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Former NBA star Jalen Rose talks basketball career and the common good

October 20, 2023

Andrew Cohen
ROSE ABOVE: Jalen Rose visited campus on Thursday night for a Q&A style talk with Max Staiger '13 in Pickard Theatre to discuss his basketball career, working as a sports analyst and the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in his hometown of Detroit.

Former NBA star and sports analyst Jalen Rose visited campus to speak to the community about his life, career and the common good. The talk, which took place in Pickard Theater, was in Q&A style with Max Staiger ’13 moderating. Staiger, who is the global head of basketball at Puma, was instrumental in the organization of Rose’s visit, as Rose is a Puma athlete.

Rose first garnered national attention as a member of the “Fab Five,” the University of Michigan’s famous 1991 recruiting class. After three years in the NCAA, he spent 13 years playing for several teams in the NBA, most notably the Indiana Pacers. Starting in 2002, Rose spent his offseasons covering various sports for BET and FOX Sports. After retiring in 2007, he began working full-time as an ESPN sports analyst.

Rose was a radio, television and film major in college. He used his own experience to emphasize to audience members, many of whom were student athletes themselves, the importance of being multifaceted.

“I was always the person who wanted to do more than just hoop,” Rose said. “There were always multiple things that I was passionate about.”

Not wanting to be pigeonholed into covering just basketball, and inspired by the likes of sports commentator Ahmad Rashad, Rose also covers other sports on his podcast “Jalen & Jacoby.”

More important than his career is his work in the community. In 2011, he established the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA)—an open enrollment, tuition-free public charter school in his hometown of Detroit. The school has a grade 9–16 model, providing students with support both throughout high school and into their post-high school endeavors.

“That is a labor of love. As a Detroit-area kid, that community made me who I am. And I owe literally everything [in] my being to give back and help uplift others because that’s the support that I felt growing up,” Rose said in an interview with the Orient. “It’s extremely important for young people to not only educate themselves, but pursue secondary education, along with trades. So that’s what JRLA is all about—it’s not just what happens in the classroom. It’s the life skills, the social skills, the etiquette, the discipline, the problem solving, that coping mechanism that it just takes to be a functioning member of society.”

Perhaps the most surprising moment of the evening came when an unidentified flying creature swooped across the stage. The audience members shrieked and then laughed at what many thought was a bat, while Rose cracked some avian jokes.

“It’s a bird!” Rose said. “It’s my guy Larry! We’ve got company!”

The night got back on track as Rose discussed his favorite athlete, Muhammad Ali. Rose sees Ali as the epitome of an athlete putting the common good first.

“My favorite athlete of all time is Muhammad Ali. The one thing I love about Muhammad Ali—it wasn’t that he was undefeated. He lost fights. But the thing I love about him is that he was a champion with his voice. And he was unapologetic about things that he was passionate about. Freedom and equality—those were things that he championed. And I just stand on the shoulders of giants,” Rose said.

Audience members enjoyed Rose’s stories about facing off against Michael Jordan, defying the status quo of college basketball and his draft night fashion choices.

“He was thoughtful, funny and I really enjoyed listening to him talk about his life story,” Simon Thomas ’25 said.

Rose ended his conversation with two pieces of advice for the audience, particularly for the athletes in attendance.

“Number one is go hard,” Rose said. “[Number two:] be a good teammate. That trait carries you in life, because you’re always going to be a part of a team.”

Sam Pausman contributed to this report.


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