Former Boston Celtics standout and NBA free agent, Jared Sullinger, got honest with host Michael Redd about surrounding yourself with the right people, the hardest part about going pro at a young age, and how to rekindle your motivation.
You have to play every game like it’s your last because you never know what’s going to happen.” – Jared Sullinger
Coming out of his incredible, undefeated final year of high school Jared was a 2010 McDonald’s All-American co-MVP, James A. Naismith Award winner, and a highly sought after star recruit.
He played college basketball for two years at Ohio State University – led the Buckeyes to the ‘Final Four’ of the 2012 NCAA tournament – and was drafted 21st overall by the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft the same year.
After four seasons with the Celtics, Jared also played for the Toronto Raptors for a season and in the Chinese Basketball Association.
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In this episode Michael and Jared talked about:
- Why “betting on yourself” can be a heritable trait
- The importance of winning for staying hungry
- How professional athletes use routine and repetition to maintain greatness
- Jared’s takeaways spending time with Doc, KG, and the Celtics
- How humility keeps his feet on the ground
- What it takes to bounce back from injury and adversity
- And more!
Jared Sullinger: ... you have to play every game like it's your last because you never know what's going to happen, whether it's an injury, whether it's a world pandemic. You just don't know. I just think that's where it came from. My dad just always told me if you're going to play the game, play the game the right way. Don't cheat it. This game was here before you was born, it's going to be here after you die.
Michael Redd: Hey everybody, this is Michael Redd and welcome to the Betting on Yourself podcast where I interview successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and other top performers who rose to the top, took success into their own hands, and bettered themselves. I've known Jared Sullinger since back when he was in junior high school and I could tell even back then that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with. I've been watching his illustrious career continue to flourish from his early days at OSU to being drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2012, for 4 seasons, to now as a free agent. He is not only great on the court, but his heart, passion, and integrity have kept us connected through the years and I'm super thankful for his friendship. I'm excited to have him on today as we talk about the benefits of being influenced by the right people, the importance of establishing a good routine, and how to find your motivation.
Michael Redd: My brother, my brother, man it's so good to have you on the cast today man. I've been knowing you since I don't know, almost born probably. But like eighth grade is when I first met you.
Jared Sullinger: Probably before that. It was probably like in fourth grade.
Michael Redd: Golly. Amazing. Amazing.
Jared Sullinger: I just looked like an eighth grader.
Michael Redd: I came to see you play. It was an AAU event and everybody was just ranting and raving about you. And of course I knew about your brothers. All of them are still younger than me. Lets you know how old I am. But watched you that day and was like oh wow, yeah. Because your dad had been telling me about you and your brothers, particularly JJ. Just watched you from that point on man, from afar. And just so proud of what you've become not only as a player, but as a man. And me and you have had a number of conversations over the last year, few months even about life. So I'm glad you're on the podcast my man, Jared Sullinger.
Jared Sullinger: Appreciate it. Thank you for having me man.
Michael Redd: Yeah man. Yeah. So much to cover with you man. I want to hear, as I ask all my guests this question, about your perspective on betting on yourself and what that has meant to you.
Jared Sullinger: It means a lot man. You know, growing up in the ranks, growing up on my side of town, you kind of had to bet on yourself. So my way of getting out of my neighborhood so I wasn't a product of my environment was basketball and school. I had a great dad that always told me "You can't have athletics without academics." And that made school more important as time went on, because I knew in order for me to get basketball I had to have school. So that's kudos to my parents. I mean, that's just betting on yourself and just going out there and understanding that everybody has an agenda, everybody has a goal, and just betting on yourself to reach that goal and putting yourself in front of everything.
Michael Redd: Yeah, I mean you're dead on. And what a lot of people don't know about our link together is our family's link. Your dad and mom knew my parents in college. They went to school together. So kind of like predicted this day would happen probably, back then. But every time I see your dad he always reminds me how he knew me before I was born, type of thing. Because my dad and your dad played ball together. Did you get that sense from your parents early on, on how to better yourself and take risk on yourself? Did that come from them or your brothers?
