NBA point guard for the Utah Jazz and all-time leading scorer for the Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Conley Jr., joined host Michael Redd to talk about how to develop a winning mentality, why preparation and mental toughness are the keys to great achievements, and his journey as a pro athlete.
The reason players aren’t afraid is they don’t think of the moment. For me, you don’t let the moment overtake you, you don’t think about the score, you don’t think about failure. You think about the opportunity that lies ahead.Mike Conley Jr.
The fourth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft is a three-time NBA Sportsmanship Award-winner and was the franchise leader in multiple categories during his 12 seasons with the Grizzlies.
Mike Conley Jr is considered one of the best point guards in the NBA, and is certainly one of its toughest competitors. He was the highest-paid player in the NBA at one point and is also an impassioned philanthropist.
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In this episode Michael and Mike talked about:
- How Mike’s family Olympic legacy imprinted a model for success
- Why losing is sometimes the best teacher
- Mike’s daily regimen for keeping his competitive edge
- Great advice on balancing family and career
- On fearlessness and rising above high-pressure moments to win
- And much more!
Michael Redd: Thank you for joining the podcast my man.
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, man. I appreciate you having me. I'm excited.
Michael Redd: Yes. So we’re basically going to put our golf conversations on the golf course, basically into this podcast. For those who are listening Mike is like my little brother been knowing him since he was 18 going into Ohio State. He's truly one of the most humble people I know in life. And being able to see his journey over the last 15 years, him grow as a person, as a man now as a husband, as a father. His resume speaks for itself. With being the fourth pick in the 2007, NBA draft which shocked all of us at that time.
But you had to make that move. We'll talk about that a little bit. He is also the franchise leader in multiple categories for the Memphis Grizzlies and has had an incredible career there and now he's with the Utah jazz and his list goes on and on of what he's been able to accomplish. But with all of that, Mike, I want to start with the theme of the show, which is betting on yourself. What is betting on yourself been like for you?
Mike Conley Jr: Really, I think for me, it's just been kind of always believe in and having faith in and what I'm set out to do whether that's in basketball or off the court or any committees, whatever it may be is a truly believe in beyond a single ounce of doubt that, that you can accomplish it and get it done. And regardless of what others may say or think, tell you can't do or tell you it's going to be too hard or too difficult, it's it seems like that kind of thing is pushing me to strive to be the best I can be at whatever I decide to put my mind to. So I've never been afraid to throw all the chips in and go all after it.
Michael Redd: I know there's been many examples of times where you've had to bet on yourself, but was there a one pivotal time when you had to bet on yourself that stands out above all of them? Is it whether it be going to Ohio State or whether it be leaving school early?
Mike Conley Jr: Oh, man. I mean, there was a few, I think honestly I had to say split between going, committing to a Ohio State at the time in which, you had schools like North Carolina or like Duke, or the schools that are perennially, going into the final fours and all that. And Ohio state hadn't been in the final four since I think you guys were there in 99. And so it was like a leap of faith in that sense like are we going to truly go to a school and, and try to, they had already started to turn the program over and started to see some improvement.
Do we want to be a part of that? Or do we want to be a part of something that's been established for a long period of time, and just taking that leap of faith, knowing that we can get it done, that we can change the way Ohio State basketball can go for the future and for why we're there.
Also, I think just making the decision to go to the draft was probably one of the toughest ones, because there was a part of me that still wanted to be in college. A big part of me that wanted to be in college. I didn't want to let my teammates down there. They were already there. Didn't want to let coach down, didn't want to leave the great university and the people and the fans to embark on a journey that I had no idea what was going to, it was going to entail, but it was a dream of mine. So I truly had to take that leap and try to get it done.
Michael Redd: You are a winner and I want to take you back a little bit to leaving your childhood, did seeing your dad win a gold medal or with a gold medal set a standard of success as a mindset for you?
Mike Conley Jr: I think unconsciously, it was, I don't think I didn't necessarily have a bulletin board in my room or anything that said I needed to be close to what my dad was or anything like that. I think it was just was, life, how I grew up was seeing him be successful and what that took. So it was just, it was nothing for me to go out and shoot a thousand shots or run sprints, or go to the track with them and do stuff. Because that's what he did. And it was normal to me. Like that's just what my dad does.
