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Kenyon Martin

Kenyon Martin is coming up on the two-year anniversary of his NBA retirement, yet, he might be busier now than he was some summers as a player. Martin hosts a TuneIn program, "Two Man Weave," with Michael Rapaport and he is rekindling his basketball career as a captain in the BIG3. Martin's team, Trilogy, opens its season Sunday with a matchup against Killer 3s.

Martin recently spoke to ThePostGame about what attracted him to the BIG3, working with Rapaport and the lack of upperclassmen being selected high in the modern NBA Draft. Martin was drafted No. 1 overall in 2000 after his senior year at the University of Cincinnati.

ThePostGame: 17 years ago, you go No. 1 overall.  You are the last senior to ever be selected No. 1 overall. What do you have to say for the upperclassmen who don’t get that love anymore?
KENYON MARTIN: Sorry for y'all, man, that's unfortunate. You go to school to put the work in, to become a better person, get your education and have a possibility to make it to the league if you're good enough. And they tell the seniors that's not the move, and that's unfortunate because I did it the right way. I stayed four years and I had a hell of a career. I was 15 years in, man. For me, to go four years, I was physically and mentally ready to play when I came into the league. Just keep grinding man, people will recognize the work you've put in over four years.  Just take the Sean Kilpatrick kid, from Brooklyn right now. He's a four-year player, same school, Cincinnati. People overlooked him. He went to the D League and had an amazing start, brought him up at the end of the year and he got a three-year deal out of it. But nobody drafted him because he's a senior. They grab these young kids because they don't have time to critique their game and other things they can't do well. They just look at the things that, oh, he's an athlete, he can run he can jump. But is the kid a winner? Can you depend on him? Can he play defense? Does he talk? All of that stuff matters. It ain't just about being an athlete and whether he can shoot or not. That's what I think upperclassmen bring. It's unfortunate, man.

TPG: You sound like a guy who has a podcast nowadays. You talk about Cincinnati, did you ever have an itch to leave school early before your senior year?
MARTIN: I inquired about it after my junior year and was told immediately this was what I needed to work on. I would've got drafted, but it definitely wouldn't have been No. 1.  I would’ve gotten drafted maybe like in the tens, low twenties. Yeah, that wasn’t good enough at the time. They told me if I do this, I got a possibility to go here and I got back in the lab and I got better. I worked on the things that they said I needed to work on and my senior year, the proof was there, that I had put the time and work in, and the proof was in the pudding.

TPG: Do underclassmen guys going into the draft seek out your advice? I wonder if a freshman would even ask to get advice from you because they might be nervous you would give them the answer they don't want to hear, which is to stay in school.
MARTIN: If you're ready, you're ready, like if I think you're physically ready as a freshman, I will tell you. There are some people I've seen -- there's a high school kid I've seen that if he gets a little bit stronger, I think he's ready to play in the NBA right now from what I see with the NBA.  So I'm not opposed to it.

TPG: Can you share who that is?
MARTIN: Yeah, Marvin Bagley. He'll be a senior next year and he'll be the No. 1 senior in the country. Physically, he's a 6-11 lefty, competes, plays hard, does it all. He's ready to be an NBA player right now. All he has to do is get stronger and learn how to play. But in that situation, there's not a lot of Marvin Bagleys running around, there's not a lot of Kevin Garnetts. If you're going to school, you're going to school get better, you want to get better and will have the opportunity to.

TPG: How do feel about the product of college basketball right now?
MARTIN: It's watered down, man. I think it's struggling because a lot of the good talent, a lot of the good kids -- there's 185 underclassmen in the draft this year, man. That's sickening.

TPG: 185?
MARTIN: It was 162 last year, and there's 185 underclassmen this year.

TPG: For sixty spots?
MARTIN: Sixty spots. Not to mention the seniors that graduated.

TPG: And the international players.
MARTIN: Yeah, and all of those. Just think about it: 185 underclassmen. When I hear stuff like that, something has to be done. That's 185 scholarship players that's not gonna be in college. So you have to replace those 185 with kids who are trying to do that all over again.

TPG: How do you think you fix that system?
MARTIN: I don't know, it's tough. I want to see you go earn a living early, because that's the American Dream. You want to be successful and make money and provide for your family.  But, if you're not ready to play, you're not ready to play. So they're trying to propose something. If you go to school, they're trying to make you stay for two years. And I get that. It's tough, it is really, really a tricky situation man. A lot of these kids won't make it and a lot of these kids will never have the opportunity to be seen. They leave school early and don't get drafted. The Developmental League is just now starting to take off in the way it should’ve been over the years, as much as the NBA makes and puts out and other stuff. And then a lot of these kids go overseas and never have the opportunity to play in the NBA again because that ship's sailed.  After you don't get drafted, you went to school for one year, two years, that ship's sailed on you. So you're making money, but the opportunity to be an NBA player is gone because nobody told you the truth, nobody told you what you need to work on, nobody told you that you need to go back to school to get better.