Jared Sullinger: Yeah. I mean, back in the day... My dad was born in 1949, being a biracial kid, he was automatically labeled as colored. So growing up through all of that stuff that was going on back then, my dad bet on himself and he got to college and he got a degree. Same with my mom. They had to bet on themselves through that time, through the civil rights movements and all that good stuff. So they had to bet on themselves. So that was kind of like in my blood just because my mom and dad went through that and they had to bet on themselves to get to college, and they did that. So it's just in my genes. My grandparents did it. My great grandparents did it. So it's all about just betting on yourself. It's kind of within our bloodline honestly.
Michael Redd: No doubt. No doubt man. I've seen it. I've talked to your father about it over the years, and obviously your brothers as well. Give me a personal moment for you, it may have come from high school, middle school. When was there a moment when you had to say you know what, I'm going to take this risk on myself and believe in myself in this moment? Was there a pivotal moment for you when you were younger?
Jared Sullinger: Yeah. I don't know why they do this with kids. But in the fifth grade they was ranking kids and I was top 10 in the country in fifth grade. The next year I feel to like 50 something and then seventh grade year I just fell off the map because everybody got better. I was playing with, I'll never forget this, will All Ohio, it was like a local team so we wasn't really traveling. The Columbus Jaguars was like the team of Ohio from fourth grade to eighth grade. I decided that I wanted to play for them. So we reached out. I start playing. Didn't play at all because I wasn't up to their speed. I wasn't at their level of conditioning. There was so many things that I wasn't up to par with that I just didn't play. I understood that I'm on a good basketball team and I had to learn how to play like them.
Jared Sullinger: I think that's where from seventh to eighth grade I got better because I knew if I wanted to play for the Jaguars and I wanted to get playing time, I had to bet on myself. I wasn't going to back down from that challenge. I bet on myself to be able to go to that team and be able to play on that team. And ultimately ended up being the starting big in eighth grade. So as time went on, that word betting on yourself, it means so many things. Whether it's in school, whether it's in these protests that's going on around here, basketball. It's bigger than sports.
Michael Redd: It is. It is. And you've always been the type to never back down from a challenge and to have a certain inner confidence. So that confidence that you've kind of walked in has started from those moments in AAU. Me and you both played for All Ohio. Shout out to All Ohio. We had great moments in high school. So you get to high school and you become this stud that everybody is starstruck over. I was playing in the NBA at the time and I would just hear reports back at home on how well you were doing, you and Trey together. Talk to me about those times in high school and the mindset you had to dominate every time you played, no matter who you played against.
Jared Sullinger: Again man, if my dad hears this he's going to be like this is the most credit I ever gave him in life. You got to give credit to pops man. My pops always told me "You got to play the game like it's your last." You know what? It really hit. That statement really hit, this year, especially in high school and even in college because for some people that was their last game. So you have to play every game like it's your last because you never know what's going to happen. Whether it's an injury, whether it's a world pandemic. You just don't know. I just think that's where it came from. My dad just always told me if you're going to play the game, play the game the right way. Don't cheat it. This game was here before you was born, it's going to be here after you die. If you pay its respects it will give you what you want. And I just think playing hard to the horn sounds is what my dad kind of embedded in me, Julian, and Jay.
Michael Redd: How was that dynamic playing for your dad? Would he challenge you harder than other kids? How was that dynamic playing for your dad in high school?
Jared Sullinger: It was tough. My freshman and sophomore year I didn't know what he was trying to do. There was times where somebody else would make a mistake and he's yelling at me. It's like, I didn't do that. And then he's like "Get out of my practice." And then finally my junior year he sat me down and he goes "Jared, 9 times out of 10 I'm coaching through you because I know you can handle me yelling at you. I'm just coaching through you to get to this other player. So if I can yell at you and you can take it, then the other players can take it." I didn't know that. And then my junior and senior year, me and him never had another problem after that because I knew what it was. I knew the tone of voice whether I made the mistake or somebody else made the mistake. So that's where I think not only the player/coach relationship got amazing, but my dad and son relationship got even better because we can finally know when he was dad and when he was coach. And I thought we just had a great flow after that.
