Editor’s observe: This story incorporates specific language.
Proper now, the Los Angeles Clippers are battling the reigning champion Golden State Warriors within the first spherical of 2019 NBA playoffs — regardless of being projected earlier than the season to win simply 20 video games. Expectations weren’t excessive for the Clippers firstly of the 2000-01 season, both. Again then, on paper, the Clippers have been the worst within the NBA.
“Led by the 19-year-old Darius Miles, the Clippers could possibly be one in every of two issues” learn the ultimate sentence of a New York Occasions’ NBA season preview, “one of many league’s most enjoyable younger groups or a maddening bunch of knuckleheads nonetheless making an attempt to study the sport.”
In June 2000, the Clippers had drafted Miles, a 6-foot-9-inch ahead, out of highschool with the No. three general decide. Fifteen choices later, the Clippers took Quentin Richardson, a sophomore swingman from DePaul College. The 2 shared the identical residence state — Richardson a local of Chicago, and Miles from the streets of East St. Louis, Illinois. They’d recognized one another since they have been youngsters. And in Los Angeles, they turned “The Knuckleheads” — a duo acknowledged throughout the league by their on-court celebration of two faucets to the top with balled-up fists.
“Michael Jordan checked out us like … ‘Why y’all received all this AND1 stuff on?’”
Of their solely two seasons along with the Clippers, Miles and Richardson emerged as a cultural phenomenon. Michael Jordan handpicked the 2 phenoms to endorse his model, and spoiled them with each pair of Air Jordans conceivable. They appeared on journal covers, and made cameos collectively in movies and on tv exhibits. And each gamers had the respect of the early-2000s group of hip-hop. “For a minute there, we actually have been the tradition,” Miles wrote in a first-person essay for The Gamers’ Tribune, revealed in October 2018 and guest-edited by none aside from Richardson.
Now, almost 20 years after being drafted collectively, Miles and Richardson are the retired NBA veterans with their very own podcast. In fact, it’s referred to as Knuckleheads, and simply 9 episodes in after its February debut, it has a four.9 score out of 5 on iTunes.
Within the spirit of the podcast — which has produced unfiltered interviews with NBA stars from Allen Iverson and Gary Payton to J.R. Smith, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — The Undefeated chopped it up with The Knuckleheads about every thing from the night time they have been drafted, to the sneakers they wore within the league and the journey of their friendship.
Quentin Richardson (left) and Darius Miles (proper) attend Gamers’ Night time Out 2018 hosted by The Gamers’ Tribune on July 17, 2018, in Studio Metropolis, California.
Leon Bennett/Getty Pictures for The Gamers’ Tribune
How did you two meet?
D-Miles: AAU ball introduced us collectively …
QR: A few years in the past.
D-Miles: Q’s AAU coach got here right down to Southern Illinois …
QR: Larry Butler …
D-Miles: … Yeah, Butler was on the lookout for gamers to play in a ‘highlight’ he was having. It was the highest Illinois gamers from the state. We’d come down and play in … kinda like a camp … Once I got here down, that was the primary time I noticed who Q was … When Larry noticed how good I used to be, he invited me to a event and had me play [on his team] two grades above me. He had me enjoying with Q and them.
QR: Me and D-Miles hit it off from there. As soon as he started enjoying AAU with us and would come to Chicago, he would usually keep at my home. He would keep the weekend, and that’s how we obtained tight.
“We have been Allen Iverson’s infants. We have been A.I.’s lil bros. That was the tradition.”
Quick-forward to the 2000 NBA draft. Was there any concept that you simply’d each get picked by the Los Angeles Clippers?
D-Miles: We have been going via the draft course of collectively. However we by no means thought it might be a risk to play on the identical group … We didn’t even need to go to the Clippers…I don’t assume anyone needed to play for the Clippers. Once I ain’t get picked No. 1 or No. 2, the Clippers weren’t gonna cross on me. They picked me anyway, even when I didn’t wanna go there … Q kinda slipped within the draft.
