CHARLOTTE – Former Charlotte Hornets great Muggsy Bogues is a special ambassador to the team and played a huge role in the NBA All-Star Game.
Bogues, who is 16th in NBA history in assists, is also holding his popular summer camps with the Town of Matthews.
Sports Editor Andrew Stark recently caught up with Bogues to see what he’s been up to and share some nostalgia.
Andrew Stark: Since retiring, you have done a number of things including coaching in the WNBA, at United Faith and currently serving as an ambassador for the Hornets. Aside from your role with the Hornets and your popular youth camps, how are you remaining involved in the game?
Muggsy Bogues: I also actually serve as the ambassador for the NBA, where the game has become global in addition to my role with the Hornets.
AS: This is the 30th anniversary season. How fun has this been to see so many former teammates and have them celebrated?
MB: It has been awesome seeing so many of my old teammates and friends. I am so grateful that the Hornets organization presented an opportunity for all of us to come together again. All-Star Weekend was a busy time, but it was a great experience hosting in my city.
AS: Basketball has opened a lot of doors for you and given you a platform to inspire a whole new generation with your camps in Matthews. How important is it to you to give back to the kids and continue to be a big role model for so many people?
MB: I am just following God’s plan by Him using me as a vessel to continue inspiring kids that they can become whoever or whatever they want in life. I am just using my testimony through basketball.
AS: As a kid, you have to have had your doubters and detractors mainly because of your size. When was the first time growing up you realized you had a shot to play basketball on a collegiate level? What was it about Wake Forest that swayed you?
MB: I realized when I was in high school that I had the skill set to play in college. I chose Wake Forest because it was one of the toughest conferences and since it was the ACC, my mother would be able to watch my games from my hometown Baltimore.
AS: Is there a single game or particular series of events that stand out to you about your college career? Or, what will you always remember about those years?
MB: One game, in particular, stands out. It was the Wake Forest vs. N.C. State in 1985, sophomore year. It was a (nationally) televised game, and my opponent was Spud Webb. During that game, Al McGuire made a comment, ‘How a kid that’s 5’3 is dominating a game like he’s Patrick Ewing and Ralph Sampson – this game alone should put him in the Hall of Fame.’
AS: So, you make the league and are playing with the Bullets when you get selected in the NBA Expansion Draft by the Hornets. What were your initial reactions of returning to ACC country, but also so as a brand new franchise? At first, was that viewed as a good or bad thing and why?
MB: Initially, I was upset because I felt that the Bullets franchise gave up on me too early. But then I immediately got excited to go to Carolina because this was a place that was familiar with my style of play.
AS: I’m sure you’ve been asked this 1,000 times, but what was that like being in Charlotte and “Alive at the Hive” in the beginning of the franchise? And, is there a moment you can remember that exemplifies what it was like to be a player during that time? Especially as rock stars in an ever-growing city and NBA franchise that adored their team win, or more often, lose.
MB: You knew it was a special place from the very first game. Losing by 40 points but at the same time getting a standing ovation after the game. But after our fifth year seeing the fruit of our labor by advancing to the first round of playoffs in 91-92 which allowed the players and the franchise and city have something to celebrate. A spectacular moment.
AS: The Hornets drafted well (at the time, at least) and eventually were on the verge of being a big factor in the East. If the team that included, among others, yourself, Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, Dell Curry, Johnny Newman and Alonzo Mourning had stayed together, what was the ceiling for you guys and why?
MB: You can always say what if but that was a good nucleus at the time. We had great chemistry and were on the rise.
AS: If not the most famous shot in team history, the Alonzo Mourning jumper to beat the Celtics has to rank at or near the top. In looking at the video, Tony Bennett was actually in, but you stood right next to coach Bristow and jumped higher than anyone on the court when it went in What was that moment like for you, and is that the biggest shot you were a part of as a Hornet?
MB: Coach had Tony in for the shot and as a teammate you’re supportive. That was one of the biggest shots being a part of my Hornets career, and you can see my excitement when the shot is in. It was a memorable moment.
AS: Like many former players who have played in Charlotte, you decided to make your home here. What was it about this area that you have fallen in love with?
MB: For one, it was the [hospitality people] have shown to me and my family [since the] first game. During my playing days in Charlotte, visiting other cities gave me more passion for the Queen City.
Want to register?
Muggsy Bogues basketball camps take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 17 to 21 and Aug. 5 to 9 at Crews Recreation Center, 1201 Crews Road, Matthews. They target ages 6 to 15. Registration costs $280 for Matthews residents and $285 for others. Call 704-708-1287.