Michael Redd: Yeah. You guys have a great basketball legacy and heritage in the city of Columbus. JJ is a little younger than me, a little bit younger than me. But he was a stud in high school and then wound up going to Ohio State and obviously Julian I think went to Kent State and played and was an incredible player himself. How much of an influence did your brothers have on you?
Jared Sullinger: I tell people all the time, I'm like the ability that you see, the passing, the posting, the ability to handle the ball every now and then, that comes from playing against my brothers. For a long time now, we always played king of the hill. Three dribbles, no offensive rebounds. And that's where the ability to finish through contact, because I was the youngest, I wasn't allowed to call fouls, that's where being able to get a jump shot off in a difficult area happened, because I only have three dribbles. So I mean, those guys when it comes to basketball, especially being able to watch them, and they played hard. All my antics, all my basketball game, it pretty much comes from not only some of the stuff that I've seen on TV, but it mostly comes from Jay and Julian.
Michael Redd: Wow. And you carried that swag through high school. And then obviously you make the decision to go to Ohio State, the Ohio State University, from leaving Northland. How big of a decision was that? Where was the program at, speaking of Ohio State, when you got there? Obviously Thad Matta was there coaching at the time. Great culture, great university. What was your mindset in making that massive decision to leave from Northland to go to the Ohio State University?
Jared Sullinger: Well it was pretty easy. My brother JJ... I got to tell you, my family has a big influence on everything that I have done in my life and is the reason why I'm able to live the life that I live today is because of my family. I remember Jay lost to Georgetown and Dayton his senior year in 2006. And we [inaudible 00:12:05] meet at half court, dap up, give me a young. And he says "If Coach Matta offers you a scholarship take it because there's no coach like Coach Matta." He said "If it wasn't for Coach Matta I wouldn't be having these agents giving me their cards right after the game." And so on and so on. And I'm just like okay. So this is eighth grade year. So I'm like okay cool. Next, following year, we get around May, I have a little breakout freshman year and then boom, Coach Matta offers me.
Jared Sullinger: And I just took it my freshman year and I just wanted to close the door on everything because I just knew my brother wouldn't steer me the wrong way, that's one. And two, my dad was waking at 12:00, 1:00 at night answering phone calls because the little NCAA trick was he was my high school coach so they was allowed to call my high school coach, but they wasn't allowed to call my dad. So it was the best of both worlds. So my dad started cutting his phone off at 8:00 because college coaches was blowing up his phone. So that was kind of like the decision to help not only my dad, but myself.
Michael Redd: So you were getting recruited by everyone in the country. You become a National Player of the Year in high school, become co-MVPs I believe, at the McDonald's All American game, and then you're on your way to Ohio State. Talk about that transition from the high school level, playing under your dad, to now your freshman year at Ohio State under Coach Matta.
Jared Sullinger: There was no difference honestly. In the summertime... We play all the time in the summer. So I was playing against guys like Leon Rogers, Greg Oden, Dallas Lauderdale that was already at Ohio State, [inaudible 00:13:51], BJ Mullins, Jared Bayless was good friends with Greg Oden, which they was in the same draft. He used to come down there. Evan Turner, Kenny Gregory. So on and so on. I was playing with pros from 15 years old and on. So when it came to going to college and the speed of the game, the knowledge of the game, retaining plays, and doing all that, I was already ahead of the ballgame because I had been around so many guys that not only are my mentors, but they kind of took me under their wing as a friend. So I was able to reach out to these guys whenever I need to, just how I reach out to you whenever I need to. It's like a brotherhood within the city of Columbus that makes our basketball family that much more significant.
Michael Redd: You are on the money with that. I think Ohio, and particularly Columbus, doesn't get the credit that it should when it comes to basketball heritage. So my father, like your father, kind of did a great job of giving us the history of the game here in Columbus. Talk about that for a second, about how tough it was to play here in Columbus, the competition level, the level of talent throughout the years that's been here in Columbus spawning from the 1960s all the way up to your era and even now, all the NBA players that have come out of Columbus. I think Columbus gets overlooked when it comes to talent here historically.
