Alabama is the center of college football these days. However, it was a basketball center from Alabama that stole the show. I had the privilege of interviewing Theo Ratliff from Demopolis, Alabama.  I’ll wait for you to Google where it’s located. Still need more time? While it’s returning the search, here is the interview.

Stenson: “How did you get started playing basketball/sports?”

Ratliff: “I really got started playing basketball probably at 11 years old. I was really a football guy. You know from down south Alabama, it’s football country down here. So growing up I was playing football in Middle School, like 6th grade. Somebody got hurt, and they said no more tackle, so that took me to the basketball court. So we started on the hardwood and I fell in love from that point on. ”

 

Stenson: “You played with several teams. You got drafted by the Pistons, and played with Sixers, Hawks and Trailblazers. Where did you like playing the best?”

Ratliff: “The team I loved the best was the Sixers. For one I came into Detroit from Wyoming as a young guy, not really knowing much about the game. I was born in the small town of Demopolis of about 2,000 people. Then I went to Wyoming, a small college of about 20,000 people. So going into Detroit, I was young and new to the city. By the time I got to Philly, there was a real role for me. With A.I. there, he was just coming in. It was his second year in the league. They were trying to make a change, I believe they had the worst record in the league at the time. My contract was coming up, and I was looking for a change. I had the opportunity to play for Larry Brown, which was a big plus for me.”

 

Stenson: “How was it playing with A.I. and then with Larry Brown?”

Ratliff: “It was definitely an adventure. Ha. Ha. Ha. It was all love. Larry had so much respect and so much love for A.I. on the basketball court. A.I. just had to grow up a lil bit on the outside of the court and I think he did a wonderful job managing that. It was a few tense moments, at times, between those two. But all in all Coach Brown was a great, great coach. As you know, he is a Hall of Famer, from high school to college to the pros. From us going last to being first in 2001 was a big testament to his coaching and his teaching.”

 

Stenson: “How was it playing in the NBA Finals?”

Ratliff: “If you remember that year…”

Stenson: “That’s right you got injured and got traded for Mutombo.”

Ratliff: “Yea, I got traded for Mutombo. I went from the first team to the last team when I came to the Hawks.”

Stenson: “But you got traded for a Hall of Famer though.”

Ratliff: Well yeah I mean. We had already beat the Lakers twice that year too, so we had their number. That was a rough one. But having the opportunity to come over here with the Hawks and be in Atlanta and be close to home, and have my people come see me play on a consistent basis was definitely a treat.”

 

Stenson: “I understand you were the owner of the Rome Gladiators.”

Ratliff: “Yes I was. It was a few years back. We won about three championships in a row. We were dominating the league. I don’t know if you remember Moon, the high jumper that played with Toronto. We had a few guys get called up to the NBA and NBDL.”

 

Stenson: “You brought up the NBDL, the Hawks just announced they will have a team that will play here. What’s your thoughts on that?”

Ratliff: “It means more jobs for players and that is a great thing. Anytime you have an opportunity to showcase your talent for a different audience it builds your brand equity as a player and it gives guys an opportunity to get better.”

 

Stenson: “Any projects or events you having coming up?”

Ratliff: “I will definitely be having some big man camps in the area. I feel like the youth are being slighted, especially big guys on talent, on teaching, on coaching and understanding what it means to be a big. Definitely this summer we will do some big man camps.”

What are his thoughts on the Hawks this season and Dwight Howard? Who was the better coach, Larry Brown or Gregg Popovich? Go to DNASportsTalk.com under “Showtime” and click on October 14, 2016 to hear the entire interview. Maybe by now your search has returned where the city of Demopolis is; home of the 2001 NBA All-Star center Theo Ratliff. Thank you for the interview and being the center of attention!

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