NBA players talk about their life mentors

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
7:00
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Darren Collison, Devin Harris, Charles Jenkins Getty ImagesDarren Collison, Devin Harris, Charles Jenkins and others all get their advice from different places.
While only 24 NBA players will be taking the All-Star Game stage in Houston on Feb. 17, many others are still aiming high for that opportunity.

But if you asked any of them, they'll tell you how fortunate they are to just be among the 400-plus best basketball players in the world. And as they unwind during their few days off, they'll make sure to recognize the key mentors in their life -- perhaps even hang with them during the break -- who helped them get to this point.

ESPN Playbook spoke with six ballers -- Alan Anderson (Toronto Raptors), Darren Collison (Dallas Mavericks), Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs), Devin Harris (Atlanta Hawks), Charles Jenkins (Golden State Warriors) and Jason Terry (Boston Celtics) -- to find out who's assisted them off the court during their careers outside of their family.

Here's what they had to say:

Alan Anderson: "My best friend is Larry Fitzgerald for the [Arizona] Cardinals. We talk a lot. He always stays on me to just work hard and get that extra time in, staying in the gym and stuff like that. We grew up together. I've known him since kindergarten, since we were like 5 years old. We've been in each other's lives since we were little, before all the sports and everything, so we're always talking and we're always checking on each other to make sure each other's health is good, make sure we're doing the extra stuff, too. We talk maybe once a week. Because you're dealing with football and basketball, you don't want to talk to them all the time about sports. We're talking about everything else outside of that.

"Also, Kevin Garnett. Pretty much all the guys that I work out with in the summertime -- Al Harrington, Kyle Lowry, Tyronn Lue, I can run down a lot of guys. Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Price. They've always kept in contact with me when I was overseas and when I got back [in 2011]. They always told me, 'Keep playing hard, keep doing your thing, my time will come.' They've always had a confidence in me, and words of wisdom and knowledge. They just helped me out with my game. They always kept me on my toes."

Darren Collison: "It would probably be David West for the Indiana Pacers because when I was a rookie, he was always talking to me about off-the-court issues. Financially, he definitely gave me good advice on that part. I just think it's a challenge for any rookie coming into the NBA. You're dealing with so many issues, plans with your family, your friends and anybody that's trying to make a business deal with you. It's hard for anybody. And you've still got to deal with your on-the-court problems. You're trying to play at the highest level, but then you have off-the-court issues, and you've got to deal with both. I saw that '30 for 30' documentary called 'Broke,' and it had to hit home for everybody. It hit home for me."

Danny Green: "My friend's father, Bob Alexander. I kind of grew up with [his son, Ryan] in high school at St Mary's. [Bob] is a real estate guy in New York, and he's been doing it for a long time. He knows a lot about business and stuff like that. When I have questions, I ask him. I also talk to a lot of guys with the team. We all talk and communicate with each other about what we do off the court, investing and stuff like that. Pop does a great job of bringing guys in and making sure they're spending their money the right way or they're not having any trouble off the court. Pop even showed us the 'Broke' documentary. You can talk to him about whatever.

"That's what makes the Spurs, the Spurs. It's like a family thing. You can see some of the former guys that still stick around, like Bruce Bowen, David Robinson. And whenever I get a chance, I try to get a little advice here and there. You don't see that in other places. It's more of a family-type organization, and it's kind of like a college-type atmosphere. So it's good."

Devin Harris: "Michael Finley was a great mentor. During my rookie year, I went from playing a lot to not playing at all. He helped me through that -- just stay ready and obviously to still think about the opportunity, and being mentally prepared for that."

Charles Jenkins: "One is Royal Ivey from the 76ers and the other is Speedy Claxton, a former NBA player and scout for the Warriors. I can talk to both of them about anything."

Jason Terry: "The two guys that helped me most were "Downtown Freddie" Brown, who was an ex-Seattle SuperSonic legend, and then Gary Payton. Those two guys gave me the most advice -- Gary Payton a lot on the business of the game, on being a professional; and then I had a lot of financial advice from Fred Brown Sr., who's an old retired player. He played with the Seattle SuperSonics, and in 1979, they won a championship. He helped me manage my time and manage my finances, and planning for the future. I think that's a lot of things that the young players missed out on, but having a guy like that come into my life and give me some direction as far as my finances go -- now that I have kids, I set up a trust, I had to do some estate planning -- that was key for me."

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