going to [give] 110% every time and take advantage of any minutes I can get.

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Tommy: Which NBA players did you idolize growing up? Who did you try to model your game after?

Jeremy: Growing up I idolized Amar’e (Stoudemire) and Hakeem Olajuwon.

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Tommy:  You are playing with one of the game’s elite scorers in Carmelo Anthony, and a premier post defender in Tyson Chandler. You will be around veterans famed for their toughness, such as Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin. How much do you think you can learn from your new teammates as you try to develop as an NBA player?

Jeremy: I can learn a lot like I have been. They have been in the game a while and they help a lot everyday and I feed off their positive projections.

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Tommy: Eventually, we will get to know you as a player. But what do you want Knicks fans to learn about you now, as a person?

Jeremy: I am very family orientated and I’m extroverted and like it do a lot of things.

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Tommy:  Have you ever seen Mike Woodson smile? Be honest. It’s OK if you haven’t.

Jeremy: Yes. He smiles all the time. He’s a very happy and outgoing standup guy.

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Tommy:  Iman Shumpert and Metta World Peace have both dabbled in the rap game recently. Do you have what it takes when it comes to rap? Should one of your new teammates put you on a track?

Jeremy: Yes, I love music. I do music. Maybe one day we will all be on a track together. I can rap, but I prefer to sing and play the piano. I taught myself to play the piano while I was playing basketball in Japan.

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Tommy: What advice do you have for young basketball players?

Jeremy: Always play and always have fun. But know that if you want to accomplish something big, you have to put in the work. As a young player you have to put even more work than any of the older players.

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Tommy: What goals do you have for yourself as an NBA player?

Jeremy: To be an NBA All-Star and be an icon one day.

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Tommy: Last question: You have shown that you can comfortably play either position, but do you view yourself as a Power Forward, or a Center?

Jeremy: I can play either. I am both. Wherever they need me, I am ready.

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You can follow Jeremy on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Special thanks to Jeremy and to his media manager, Leslie Strauss.

 

 

New York Knicks Memes Exclusive: Interview With Metta World Peace’s Brother, Daniel Artest

Tommy Rothman

Earlier this week, I reached out to Metta World Peace’s brother Daniel Artest, asking if I could ask him a few questions, and he kindly agreed. Daniel Artest is a former basketball player himself, having played some college and semi-pro ball until 2012. Born 3 years to the day after his  eccentric All-Star brother, Artest is certainly an outspoken character himself. But he is definitely down to earth. As Daniel puts it in his twitter bio, he is “just a man with an unlimited iPhone data plan and an opinion.” After doing this interview, I can conclude that the two apples fell approximately 3 inches from each other. Here is what Daniel Artest had to say in his interview with New York Knicks Memes.

Tommy, New York Knicks Memes: Hi, Mr. Artest. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with New York Knicks Memes. Let’s start with the name. Your brother recently changed his name from “Ron Artest” to “Metta World Peace”. Was it just for fun? Does he expect his family members to refer to him as “Metta”?  Does he expect people who work for him to refer to him as “Mr. World Peace”?

Daniel Artest, Metta’s Brother: He doesn’t mind being called “Ron” in public. I call him “Ron”. People who work for him calls him “Metta”. I guess it depends on the person.

Tommy: Growing up with “Ron”, one of the most outgoing guys in the league, what was that like?

Artest: Growing up with Ron was just your average brother relationship but we rarely got into disagreements. I just followed him to his basketball games back then. He had a name hooping and I looked up to that. Even to this day I look up to my brother.

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Tommy: As we know, you played a bit of ball yourself. How close were your pickup games with Ron? Did you ever win?

Artest: Ron was physical but we both can say I was the more physical one. I won my fair share of games. I was really good at basketball before I got hurt. I can still play now. Just can’t jump as high.

Tommy: Was he as physical in the backyard as he is on the NBA court?

Artest: We are from Queensbridge. We had no backyard man. We hood!!!

Tommy: You guys were all born in New York, and Ron grew up a Knicks fan. Emotionally, what was the experience like for him and for the family when the Knicks passed on him in the 1999 NBA Draft, one pick before he was taken by Chicago?

Artest: I was 16 years old at the time. I wasn’t thinking about what team he got picked up by. We as a family was just happy he was in that fortunate position to live his dream.

Tommy: Things did work out in the end. Ron is a Knick now. Did you all see this coming once he was let go by the Lakers? What does it mean for Ron and the family for him to be playing his home games a subway ride away from where he grew up as a kid? Other than location, what were the other factors in his decision to join the Knicks?

Artest: I honestly thought the Clippers was the team he was going to end up with. Me personally as a Spurs fan… I tried and failed to get him to San Antonio. I guess the NYC factor was the main factor. And he wants to [beat] Miami to get that title.

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 Tommy: Going back to the earlier days of his career, Ron let his explosive nature get the best of him at times, most notably on November 19, 2004. How much of a setback was the brawl for Ron… how tough was it for him to overcome the consequences of his actions that night?

Artest: I figured you was going to ask about the brawl. I praised Ron for his actions. At the end of the day. NBA or not… You are human. If you threw something in my face… I’m sure I’d react the same way. People, especially media, makes it seem like just because you make millions you’re supposed to deal with actions of jerk fans like John Green. I bet if I threw juice in David Stern face… He would probably attack me too. I’d beat his ass though. [Laughs]

Tommy: It is clear that Ron has changed since he jumped into the stands. Aside from one incident a couple years ago, he has learned to harness his energy and toughness and use them to become a dominant defensive player in the NBA, while keeping his emotions under control. What did Ron have to do to turn things around?

Artest: I’m proud of his change, but I miss the edge he played with. Not saying he’s soft now… But players aren’t as scared as they used to be. I want that Ron back.

Tommy: Ron finally won an NBA championship in 2010 with the Lakers… he even hit the series-clinching shot. Obviously, winning a title is the main goal for any athlete. What did it mean for you when your brother became an NBA champion?

 Artest: It was cool. As a fan you are happy when your team win a championship but to experience it firsthand and being around Ron during the ups and downs… I was overcome with emotion. I’m glad he can say he’s a champion.

Tommy: What do you see Ron doing for the Knicks this season? Obviously, his prime years are a bit behind him, but he has shown that he can still be a very impactful player, especially on defense. What do you see his role being on the team? What do you see the Knicks as a whole doing this season?

Artest: Ron will do the little things that makes a big difference. He may not score 20-30 points no more but y’all Knicks fans will understand his left hand. I won’t explain it. You’ll have to see for yourself.

Tommy: What is the craziest Ron story you have that you think you are allowed to tell us?

Artest: I wasn’t cleared to tell that story. [Laughs]. But other than that. Ron really didn’t have crazy moments. That’s just media blowing things up.

Tommy: Thank you for your time, Mr. Artest.

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