EXCLUSIVE: Corey Maggette talks BIG3, LA Clippers, LeBron James, and more
Prior to the LA Clippers recent run of playoff appearances and wins from 2012-2017, the most exciting postseason run came during the 2005-06 NBA season when LA defeated the Denver Nuggets in the first round, 4-1, and fell just short of beating the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of the second round. One of the primary catalysts for that run was Corey Maggette, who finished his NBA career playing eight of his 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The former Clippers forward is now retired from the NBA and playing in Ice Cube’s BIG3 League, where his team, Power, has made it to the Championship round. Maggette is also working as one of the pre and post-game broadcasters on Fox Sports for Clippers games. He had a front-row seat to the roller coaster of a year the team had during the 2018-19 season, from the major roster changes and injuries to the victories over more talented teams and the rise of a number of players with chips on their shoulders. Maggette spoke to ClutchPoints in an exclusive interview about the BIG3, the Clippers season, their offseason, and a certain opening in the broadcast booth he might be interested in.
Tomer Azarly: After a rough first season for you where you got injured in the opener, you led Power to a 7-1 record. The only team that beat you was Tri-State, and you just took care of business against them to advance to the Championship game. What was that like?
Corey Maggette: Well honestly, it was a mentally challenging experience for our team. We were battling a lot of things. Going into the game, Big Baby (Glen Davis) had an injury to his calf. Me, the week before, I injured my hamstring and actually going into this week; I’m still trying to battle through his hamstring stuff. It just shows true perseverance from our team. Everyone contributed from the first man to the last man, and they did an excellent job of finding a way to win the game at the end. Cuttino [Mobley] pulled his groin in those last two possessions, so it was basically up to Big Baby to try to win the game for us, and he found a way to do it. The play before that… What a steal. Q-Rich [Quentin Richardson] gets subbed into the game; he steals the ball from David Hawkins to get the ball to Big Baby for that bucket to try to win the game. It just shows that everyone found a way to get a win no matter what.
TA: Some people might say the BIG3 isn’t as competitive as the NBA, but what was that like having to get one elimination-saving stop in a tie game, and then all of a sudden, Big Baby comes up with the ball and then HE has a chance to go for the win?
CM: Well I wouldn’t say the BIG3 is not as competitive as the NBA. For us, just going into the game and those last few possessions, we just wanted to find a way to win. Both teams played extremely well. You look at the other side of their roster… Between Jermaine O’Neal and Amare Stoudemire, that’s about 12 plus years of experience from an All-Star standpoint on their team. Nate Robinson being a constant competitor and another MVP candidate in David Hawkins, the way he’s been playing. So it just boiled down to grit and toughness at the end and just finding a way to win those games. I think as far as preparation from Coach Nancy [Lieberman], getting out team right. We were able to come out with it at the end.
TA: I mean you barely played last year, so it was essentially your first season. You were the leading scorer and had a great year. Has this been what you were hoping for?
CM: I mean for me, yeah. Honestly, I wasn’t coming in to look for scoring, being a part of the MVP conversation, or anything else. For me, it was just to try to be healthy. I retired from the NBA because of injuries and then the first game of the BIG3, I get injured in the second half. I really just wanted to come in and be healthy, and I was able to withstand that. I made it to the championship game right now, and besides this little hamstring injury, I’m just thankful for this opportunity of being able to play and possibly being able to win a championship for the BIG3 in Year 2.
TA: Looking ahead, what’s the key to taking down 3’s Company, who handled the 3-Headed Monsters with ease on Friday?
CM: Well, I think the emergence of Andre Emmett has been the key to their team. Nothing taking away from Baron Davis because when you have one of your best players go down with an injury, other players have to step up, and I think Andre Emmett is a guy who honestly, he’s probably one of the most in shape guys in this entire league. He just finished playing overseas, coming in with a lot of momentum, and think he’s done a phenomenal job of taking care of the matchups, attacking, scoring, and facilitating. He’s been doing it all for their team. Then you get great contributions from Dahntay Jones and Jason Maxiell, who’s been playing great for their team as far as the interior perspective. You have Drew Gooden and DeMarr Johnson, being able to capitalize on any opportunity they get.
I think they really have great depth on their team. This is a team that we can beat if we do things the right way, but right now, Andre Emmett is on a tear. He’s averaging over 24 points per game over his last four games, so for us, we have to be ready. This team is in the championship for a reason, and our team is in the championship for a reason because we play hard, we compete, we play good team basketball, and both teams are well coached. If you look at their coach from Michael Cooper, he’s a guy who’s won it at every single level; he’s a competitor, he’s champion and same thing with Nancy Lieberman. She’s won it on every level as well, so it’s gonna be good to be able to compete and at the end of the day to figure out who’s going to be victorious for the championship.