Jared Sullinger: All the time. All the time. I think when it comes to Columbus we just kind of look at Ohio State and we look at Columbus and we just say football. And we say football, football, football, football. And I get it. We have great football players. There's no doubt about that. But for as many great football players, we have as many great basketball players. From Granville Waiters to Jim Clemens to yourself to Trey Burke to Seth Townsend that's at Ohio State, who went to a Columbus public city school and ended up graduating from Harvard. Stuff like that just flies under the door all the freaking time. And I just think with basketball, especially around Columbus, Ohio is very very high and is very very significant in the community because we have so many guys that play basketball and they play it the right way. But it just gets overlooked because Ohio is labeled as a football state due to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Michael Redd: Oh I agree. We could spend another hour naming all the great players. Kenny Gregory, Esteban Weaver, Tony O'Daniels, Calvin Booth, Samaki Walker. I mean on and on and on and on.
Jared Sullinger: [inaudible 00:16:39]
Michael Redd: There you go. Caris LeVert. On and on and on. Talent runs deep here. You said something a few minutes ago that I thought was very powerful. You have always sought out to be around people who have done it, people who are the best at what they do, so it makes you better. How applicable is that even beyond the game of basketball, about surrounding yourself with people who make you better?
Jared Sullinger: It's just because with the guys that I associated myself with are pretty much older than me, probably 10 to 12 years older than me, and I hang out with them all the time. The thing is that what makes those guys great and the reason why they're in my circle is because they won't allow somebody younger than them to make the same mistake they made. And that's what makes that group so powerful for me is because they won't allow me to go down their steps where they fumbled. They only let you go down the route where it's only going to be successful, there's only for your own good. Those are the guys that I constantly keep in my corner because the accountability and the respect factor is at an all-time high. And just having integrity around you, it just makes you a better person because you start looking at yourself in the mirror and asking yourself "Do I have that same integrity? Do I have that same accountability? Do I have that same respect?" It just betters you every day.
Michael Redd: So you go on to have an incredible freshman year. I think you became freshman of the year. Joined the club. And then you became MVVP of the Big Ten tournament. So then you go on to your sophomore year and you guys have greater success by going to the Final Four. Just a stellar career. What was that like? You're a star ascending in the city, nationally. What kept you grounded and hungry?
Jared Sullinger: Man, winning. Winning. When it comes to as much success that I had at Ohio State, much success that I had at Northland, much success that I had with the Celtics and so on and so on. It's all about winning. That's all I care about. That's the main goal in this game, is when you play the game, is to win. Not how many points you have. No how many rebounds you have. Not how many assists. It's about win. Did it win? That's all I care about. If you can't understand that that's all I care about, then I can't associate myself with you because as soon as you just think about your stats, you already left the team. I want somebody that's wholeheartedly into the team. And I just think that's what made me hungry is just winning. I want to win. I don't like sharing anything. I want to win. I want to be the best.
Michael Redd: And that is, when you think of Jared Sullinger the player, you think of a winner. And how important is that team aspect? Because you certainly experienced in in high school. I think you and Trey won a state championship your junior year maybe.
Jared Sullinger: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Michael Redd: And then you transitioned to Ohio State and you had great teammates at Ohio State. Talk about that dynamic and that cohesion.
Jared Sullinger: It started with Dave Lighty, John Diebler, Will Buford, Dallas Lauderdale. Those guys just came off of, I want to say Sweet Sixteen, no Elite Eight loss to Tennessee I believe, when Evan Turner won National Player of the Year. Those four guys was our leaders and they was returning. We had six new guys come in. Me, Evan Ravenel, JD Weatherspoon, Aaron Craft, Jordan Sibert, and Deshaun Thomas. They showed us the way. That was the culture. It was one way. We come in, we get our work in, we do it with a smile on our face, and we be the hardest working team out there. And I think when you got people like John Diebler that's getting a 4.59 mile. You got people like Dave Lighty that broke his foot and turns around in three months he acts like nothing ever happened. He has the same amount of energy. Then you got Will Buford that just constantly works. Then you got Dallas Lauderdale that just comes in there, he's a vocal leader. Those guys I don't think got enough credit, my freshman year of why our team was so good.
