Book: The Spencer Haywood Rule
Author: Marc Spears
1. What was it about Spencer Haywood that intrigued you most and what attracted you to his story?
I had written a few stories about Spencer before I was approached about the book. I find his true story from picking cotton to starring in the renowned 1968 Olympics to winning a Supreme Court ruling to a rise and fall in pro basketball and being married to Iman quite unique to say the least. It was a book that easily wrote itself.
2. What was your writing process like for “The Spencer Haywood Rule”?
I co-authored with Boston Globe NBA writer Gary Washburn on the book. I wrote from Spencer's birth in Mississippi through the 1968 Olympics. Gary wrote the rest. We both interviewed Spencer separately in Las Vegas in the summer of 2019. I wrote my portion of the book in August and September of last year before I began concentrating on NBA training camp.
3. Have you ever personally met Mr. Haywood and if so, what was that experience like?
4. How did the Supreme Court case, Haywood v. National Basketball Association come to pass and what are some of its lasting effects today?
I really think Spencer is The Godfather of NBA free agency, but sadly he doesn't get the respect he deserves for that. He certainly put his basketball career in jeopardy at a young age in order to have rights to play where he wanted to.
They certainly owe a bit of gratitude to Spencer, but I think most NBA players at best just know his story on a general level. I think it would be great for Spencer to speak to the rookie class every year.
6. Do you think removing the current "one-and-done" rule will be good for the sport?
Perhaps. Maybe it is protecting the athlete from themselves. But if they are good enough to be in the NBA out of high school, why should they be stopped? It should have been eliminated years ago. Ultimately, let the athlete decide on the risk. Not the NBA.
7. Do you think more high school players should consider going to HBCUs? If so, why? And if you were associated with an HBCU, how would you go about getting more top-level recruits to commit?
I definitely think athletes should strongly consider Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I played at one for a season, the University of District of Columbia. Outside of playing on an elite Big 5 level, I don't think anything can match the environment that an HBCU can offer for a black athlete.
'Hearing Lift Every Voice and Sing' before the game, black college band playing during it and seeing the black frats and sororities stroll in was memorable. And with the arrival of better players comes better competition. What could help is the HBCUs ability to improve their facilities and travel budget.
8. What do you hope readers take away from “The Spencer Haywood Rule”?
I think that Spencer is the black Forrest Gump. His life story includes so many amazing chapters. Super entertaining with tears and laughter to be gained along the way.
9. Spencer was a part of the 1980 Los Angeles Lakers championship team. That team is most often remembered by the performance rookie Magic Johnson had in the closing Game 6. Is there a signature championship moment that you cherish or remember fondly?
I didn't win anything big other than a conference championship in college. But in terms of just as a fan, seeing my beloved LSU win a national football championship in New Orleans this year will be something I will never forget. It was the highlight on an otherwise nightmarish 2020.
10. What was the most interesting team you have covered and why?
The 2007-08 NBA champion Boston Celtics that starred "The Big Three" Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. If you include Rajon Rondo and coach Doc Rivers, that team will likely have five Hall of Famers one day.
It was amazing to see that Celtics team become close and have success so fast. The expectation was a championship in the second or third year. Oddly, the only title came in the first year of The Big Three.
11. Lastly, what is your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Write early in the morning when your mind is clear and you don't have the stresses of the day weighing you down.
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