So I didn't know any better. I think that kind of helped groom me for when I got older. And you realize that it's hard to maintain that kind of mindset and to be goal oriented like that and to try to achieve success. So I was lucky in the sense that I had somebody to watch every day and not realizing that I was kind of imprinting and understanding everything he was doing.
Michael Redd: Yeah. For those who don't know Mike's dad was an Olympic gold medal winner. And I watched him in the 92 Olympics and I was 13 or 12 at the time watching your dad. And it was an incredible time. And for those who don't know, his mother is a gold medalist of mothers because I'm sure she had to hold it down for you and your brothers and sisters while your dad was doing his job.
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, man, that is super overlooked man. My mom, I know a lot of athletes feel this way too, but mother’s man, they mean the world to us. They do a lot that nobody sees. I mean, she basically was the one raising us, because my dad was gone traveling with this track and Olympics and things like that. She was the one around all four of us, really all my siblings 24/7 and never complained gave us everything we could ever want and need.
She has always been there for us and she's our number one supporter. So just having that strong backbone and having such a strong woman to also look up I'm truly thankful for it because I know that that's something that a lot of people don't get and she's very special to me and my brothers and sister. And we love her very much.
Michael Redd: Wow. Yeah. I can relate to that. My mom is my hero as well, man, along with my father. So we got that in common. Let me ask you a question. Was it hard having a dad who was a successful athlete?
Mike Conley Jr: I think it had it’s challenges, but they weren't too overbearing. I didn't feel too much pressure knowing that my dad won a gold medal that I needed to necessarily follow in his footsteps or be successful in that manner because I didn't, I was lucky enough I didn't run track like that. I ran it for my freshman year in high school and some in eighth grade maybe, but I never really clung to it as much as he did and basketball is my thing. So I was completely separate and never really had to take any pressure because basketball was a new avenue for me and that allowed me to be myself and play and just have fun and don’t have any stress.
Michael Redd: At all the sports that you played growing up. Because me and you've talked over the years, you weren't just a basketball player, but you ran track. Like you played baseball. What made you bet on basketball as that one sport?
Mike Conley Jr: Well, I think at the end of the day, I honestly, when I was younger, when I played all those sports soccer, baseball, football I was pretty decent at all of them. And I could, I was athletic. I could do everything and in good coordination and loved them all big fans of all the sports, but basketball just was the one sport that I knew when I went to bed at night was the last thing I was thinking about when I woke up, it was the first thing. Just having that kind of mindset just knew that basketball is the one I can't live without.
So I'm going to have to start focusing my attention on this sport and try to make the best of it from that standpoint. But I mean, just really the teammates I've had and the players and the people that, the relationships you've made through sport, especially at basketball for me were a contributing factor too, because all my best friends were a part of it, Greg Oden and De Quan Cook all these guys I grew up playing with those are some of the most, more special times in my entire life. So I think that basketball was the easy pick for me.
Michael Redd: We've been blessed to watch you over the years, man. I know personally watching you grow as a player has been incredible and I'm going to pivot real quick to this winning mentality that you have, that I felt the wrath of me and Mike play golf in the summertime a lot. And like I said before, he's a winner and he's the type of guy that you cannot say can't too. So I felt the wrath of this winner mentality, but tell me how does one develop a winning mentality,
Mike Conley Jr: Man? Yeah, I really, I think it stems from the feelings you get from, from losing, honestly, like you probably heard people say a lot, like people, it's almost less about the feeling of winning is like what it feels like to lose it’s complete agony, like you can't go to sleep, but you can't like, there's still like that today. Like in anything I do, I want to win and if I lose, I'm thinking about it until the next opportunity I get to play.
If I lose you in golf, I'm going to be thinking about that for another week until I get a chance to play again or another month, whenever it is. I'm just like, man, I just, so I think it develops from when you've lost enough, and you’re like, “Man, I don't want to feel like that” You're kind of paranoid that you you'll do anything to win. The joy of winning is beautiful. So it just trying to use that as my motivation.