Michael Redd: Yeah, you guys had a great team that can compare against any team. You guys were often compared against the Conley-Oden team of 2006-2007. With our own circles we talk about those comparisons. But you guys had a super team, incredible team. So you make the decision from that point on, "I've achieved what I've achieved in college. Let me now make the transition into the NBA." Talk about that decision after sophomore year.
Jared Sullinger: I think it was pretty simple because what people don't know is me and Coach Matta had conversations through that whole year and he kind of knew what decision I was going to make at the end of the season. He kind of pressured me to like "Hey Jared, you need to go after your freshman year. You've done what you needed to do. Go. I can't do nothing for you." That's basically the conversation that we had. I'm like no coach, I'm coming back. He's like "Are you sure?" I'm like "Yeah." Another week will go by, he calls me into his office again. "Hey, are you sure you're staying?" I'm like "Coach, I'm sure." He's like "I need to know because I'm recruiting somebody." I'm like "Coach, I'm staying." He's like "All right, cool." He trusted me after that. And throughout the season Coach Matta constantly had a conversation. He was like "I know you're leaving." This is exactly what he's telling me throughout the season. Like "I know you're leaving. Stay grounded. Stay with the team. Stay with the team." I'm like "Coach, you don't have to worry about that because I hate losing just as much as you. So I don't care about what's about to happen in three, four, five months. I care about what's about to happen right now." So that was the type of pace that me and Coach Matta had throughout the whole season.
Jared Sullinger: So when it came down to it to make the decision, Coach Matta already knew. As I was bringing it up to him he was like "I know. And I appreciate you for everything you've done." I'm like it's mutual. So that transition was real easy because I had somebody in my corner that was not only pushing me, but he understood the situation. I thought that's why Coach Matta is one of my favorite coaches, other than my dad.
Michael Redd: I know he made it easy for you and your game did too. How hard was it leaving your teammates?
Jared Sullinger: It's hard because you don't... It's the first time you don't know what's about to happen. For four months I didn't know where I was going, who was selecting me, what city I would be in, nothing. So that's the first time in... What, I was 20 years old. First time in 20 years I didn't know what I was doing for the next, following year. That's why turning pro is kind of nerveracking for some is because you just don't know where you're going to end up at. So it's the first time that there wasn't a next year. In middle school, in seventh grade you lose, okay I've got eighth grade. Lose in eighth grade, I got ninth grade, high school season. Lose in ninth grade, so on and so on. And then you go to college, your senior year, you just don't know what's going to happen. Say all that to say is that the transition and all that good stuff, going to being a pro was amazing. The hardest part was just being the kid in that situation. Not knowing what was next. That was the hardest part. Because for so long you knew what was next. And that was the first time in my life I didn't know what was next. I knew I was playing basketball. I just didn't know where, when, and with who.
Michael Redd: Yeah. Well, that name got called. First round, 21st pick in the draft. I know you had expectations of going a little higher in the draft. But first round is the first round. You get to Boston and you know the history and heritage there. How was that whole experience of finally getting drafted and going to a winning organization? Great players are there already and you'll name a couple of them, but how was that whole experience for you?
Jared Sullinger: It was great. It was great. Just saw the difference between a college player and a pro. I think the college player is kind of figuring out what he does well and the coach is kind of guiding him. And then you get to the pros and then it's like that player is kind of guiding the coach on what he does. As I was watching these guys work out, you got Jason Terry that literally did the same thing every day. Brandon Bass did the same thing every day. Rondo did the same thing every day. KG did the same thing every day. Paul Pierce did the same thing every day. People wonder why when they get to that spot it's always money, is because they do it every single day. It's a routine. It's a routine. It's a routine. And that's when I started watching the NBA. I was like everybody has a routine, find yours. I got to find mine.
