Matt Jones Interview
Yesterday, sitting in a small elementary school nestled just outside of Louisville, Kentucky, about 50 children, 10 teachers, the principal, the school counselor (who is my wife), a husband of one of the teachers at the school, and myself were all anxiously awaiting the arrival of Matt Jones, founder of KentuckySportsRadio.com and host of KSTV and KSR radio. Several months prior, my amazing wife, had emailed Matt to see if he would be interested in speaking at an after school program that she had started called “Citizen School”. The idea behind the program was to get local community members from a variety of fields to come talk to the kids and tell them about what they do. Surprisingly, Matt agreed. At the time, this website didn’t even exist.
For months I debated with my wife whether or not he would show up. I was sure that a person busy running a successful website, radio and television show would never have the time to come speak at a small elementary school in Bullitt County. She was convinced he would show.
She was right.
Around 3:35, about 10 minutes before the program started, a black Lexus SUV pulled into the parking lot, and soon thereafter Matt Jones emerged. I was as giddy as a school girl at the chance of getting to meet and interview the legendary Matt Jones. My wife, who was very concerned that I would make Matt feel ambushed, had been asking me for weeks not to pressure him into doing an interview. Perhaps if Matt was like many celebrities, who consider themselves better than us normal folk, that might have been how things went. But Matt is not like other celebrities, he’s just like you and me.
He was friendly, polite, respectful, genuine and best of all, down-to-earth. He and the principal, Sam, spoke about where they went to college and Matt asked him if he knew Chris Tomlin (he did not). I even learned that his father, like my wife, was a school counselor at the high school he attended in Middlesboro. The entire time Matt was at the school, he engaged with any student and teacher that approached him. . . and many did.
During his presentation he spoke to the kids about finding what you love and turning it into what you do. He told the kids about how when Anthony Davis was younger he was made fun of for having long arms and now those long arms are what makes Davis special. He explained to the kids that when people criticize you it means they are scared of what you can do, pointing out that dogs don’t bark at parked cars.
Of course, kids being kids, there were plenty of funny moments.
– A 2nd grade UL fan said, “hey you’re the guy my dad screams at on the TV”.
– One of the kids asked: Why do you look different and shorter on TV?
– All of the kids seemed to be less impressed once they learned he did not drive around in a limo or have a personal chauffer.
– One of the kids thought he was this guy, attorney Darryl “The Heavy-Hitter” Isaacs.
– One of the kids asked if he knew Justin Beiber.
After the presentation, Matt sat down with me for nbaCATS first official interview and talked about the NBA, Anthony Davis and who he would pick as his NBA Kentucky starting five and more.
Do you watch the NBA?
I do yes.
How many games do you watch?
I watch all the playoffs and I probably watch about 30 games [during the regular season].
Do you have NBA league pass?
I do usually, this year I didn’t, but it was because I didn’t have the cable system for it, but usually I do.
Who is your favorite NBA team?
Depends on who the UK guys are playing [for]. I used to really like the Lakers but now it’s just whoever has UK players.
Who is your favorite NBA player?
That’s a good question. Non-Kentucky I tend to root for Lebron, just because other people hate him, but otherwise I tend to, probably my favorite is Demarcus just because I like him so much.
Larry Brown said the team that drafts Anthony Davis next year will win 50 games, do you agree with him?
No. I think it would depend. I mean there could be a team that wins 50 games, but if he goes to the Bobcats they’re not winning 50 games. If he goes to the Kings or the Wizards, those are two teams that could get better really quickly if he goes there, even Golden State, but if he goes to the Bobcats or New Orleans they’re not winning 50 games.
Which team would you like to see Anthony Davis get drafted by?
I’d like to see him go to what’s the best situation for him, and I think the Kings would be the best. They’ve got the 4th or 5th worst record, so they got a decent chance [of winning the lottery], and with Demarcus and Tyreke Evans and those guys they got a chance to be decent. Or Washington, I’d like to see him go there or Washington so there’s two UK guys.
Yeah, I’d like to see him in Washington personally just because him and John Wall playing on the same team would be very exciting…
They’re still a couple of guys away though, where as the Kings with one other guy, I think could be pretty decent.
What kind of impact do you think Kentucky has had on the NBA?
It’s still to come. In general, Kentucky hasn’t had as big an impact on the NBA as you would think. The best NBA player to come from Kentucky is Dan Issel and he played in the ABA, and then actually in the NBA…Antoine Walker. I mean really they haven’t had guys play that well in the NBA, but that’s about to change. They’re about to get a generation of superstars who will.
If you could pick an NBA Kentucky starting five with the current NBA players and the Wildcats in this year’s draft, who would it be?
If you do it by position, I’d say Anthony Davis, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Tayshaun Prince and…that’s a tough one…maybe Michael Kidd-Gilchrist…
At the two-spot?
There really isn’t a two on that team. If you’re going to have to play somemone at the two, Brandon Knight then. So if I was going to start a team…Wall, Knight, Cousins, Davis and Tayshaun would be who I would pick.
That’s a good squad. I asked that question on Twitter and a lot of people put Gilchrist at the two-spot, which I really like…
But then you don’t have a shooter, and John Wall can’t shoot either, so I think you need Knight, I guess they’re [UK] kind of missing a two in the NBA…
Meeks can shoot although he’s been in a shooting slump recently…
Actually Meeks, you know what, if I was putting together a team that would be good tomorrow I would put Meeks, but if you’re talking about the future I think I’d take those 5 with Gilchrist as the sixth man.
If you were an NBA GM and could draft any UK player, past or present, and you had the #1 overall pick, who would you take?
Well now that’s a good question. Past or present…I would take Dan Issell, just because you know, knowing what we know, you know he had a great career. Otherwise, Anthony Davis. If you were drafting on potential you would still take Anthony Davis. I think Davis will be the best, he will join Dan Issel as the best to play at Kentucky. We’ll see if he ends up as good.
(Matt Jones, Kaet Barron, Adam Barron)