By Jimmy Carlton Sportswriter Published Jul 28, 2016 at 9:01 PM

When Michael Rapaport takes the Turner Hall Ballroom stage Friday night for his "I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast Live" show, he’ll be joined by one of Milwaukee’s most intriguing sports figures.

Former NBA star Latrell Sprewell is enigmatic, accomplished and controversial, and, when he sits down with Rapaport and co-host Gerald Moody, it’s believed to be the first time in years he’ll have spoken publicly and openly, excepting TV commercials and social media. It’s an event local basketball fans will not want to miss.

Friday night’s show will also be the first "I Am Rapaport" live podcast with a guest. Rapaport, a diehard Knicks fan who loved cheering for Sprewell in New York, says he wants to keep the conversation good-natured and basketball-focused; he doesn’t intend to slam Spree.

If you want more background on Rapaport and his podcast or the very up-and-down life events that have made Sprewell so notorious, read this. If you want to buy tickets to this unique and likely fascinating show, click here.

We spoke with the actor / comedian / filmmaker / podcaster / celebrity basketball game legend on Thursday to discuss how he snared Sprewell as a guest, as well as which 1970s-era Bucks Hall of Famer he likes to poke fun at, his playful relationship with Jason Kidd, how many Plumlee brothers he thinks there are and more. We also played a game where Rapaport offered his immediate-reaction thoughts on several current Milwaukee players, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and … Matthew Dellavedova?

Let's dive in.

OnMilwaukee: Latrell Sprewell is a well-known name around here, obviously, because he’s from Milwaukee and lives here now and is often seen out on the town. You’ve said you were a big fan of him when he was with the Knicks – how he played and the way he handled the press in New York. What interests you about Sprewell, how  did this interview come to happen and what do you plan to get into with him?

Michael Rapaport: The way this live conversation show came about was we had been speaking about him on our podcast for a little while and then we put it out there that we wanted to interview him. And really through an internet social-media connection, we got an email from someone he knows, and we responded back and I said please have him call me whenever he wants. Then my phone rang, and I said "Hello?" and he said, "This is Latrell," and I said "Who?" He said, "This is Latrell Sprewell." And I said, "Oh f*ck!"

But I had never met him. Obviously I’ve been a fan of his, even before he was with the Knicks, back when he was on the Golden State Warriors. I just always loved the tenacity with which he played and, you know, I’m really looking forward to talking to him in his hometown. I think he’s an iconic player, I don’t think we know a lot about him and I’m really just looking forward to getting to meet him and talk to him on stage. I think the people of Milwaukee will be excited to hear from him. He’s always been sort of a representative of Milwaukee, and I think it’s going to be a great night.

OnMilwaukee: You mentioned that we don’t know a lot about him. He’s sort of an enigmatic dude here and really doesn’t do any press. Did you have to do much persuading when he called and twisting his arm to get him on the show? He did that Priceline commercial earlier this year; do you think he’s becoming a little more self-aware and is ready to open up about some of the stuff from his life?

Rapaport: I told him what all my intentions were. My intentions are pure and genuine and I’m not coming in with any cheap shots or any agenda. I think he heard me and he thought about it, and then we talked again and he agreed to do it and I was like, oh shit!

You know, I just spoke from my heart and I would never try and make anybody look bad, especially when they’re coming to talk to me. I would never do that. I was surprised that he was so willing to participate, but I know it’s going to be a great thing for him and his image. Because I think he still has a lot of fans out there.

OnMilwaukee: You’re such a big basketball fan and you’re a comedian, rather than some reporter in the media who’s bound to ask certain negative-connotation questions, which probably helped. But he hasn’t spoken publicly in so long and he agreed to speak publicly on your show; do you feel like there's an obligation to ask him some hard questions or at least broach the not-so-positive things?

Rapaport: I think there is, I think there is. But, you know, we’ll feel it out. I don’t really have anything planned; we’ll see how it goes. Being in front of a live audience is obviously different than being with a private audience. I’m going to play it by ear. I think it’s going to be a very interesting, candid conversation. I’m really looking forward to it.