Jared Sullinger: I think that was the fun part, was I was still learning basketball. As much as basketball that I already thought I knew, I'm still learning. And I thought that was the coolest part of it all was I'm learning. I got to learn from Doc, got to learn from Brad. I mean, I had a lot of cool vets along the way that just taught me the game, got to see the game their way. Your mind, you just soak it up like a sponge and enjoy everything.
Michael Redd: I was going to ask you that. Some of the things you learned from that experience. It had to be really really incredible because you watched these guys your whole life and now you're playing with them. I know how I felt when I met Ray Allen for the first time as a rookie. You get a chance to spend time with KG on a daily basis. One of the greats of all time. Some of the things you learned from him?
Jared Sullinger: Routine man. That was the biggest thing was routine. The guy was like... We used to talk about it like in the locker room. We'd be like you guys are androids. They was like "What you mean?" I'm like "You're like an android phone. You do the same thing every time." It's just routine. Eat at this time. Shoot at this time. Get a massage at this time. Put my head down at this time. Walk out at this time. Stand in the same spot at this time. It's so many... If some of those guys don't do those things, then it's not their night. They have to do those things. And that's what I learned is the more of a routine you find, the better the game you have is, because you're not questioning yourself when you miss that shot. You're not questioning yourself when you make a mistake, when you're handling the rock, because you did that already and you got your daily routine. Those are some things that you just can do those with your eyes closed.
Michael Redd: Man, you're saying a mouth full. I think there's a lot of talk of how to handle success, which you've experienced it your whole life. Talk about the mindset you have to have or you need to find success or achievement in the face of adversity.
Jared Sullinger: Keep them feet grounded. That's all I can say. You're never too high, you're never too low. At the end of the day, you can be as high as you want and there's going to be something that can always pull you back down to the ground. And you have to understand that. You're not higher than anybody. You're not above the law. You're a human being. When it's all said and done, if they took a basketball away from me, I'm just Jared Sullinger the human being. If it wasn't for basketball nobody would know my face. And that's what people need to understand. That's how you've got to live your life, is like you've got to live your life as if, no everybody's watching, but nobody's watching. That way you're yourself at all times. You're not too high, you're not too low. People that get too high are... They get too high and they stay high and then something just pulls them below of what they really need to be below of. You got to stay grounded, humble, and hungry I think. Sometimes people get mixed up with, once they touch the money is like it's over. No.
Jared Sullinger: You got to find something that keeps you going, whether it's your family, whether it's your kids, whether it's you want to win. I think Michael Jordan put the nail in the coffin when he said the main objective is to win. I think when they seen Michael Jordan care about winning more than anything or he's risking his whole career to freaking play a game that he only played 10 minutes in and still carry a team to the playoffs. That's one of the greatest players of all time. If he can do it, why can't you?
Michael Redd: And you happen to be a Jordan Brand player. Tell me about that experience man.
Jared Sullinger: Oh man, it's crazy. It was amazing. I couldn't tell you the last time I bought a pair of shoes. It's nothing like it. He takes care of his players and he understands his gear is like gold. Everybody wants it. So he laces his players like no other. It's fun. Another thing about Jordan that makes Jordan so great is you go to his events, he doesn't just say hello. He says hello and he has a whole conversation with you. He treats everybody like a human being. I thought that was one of the greatest times. I remember my rookie sophomore year, or excuse me, the rookie sophomore game, that was my second year in the league. I take my mom and dad down to New Orleans. Jordan always has his Jordan party because it's his birthday around that time. I walk in and he says what's up to me. I introduce him to my mom and dad. Next thing you know, my mom and dad's having a conversation with Michael Jordan for about 10 minutes. Michael Jordan just met my mom and dad. Those type of things are mind blowing to me, that basketball took me that far.