Q: We didn’t assume there was a chance for us to play collectively as a result of the projections have been up to now aside. He was a top-5 projection. I used to be anyplace from 9 to 20. It was an enormous hole. And neither of us labored out for the Clippers.
D-Miles: After the draft, we hop on a personal jet and go to L.A.? I couldn’t have written it no different approach.
How did it really feel to be collectively — at 18 and 20 years previous — dwelling in Los Angeles?
D-Miles: We didn’t stay shut to one another…However we was with one another, shittttt, day-after-day in all probability.
NBA guard Quentin Richardson (proper) of the Los Angeles Clippers and his teammate, guard Darius Miles (left) take pleasure in a pregame joke earlier than difficult the Sacramento Kings on the Staples Middle in Los Angeles. The Kings gained, 125-106.
Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Pictures
That is all the time the primary query you ask visitors on the Knuckleheads podcast. Who was the primary participant within the league to bust your ass?
D-Miles: The primary one to actually give me numerous buckets was Chris Webber. He was leaping hooking my ass to demise. I feel he had like 35 or 36. I felt like, I at the least received 28 or 30 of them factors. Appear to be he was scoring each time he acquired the ball on me.
Author’s observe: On Jan. 27, 2001, Sacramento Kings energy ahead Chris Webber scored a game-high 33 factors and 11 rebounds towards the Clippers and a 19-year-old D-Miles, who completed the night time with a team-high 16 factors.
QR: This was early in my rookie yr … I feel it was in preseason. We’re out in Denver. This was the primary time about to go cope with the altitude. The participant was Voshon Lenard. You’re like, Who’s VoShon Lenard? I knew he might play. I knew he might hoop, however I used to be being disrespected on the market. The primary timeout got here at six minutes, I got here and sat down … matter reality, D-Miles and Keyon [Dooling] was sitting on the bench. They checked out me and simply began laughing. My man had the quickest 17 factors I’m speaking about within the first six minutes, although … Firing my ass up! Giving me submit work … hitting 3s … pump pretend, one-dribble pullup. He was cooking my ass. And I used to be lifeless drained … However I did get him again! He was on the workforce once I acquired career-high towards the Nuggets on New Yr’s Eve [in 2003]. I had 44 on they ass.
“We thought we was Hollywood, boy!”
You two have in all probability advised this story one million occasions — however how precisely did you two land with the Jordan Model?
QR: Among the best moments ever. If anyone is aware of MJ, you recognize about his Flight Faculty camp for teenagers. And they might have some epic counselor video games … Flight Faculty was held at UC-Santa Barbara … two weeks … two periods. Once I went once I was in school, they introduced Darius as a result of he was one of many prime highschool gamers. We have been each counselors. It was our first time going. Quick-forward to after we get drafted by the Clippers, we’re in L.A., which is an hour [by car] from Santa Barbara. When August comes, we’re like, ‘Man, we’re gonna go on the market to the Jordan camp …’ as a result of the runs was actually good … At this level we had no Nike deal, however AND1 was courting us actually arduous. That they had Larry Hughes, and some guys we appeared as much as. We have been rocking an entire bunch of AND1. After we get by means of enjoying pickup, MJ checked out us like … ‘Why y’all received all this AND1 stuff on? I assumed y’all was Nike guys.’ Me and D-Miles have been like, ‘We wanna be Nike guys…however a contract ain’t occurred.’ He was like, ‘Don’t even fear about it. Y’all gon’ be with us.’ We didn’t even know fairly what that meant.’ As a result of Jordan Model wasn’t what it was going to be. He simply had the primary years of it with Ray Allen, Derek Anderson, Eddie Jones, Vin Baker and Michael Finley … Then our agent Jeff Weschler was like, ‘I don’t know what occurred, however Michael referred to as up Nike and also you guys are gonna be with him on some particular staff.’ We began getting flooded with probably the most gear you might think about. At this time they don’t give the identical quantity of drugs they used to offer. We acquired all the things they made … Stuff that you simply wouldn’t put on, stuff that you need to give away as a result of it was a lot. We have been actually in heaven.
What have been favourite Jordans to play in?