OnMilwaukee: What’s your favorite memory of Sprewell from when he was a Knick?

Rapaport: Oh, man. It’s not a specific memory, but just the overall intensity. Against the Spurs in the (1999 NBA) Finals, he averaged 26 points a game, and the Knicks were so undermanned that year. It’s just that ferocity he played with.

Also, I always thought it was crazy – and I mean this in the most positive way – he was so fast and so quick that I think Latrell Sprewell is probably one of the best NBA players who doesn’t have a left hand. I always thought that was fascinating. He never dribbled with his left! He never looked totally comfortable going to his left, but he was so quick and evasive that he was able to accomplish what he did without a strong left hand.

OnMilwaukee: Ever been to Milwaukee?

Rapaport: Never been to Milwaukee.

OnMilwaukee: Of our fair city’s many stereotypes, which one do you like the best?

Rapaport: My brother went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so he always came down (to Milwaukee) and he always told me cool things about it. I don’t really have any stereotypes, to be honest. I learned about Milwaukee for the first time from "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley."

OnMilwaukee: There’s actually a bronze statue of the Fonz along the river Downtown. It’s only a couple blocks from where your show will be.

Rapaport: (laughs) Maybe Fonzie will show up to the "I Am Rapaport Stereo Podcast" on Friday. I don’t really have any preconceived notions. It’s a very American city and I’m really looking forward to seeing the people.

OnMilwaukee: The Bucks’ only NBA championship was in 1971, between your Knicks title teams in ’70 and ’73. In working on "When The Garden Was Eden" (the 2014 ESPN "30 for 30" film about the ‘70s-era Knicks that Rapaport directed), what did you learn about those Bucks?

Rapaport: Well I know a lot about them. Obviously – well, now he’s Kareem – but Lew Alcindor. The Knicks beat them in ‘70, they killed ‘em. Madison Square Garden was really tough on Lew Alcindor because I think New Yorkers were really disappointed that he left to go to UCLA. And of course Oscar Robertson, I like to break his balls; I hope I don’t start a riot with some of the fun I like to poke at Oscar Robertson. (Rapaport has referred to Robertson as "The Big H," calling him a hater for his detracting comments about Steph Curry.)

But even into the ‘70s and ‘80s, Sydney Moncrief, Paul Pressey, Paul Mokeski. I’ve always loved the Bucks. They had their battles with the Sixers in the playoffs with Doctor J and all them. I respect the culture of sports in Milwaukee and I love this new Bucks team with Jason Kidd and Jabari, and I think you guys have a lot of young talent. Obviously you dipped off last year, but I know that Milwaukee, they love their sports and you guys are excited about the Bucks, and so am I. I’m a fan and I hope they do well.

OnMilwaukee: The Knicks have a Plumlee and the Bucks have a Plumlee. Do you know which one you have and could you tell them apart?

Rapaport: (laughs) I definitely wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Do the Knicks have a Plumlee now? Who do we have, Mason?

OnMilwaukee: Marshall, the third one.

Rapaport: Isn’t there like more of them coming from college, too? Those kids are tough, they’re athletic, they’re good players.

OnMilwaukee: You mentioned liking Jason Kidd. Do you know him personally besides being a fan of his when he was with the Knicks?

Rapaport: Yeah, I’ve met him over the years. I’ve played in some celebrity basketball games with him and I’ve seen him out and about before he was even with the Nets. I’m pretty sure I played in an MTV Rock N’ Jock game with him. I’ve known J-Kidd for a while. Not like up close and personal, but we’re cool. I’m a fan of his since he was in college. I have a lot of respect for him and I was sorry to see him leave New York, but I’m glad he’s finding his way in Milwaukee.

OnMilwaukee: When players talk about him – not even just the Bucks, but opponents too – it always seems like it’s with such glowing respect and reverence.