Michael Redd: Wow. Yeah. There's a drive in you man. As I'm talking to you, and I've known of it for a while, that exists. And it's beautiful to watch. Because you're still a young man and your career is still ahead of you. Talk about the injuries over the years and the trip over to China to play over in China and through all of that adversity. Talk about your mindset in those moments.
Jared Sullinger: It was hard man. Being injured is not fun. It's no secret. I had a back surgery my rookie year, after playing X amount of games, due to a herniated disk. Then I finally get hit free agency, first game in preseason I break my foot, with Toronto in 2016. Boom. Get healthy. Still not really fully healthy. I get traded to Phoenix. Phoenix cuts me. And then I go try to get signed to Miami. Went down there. Seen Pat Riley, one of the coolest guys of all time by the way. Go down there, get an x-ray, find out my foot was never fully healed. Have another surgery. Then it's 2017. Play in the TBT, get a couple interests. Everybody says they don't have roster spots. So my agent gives me a two month deal in China. So I go over there in China, try to just stay in shape. Ended up finding... The crazy part is it's like sometimes the NBA puts you in a box. Sometimes you got the politics of the NBA. Then sometimes you have the general manager parts of the NBA as far as winning, how much we're winning, and all that good stuff. And then you got just the player part. You put those three factors in, sometimes it just takes the juice out of you because you just don't know what type of day it's going to be.
Jared Sullinger: When I went to China I got that juice back because I knew if we was going to win the game, it had to be all on me. I felt like I found the juice back. I found the hunger to play. I thought that was the beautiful part about China. So fast forward to what, two years ago. Go up for a dunk, one of the Chinese big men grab me, pull me out the air, flip me, landed on my back. Boom, herniated disk that just drives right into my nervous system. So fast forward it to this February, get it cleaned up and now I'm back on the court. So it's sometimes basketball takes you for a weird loop. But sometimes it's like a gift and a curse. The gift was I was able to see my kids being born. Not only be able to see my kids being born, but I was to possibly be playing in China this past year and that's where the whole coronavirus thing started supposedly. So I could have been in the middle of a world pandemic, away from my family. So that's the gift and the curse of basketball.
Michael Redd: It's been more of a gift I think in so many ways because it's taught you and built your character and you've learned so many lessons from it. Like you said, your family. Married two years, two beautiful children. Twins. You're a father and a husband now. And how's that been for you.
Jared Sullinger: It's been amazing. If they told me fatherhood would feel like this, I'd have did it a long time ago. No, I'm playing. It's amazing. it's amazing because it's like basketball has a meaning to it, but it has even more meaning to it because it's my job. Now when I think about cutting a set early it's like I'm taking food away from my kids' mouth instead of my mouth. Because I'm okay if I don't eat sometimes. I got to worry about them. So I think that extra motivation of knowing that they're sitting there at home and I'm in the gym and I'm working and I come back home and they're smiling. They just take whatever problem that you have throughout the day, one smile takes that whole day and turns it upside down.
Michael Redd: That's beautiful man. I understand that all too well with our kids. What's next for you? Update us what's next for you. I know you're back on the court getting your body ready, getting ready to play again. Like I said before, you're a young man and you got many many years to play. What's next for you?
Jared Sullinger: Man, I'm just trying to play basketball. That's about it man. With the NBA stuff getting pushed back it kind of put a lot of damper on a lot of things. Ultimate goal is the NBA. That's the ultimate goal. So I'm kind of just going to slow up and see what happens with the NBA and then if I don't have nothing, I'm going to hightail it over the water and provide for the family. It's no biggie. Everybody doesn't have a job in the NBA. But the beautiful part about basketball is there's multiple places in this world where you can get paid.
Michael Redd: I can tell you what could potentially be next for you in the future, and this is a while from now. But you made a pit stop into coaching over the last couple of years. You led the team, the summer team, OSU team in the TBT championship last summer. How was that experience for you, coaching? Obviously the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Your IQ is amazing on the court and also when you were coaching. How was that experience for you?