Michael Redd: Mike is an outstanding golfer. I won't disclose the overall record that we have between each other.
Mike Conley Jr: It's not important.
Michael Redd: I think a pivotal moment in our golf and time together was in The Bahamas a couple of years ago. And I was playing like, I normally play, I was playing well, but this guy just played at another level that day. I think he shot a 74 and I shot a 77. And the tide had turned at that point. And he's talking me down. You are relentless man. And you are one of the fierce competitors in the NBA by far. So with that being said, how do you bounce back from a loss? Because there's a lot of people listening to this and I think it's translatable to entrepreneurs. But it'd be interesting to hear how do you bounce back from losses?
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, honestly, man, like anything, like I said, I take losses hard. I take them like that’s the only thing that matters at the time. But as I grew, I think I learned that each loss is an opportunity for me to learn and to get better and to then improve on the next chance I get. So when we lose, we might lose one or two in a row or three in a row. And each one as soon as the game is over with I'm going to watch film on what I did wrong or what my team needs to improve or what, what worked and how many times we did not do what worked long enough. Just things that will help me in the long run. And it might not even be the next day that I get it right.
But I know that I'm at least putting in the time to better myself and adjust to the next opportunity I do get. So, obviously I said, I'd take out, been one to take stuff when I lose and, and take it super hard and just really think about it a lot. But like I said, as I've learned that the more I can kind of channel that and funnel it into a productive way, which is for me watching film and just going right back over it, instead of thinking about it, just reviewing it and going over it and making me feel like, I at least know what, or have a grasp of what I can do to, to make it better.
Michael Redd: I'm going to say something and it's not just because you're my little bro, but it's a fact you're one of the best point guards in NBA in the world. You have played at an all-star level for many, many years. How much has preparation been a part of your success and achievements? I know for many years, preparation has been attached to your reputation and I've seen it over and over again. How much has that played a part in your growth and development and success?
Mike Conley Jr: Well, I think preparation has been the, if not one of the biggest keys and my individual success is just because, being in the league at six foot one or whatever, 180 pounds, there's a lot of guys that are six foot one and 180, that are playing basketball and to stand out or to be better, you have to find ways to get a competitive edge or to improve yourself. And for me a big part of that is preparation. And like literally watching hours and hours of film of myself or of other players that I want to mimic my game after, or take moves from, or breaking down film with mentors or coaches or anybody that is willing to help me like that kind of stuff allows me to come into the situation, trying to know my opponent better than they know me in a sense.
I even have some great examples, like planning guys, like Chris Paul and Tony Parker, these guys for so many years and being in games where they, I'll call a play out. And instead of Chris Paul just defending it, he'll turn to his team and he'll tell the team exactly what we're about to run, not just the play, but just how it's going down. Like who's getting the ball, deny this pass all that kind of stuff. When you see that, you're like, okay, I get it. I get why they are who they are. This is how you prepare. You have to know everything. That's the best way to success for me is just if I feel like I'm going to go place prepared to go into battle and I feel like I can win everything.
Michael Redd: Yeah, you're constantly preparing that golf swing too.
Mike Conley Jr: I said, I wish I could play as much as much as you might think I'm playing or practicing. I don't get it. Like you remember the stages now I'm in that stage that you were in about seven years ago, when you were like, “Oh, I got kids” I just,, they're two, they're one, they’re three. I ain't got no time. I'm there. So, you know what I'm talking about?
Michael Redd: I do, and the kids as they get older will become more active, which means less time on the golf course. It means that you are a great father and you have your priorities straight. So, I get it, bro. I get it. And it's been interesting because I've been able to walk with you through your journey in the NBA. And even as a man, one thing I do know about you is that you're very regimented and I just want to hear it. I'm sure the listeners want to hear about your routine from a day to day standpoint.
Mike Conley Jr: I'm a little bit OCD with what I do. And even like what I eat, like I eat the same stuff all the time. The game days eat the same thing, rituals, whatever superstition, but like on a daily basis, like for right now, like I literally got done working out probably like three minutes before we hopped on this podcast. Because I go every day is prior from 9.30, 10 to about 1.30 where I'm doing body work, stretching some form of weight session, some form of conditioning session.
Then I go play do my basketball workout on the court which they all vary each day. But I got to consistently kind of be in that mode. Otherwise I don't feel like I can go forward with a day almost like I got to be done when I'm done at 1.30 or whatever. I feel good that I got what I needed to get in today. I can then go golf with you or I can then go do something. Because I feel like I've done my work for the day.
Then I still have the opportunity to go back in the afternoon or night because I've gotten it done earlier in the day. So it's just trying to stick to it. A strong regimen like lately I've been trying to eat better. So I became like a pescatarian and I've been eating nothing but fish and no red meat and stuff just trying, like I said I’m a competitor. You try anything to get a competitive advantage if it helps. So, I'm trying that and so that's a big lifestyle change for me.
Michael Redd: Yeah. He's extremely fit everyone. He is a machine and it's been great to watch your work ethic. Your work ethic now has become legendary. I want to ask you a part of the routine. Do you ever meditate at all?
Mike Conley Jr: Over the last four years or so meditation has become more and more implemented in what I do. I was kind of introduced to it. One of my coaches, I think it was coach Fizdale really was big on it. And so we would do breathing before every practice and certain kind of sessions, where they was just music playing in the background? And we would think about different things regarding our body or Almas. We might have to try to push out information and all kinds of things like that.
Really felt the best I had felt. So since then it's been part of what I do. Like when I get up in the morning, I literally like I'll sit there for 15 minutes. If I get 15 minutes without a kid running around in the room or something like, and just sit there and be in the bed and sit up and breathe or just like close your eyes and think about the day. That is very important. I think people overlook it a little bit in that aspect.
Michael Redd: As a veteran now Mike, how have you been able to navigate the ability to balance family career dynamics?
Mike Conley Jr: I think it's been, I think ultimately it's a challenge because you want to be great at both. You want to be the all-star dad, you want to be an all-star basketball player, all-star businessman, whatever you want to be. But for me, it's one your wife and the people that are around you are instrumental in helping you get through that. I mean, my wife's been great helping me balance it out. Like if there’s nights she knows I got a game the next night.
She'll be staying with the kids or letting me sleep in another room or whatever it may be to try to help me get as much rest as possible. So it makes it easy for me to be revitalize have energy for being around the kids and having family time when I do get that opportunity. But it's definitely it has its challenges. But I think with that balance, like you said, like I said, you got to have help and I have good people around me that do that.
Michael Redd: Yeah, you do. You mentioned all-star a number of times about being all-star father, all-star player. How much, or how does not making all-star team drive you to this day I've been around you? I know how much that has hurt in the past. Does that still drive you to this day?
Mike Conley Jr: Oh, for sure. Like, we've talked before it hurt so bad some years and you literally sit there and you know you deserve it and I think what made it worse some years you look at other people who get opportunities to make it. Then you're like, “Man, but I did better this year. I did better that year and so and so made it over me” It's just like, I don't know if I ever get there, but that's when that doubt starts to creep in. But then at the same time, it's like, man, I want to each year it starts over.
I'm going to be like this since I didn't make it the first 12 years. I’m going to be the oldest first time all-star that’s what I’m going to be. I'm going to be 32 when I make it, I'll be 33 when I make it. This is like my new goal. It's never going to go away from me. I think until the day I retire, because it's something that's kind of ate at me since I've kind of played at that level and been able to be in box the conversation,
Michael Redd: You’ve been able to thrive in the face of adversity. I remember even, I think your rookie year or second year in the NBA, the Grizzlies were almost about to give up on you and the story they were looking to trade you. And the Milwaukee bucks, the team I was playing for was looking to trade for you. I was in the office with our GM at the time and they asked me, they said, “We're looking to make a trade for Mike Conley. What do you think?”
I said, absolutely because I knew how talented you are and obviously you're a Buckeye. So but I knew the talent was there. And then you go from that potentially being traded to being their franchise leader in a lot of categories. And then you go from there to being the highest paid player in the history of the NBA at one point. Talk about that journey, man.
Mike Conley Jr: Oh man. It was it was definitely a, it's a tough one to challenging one, just in a sense like I would have loved to play on the same team with you, Mike but early in your career you don't want to get traded after your first year. That’s kind of in your mind that means that they didn't like me I didn’t do something right. They gave up and, but then on the flip side, another team really wants you, which means you get an opportunity. I wanted to set a different precedent and example to those watching me play. I just didn't do that my first year.
So I felt that there was a lot of room for me to grow a lot of room for opportunity. Thankfully I just kept my mind right during that time being 18, 19 years old. You got a lot of emotions going on. A lot of things going on in life is changing so fast that you can get, those kinds of situations can either make or break your career. For me, I just stayed, kind of locked into this tunnel and in this black hole and just stayed in it for a few years until I emerged out as a guy that could shoot a guy, they can pass a guy, they can make all the city, all the right decisions.
They can defend. Like I basically went to every single deficiency that I had and try to remold it and turn myself into a better player that way. It worked and allowed me to establish myself in the league and with most of my teammates and amongst the organization down in Memphis.
Michael Redd: Yeah. I think the grindhouse right was the theme of your team after a while grit and grind. I think more than anything, you guys live that, right. You experienced that more so than just a slogan. I think you were the catalyst on that team, obviously being the point guard and the leader you guys had great success. You got very close to the finals. Tell me about that experience man.
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, man it was some of the better times in my life being amongst those guys. I had so many great teammates during those runs and people were obviously a member of the core four group of guys and Tony Allen, Zebo and Mark, myself and Orige, but we had a lot of great guys, OJ, Mayo, Darrell, Arthur, and Vasquez. Just a bunch of guys down a list Mike Miller, all of these guys will be lifelong friends from now on just because of those experiences, but what made us different and unique, like you said, it was the Grindhouse mentality, grit and grind. A blue collar kind of approach to the game that, that resonated with the city of Memphis. I think it resonated with a lot of fans across America, because that's a lot of the workplace just guys going out there and doing it the hard way.
When people tell you, you can't do it or it's going to be too hard, you can't beat the Spurs, your AC, their onesies and we go out there and do it anyway. That was inspiring for a lot of people and it was inspiring for us shoot to Watts our guys perform and against all odds and just be tougher than teams and mentally take people out of games. It was it was fun to be a part of it.
Michael Redd: Yeah, you all weren't afraid of anything. You weren't afraid of anything and are not afraid of anything. What was your mindset or what is your mindset and not shrinking back and all those moments.
Mike Conley Jr: The reason why I think a lot of guys are afraid in certain situations is because they think of, don't all think of the moment for me. It's just understanding that you don't let the moment overtake you. You don't think about the score as much. You don't think about failure as much. You don't think about those things. You think about the opportunity that lies ahead. Like if you go into the free throw line, you got to make two to win. I'm thinking like, “Man, I make these two to win.
We win this game. I can imagine what, how are we going to be celebrate?” Like you thinking about that aspect of it, not like, “Oh my God, if I miss both of these, we lose” That is the difference between somebody going up there confidently and making them and somebody going up there and being shaky. So I think for a lot of us in those situations that is our mindset of making that shot, visualizing that shot or that play, or just being able to rise above a moment and not let it kind of engulf you.
Michael Redd: Yeah. You're one of the toughest players in the NBA by far. I even remember when you had your face broken and you came back to play and perform at a high level. I think it was in the playoffs.
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, that was a, I look back on it and I don't know if I was making the right decisions, coming back and playing with it. At the time it felt right and I think I earned a lot of respect from my team and, and those around me for competing through that and knowing the gravity of the games that we're going to play. So it was, it wasn't easy. It was the toughest like week and a half of my life as far as basketball player, trying to play through that. But it was it was worth it.
Michael Redd: Who was your toughest rival and who was your toughest individually and who was your toughest team that you had to play against?
