We were offered a chance to speak with Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues earlier this week as he launched a new T-shirt line with No Mas Apparel
. Bogues has virtually no connection to Twin Cities sports, but he is a basketball hero to many of us after playing 14 years in the NBA
as a 5-3 guard. So we said, "Yes, please!" Here are some of the things we talked about with Bogues, who still lives in the Charlotte area:
RandBall: What was the driving force behind the new T-shirt?
Muggsy Bogues: We wanted to have a little fun with it. The company is No Mas, and they’re good at putting throwback shirts out with a lot of celebrities. It was something I always wanted to do, and talking to the guys at No Mas, it made sense. We came up with a concept. I love the design, and it’s all about having fun and my belief in what my career was all about. We’re just trying to reach out to Muggsy Bogues fans – or non-fans.
RB: Do you still hear from people -- vertically challenged or not -- that you are an inspiration?
MB: You hear that all the time. The career that I had, and the non-believers that I had -- I won over a lot of them. Especially when I was able to set the tone for the non-believers, those who were wishing and wanting and never had the courage trying. I get letters today still telling me how much I was an inspiration in their lives seeing what I was able to go through.
RB: Did you have an influencing inspirational force in your life?
MB: I inspired myself. I was self-motivated because it was hard to find someone of my stature to play the way I played. Fortunate enough for myself, I had another small guy at my high school and he gave me my nickname. He was like 5-5, 5-6 and he played for the same high school. Watching him gave me inspiration.
RB: (Guest question submitted by Local Quipster): Did you have an unspoken rivalry with Spud Webb?
MB: It wasn’t a rivalry, even though we were in the ACC together and we had our battles. When I got introduced to Spud, you hear about a small guy and he’s supposed to be as small as you, so I was intrigued. It was more of a, “I can’t wait to play against this guy" thing. When I played against him and got a chance to play against him, even though we were small, we were two different types of players. I always admired Spud, and we became close from then.
RB: Any thoughts on the current NBA labor war? You went through some of this back in your playing days, too.
MB: It reminds you of back in 1998-99, but it was different times. When we went through our lockout and negotiation, we pretty much started from scratch. They tore up the original contract and started from scratch and that’s where they got to now. You look at it and both sides have a point. You always look at it from those sides. You look at where they first originally started. You see movement. It’s just that the minds haven’t met yet. The owners feel like they’re losing money across the board and don’t have even playing field. From players’ standpoint, we understand and hear what you say and will try to help. We’ll come back and come down.
RB: Do people ask you for your NBA labor opinion a lot?
MB: All the time. They try to find out what side your own. I try to give it to them from the business side. We saw this happening. Now it’s trying to save the game. You can’t look at 1998-99 and think we’re going to have a short season. Might have no season. ... That would be the saddest thing ever
You coached in the WNBA
, and fans around here are learning a lot more about that league thanks to the Lynx and their championship season. What was your experience like in that league?
MB: I enjoyed the product. They set so many standards. It’s changed so much, the game. The players have become more athletic instead of just fundamental basketball players. They are true professionals, and they conduct themselves as professionals. They work numerous hours in the community, by far more than the NBA players. With that product, how good they are and what they stand for and the inspiration you want to give to your kids, that’s a beautiful product to have in your city. A lot of people can really benefit from the game. ... And to give Minnesota a championship is a big deal. It had been 20 years since the Twins won one.
RB: Wow, that's some deep Minnesota sports knowledge.
MB: I’m a sports guy … and I’m a Kirby Puckett guy. I knew Kirby when I was playing. ... The only true [recent] connection I have to Minnesota was coaching [ex-Gopher] Janel McCarville in the WNBA.
MB: No, no that was a block! He was at the top of his shot. As he was going up, I was able to catch it and totally make my highlight film.
RB: OK, last thing. You would have no way of knowing this, but the first car I ever bought, Muggsy, was named after you. It was a little blue 1980 Datsun, and I bought it in 1995. The guy wanted $450, but I talked him down to $425.
MB: (Laughs) I’ve had people tell me they named their car, dog, cat ... I’ve had quite a few things named after me. I’m truly honored.