By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Let's take it back to 2006. This writer was 21. A postgraduate traveling on a year out between Toronto, Canada and Los Angeles. A lifelong Laker fan from England was finally about to see his favorite basketball team play against the Clippers at STAPLES. That was until he got stranded at LAX after his bags where lost. Hours later, through blurred, tired eyes a 6' 10 figure emerged, perhaps I was going to see a basketball player after all?
The man came through and was greeted with reciprocated well-wishes. Signing baseball caps and shaking hands, it was all love and respect. After talking with this player about his career in basketball and his new one in music (he had a keyboard under his arm) the evening turned out to not be a disappointment after all. It ended up working out for the better. Thanks to Walt McCarty.
Walt McCarty the basketball star that turned out to be more than just your average player. A Kentucky Wildcat legend and champion in 1996 before Anthony Davis. His three-pointer, nailing UK's 31 point, history making comeback over LSU. A team that featured league greats like Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Mark Pope, Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson coached by Rick Pitino and Jim O'Brien. A guy that was more than a journeyman. A 19th Draft pick in the classic Kobe/Iverson/Nash 1996 class that took it higher with the New York Knick, Boston Celtic, Phoenix Sun and Los Angeles Clipper teams that selected him.
A Power Forward that hustled hard that moved like a guard. A defensive stopper who could also get it going on the offensive end. An off-the bench microwave player that could really light it up from downtown, whether clutch prime-time or garbage pine-time. Far from the zero on his jersey. 'I love Walter' Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn would exclaim after plays. And so did everybody else. Far from a poor man's Robert Horry this spark-plug star was worth every multi-contract and a household name in his own right.
Now you can expect his name to get even bigger. The man who once acted in Spike Lee's 'He Got Game' alongside Denzel Washington and current Boston star Ray Allen has more than a second career after basketball and we're not talking about an assistant coaching gig. This man has got something more in concert. This man can really sing and we're not just talking about his Jerry Stackhouse-esque National Anthem chorus. His great, debut R&B album 'Moment For Love' was more than a Shaq side or Iverson one off. Like Kareem Rush, Walt proved he can really be a real R&B star. Just ask Tank or any of the serious soul-men that follow him. With the great single 'Emotionally' heating up like his play off the bench and his new album 'Unbreakable' set to buzz before the fourth quarter this man really is a star in two games.
Want to hear more?
Q. Walt, thank you for your time. How you doing man?
-I'm well man just trying to keep busy. No complaints.
Q. When I met you in 2006, keyboard in hand I knew you where on to something. Loving 'Emotionally' how's the reception been for this single? Everything you hoped?
-Emotionally album is doing well. People were very accepting of it and their still buying so I appreciate the love so much.
Q. Tell us more about this 'Unbreakable' album?
-The UNBREAKABLE is my best work so far. It's more Urban Pop driven and really is a great piece of work and I'm truly excited how it all came together. I don't think people are gonna believe what they are about to witness so I'm just ecstatic and anxious all at the same time. grounds amazing project.
Q. Who are you working with and what artists are in touch with you about your second career?
-I worked with two very talented producers. Fred "Blaze The Champ" Crawford produced most of the record and Melvin "Saint Nick" Coleman also did some production as well. Bad Boy Entertainment artists Los and Def Jams Mickey Halstad both feature on the record as well as my close friend Rob Jackson.
Q. Who are your biggest R&B and soul influences? You remind me of Tank or Carl Thomas. Raised off the likes of Marvin and Donny surely?
-My biggest influences were The Jackson's, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Boyz 2 Men, Babyface and Brian McKnight.
Q. Some Basketball players seem to make great musicians. No one can doubt Shaq's skills. What do you think of Kareem Rush?
-I love the fact of athletes pursing their dreams away from the court as long as its a passion and not a gimmick. I haven't heard much of K Rush's music but I wish him all the success.
Q. Would you be open to collaborating with an NBA player like that? Not for gimmicks sake but to make real music.
-It all depends on the what we are doing. If its something that sounds great and connects I'm all for it.
Q. Top star Tank follows your music I remember seeing him and actor/musician (talk about a double threat) Jamie Foxx playing basketball at Tyrese's house. You could show these guys a thing or two right?
-haha I know those guys very well and really follow them too and excited about their new project. Your big time they follow your twitter account lol.
Q. Speaking of which we got to talk some basketball? As I ask this Steve Nash has just signed for the Lakers. Him and Kobe, your class of '96. What do you think of that and what a class?
-the 96 draft was a great class. I know Stevie very well and I wish him all the best. Tremendous person and great player. Lakers are back in it.
Q. That three-pointer and more makes you a Kentucky legend. Can you share with us some of your favorite memories from the college days and what it was like to reunite with some of your alumni in the pro's?
-Kentucky was a great experience. I have too many memories. What really stands out is how close we were and how much we care about each other as people and even to this day nothing has changed. It was awesome to see everyone fulfill their dreams. That's why we went to Kentucky.
Q. Can you share with us some of your favorite NBA memories? What a career you've had.
-My favorite memories are meeting all the guys I admired and aspired to be like on the court and go toe to toe with them.
Q. When we met I remember laughing and joking about the time your Celtic team destroyed the Philadelphia 76ers with a barrage of threes. I mean even Mark Bryant was hitting from deep. That's got to be one of your favorite memories right?
-Haha yes those games against the 76ers were Classic. I have been called the 76er killer plenty of times haha
Q. You should have won 'Sixth Man Of The Year'. Like a Robert Horry or Bobby Jackson you brought so much off the bench and started well. Can you share with us some of your attitudes and approaches to the game please?
-My approach to the game was just go have fun, play as hard as you can and what ever happens in the end I walk away proudly cause I have my all.
Q. What you think of the NBA these days? Who do you like?
-I love the Nba and all the young talent. This game never gets old man.
Q. How about R&B and music these days?
-I think R&B is getting back to good music. You know guys like Tank & Tyrese is getting it back to what it use to be and you gotta give those guys loads of credit.
Q. You're about to change the game again right?
-I hope so, I believe I got something special.
In closing Walt giveas us a gem of advice for this life..."Give without remembering, Take without forgetting......"