Mike Conley Jr: I'll still say to this day, my rival would probably be Chris Paul and he's a guy that I looked up to a lot when I was in college, watching him play as a youngster in the league. When I got to play against them, you just see similarities in your game and get to know them and you see similarities and your personality and things like that. So it was like, all right, this is the guy I'm chasing.
I'll probably be continually chasing my whole career to try to beat him. So it became trying to win to just beat him one time when it game regular season game. We got over that hump and then it was like, all right, now let's try to beat him in the playoffs. We lose one round one season, then we win the next season. I'm like, “Finally I got over, I beat Chris Paul” It was like it just trying to get over that hump of because he's like my barometer of like what a point guard should be.
He’s been that for years. If you can, and he's a guy that truly uses his mind and dictates a line and controls a lot of the game. He’s very smart, a high basketball IQ. So playing against him is like a chess match every time. So, to win a playoff series against them, it was like, man, finally I got over, I got, I did it, I did that. That was a milestone so he's been one of those guys.
Michael Redd: I know you've been watching the last Dance documentary about Michael Jordan and the 97, 98 bulls. You are actually on the Jordan brand. And so watching the documentary and being on the brand, how has that made you feel?
Mike Conley Jr: Honestly I'm just very proud to be a part of the family. Not a lot of people get that opportunity, but I think we're all reminded through these documentary series, just how special Michael Jordan was and the bulls were at that time. We're learning a lot about him as a player and a person that a lot of guys might not have known. Every time I watched it, I just think back to the memories I felt when I was watching that live or as a kid or how it inspired me to be a basketball player and hopefully make it to the NBA and to be a part of the Jordan brand. And ultimately after all these years and for a guy I look up to and idolize it's truly special.
Michael Redd: I know you look up to Michael, but name some of the other mentors that are in your life today.
Mike Conley Jr: Well, I'm speaking to one right now and Michael Ray, which is easy enough man. Great dude and he’s always been there for me.
Michael Redd: Appreciate you man.
Mike Conley Jr: Especially early on you took me under your wing and really helped me out and kind of helped groom me and now I’m kind of living the life that you're living at this age, I guess like we're just slowly following in your timeline. So I've looked up to you a lot. So that aspect that. Other than that, I would probably say Damien he was huge for me. Spent a lot of time with him, my first three or four years in the league him being a smaller guard and a lefty. And he had such a tough minded mindset.
He's a tough dude and really kind of tried to get that out of me and helped me a lot with that. I've had multiple guys, Nick van Axles, is another one that I spent a lot of time with over the years. Lionel Hollins was huge. He obviously believed in me at a time when not a lot of people did and gave me an opportunity to be who I am. So I thank him a lot.
I mean, he's been, it was beyond basketball with him more than anything. It was off the court, like how to be a family man, how to be, how to raise your kids, how to manage your time and what's most important in life. Remember that basketball is just a microcosm of life and there's so much more to be given to the world.
Michael Redd: Along this journey, man, do you have any regrets at all?
Mike Conley Jr: Man, I have zero regrets. I have zero regrets. I think when I look back or I should say, when I look at myself now and I look at my family and I look at things, I don't want to change anything because it would then change what I feel now. It would then change who I'm around and people I know and who knows, like all decisions I've made over my lifetime have been for a reason. I truly believe that. It kind of all led me to where I'm at right now. I'm in a great place mentally and physically and like I said, I wouldn't change a thing.
Michael Redd: Among all the achievements that you've been able to achieve. How does it feel to be the horse goat brother?
Mike Conley Jr: I really don't know. It's just like, I guess I kind of got into that thing kind of late, like last minute and I was like, I'll join it. I feel like this is golf I know I'm going to win. That's how I come in thinking I'm going to win no matter what, no matter what. Lo and behold, I ended up winning it and I get crowned the horse champion. Hopefully if there's another one I'll get to defend myself, defend my crown and go forward with it. You know what I mean?
Michael Redd: It was fun to watch. I think you had a competitive advantage compared to…
Mike Conley Jr: When they asked me to do it, that wasn't part of the criteria. They asked me if I had a rim and a ball and an iPad. I said, I have all three of us do it.
Michael Redd: That beautiful gym. Oh my goodness. Unbelievable man. How much do you think about life after basketball or are you still so much all in, right. I understand that, but do you ever think about life after basketball and some of the things you want to do beyond the game?
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, I honestly do. I'm starting to think about it even more so as I've gotten older. You understand everybody's career comes to an end at some point, even though I might not believe mine is anytime soon. I'm on the back nine, I should say. So I know that it will happen. There's been a lot of opportunities through, actually NBA PA has been really good sending opportunities, my way things I've inquired about whether that's different programs regarding internships with tech companies or Facebook, or just conferences that you can be a part of regarding certain business ventures.
You want to be a part of, for me, I'm not looking past like the media portion of it, like doing some broadcasting or something like that. There's always that kind of the back of my mind that there’s options that I could potentially be a part of once I'm done playing. So it's definitely on my mind, I'm not saying it's on the forefront of my mind, but it's definitely a big part of it.
Michael Redd: Yeah. You got to win a championship this year. So we have a season.
Mike Conley Jr: Oh man I could potentially be a part of-
Michael Redd: How's that been for you, man? Like kind of in between playing and not playing in this pandemic. How are you taking it and how's the league taking it?
Mike Conley Jr: Well I think ultimately I think we're all missing the game, but we understand the gravity of what's going on. What's most important is the health of everybody, health of our communities the health of the world shoot. We understand that and no game is bigger than that. If we do come back, it'll be at the right time when things make sense and it's able to happen.
But obviously number one thing for all of us is safety. Keeping everybody safe keeping our families safe and doing whatever we can to help us in that and hopefully completely flatten the curve and make some change here so that everybody can get back to doing what they love to do and getting back to jobs and hopefully employment will rise.
There's so many more issues that are going on. So for us, we have a luxury in a sense and we know that, and we're just trying to use our platforms to help other people in this time while we can. Hopefully we get back to playing whenever the time is right.
Michael Redd: I miss watching the game. I miss watching you guys play. I probably speak for a lot of the fans and listeners out there, as long as I've known you, man, you've been incredibly generous and philanthropic over the years, man. How important is it for you to give back after you've gained so much in your life?
Mike Conley Jr: I think it's one of the more important things you can do is a service to others. I think it, ultimately, as I've grown, it's become more evident that this whole thing that I've been doing isn't about me it has never been about me. It's never been about the selfish aspect of it. It's about who you help, who you can whose lives you can change with what you've been able to build.
So therefore I just go out and try to affect any community or organization in a positive manner to try to usher in growth and just try to empower as many people as possible to have opportunities that otherwise they might not have ever had. Hopefully achieve the dreams that they want to achieve. Like they always say, just try to pay it forward, hoping that the lessons that somebody learns from you just like the lessons I've learned from others, they get passed on and keep getting passed on and help usher in change.
Michael Redd: That's incredible, man, as we close out, man I was thinking, what would you tell your 16 year old self now that you've experienced life, the way you've experienced it, what would you go back and tell your 16 year old self?
Mike Conley Jr: Oh man. If I could tell my 16 year old self something, I think I would say truly just enjoy the moment and like really enjoy the moment since you're a part of. Because they happen so fast that, I mean, you're younger, you think that you're going to get that moment again and you think these are going to get that feeling again and you realize as you look back on it, like, man, I was only in a national championship once and only get that one time.
Like that whole month was crazy. Like that was a super crazy time of my life. But how often did I sit back and really like, let that settle in. A lot of me was still working for the next thing, like, “Oh, I got to be in the weight room. I got to get to class. Or I got to get ready for the pre-draft workouts” You're just so preoccupied with so much. Your minds gone everywhere that you don't think about.
You don't have time to sit and think and just be thankful for what's going on around you or be thankful for those people around you. So I think at 16, I didn't think like that I was just oblivious and ignorant and living life and thinking that I would never get hurt, never die, anything bad happening. You just kind of got to look back on it and say that you're mortal to really just let everything sink in.
Michael Redd: Yeah. I'd be remiss to ask this question about the Kobe situation. I know that affected you in a powerful way and obviously that affected me. How sobering was that moment, man, of his passing man.
