Friday, January 13, 2017
You never knew what a kid in the interview room might say to jolt you out of your slumber and back to your senses and force you to pay attention. And once you were paying attention, you naturally placed far greater weight on whatever he had just said than you probably should: The most memorable moments in job interviews for the National Basketball Association were hard to consign to some appropriately sized compartment of the brain. In certain cases it was as if the players were trying to screw up your ability to judge them. For instance, when the Houston Rockets interviewer asked one player if he could pass a drug test, the guy had gone wide-eyed and grabbed the table and said, "You mean today!!!???" There was one college player who'd been arrested on charges (subsequently dropped) of domestic violence, and whose agent had claimed it had been a simple misunderstanding. When they'd asked the player about it he'd explained, chillingly, that he'd grown weary of his girlfriend's "bitching, so I just put my hands around her neck and I squeezed. 'Cause I needed her to shut up." There was Kenneth Faried, a power forward out of Morehead State. When he showed up for his interview they'd asked him, "Do you prefer Kenneth of Kenny?" "Manimal," Faried said. He wanted to be called Manimal. What do you do with that? Roughly three out of every four of the black American players who came for NBA interviews - or at least came for interviews with the NBA's Houston Rockets - had never really known their father. "It's not uncommon, when you ask these guys who their biggest male influence was, for them to say, 'My Mom,'" said the Rockets' director of player personnel, Jimmy Paulis. "One said, 'Obama.'"
-Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds