Q & A with Da Boot Sports!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Russell Grant was a shooting guard for the LSU basketball team for two seasons (‘87-’88 & ‘88-’89). Grant, 6'2" 175lbs, is from Louisville Kentucky and played his high school ball at Trinity High School. He was known for his long range three point shooting while with the Tigers, and will always be remembered for his involvement in the final seconds of the 1989 Georgetown game in the Louisiana Super Dome that LSU won 82-80 in dramatic fashion. Grant currently lives in Florida and is a huge LSU sports fan.
Q - What is your Favorite TV Show?
Grant - Curb Your Enthusiasm
Q - What is your Favorite Food?
Grant - Steak
Q - Who is your Favorite Pro Athlete?
Grant - Larry Bird is my Favorite ever.. Recent athlete who is in the NFL would have to be the Honey Badger, he is my favorite. Then Burrow. Don't know how I can't have Joe Burrow there now. Those are my LSU guys. Tom Brady is another one of my favorites.
Q - Your Favorite Sports Team?
Grant - It's all LSU.. There is nothing that can compare to that. Nothing gets me going like that. I'm not from Louisiana and I like the Saints, but it's not a passion. I'm not hurting for three days if they lose.
Q - Your Favorite Music Artist?
Grant - Man, there's a lot. I'd say U2. Ozzie Osbourne is another one. U2 played in the PMAC my freshman year and we had great seats for that. Then I saw them again a couple of years ago in Seattle.
Then Ozzie, here's a LSU twist. Ozzy was playing in Orlando and Geert Hammink was with the Magic at the time with Shaq. So Geert and I went see Ozzy on a Friday night. Saturday night was Bulls vs. Magic in the playoffs, game three of the Eastern Conference Championship. Game four was Monday. On Sunday, we were at Shaq's house riding jet skis all day. I went home and told my wife that we were moving to Orlando. I live in Orlando now.
Q - Your Favorite Movie?
Grant - Caddyshack.. Shawshank Redemption is another that stands out in my mind.
Q - Your Favorite Actor?
Grant - Larry David
Q - So I see you are from Louisville, Kentucky?
Grant - Yes, Lived there from zero to 18 years old.... 18-28 was Louisiana.. and 28-51 in Florida..
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Grant - It was all basketball.
Q - Did you play multiple sports while attending Trinity High School?
Grant - I played basketball and soccer. I quit soccer after my sophomore year to concentrate just on basketball.
Q - How did your recruiting process go and what made you choose LSU?
Grant - I wasn’t recruited heavily at all. How I got to LSU was Ron Abernathy was from Louisville. Coach Abernathy came by with Rudy Macklin who is also from Louisville. He found out about me because there was a game that I had my tooth break off on the floor. The game that Coach Abernathy saw put me on a different platform with Colorado, Colorado State, USC, and LSU. Other schools were showing very mild interest and this is my senior year. Usually by your junior year you have made your decision. This is how late it all came together.
So how I came to LSU was I had family in New Orleans and took a visit down there. That was my journey to LSU. Meeting Coach Abernathy and Coach Brown. It's interesting being from Kentucky and having that whole vibe. So while I had this lifetime vibe, when LSU was giving me my chance, all my loyalty just shifted in the snap of a finger. Kentucky has been in my rear view mirror ever since. I don't like them now. I always did, but when that change happened, it's kind of weird how your loyalty changes. It just changes and all goes out the window when you have this other school giving you a chance.
You always get into conversation with people, or athletes get into conversation, Now if your Shaq or Michael Jordan, well, your different. But for a majority of players the conversation gets to, "Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond?" .... I knew that answer, but a lot of guys don't. They say they want to go to the biggest schools and do, but when they don't get to play, they bail. This happens because they really didn't know what they wanted. So for me, do I want to go to a small school and have a glorious career? Maybe? But that's not what I wanted. I wanted to be in the biggest and the brightest lights and if I ended not playing, then I just ended not playing. Doesn't mean that I wasn't going to try to play, but I just wanted to be on that stage no matter what it took. Versus going to a small school and scoring 15 points a game and start for three or four years, it's not what I wanted. It's not LSU. It's not the NCAA Tournament, It's not the Super Dome playing against Georgetown. It's not any of that. But what it also meant was sitting on the bench a lot. I've always had a good sense of my skill set. What I was, what I wanted, what I didn't want. It helps you navigate that. I was like everyone else. I played a lot and was All-whatever when you were in high school, then you go to college and your sitting the bench. It was a big adjustment for me but it didn't get the best of me. I was able to stay the course because I knew what I wanted.
Q - Other then the Georgetown game, what are some of your other memorable games and moments while playing at LSU?
Grant - Yea, I think we had six buzzer-beaters that year. We beat UNLV and that's the game a lot of people seem to forget about. That was a great UNLV team minus Larry Johnson. We beat them at the buzzer. We beat Vanderbilt at the buzzer. But that season was the Chris Jackson show. You just watch his skill level combined with his quickness and athletic ability. We still haven't seen anyone else do what he did at the college level scoring wise. You would have to go back to Pistol Pete. That doesn't mean Chris was the greatest player to ever play college basketball, I wouldn't go there. There has been other different type of players that are hard to compare to each other.
You talking about a guy who can score from day one who comes into college basketball, I just haven't seen it. But I saw that one and I saw it up close.
This is a good memory for me and I started that game, when we went to Florida. It was December 10th 1988. We go there and Chris scores 53 points. He didn't take a shot in the first nine minutes of the second half and it was only his fifth game. He was one who would get everyone involved, so he didn't score for 9 minutes. He had 26 points at halftime and 27 points during the back end of the second half. He fouled out four guys and this is the weird part that I'll never forget. The students had gotten to the game early and they were hammering Chris. I can't remember what they were hammering him about, but man they were hammering him. Then at the end of the game they were bowing to him. I have never seen that before at a sporting event. The student section was bowing to him. Getting down on their hands and knees and bowing to him.
You see a lot of big things that has happened in sports, and for me I was up and close for that. It's hard to top that and what he was able to do, just from scoring with the ball and making it look that easy. We knew he was that good in one way. But in another way you would think, "Okay what's Georgetown going to do to him? What’s UNLV going to do to him?" Georgia, had this guy, Patrick Hamilton, "What was he going to do to him?" Then there were all these other good defenders and you would wonder, "How is this all going to work out?" For the most part it didn't matter who was on him.
When he would get in game competition, he would get that feel, like an adrenaline. When he would get that look in his eye, it would go to a whole different level. So when they did try to put that elite defender on him or a Stacey Augmon on him, it didn't matter. It was like he would turn into Superman. The footwork that he had, to shoot with such balance and rhythm. If I would shoot with Chris straight up, I still wouldn’t be as good as him, but it would be close. But when you put him on the move, that’s when nobody is close.
I remember the first time I ever saw Chris Jackson. He walked into the bottom gym wearing blue jeans, takes the ball and he just makes it, makes it, makes it, makes it. Then he started to do it off the dribble. Then he dunks it like it's nothing and he's only 5’11”. I'm watching him and I'm supposed to be doing my work and I just stop and stare at it. It's been 10 or 15 minutes and he hadn't missed a shot. It was just bottom of the net, bottom of the net, bottom of the net.
When someone shoots it,... like you can tell between a pretend shooter and a real shooter. It looks different, how it rolls off their fingers different, the sound is different when the ball hits the net. I was just mesmerized watching him shoot. I was like, “This is incredible.”....
That whole thing saved the season. Coach Brown at Mahmoud's jersey retirement recently talked to us about that. We had lost Stanley Roberts, Vernel Singleton, etc.. CBS called Coach Brown and tried to get him to cancel the Georgetown game, they begged him. They said, “We don't want this game, it's a disaster. We can move it to next year. We'll do the same thing next year, we're not doing this game.” … Coach Brown said, “Nope we're playing. We will see you there.” …. Which is a Coach Brown story, that's what he always does.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Coach Brown?
Grant - When someone gives you an opportunity and a chance to do something that you want to do. I didn't have 100 different opportunities, Everyone needs an opportunity or a chance at some level, so I'm still very grateful for that.
Coach Brown would always create this 'US' versus the world mentality, and he takes the worse situation and turns it into sunshine. He’ll take the worse thing that's happening with the team and create the biggest opportunity out of it. Not only does he do it personally but he gets buy-in from the team on that. While I'm playing for Coach Brown, if I was inferior athletically to who I was playing against, I never thought that at the time. I knew what I had to do and what I couldn't do. He had you believe in yourself more than who you were actually.
He didn't beat you with X's and O's. Coach Brown, he just did basketball. He could have done a hundred different things and may have been better successfully at those if not equally successful. So I don't think he looked at the basketball X's and O's as much as the players. So he had to get the most out of his players, not that the X's and O's didn't matter. Like in the Georgetown game for example, His thing in these time outs in these pressure games, “Do you believe we’re gunna win!?” .. Makes you think, “Quit talking about that and draw up the play”... It sounds crazy, but he never really drew up plays. He would just say, “Here's what's going to happen now… We’re gunna do this, this, this and this, and this is what’s going to happen. This guy is going to miss a free throw, and here’s what we are gunna do.” … It was really weird stuff, right?
Then think about sports, you always end on a make? Coach Brown was big on that. Every practice ended in a positive outcome, everyone. It didn't matter how bad things were or how mad he was, practice never ended on time with us, It's when a good thing happened.
I'd like to share one more thing with you? When we went to Mahmoud’s celebration Coach Brown was talking to me, Richard Krajewski, and Wayne Sims actually. He said, “Look around. Look who’s in this room right now. You have every type of religion, every type of race, every type of financial level from high to medium income, to low. But in this room where we are, we are all the same. We all get along. We all respect each other for who they are.” …
That’s just the kind of stuff that Coach Brown has talked about for 30 years. I guess now at our age it means more because we understand it more now. All that drippy stuff, not that we used to laugh at it, but we were young and immature and we didn't understand the underlined meaning to all of that stuff.
Coach Brown's wife, she would just talk about how proud she is of all of the players. She said, “If we would have to do this all over again, I wouldn't trade anyone of our players for another player.” … meaning she wouldn’t trade Russell Grant for Michael Jordan.. Now I probably would have.. LOL.. The point is they are eternally grateful for the people that they've influenced and for the type of people that were around them. Just the way that Coach Brown goes about things,... It's refreshing and It's unique. I know Wayne Sims was talking about how all those things that he told us has impacted every single thing we have ever done. As you get older you just appreciate that stuff a lot more.
Q - Want to tell us a little about what you're doing now?
Grant - I've been in the automotive sector for 20-something years and I have a consulting business now where I help dealerships organize their marketing activity.