D-Miles: Mine have been the patent leather-based 11s … I watched Jordan my entire life, so once we had the chance to place them patent leathers on, I used to be simply on celebrity standing. No one else within the league have been actually sporting these.
QR: We wasn’t these youngsters that have been lucky sufficient to have each pair of Jordans. My first pair I ever had got here once I performed AAU … My pops…the costliest pair of footwear he was gonna purchase me that have been cool have been Air Drive 1s as a result of they have been $49.99 again then. My pops didn’t consider in shopping for Jordans that he knew I’m about to run by way of in two days … So for us to start out getting Jordans? It was out of this world. Coming from Chicago and East St. Louis, being MJ followers, watching every part he did on WGN and public TV — for us, it was a dream. And each child we knew from our hometowns have been like, ‘I can’t consider y’all are on Staff Jordan.’ And we might give all our associates, our household, our mother and father all of the Jordan stuff they needed … That was virtually higher than cash to us at that time.
Do you continue to have plenty of your previous Jordan PEs?
D-Miles: I simply have a number of. I left and went to Reebok, and I used to be beneath Allen Iverson’s line. A lot of the Jordans I had, I gave them to those two youngsters. One was from Texas, and the opposite was from Memphis. My momma kinda constructed a rapport with they mothers, they usually was like me — younger youngsters sporting a measurement 18 … In order that they didn’t haven’t any choices for footwear. So me and my mother shipped them out, I wanna say 40-50 pairs of footwear apiece. When my mother did it, all three mothers have been on the telephone boo-hoo crying.
What’s your favourite PE?
QR: Awww, man. That’s exhausting for me to say … I used to be lucky sufficient to play for groups that weren’t near the Bulls colours. So a variety of my footwear have been totally different. I feel I must go together with my Clippers, Knicks and Suns PEs … So I in all probability would go together with the Knicks 2s or 5s. However then my favourite pair of footwear to play in — it didn’t actually matter which colour — have been the Retro 13s. I’ve these is Phoenix and Orlando colours. The Phoenix ones I had totally different flavors. I had purple and white ones, I had orange and white ones, I had all-black with orange trim. These 13s, have been probably the most snug shoe for me to play in, as a result of they’re broad and I obtained vast, flat ft.
D-Miles: Mine are those I wore in that image with Udonis Haslem. I used to be so used to seeing pink and white footwear once I was with the Clippers. However I obtained to the Cavs, it was totally different colours. Once they despatched me these shiny orange ones, I liked them. You don’t even know.
QR: I’m telling you — the orange did one thing! They seemed superdifferent than any Jordan you’d ever seen. Again then, you’d by no means seen an orange Jordan.
You two appeared in a business for the Air Jordan 17. What involves thoughts once you consider that shoot?
D-Miles: Spike Lee. We grew up on Jordan and all of the Jordan commercials. Once we heard Spike Lee was finna do it, when knew it was an enormous, massive deal.
QR: We thought we was Hollywood, boy!
Author’s word: The Air Jordan 17, crafted by African-American footwear designer Wilson Smith, drew inspiration from the “improvisational nature of jazz.” The 30-second, Spike Lee-directed spot, featured Miles and Richardson enjoying maestro on the courtroom, and debuted a particular remix the Gang Starr monitor “Jazz Factor,” which the hip-hop duo initially co-wrote with saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
D-Miles: It was an honor. An actual, true blessing. Spike is such a legendary director, and it was with Jordan Model.
“Like the way you see NBA gamers now. It’s arduous for them to let themselves go, as a result of they don’t need no one to take what they are saying the improper method, or their actions be misconstrued.”
QR: It was like, ‘We’re about to have our personal Jordan business … We actually have arrived.’ Me and my bro, collectively, in a business … We went to New York to do it. You get there, and it’s like, ‘Spike Lee is capturing it! … Marsssss is capturing it! That is epic.’ We had our personal trailers. They acquired the gear laid out for us. That was the primary time I assumed, ‘I’m a star … We some stars up in right here, boy!’ This was all new to us. Stuff that you simply dreamed about as a child. However to truly reside it, it was tremendous dope.
