Talented, accomplished, rich, superstar. Controversial, enigmatic, broke, dive-bar regular. Perhaps soon, we will finally be able to (begin to possibly) understand Latrell Sprewell and his turbulent life.
On Tuesday, The Pabst confirmed to OnMilwaukee that Sprewell would be the on-stage guest of actor and comedian Michael Rapaport’s popular "I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast Live" at the Turner Hall Ballroom on Friday, July 29.
Of snagging the notorious Milwaukee native for the show, Rapaport said, "It’s gonna be dope! He was one of our bucket list people we wanted to interview."
One of the most successful athletes in any sport from Milwaukee, Sprewell was a four-time NBA All-Star who averaged nearly 19 points a game and made upwards of $100 million in his 13-year professional career. At the same time, he was among the league’s most polarizing players and has remained one of the more mystifying figures here in his hometown, where he lives now after financial and legal trouble – and an infamous quote – left him out of basketball and bankrupt.
While not necessarily a private person – he’s a regular, and a minor celebrity, at local bars like Jo Cats, Apartment 720 and Mi-key’s – Sprewell has been extremely media-averse since his retirement a decade ago, unwilling to do interviews even for sympathetic-angled stories and allegedly once yelling at an ESPN writer to get off his property or he'd remove his head.
It’s understandable Sprewell wouldn’t be overly eager to talk about his personal life, which has reportedly included the following: his yacht being repossessed, multiple homes being foreclosed upon, $3.5 million in back taxes owed to the state of Wisconsin, a lawsuit filed against him by an ex-girlfriend and an arrest for disorderly conduct.
There were also the unpleasant on-court issues, such as choking his Warriors head coach in 1997 and being suspended for 68 games, fighting with teammates and, of course, turning down a three-year, $21 million contract offer from the Timberwolves in 2004 because, as he publicly stated, "I have a family to feed." Rather than play for the league minimum salary, Sprewell chose to retire in 2006.
Last month, on an episode of his podcast, Rapaport – looking ahead to his July 29 show at Turner Hall – referred to Sprewell as a potential "dream guest." An avid (rabid?) NBA fan, Rapaport called on his listeners and Twitter followers, the "Rapapack," to help make it happen and push for the appearance on social media. "It would be an epic interview," he said at the time.
Next Friday, Rapaport and Gerald Moody, his best friend and longtime collaborator, will get that oh-so-rare and privileged sit-down with Sprewell, on stage in front of a live audience that will no doubt be filled with enthusiastic, curious area basketball fans. It's unclear how many of Sprewell's personal problems the show will delve into, given the player's long-held reticence, but if there's someone that can get him to open up, it's probably Rapaport.
The live shows, which are part of a worldwide tour that sold out in New York and Los Angeles, typically feature stories, comedy and a Q&A. They frequently cover sports, music and film and are all dispensed in Rapaport’s wild, opinionated, often-offensive, usually shouting and always-entertaining style. The host doesn't pull any punches, which could make for a revealing and fascinating conversation with Sprewell.
A five-star-rated podcast, "I Am Rapaport" is ranked in the iTunes Top 20 and is No. 1 for Personal Journals. Rapaport and Moody boast terrific chemistry and hilarious repartee, with the Huffington Post saying, "[Rapaport] has a unique and definitive rhythm to his delivery, which is rapid fire, truthful and disarmingly funny. And Moody matches him step-for-step."
Rapaport has appeared in more than 100 film and television projects since 1992, notably "Friends" and "Justified." He’s also an award-winning documentarian who directed, among other films, "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest."
Sprewell, who was a standout at Washington High School, played college basketball at Three Rivers Community College, before transferring to Alabama. The swingman was a first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) by Golden State in 1992, made the All-Rookie Team that season and was an All-NBA First Team member in 1994. That year, he led the league in minutes, at 43.1 per game. He played for the Warriors, Knicks and Timberwolves and finished his career with 16,712 total points.
After about a decade of keeping a mostly withdrawn public persona following his retirement, Sprewell seemed to show a level of self-awareness – and perhaps a willingness to laugh at his past mistakes, or at least make some money – when he starred in a Priceline television commercial in February, humorously offering bad life advice to a little girl. Hopefully, there are plenty more laughs on July 29.
Tickets for "I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast Live" with Sprewell at Turner Hall are on sale now and available through the Pabst and the "I Am Rapaport" website. It promises to be a fascinating and entertaining show that surely will not disappoint, and this Sprewell fanatic can’t wait.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.