Mike Conley Jr: That was probably the toughest moment, I think for all of us whether you knew him or not, or whether you played against them or not, whether you're a fan of him or not, like it was truly just tragic on all at the end of the spectrum. It was so stunning and shocking.
I think that a lot of us are still to this day, just don't truly know or how could that happen to him or his family or the people that were involved as well, I guess just like a tragic shock to the system. You just never expected something like that when you heard the news. After all of that, you think about all the moments that he gave all of us, all the memories he gave us the lessons he's taught us all.
He's the guy that embodied the competitive nature and the toughness that he played with and has he played through. I mean, just iconic moments that he portrayed, which was just him being himself. Being able to have played against some like yourself and having spoken with him and shoot, he gave me his shoes the last time he was at Memphis for the last game. That kind of stuff is like, you'll never forget. It's just super, super sad. I mean, it just felt bad for all the families involved and just hope that somehow that everybody can mend and be able to be strong through it.
Michael Redd: Everyone in NBA respects you and respects your game, especially as a man you've been named NBA sportsmanship award winner three times. How important is that to you?
Mike Conley Jr: It's pretty important now. The first time I got it I didn't really know much about it. I was just excited, “Oh, I get an award” I like awards. Like I said, has I’ve gotten older and matured a little bit and realized truly that you've earned their respect of a lot of players and coaches around the league and managements. I mean, that's the award that you get for that.
I mean, even last year, I think it was last year, I got the sportsmanship and the teammate of the year award and like those, like nobody's ever done that before. I didn't know that, that's the first time somebody got both of those and that's pretty historic for me. I didn't know that. That's cool. I'm very proud of that. I think it just speaks to my family and my mom and dad, how they raised me and my brothers and my sister and the people that have been around me my whole life to kind of have groomed me into this person. Hopefully that I continue to do the same for my kids and to get these, they'll be making these same awards when they get older.
Michael Redd: Yeah. Well, I'll end with this again, above all the accomplishes that you've made. I think you're the most fashionable guy in the NBA.
Mike Conley Jr: I don't know about that.
Michael Redd: Well, I'm biased, but yeah, you got the swag and drip man. That is pretty incredible.
Mike Conley Jr: Man I appreciate it. Obviously I've had help. I don't know about you. I've had a little help with my drip, as they say nowadays from our guy Brandon, Brandon Williams.
Michael Redd: Shout out Brandon.
Mike Conley Jr: Yes shout out Brandon. Now that I think about it I got a box the other day and I got a bunch of shoes from Brandon and there's a size in that. It does not fit my foot. I believe they're yours. I think he accidentally sent them to me after USI, but it was not an 11. I can tell you that it was at least three, four sizes bigger.
So I'm pretty sure it belongs to you. I have to give that to you the next time I see you. Fashion has become a big part of the game, a big part of lifestyles nowadays, and just the fun part of life to just go out there and express yourself the way you want to express it and let the world view you for you.
Michael Redd: Well, you do it well, my friend, you do it well. You're about to be a father all over again. How's Mary doing?
Mike Conley Jr: Yeah, she's doing great, man. She's a trooper she's like I said, she's six months pregnant and has two little boys running around and is still trying to, she still tries to be, the same mom she was when she wasn't bearing another child. So she's doing great. The baby's doing great. It’s kicking moving all over the place, which worries me because the last time I felt that it was our oldest son, who's just wild and crazy. So we might be getting another a wild one. So hopefully everything works out and continues to go smoothly.
Michael Redd: Well, brother, it's been an absolute honor for you to be on the show with me, man. Nothing but love for you, man. I'm proud of you and you continue to be an example of what it is to bet on yourself every single day, bro. So thank you for being a part and strokes
Mike Conley Jr: Listen now first off, I appreciate you having its great what you're doing. Hopefully I'll be back real soon, but anytime the golf course you know what it is, I'll see you out there.
Michael Redd: Okay. All right. We'll see. We'll see. Thanks for being on bro.
Mike Conley Jr: All right, brother you got it.
Michael Redd: Appreciate you, man.
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