D-Miles: Then to listen to Spike Lee, once we first met him, say ‘D and Q.’ Like, ‘Oh, he is aware of us.’
Ahead Darius Miles #21 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots the ball through the NBA recreation towards the Boston Celtics on the Staples Middle in Los Angeles, California. The Celtics defeated the Clippers 105-103.
Andy Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Pictures
And you may’t overlook the Leap Males cowl of Slam Kicks …
QR: I’ve a replica up in my workplace.
D-Miles: Again then, Kicks was huge. There have been different magazines that have been greater, however we have been simply comfortable to do something with anyone who needed to mess with us. We got here straight from the streets, so we dressed a sure sort of method. In fact, they have been giving us drip, we put it on. We weren’t the standard individuals sporting that gear. We turned the jerseys backwards, do-rags on, hats cocked …
QR: I acquired a do-rag, with a headscarf on, hat to the again. I received a pinky ring on! We each received huge ass chains on. We have been Allen Iverson’s infants. We have been A.I.’s lil bros. That was the tradition. That was what was happening. That was a part of why individuals took to us. We have been them — youngsters. We have been 18 and 19, enjoying in a grown man’s league, representing different 18- and 19-year-olds. We dressed like them and did issues like they did. We have been making an attempt to get into Hollywood golf equipment. We have been too younger, couldn’t get in … Actually, we confirmed as much as coaching camp with Tremendous Soaker weapons. Media day, the primary day of coaching camp, and we’ve got these huge ass Tremendous Soakers strapped over our shoulders. They checked out us like, ‘What the hell is occurring?’ … We have been having enjoyable, for actual. And the most effective half about it was we have been on this journey collectively. Doing issues that we by no means might’ve dreamed of. We obtained to spend New Yr’s at Shaquille O’Neal’s home. And it was loopy. Like a fucking film. We’re at Shaq’s massive ass crib in L.A. To kick it with Shaq and be round him was sufficient … However Shaq was actually rocking with us. He was displaying us a superb time and embracing us. Like, that is Shaq!
“We turned the jerseys backwards, du-rags on, hats cocked …”
The place did that fashion come from — particularly the backwards jerseys?
D-Miles: Kriss Kross began it, however that was simply hip-hop tradition. We grew up in hip-hop tradition. The development had kinda died down, as a result of Kriss Kross did it within the early ’90s. No one was actually taking possibilities, particularly throughout photograph shoots, apart from Allen Iverson. We have been younger. Didn’t actually care what individuals considered us. It’s actual conventional if you do photograph shoots. They inform you to place your arms in your hips, such as you’re a superhero. Put one hand in your hip, maintain the ball on the opposite aspect. I was like, ‘Nah … ’
What was your relationship like with MJ throughout his previous couple of years within the league?
D-Miles: As soon as MJ got here again to the league [in 2001]we’d already recognized him for six or seven years, and it was a blessing. I really like once I see the image of me standing on the courtroom subsequent to Michael Jordan. I acquired that in my home. These moments, these video games we performed towards him, I’ll cherish them ceaselessly. We have been on a West Coast group, so we solely performed him two occasions a yr. However these occasions we performed them these final two seasons? It was a dream come true.
July 30, 2002: D-Miles, that’s if you obtained traded from the Clippers to the Cavaliers.
D-Miles: One of many worst days of my life. I ain’t wanna depart, or play with no one else. I didn’t understand how good I had it till I obtained traded. The loopy factor about it’s once I did get traded, I used to be doing the film The Good Rating. I used to be all the best way in Vancouver, once I heard the information like, ‘What?’ It wasn’t an excellent feeling. However I did perceive the transfer. I liked Andre Miller. He led the league in assists on the worst group within the NBA. So I perceive why the Clippers traded for him. However, I needed to remain.
Author’s observe: The Clippers traded Miles and energy ahead Harold Jamison to the Cleveland Cavaliers in change for level guard Andre Miller and capturing guard Bryant Stith.
