EXCLUSIVE: Cuttino Mobley talks defending BIG3 title, Lakers, Clippers, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, and Shaun Livingston
Ahead of the BIG3 draft on May 1, ClutchPoints’ Tomer Azarly and Ryan Ward had the opportunity to sit down with several former NBA stars to talk about their transition or their return to Ice Cube’s new basketball league. One of those stars was Cuttino Mobley formerly of the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, and L.A. Clippers.
The 43-year-old Mobley is back with team Power on a squad filled with former Clippers. The veteran guard rejoins BIG3 MVP Corey Maggette and a scrappy group of players like Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Chris “Birdman” Anderson, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Gomes, and head coach Nancy Lieberman.
Along with talking about the team defending their title, Mobley chimed in on a number of different topics from the four-point shot, new stars in the BIG3, up-and-coming Clippers, his ideal three-man squad, and what could’ve been for Shaun Livingston.
*Interview was conducted in early May, but technical difficulties delayed it’s release*
Ryan Ward/Tomer Azarly: How do you like your chances to repeat as BIG3 champions?
Cuttino Mobley: “As long as we go out there healthy, we have a chance. First year we finished third. Second year we won the championship. There’s a lot more competition coming out here this year.
“We have a strategy. If we can stay healthy, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
What do you think of all the new competition this year like Gilbert Arenas, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, and Jason Richardson?
CM: “I love it! I didn’t even know Jason Richardson was in it. I love him. He’s one of my favorites.
“Listen, it’s building. It’s growing. I just want guys to stay healthy. You know, it’s great because you have all this comradery, and that’s being around each other since we were younger, so it’s a good thing to see.”
Is it a bit of a reunion?
CM: “It’s definitely a reunion. The camaraderie is what you miss. Being in that gym with a couple of guys during the week throughout this season it helps you with your mentality because it’s something you’ve been doing since you were a kid.”
If you had to pick your top-three players to win a three-on-three matchup, who would it be?
CM: “Kobe. Kevin Durant. Carmelo Anthony.”
Now if you had to pick two players to join you in an ideal three-on-three game, who would it be? Former teammates, maybe?
CM: “That’s a hard one. I have so many great teammates that I had. Guys that I admire…I don’t know.”
Your team [Power] doesn’t use the four-point shot very often. Why is that?
CM: “Nah, it’s cool. It’s cute. We’re bruisers. Corey [Maggette] and I and Q [Quentin Richardson] are bruisers with Big Baby [Glen Davis] and Birdman [Chris Anderson]. We’re bruisers. We’re not all for that four-point play all the time.”
Speaking of that four-point shot. Did you see Damian Lillard’s deep game-winning three to beat the Thunder?
CM: “7-for-8. 30-feet and out. 7-for-8. It’s Dame Dolla time!”
Is it a bad shot?
CM: “How is it bad? 7-for-8. It’s a bad shot for you.”
Are there any other players you want to see join the BIG3 League?
CM: “I want to see everybody! From Paul Pierce to anybody. It’s a great thing, and hopefully, it continues at this pace.”
What do you think of the Golden State Warriors? Can the three-peat?
CM: “I mean, they get a lot of breaks right now. A lot of referee calls they get. They lead the league in techs two years in a row, and they have the number one tech-leader two years in a row, and they’re talking about don’t worry about the referee calls.
“Does that make sense? You must be worried about it because the team is leading in techs. So you’re all worried about calls. So all the sudden now it goes for you opposed to against you. Now all the sudden leave the referees alone. Don’t worry about referee calls. Okay.”
Are you surprised to see LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers not make the NBA playoffs this year?
CM: “Yes, I’m surprised to see…Well, not surprised to see the Lakers because they haven’t made the playoffs in six years, but I am surprised to see LeBron get hurt.
“If LeBron wasn’t hurt, we’d be talking about a different story after.”
Were you following the Clippers this year? What do you make from the way they played in six games against the Warriors?
CM: “Yeah, of course. Amazing! They just need one and a half superstars, and they’ll go far.”
Who is that superstar?
CM: “Kevin Durant.”
Kawhi Leonard, maybe?
CM: “Yeah. Kawhi, too.”
You and Shaun Livingston were teammates. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a little bit of Shaun Livingston in him that the length, the height, and coordination.
CM: “That’s it. Just the height. Just the height and the length. As far as skill set, they’re different guys.
“Shaun Livingston was injured, and you really couldn’t see his full capability. Shaun Livingston was super special. I’m not saying Shai is not super special because he’s really good, but Shaun Livingston was super special.
“If he wasn’t hurt then his body would’ve developed faster. Shaun Livingston would’ve been one of the best point guards ever. Ever. He was really good. Sometimes when injuries occur, like Tracy McGrady’s backs of the world, Gilbert Arenas’ knees of the world. You know, Yao Ming’s and Grant Hill’s of the world… When you get injured like that, Penny Hardaways’, it takes away from your nature. Your natural state of aggression. Being aggressive. Being more creative. So if I’m getting 40, 40, 40, and I’m never injured, my game would elevate. My confidence, right? Equipped to my body more, physically.
“So when I get injured every time, mentally I’m diminishing. I’m not going to be on the court being so assertive anymore. Things like that.”
What do you think of Livingston’s recovery? It was a pretty gruesome injury. He looks like he made a great recovery.
CM: “He got three championships, too. He’s okay [laughs].”