Q&A with former Phoenix Suns 12th man Paul Shirley — Part II

Paul Shirley

Yesterday Paul Shirley broke down the Steve Nash situation, Amare Stoudemire’s political knowledge and the 2004-05 Seven Seconds or Less Suns. Now the benchwarmer turned outspoken writer analyzes the NBA lockout and talks about his next book in Part II of this exclusive Q&A.

Shirley on what he’s been up to lately: I’ve been traveling a lot kind of trying to make up for lost time in that regard. I actually spent the last year working on a second book that I’m hopeful will be published. It’s not terrible, so that’s good.

On his next book: It’s actually fiction about the end of a basketball career. It’s very much based on my own experiences but the arc of the story needs to be fictionalized a little bit so it’s true to my own experiences but it’s not quite about me.

On when he first got into writing: I got into it when I first went overseas to Greece. When I had time on my hands and some things to say. It was a fairly organic development in that I needed to tell people what was happening to me and the only way to do that was to write it down. I was alone a lot of the time so I needed a format to communicate.

On the last time he played a professional basketball game: I played for a team in Spain for a year and a half and then was out of it for six months and then played with one more European team. So that would have been two and a half years ago, which is strange to say because I thought of myself as a basketball player up until about a year ago actually. It all fell apart at the very end. That was kind of the last hurrah. I had another surgery on my ankle and kind of realized this is probably enough for my body.

On how much he misses playing: Not even a little bit believe it or not. I think for me the end of my career was accompanied by five different surgeries, three on one ankle so at this point I’m really happy that I can walk without being in pain so I kind of associate basketball with agony, which isn’t the best association you should have with something you used to like.

On his opinion of players going to Europe during the lockout: We could talk for hours about that because I think in part there’s a lot of out clauses in these guys’ contracts that will make their experience different because they can go home. I don’t know how much they’re going to get of the culture. It will be a little different than my experience. It’s just a different world. Deron Williams’ experience in Turkey is going to be far different than my experience in Greece let’s say. I’m interested to see how it all shakes up because I’m not sure if there are the resources right now in Europe to take care of these guys. The economy in some places is so much worse than it was and that has a lot of effect on the amount of money they can pay players and the stability of things, if these guys are actually going to get their paychecks and all of that. I feel like we’re doing the second verse of 1999 when there were threats and people were all excited about playing Europe then people realized, ‘Oh there aren’t that many jobs there that can support superstar-caliber players.’ More because of the money but also because … there aren’t many spots [for Americans].

On whether he thinks there will be a season: It seems like the winds are blowing toward not having a season but there’s also a lot of hyperbole and scare tactic that goes into this because it sort of behooves the players to go in and say ‘oh well there’s not going to be a season’ then maybe there will be some public pressure on the owners to actually get a season, for the few fans who actually care whether there’s a season or not. It’s like in writing or making an accounting presentation, if you don’t have a deadline nothing really gets done. Right now everyone feels like they can just all goof and wait and see what happens. One thing that players, owners, all these people have to remember is that whether they’d like to see the games or not, the NBA is still the fourth most popular sport in the country and college basketball is holding down one of those spots ahead of it. Unfortunately I don’t know that people will miss it as much as they players and owners want them to miss it so at that point maybe when there’s that realization that, ‘Oh wow the world has continued to turn while we’re off messing about,’ something will actually get done.

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