TPG: And now, on the other side, you're giving players the opportunity to continue that basketball career this weekend with The Big Three. You guys ready to go?
MARTIN: Yeah we ready man, Team Trilogy, baby. We trying to win the whole thing man. It's competitive, grown-man basketball, former NBA players, which I think makes it interesting. It's not like a rec league. It's not guys who had a stint in the NBA. It's a lot of guys who put in a lot of work over a long time: Jermaine O'Neal, Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette, Allen Iverson. It's an opportunity for the fans to come out and see us play and see that we still can play. The opportunity hasn't been there. I'm getting a little older, some guys might have had an injury here or there and they didn’t bounce back as quick as the team would've liked, so the opportunity went away. There's a lot of circumstances that we've all been through, and just the opportunity to come out and compete at a high level against guys we've been playing against for most of our careers. Just to have that comraderies again, just to be around the guys, be in the locker room with the guys, just to be back at it, it's a great feeling.

TPG: Yeah, and some people might look at it and say, Iverson, Ice Cube, you guys all in your own way have had very successful careers. Why put in this effort because I can imagine it's hard work for you guys, not just the playing, but working the back end of it, trying to make this league legit.  Why put in this effort?
MARTIN: It's just to show people, youknow what I'm saying? There's a lot of doubt. There's a lot of speculation on what it is and things like that. It's for the fans first and foremost. Ice cube, he's a fan of basketball. He watched a lot of us over the years and that was his thing with starting it up. Guys just disappear. Guys can play, guys can still compete and you don't hear about guys anymore. He just wanted to give us that opportunity and having that business mind and then having the connections to make it happen, he went on and did that. For me, for them to reach out to me, it meant a lot. It took a little thought, but it wasn't like a hard decision to come out and try to help get this thing off the ground and do it the right way because we're all professionals and we know what it takes to make things successful. So it's just showing the fans that we're for real and getting them to buy into what we're doing. I think it's going to be competitive, I think it's going to be fun and it's gonna be entertaining.

TPG: What sort of shape are you in right now?
MARTIN: I'm good. I don't put on crazy weight. I've been playing a little bit, just working on my body, core, legs, doing the things I need to work on, and I know the guys on my team are ready:  Myself, Al Harrington, James White, Rashad McCants and Dion Glover. I like our chances. I know my guys have put the work in. I know we are gonna do what it takes to win. There's stiff competition out there, but I like our chances. 

TPG: What are fans, maybe some of the young fans, the kids coming out that watch the modern game, what are they gonna see about the competitiveness of you guys, a lot of you guys being late 1990s-early 2000s-type guys?
MARTIN: Real basketball, man. It ain't this touchy-feely, this body sensitive. We all cool, but once we lace 'em up, we become ultra-competitors. On the court they're gonna see how we used to play. This is the way it should be played.  We not hugging it out after every possession and high-fiving the opposition. We out here trying to win. That's what's going on in the league these days. It's a lot of everyone's buddy-buddy.  You can be buddy-buddy off the court, but when we playing, we compete. We out here trying to win and I'm a sore loser.

TPG: Two Man Weave, you and Michael Rapaport. Did you ever think that you would be on radio and have a podcast?  How did this come to be?
MARTIN: Just reached back different avenues. It was supposed to just be the NBA show at first, and it just turned into this. Myself and Michael, he already had a relationship with TuneIn. I was just trying to find something else to do.  he television thing and the radio thing popped out and they presented it to myself and Mike, and we both thought it would work and it's been going ever since. It's been a great relationship. We have fun talking basketball, but we talk about other stuff, as well. Mike's the energy, youknow what I'm saying? Mike's a great energy to have around and you never know at any given time what's gonna come out of our mouth, so it works. I think we complement each other well, but It's a great deal, I'm having fun with it and look forward to keeping it going.

TPG: Can you read him now? Do you know what he is gonna say?
MARTIN: Not at all, never, at any given moment. We've been great. We've done I don't know how many shows, how many hours, and we haven't cussed, because it's live radio. We push the envelope a little bit, but we haven't had any complaints from the league, so it's great.

TPG: Were you embarrassed by him walking around Cleveland with the broom?
MARTIN: It was funny to me, man. I got a kick out of it, but the Cavaliers didn't get a kick out of it, but everybody else did. There wasn’t any malice intended, he's a fun guy.

TPG: Last question I have for you, making the move from the Nets to the Nuggets, do you ever wonder what could have happened if you stuck with the Nets and if that team, with maybe even Vince Carter, could have been something?
MARTIN: I think about it all the time. I never thought I would leave, but that let me know that it's a business. I learned that early, after my fourth year that this is a business, and I had to treat it as such, so I learned a lot in that situation. It made me grow up fast. But yeah, I thought we were on to something special and I thought we could have been something for years to come. New management came in and I guess they didn't like my talent.

TPG: On the other side, you had Denver, looking back at those teams, how close were you guys to maybe being a Western Conference champion and maybe even an NBA champion?
Martin: We were close. We had great talent before Chauncey [Billups] and after Chauncey, but we never like put it together until Chauncey came. He settled everybody down and made it to the Western Conference Finals. But nah, we had great success in Denver and we had great pieces, but I don't think we were a complete team in order to get things done. 

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