Saturday, 23 June 2012
WARRIOR-An Interview With Rodney Rogers
Where Inspiration Happens.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
In early December 2008 Rodney Rogers was thrown from an ATV he was riding in North Carolina. This terrible accident has resulted in Rodney being paralyzed from the shoulders down. This is a tragic, devastating thing to happen to anybody let alone a former athlete. Just like Parkinson's sufferer Brian Grant, Rogers now has to come to terms with the fact that the same physical gifts and athletic talent that spearheaded a very successful NBA career will no longer be the same. Still, however also just like Brian Grant, Rodney Rogers isn't going to be giving up despite this terrible adversity.
How can we tell this? How about because this man, who clocked out of the NBA after 12 seasons and without the need to earn another penny, did not just sit back and get lazy. He took a job with the Durham's Public Works Department in North Carolina. So after completing his basketball dream Rodney dedicated his time to public service when he didn't have to. Just like Brian Grant this man doesn't give up, he's a warrior too. Michael Balzarano said it best about Rodney's contribution to his new trade, "I didn't even know he had lots of money. He is very friendly, very concerned, very conscientious. We chose him because of his ethics and his attitude. He was highly motivated." Listen to the words Michael uses, 'concerned', 'ethics', 'motivated', this speaks volumes of Rodney's character; these are the characteristics of a true warrior.
Rodney Rogers was no pushover on the NBA court either. Although again like Brian Grant, Rogers was a bit of a journeyman, his career is not defined by the number of teams he played for but by the impact he made and the contributions he gave to the teams he played for. The Nuggets, the Clippers, the Suns, the Celtics, the Nets, the Hornets and the Sixers all benefited greatly from Rodney's presence, even though the Clippers was the only team that Rogers spent more than three years with. This guy was a sparkplug off the bench, a scorer in bunches and a guy that made big plays when his number was called. He was ready to go, shoot and score even straight off the bench just like other invaluable bench mob players of his time including Robert Horry and Walter McCarthy. These priceless contributions did not go unnoticed as during his time in Phoenix Rodney Rogers was named the NBA 'Sixth Man of the Year' in the year 2000.
To put it simply Rodney Rogers made big plays and big things happen to any team he played for. Rogers was part of that 1994, eight seeded Denver Nuggets team who shocked the top seeded Seattle Supersonics by knocking them out of the playoffs, the first time that happened in NBA playoff history. Rodney also that year hit three, three pointers in 9 seconds against the Utah Jazz. These are the plays that epitomize the player he is. He was able to light it up and fill up the scoreboard in seconds. Nine points in as many a second, most bench players burn through nine minutes and barely make a point. Rodney made exclamations.
Years later came the 13.8 points per game, jump-shooting, spark-plug, 'Sixth Man of the Year' time at Phoenix where Rodney would become an NBA household name. Again his contributions where key to his teams successes. This is what has come natural to Rodney throughout his 12 year career. Now though a man who is naturally active, now faces a life where it's going to be almost impossible for him to continue doing the things he's loved and more importantly, even the more routine things in life. Then again if there's one thing we've learnt about Rodney during his basketball and professional career after the NBA it's that he too does not give up.
Let's talk about why...
Q: Rodney, thank you or your time how are you? How is everything with your foundation?
A: I am well and the foundation is moving at a very slow pace, it has been difficult to get others engaged and interested.
Q: Your hard-work and determination is inspiring, especially to fellow sufferers. How important do you feel it is to influence people in this positive way despite the negative circumstances?
A: Very Important! No doubt it is a tough situation to be in, but you have to stay positive and keep moving forward and that is what I want my message to be.
Q: Could you please share with us more about your foundation and what it's involved over the years please?
A: The foundation is still in its baby steps, we still have a few puzzle pieces to put in place and once complete, we will hit the ground running. I want everything to be perfect.
Q: What reassuring words of advice would you give to those also suffering from paralysis?
A: It can be tough at times but you just have to hang in there and make the most of each day because you never know when it will be your last.
Q: Your positive inspiration influences all sorts of people even those suffering from other afflictions. Where do you draw your great strength from?
A: My wife Faye is a blessing that I will forever and always be grateful for.
Q: You recently went back to your college Wake Forest to do a talk. How great was that?
A: Always great to go back to Wake Forest. And I love getting my message out and sharing my story.
Q: Can you share with us some of your favourite memories from your star college career please?
A: Beating Duke and Carolina in the same ACC season.
Q: Shall we talk some NBA? What a career. From Denver to Philadelphia can you share your favourite memories from your pro career please?
A: Winning Sixth Man of the Year and going to the NBA Finals with New Jersey.
Q: It must have been incredible to be a part of that eighth seeded Denver team?
A: It was because we surprised Seattle the number one seed.
Q: I guess Dikembe and his huge smile lying in the court with the ball raised will be etched in your memory forever hey?
A: Yes, because he kept saying over and over that he had a dream that we were going to win. Said it over and over and it came true.
Q: Can you share with us and young ball players what it takes and is like to score 9 points in 9 seconds?
A: 8 Seconds Tim!! (BIG SMILE) Keep working on their jumpers and always be prepared because you never know when you will be called on.
Q: How did it feel to win the prestigious 'Sixth Man of the Year' award? Can you stress how important this position is?
A: Great honor - that position is critical. I feel the sixth man is like a starter and may even play more minutes than the starters. The sixth man is called on to provide a spark or lift or good defensive play when the team needs it.
Q: What do you think of the NBA these days? Who are your favourite players or the ones that remind you of yourself?
A: Love Kevin Durant but I don't see too many of them who remind me of myself. They're too soft (smiles).
Q: What was it like working for the Durham's Public Works Department especially when you didn't have to? How important do you see public service to ones community?
A: Good job that I enjoyed doing. I think it is smart to be prepared for a life after basketball and giving back to your community in any positive way is always a win-win.
Q: Rodney we thank you so much for your time it is greatly appreciated, you are truly an inspiration. Is there anything you would like to share in closing?
A: Thank you for the interview and interest in the foundation, I enjoyed the questions.
Like he said after the accident he didn't go to a nursing home, he insisted "I'm going to my own home". Telling an audience at his former alma-mater Wake Forest Rodney's displayed courage and inspiration throughout all his life's troubles, beginning with his hard childhood and through his latest tragedy. remaining as strong as ever however, Rodney reaffirms, "You just have to keep fighting." Rogers makes what he has counts, he is motivated and he works to better himself and those around him. His situation is truly tragic but to better his life this man WILL find a way. We wish you all the best Rodney.
One thing we know about Rodney is that he wasn't just your average NBA journeyman, role player. He was an exciting, tough, team motivating, big time contributors and warrior for all the ballclub's he played for. True warriors are exactly the same off the basketball court too. True warriors fight, inspire and never give up. True warriors prevail. You are witnessing this.