QR: We have been youngsters. We have been having all this enjoyable. And that was the primary time it was like, ‘This can be a enterprise … That is actual … This ain’t a recreation or haha enjoyable.’ … I really like Andre Miller to today, however I didn’t need that commerce to occur. I used to be upset. I used to be mad. I used to be harm.
“We didn’t even need to go to the Clippers … I don’t assume anyone needed to play for the Clippers.”
Are you able to pinpoint an NBA friendship fairly like D-Miles and Q because you guys?
D-Miles: Plenty of guys didn’t develop up collectively like we did. We have been round one another once we didn’t have cash. One of many bonds I do see that’s near what me and Q acquired is Udonis Haslem and D-Wade. They’ve performed so lengthy collectively that they acquired that cohesion like me and Q acquired. They modified that tradition in Miami.
QR: They’ve been collectively for therefore lengthy on the identical group and similar journey. And I don’t even rely when D-Wade left. Let’s simply throw that entire Chicago and Cleveland window out …
D-Miles: When did that occur!?!
QR: UD and D-Wade performed their entire 15, 16 yr careers collectively. They got here in, obtained married, had households, introduced youngsters up on the similar time, have companies collectively. They rebuilt that group. However I’ve recognized Darius since he was in seventh grade, and I used to be in ninth grade. We received drafted collectively, performed collectively and now 20 years later, we’re doing a podcast as a result of we’re nonetheless tight like that.
Quentin Richardson of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks towards the Charlotte Hornets on the Staples Middle on Jan. 5, 2001.
Robert Mora/NBAE by way of Getty Photographs
How’s it really feel to be reunited on the Knuckleheads podcast — and why was now the best time for it?
QR: The factor that makes the podcast is so dope, is it occurred organically, virtually by accident. I did my story with The Gamers’ Tribune. He did his story with The Gamers’ Tribune. A 3rd get together was like, ‘Y’all ought to do one thing collectively.’ And D-Miles, he was initially against the entire media factor. He was like, ‘I don’t need no microphones in my face.’ I’m shifting into the media area, so I used to be open to it. We did a trial demo right here on my patio, and it was cool.
D-Miles, is it bizarre being on the opposite aspect now — asking the questions as an alternative of answering them?
D-Miles: It’s undoubtedly bizarre. I’m unsure if I’d do an excessive amount of extra after this. Like Q stated, I’m not huge on microphones or cameras. I gotta really feel snug to let my character go. Kinda like the way you see NBA gamers now. It’s exhausting for them to let themselves go, as a result of they don’t need no one to take what they are saying the improper method, or their actions be misconstrued. So that you kinda obtained your guard up. With the podcast, I can kinda let go, snort, joke and never fear.
QR: We’re tryna spark an actual dialog. We don’t really feel like we’re going to interview this individual, that individual. We really feel like we’re about to see what’s up with this individual and that individual.
“Udonis Haslem and D-Wade. They’ve performed so lengthy collectively that they received that cohesion like me and Q received. They modified that tradition in Miami.”
Are there any gamers you actually need to get on the podcast?
D-Miles: Michael Jordan.
QR: That’s the GOAT. That’s our unicorn. However we acquired loads of different gamers already dedicated that we will’t actually share proper now. We’ve some actually, actually, actually huge and good names … for season two.
What do you assume you two have meant to basketball, and the tradition, prior to now 20 years?
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D-Miles: We carved out our area. I feel that’s why we get the love and the respect that we get now. It’s overwhelming, and I’m undoubtedly grateful and blessed to even have that. I solely performed two years with the Clippers, however each time individuals see me, they affiliate me with being a Clipper. I feel it’s dope.
QR: I’m simply superhumbled … I respect all of the love, respect and help we get, from individuals who rocked with the Clippers. And we additionally get lots of people that speak to us about the truth that we had that little bitty half in Van Wilder. It’s unbelievable to me how many individuals acknowledge that … To nonetheless be capable of do stuff with D twenty years later, they usually nonetheless keep in mind us? Individuals nonetheless keep in mind that celebration, and nonetheless rock with it. That’s actually cool to me.
This interview has been edited for readability and size.