Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mescallade Goes One-on-One with "OG" Larry Johnson

New York Knicks legend Larry Johnson teamed up with Captain Morgan to host a house party this Memorial Day Weekend in New York. LJ is helping to promote the Captain's Long Island Iced Tea pre-made beverage. One man that has created so many memories, and a beverage that erases them...fitting.

We caught up with LJ in advance of the big party to talk NBA Playoffs, the 4pt play, how often he throws up the LJ sign, and any potential changes to the slam dunk contest.

Q: LJ tell me about this party you’re hosting for Captain Morgan

A: Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea, doing it here in New York. I got Daryl Dawkins in Philly, we got my little dude Voshon Lenard in Miami. Kicking off the summer right, having some toast, definitely drinking in moderation. We enjoying the summer.

Q. How about the Long Island Ice Tea, is it legit?

A: They legit, the best thing about it, you don’t have to mix up four or five different spirits, you just pour it over ice and you’re good to go.

Q: NBA Playoffs have been great this year, let’s talk first about the Mavericks advancing to the NBA Finals, what do you think about them?

A: You know I’m born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and it’s always been a big football city, and Texas a football state, we got our Cowboys. It’s awesome to see those Mavs. It’s turned into a straight basketball city, it’s not a big football city. Jerry Jones don’t like that. It’s not a big football city no more. Dirk and Mark Cuban are turning it into a basketball city.

Q: How about Dirk getting a chance to get back to the NBA Finals?

A: Let me give you a little game. One of the reasons they doing what they are doing is a coach by the name of Tim Grgurich. He coached me at UNLV. He was the Assistant Coach, but he was really the Head Coach. Coach Gurg - we called him that. We’d be in the gym two hours with Coach Gurg for two hours before Coach Tark come to the gym. Gurg is the assistant over there with the Dallas Mavericks. He is more defensive minded, even Dirk who is a great scorer, he’s really getting after it on the defensive end. He let them know if you want to win, it has to start on the defensive end. Dirk Nowitzki can score the basketball but you gotta get key stops

Q: How about the Heat and the Bulls, the Heat have the advantage do you see them advancing?

A: Heat got home court advantage, I got the Heat beating Chicago and I got the Heat beating Dallas.

Q: Is it weird to pick the Heat considering the great Knicks-Heat rivalry from years back?

A: I remember them days, I used to have some ill feelings, I’m too old now, I just want them young fellas, don’t matter which team, which organization, just to do well. I don’t like when we do bad. I look at myself, they call me OG, I saw Lebron and those guys, they give me a pound what up OG, I’m like ok I like that. I don’t mind the Heat winning.

Q: The Grizzlies were an 8 seed that upset a 1 which reminded me of the Knicks run in 99, did that remind you on the Knicks run?

A: It did. When I was watching that series, they kept saying our name the last 8 seed to beat a 1, it was the Knicks. You know what happened those guys, just like us, they gelled at the right time, the season is so long, 82 games. Look at San Antonio, those guys was old, they just destroyed guys up until the All-Star break. They were looking so good. They got veterans like that, by the time playoffs came nobody had legs on San Antonio.

Q: You started with the Hornets but finished your career with the Knicks, who do you associate yourself with more?

A: It ain’t even a question, definitely a Knick, it’s not a question, it’s definitely the Knicks and I feel bad about it. The Hornets, that North Carolina, that’s basketball heaven, you got Tobacco Road, Duke, UNC, five, ten miles away. They love basketball, they love it in NY, but to be in that small country environment in Charlotte and it’s all about basketball. Them Panthers in town, but they secondary to what we would do.

(It’s the Knicks because) it was the last team I played for. (Also) I do not care for the ex owner of the Charlotte Hornets which was that Shinn guy who lost the team. He would come in the locker room when we won and talk about us and then wouldn’t come in the locker room when we lost. I even said something to him about that. ‘Yo it’s your team, you pay us to play for you, you don’t pay us to listen to you kills us. You don’t know nothing about basketball.’ This is what I told him to his face, ‘you don’t know nothing about basketball you’re a car salesman, you got a GM, a head coach, let them do basketball. He’s like well this is my team and I just walked away from the guy.’

Q: You are perhaps most known for the four point play, I watch it now over 10 years later and still get goosebumps, how do you feel when that play comes up?

A: I get goosebumps. I had all my sons there when that happened, that was the highlight of my career, winning the national championship in college and that four point play. I wish we would have won a title but that’s water under the bridge.

Q: What did you think of the moves the Knicks made this year getting Carmelo and Chauncey Billups?

A: I love it, we’d do much better against Boston if Chauncey would have been more healthy, we need more point guards, Chauncey is not getting younger. We need one of those Chris Paul, or that (Deron) Williams dude and we’ll be on our way. I think we’ll be more competitive with Miami and Boston.

Q: You mentioned the ’99 team gelling, how much will gelling be a key for this team in the offseason and next year?

A: It will and then the start of the year, you’ve got to have some camaraderie, Landry Fields took a big hit when Melo came, he has to find his way, he was playing so well before Melo got here. Stoudemire was the man, everybody knew their role, knew what to expect. Once you get another superstar, like we got Melo, roles change. 3-4 guys leave, 3-4 new guys in, I think Landry Fields took the biggest hit, I think it was hard for him to find his role once Melo came. He’s gotta get some veteran experience in him and then he’ll know what he needs to do and that’ll help the whole team.

Q: You were famous for throwing up the LJ sign with your arms, how often do you still break that out?

A: I don’t, I don’t, when I’m in the Garden, they put me up on the tron and everyone want the big L.

Q: You were in the slam dunk contest back early in your career. Looking at it now they have players jumping over cars. Do you like the way it is, do you have any thoughts on improving it or making it better?

A: I think you can make anything better, those guys, jumping over a car, they pulled a car on the court! The dunk contest I was in (with) Cedric Ceballos, Dan Majerle put a blind fold on Cedric Ceballos, which he could see, and he ran from the one end to the other and dunked the basketball. That’s what we were doing putting on blind folks. Then right after us came those Vince Carters, JR Riders, jumping, taking the ball between their legs. When I saw that I went out and was like whoa! I was in my sixth year in the NBA and I was trying that. Let me see can I do that, put the ball between your legs. It’s just evolving, it’s great, Blake Griffin no telling what he’s gonna do.

-Posted by Cadillac Mescallade

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