Rapaport: Yeah, I think he can relate to players. He knows the game. And, you know, there’s always an adjustment period; he had some bumps in the road in Brooklyn, but I think he’s figured it out and I think he’s going to do well. They’ve acquired some young talent and I like that Bucks team.

OnMilwaukee: When you played with him in those celebrity games, did he have any coaching tips or advice for you?

Rapaport: I think he was more fascinated by all my comments and critiques. I was able to make him laugh. I think he always gets a kick out of me, Jason Kidd, because I like to talk my crap. Especially in those games, I’m always so excited to be around the NBA players, so I think he always got a kick out of me. He got me.

OnMilwaukee: So you were trash talking and critiquing Jason Kidd’s game?

Rapaport: Oh yeah, I trash talk everybody when I play in celebrity games, it doesn’t matter. I’ve done it with some of the best – Gary Payton, Chris Webber, I’ve played with all of them over the years. So, it’s always a lot of fun.

OnMilwaukee: Good that you trash talked Payton. We still don’t like him here because of the Ray Allen trade.

Rapaport: (laughs) Oh yeah, that’s right.

OnMilwaukee: Do you have any good memories – or any memories whatsoever – of the Steve Novak era in New York? He’s a local guy.

Rapaport: Oh, right. He was good his years in New York. He was doing the Discount Double Check thing (after making a 3-pointer). He was great, Novak was good. I thought we should have kept him, I don’t know why we got rid of him because he was our only shooter. He was doing his thing, he won us some games.

OnMilwaukee: Let’s play a game. I’ll give you a Bucks player, and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear his name.


Rapaport: Sleeve-length.

OnMilwaukee: Jabari.

Rapaport: Very talented.

OnMilwaukee: Thon Maker.

Rapaport: I really like Thon Maker. I coached him in a high school all-star game when he was a junior going into his senior year. I was teasing him about how old he was and how old I was and that he didn’t shave. I’ve been watching his clips along with everybody else, though. My kids tipped me off to him about four or five years ago, so I really want to see him do well. I think he’s sort of the evolution of the big man. That’s not a one-word answer, but I’m a fan of his.

OnMilwaukee: Quick following up on that, you’re a comedian so you’re allowed to make those jokes, but the whole age thing – is he 21? 23? 37? – has become such an overblown big deal. Nobody has any idea what’s true. What’s your take? Did he sort of understand where you were coming from with the jokes?

Rapaport: I don’t think he got me, but he didn’t not get me. He was a kid; I was an adult playing around with a kid. He was cool. That was before this mini-controversy about his age. And whatever his age is, at this point, it doesn’t matter. He’s in the NBA. He came up hard. So whatever it is, it is. Now it’s just a matter of getting on the court and kicking ass, and hopefully he can stay healthy and find his way in the NBA. Because he’s had a long journey.

OnMilwaukee: Alright, back to this. Here’s an important one.

Matthew Dellavedova.

Rapaport: I don’t like f*cking Delly. But I’ll be able to like him a little more now that he’s in Milwaukee.

OnMilwaukee: Greg Monroe.

Rapaport: Tough guy; I wish the Knicks would’ve gotten him. Last-of-a-dying-breed big man. I like him.

OnMilwaukee: Michael Carter-Williams.

Rapaport: I don’t know what’s the deal with him. He had that great rookie season and then I sort of lost track of him. I know that Jason Kidd likes point guards and I want to see him do well.

OnMilwaukee: Khris Middleton.

Rapaport: I don’t know that much about him. He’s good, no left hand, right?

OnMilwaukee: Jason Kidd.

Rapaport: Jason Kidd is one of the best point guards ever. Top-10 point guard.

OnMilwaukee: The Bucks and Knicks could be competing with each other for the last couple playoff spots in the East – or they could be competing with each other for better picks in the lottery. Either way, though, it should be neck-and-neck.

Rapaport: It’s going to be a lot of fun this NBA season. And it’s going to be a lot of fun to do the podcast in Milwaukee.

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, 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.