TA: Is there any player you guys want to join or any one guy you’re trying to personally recruit to the league?
CM: I think between all the conversations with Stephen Jackson and Alan Anderson, we’re really trying to recruit Kobe. That’s a tall task. I know Ice Cube’s talked to him. I actually talked to him personally last year before the BIG3 started because he stayed down the street from me and at that time, he said no because there were some other things that he was focusing on. He played 20 years in the league, and he walked off into the sunset. For this guy, what he’s been doing off the court… After his retirement, he wins an Oscar. Basketball is far from his mind at this time even though he has the love for the game. It might not be now, it might not be Year 2 or 3 or 4, but it might be a position where Kobe will try to be involved in some capacity.
TA: So you see him showing interest sometime down the line?
CM: I mean, maybe. Or maybe it might be a position where the way the BIG3 is going, that he could be one of the owners of the team. Maybe he’ll be a guy to own the team. I think at this moment, Kobe is doing other things than basketball, and it’s not the number one point of his life right now. And there’s other guys that I would love to see. I would love to see Richard Hamilton. I would love to see Vince Carter. I would love to see Shaq. I even talked to Shaq about being a part of the BIG3. Who knows? You just never know. The more guys that want to continue to play, these guys play pickup basketball in the summertime, and we’ll see. I just think right now, where the BIG3 is, it’s moving in the right direction to get guys to consider playing once they’re done.
TA: I want to shift over to the NBA. Thoughts on LeBron James to LA?
CM: Honestly, it was no shock to me. To me, I heard a lot of talk of his son possibly wanting to play in California, and when you hear those different things, you know that LeBron is definitely considering LA.
For him, I think he’s done everything the right way as far as playing the game, as far as winning a championship in multiple places, bringing a championship back to Cleveland. I think that was one of his greatest goals and he was able to do that. Now he’s in a position to do something great in LA. Los Angeles is one of the Meccas of Basketball besides New York and Chicago, and to do it on that grand stage; it’s going to be great for LeBron. He has a lot of young talent there, and I think the new acquisitions that they have. He’s really brought guys there. There’s a lot of roughness; there’s a lot of grit.
Lance Stephenson is a tough competitor. Michael Beasley is a tough competitor. Rajon Rondo, a former champion, one of the top point guards in the league and he adds leadership as well as mentorship for Lonzo Ball. Kuzma, Brandon Ingram. They have some learning to do with LeBron being on their team, but I think the decision for him is to do things the way he wants. LeBron always has a master plan and can move mountains in a position to where he is.
TA: What are your thoughts on the LA Clippers and their two draft picks in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson?
CM: I think as far as the Clippers having those 12 and 13 picks, those picks are kind of tricky. You can call those guys to get a workout and sometimes you can’t. I think the Clippers did a great job of drafting the right players for their team and I think they’re going to be okay. There’s going to be some growing pains, and I think with the players they have on the roster, the leadership of Doc [Rivers] and Lawrence Frank and Jerry West. You know that they’re going to lead those kids in the right direction.
TA: In your opinion, was it right move to re-tool, open up potentially two max slots next summer and go from there?
CM: I mean for me, it was tough to see those guys go because you’ve seen the chemistry that they had, what they were building and me being a former Clipper… I was there during the dog era where people didn’t come and see the Clipper games as much. I think Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan built something great for that franchise and so for me, it was hard to see them go. But at the same time, I also understand where the Clippers are trying to go.
Sometimes the process has to end, and you have to rebuild a bit when things are not going as planned. I think right now; they’re in the position to try and do that and to kind of bring some new free agents to that team and hopefully it will work out.
TA: There is an opening in the Fox Sports broadcast booth right now next to Ralph Lawler, and a lot of people on Twitter and Reddit have mentioned your name. Are you throwing your name in the hat? Does the position interest you?
CM: *Laughs* Honestly, that’s up to Fox and up to the Clippers. I’m humbled by them and fans even trying to consider me for that position. I think for me, in my step in my life and career, it would be a great position. I just got to make sure it kind of fits with the family dynamic. For me, I think it’s more about my kids. Being able to see them more. When those opportunities come up, sometimes you miss out on those other opportunities with your family. Who knows? Who knows what will happen. It could be a great job and to work with a legend like Ralph Lawler would be amazing. We’ll see happens this upcoming year.