Jared Sullinger: It was amazing. Amazing because I got the same adrenalin rush, I got the same feeling, I got the same exhaustion after the game as if I played the game. So that was the craziest part was how locked in you got to be as a coach. I always wondered why Izzo goes crazy on the sidelines sometimes, why Roy Williams, Bill Self, even Coach Matta. I understand why. You're really invested into the game when you're coaching. That was some of the funnest parts of the game was just how invested I was. At one point, I remember we was playing the Dayton team and Dallas tapped my shoulder and was like "Hey, you got to make a sub." I was like "My bad. I was watching this as a fan." I was just enjoying the basketball that was being played. So I say all that to say when it comes to coaching, one of the best parts is sitting there on the sideline and you draw up something and it works. It's almost like when you work out as a basketball player and you do that move and you work on that move, you finally bring it out, and you do the move and it's successful, it's the same way as drawing on the ATO.
Michael Redd: Wow. You did a great job man. I told you that over and over. It's just natural for you. So when you're playing days are over that could be an option for you. There's a lot to you because you're so smart. If you had to go back to your 10 year old self, what would you tell that 10 year old Jared?
Jared Sullinger: Oh man. Protect his back. Protect your back. No. If I had to go back and tell my 10 year old self something I would just say look in the mirror more instead of looking around you because that's the only person you got to fight with. That's the only person you're competing with. You see it in the new generation is that with social media it's so easy to be like well look at him, well look at him. It's like so easy to point the fingers like well he does that, why can't I do that. You just got to look yourself in the mirror and be like is this what I need to do. I think if I did that at 10 years old, I think it would be a different outcome. Now, I don't mind my outcome. My outcome's been great. But I just think it would be a different outcome.
Michael Redd: Wow. Well you heard it from me. You've had one of the great careers that came out of Columbus and one of the great careers to come out of Ohio State, and you've got many more years left to go my brother. So I want to thank you for spending time with me today on this podcast. And I'm just proud of you. And continue on being that father and husband that you are. And obviously you will continue to be a great player. But I'm proud of you and thank you for being on the podcast today my man.
Jared Sullinger: I appreciate you big homie.
Michael Redd: Absolutely. I got to ask you one more question. Greatest player of all time, basketball player of all time?
Jared Sullinger: Greatest player of all time. Man we already had this conversation. Why you trying to-
Michael Redd: I have a fun question in there. I want to hear your thoughts. Has your mind changed or where are you at?
Jared Sullinger: It's Michael Jordan man.
Michael Redd: Got it.
Jared Sullinger: It's Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan. It's no knock to LeBron, but Michael Jordan is, to me, my favorite player, so that makes him the greatest basketball player of all time. LeBron is very close, very close. I mean, averaging a double double, 35 years old, and still doing... We can go on and on about him. He's amazing. But for me, Michael Jordan is number one.
Michael Redd: You're right about LeBron. I think Kareem gets left out far too often.
Jared Sullinger: Yeah. Magic too.
Michael Redd: I was going to get there, Magic. I 100% agree with you. I think there's a few players that get left out of the conversation and we skip them to get to LeBron and Michael. To me, Michael is the greatest player of all time too. But you're a historian. You know a lot of great players get skipped sometimes. But I agree.
Jared Sullinger: Now, when you say Michael, hold on now. When you say Michael, do you mean Michael Jordan or Michael Redd? You keep saying Michael like it's just... I don't want that to slide by.
Michael Redd: Michael Redd is nowhere near the conversation. Nowhere near the conversation. But no, Jordan, to be clear.
Jared Sullinger: Okay. Just making sure.
Michael Redd: Yeah. No no no. It's easy. That's easy brother. So listen man, I'm proud of you. You know we love your family. Best to you going forward.
Jared Sullinger: Appreciate you. Thank you.
Michael Redd: I am super proud of my brother Jared for his dedication to his family and his love for the game and will continue to watch his career in anticipation of the amazing things to come. Thanks for listening to today's episode. To read the show's notes, learn more about my work, or connect with me, visit michaelredd.com. New episodes released every week on Monday. So make sure to subscribe if you want to stay up to date. Until next time, I'm Michael Redd and remember, you are the secret to your success.
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