Episode#11 The Basketball Professional.......An Interview with Eric "Sleepy" Floyd #tntweekly#nba
Updated: Sep 27, 2020
Antonio Leal 0:25
really super excited about today's podcast? On the show today is Mr. Eric sleepy Floyd, retired NBA basketball professional, North Carolina Hall of Famer and just a wonderful, wonderful human being. This couldn't have come together without my dear friends down in Charlotte, North Carolina. So really, thanks so much. A super shout out to Lorna and duggie Corrigan just, they're the best and I love them. So, and I hope you love the podcast. Really excited to have on the podcast today Mr. Eric sleepy Floyd, how are you doing sleepy?
I'm doing great Stan space down here in Charlotte, North Carolina. Working hard and just staying safe and playing a lot of golf. Oh, well, that's great. I think that's one of the only sports we can handle in this post COVID world but I see things are opening up slowly and safety and health is the main main goal here for everyone. So hopefully we'll get through this together.
Antonio Leal 1:39
Yes, definitely. So a fun lesson for all our basketball fans up here in Canada who I can guarantee you are all Raptor fans. Can you give us some early history on sleepy Floyd journey that paid your way to the NBA?
Well, I tell you, it was a it was a long journey. Very, the journey was was supported by many people, parents, coaches, teachers, community get attributed to, you know, my success and family achieving my goal. You know, obviously our listeners don't know I grew up and gas down in North Carolina, one of my childhood friends with James where there's a loss of his Lakers Hall of Famer, great and basketball was our passion. You know, as you know, my age 60 now, back when I was growing up, there was no internet, social media, podcast or anything of that nature. So we just lived in a jam 24 seven. That was advice and replays sunup to sundown. So, you know, say the hunter has high school and gas. No, you're not was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to Georgetown University, but for Hall of Fame and legendary coach, Coach john Thompson and had an outstanding career at Georgetown, again, supported by a great coaching staff, great mentor and coach Thompson, then able to get experience and exposure at a great academic institution by Georgetown University that pretty shaped my thinking and philosophy moving forward, and I ended up getting drafted. Well, let me go back ended up playing for the national championship game against the University of North Carolina and Michael Jordan and James were the lead team. After that was fortunate enough to be drafted into the NBA in the first round by the New Jersey Nets in 19. In 82, and that's kind of a short version of my travels to the, to the NBA. The basically learning lessons of dedication, motivation, just being persistent, as far as practicing and competing and really working on my craft to become a better player and a better teammate. I attended a lot of basketball camps. So I just I was just consumed with the game and the love of the game that I that I had throughout my career. And I think this attributed to you know, my long success in the NBA player was five, five different teams in the NBA, Golden State Warriors, New Jersey next to San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets and New Jersey Mets again, and so I was blessed. It was definitely a blessing and I was very fortunate to have opportunity to achieve my dream and goals and I've set out, you know, early on.
Antonio Leal 5:03
Yeah, that's wonderful. You know, it's, it's when you're hearing your story, it's what I hear from all success stories. And, you know, I try to emphasize that in my young son, he's 13 and a sports enthusiast. In hockey. He loves basketball. Unfortunately, the season was cut short, due to, you know, COVID and his public school and he's now in grade eight, and he made the basketball team and they were all hair to put Yeah, they were prepared to play a tournament and everything got shut down unfortunately, but you know, just the fact that he loves sports and I embedded in him all the time is just you repeated until you surround yourself with but it's so much work and dedication and hard work. And anything you do to perfect your passion.
Right And the key thing is surrounding yourself by you Good people, positive people that will push you, motivate you, challenge you, and let you know when you're wrong, when you should be going right, taking a left having someone there to kind of nudge you back on a direction and the path that you should be on. So you wanted to go out and speak to kids, I really, really enjoy the fact that Tommy that, that kids, you know, you have someone in your group, or your clinic or however you want to categorize it, that you're strong enough to either change your environment if you have to change your friends, if that was what it takes to convince your party or group to think along the lines. As you you know, if you're young, you want to practice all the time and they want to do something else where you tell them to go ahead and you'll catch up to them later, but I have to practice Whatever. Yeah, yeah, basically it's like that. So, yeah, yeah, finding that field in them, you know, just characteristics that you want to follow and want to be successful. Whether it's like you say, whether it's sports or business or whatever it is.
Antonio Leal 7:16
Yeah, absolutely. And learning how, you know, to stand back up when you get knocked down, you know, exactly because you're gonna get knocked back. Yeah, you're good.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Antonio Leal 7:29
Listen, sleep to you. You know, you probably have one of the catchiest nicknames in sports for me anyway. And everyone who speak to that knows you has their own story on how you got your nickname. And then the internet and then the Internet has their own story. Right. So, you know, I have this wonderful opportunity, you know, to hear it from you yourself. How did you get the nickname sleepy?
Well, I tell you what, this is Money I got it actually playing baseball at a very young age when I was growing up my my father wanted always come into play multiple sports, you know, don't focus just on one sport. So, obviously my passion was basketball. So I picked baseball as a secondary sport. And I really sucked at that Tony wasn't good. I knew it from the beginning and, and, you know, it was just, I didn't like standing up at the plate seven and minus five. Were at that age probably not that fast but a fast pitch coming out my head and I'm trying to concentrate and hit the ball. So I wasn't I don't think my makeup was ready for that kind of sports. But anyway, I was playing. We had a nine 9am game and and I was playing second base, and the first pitch was thrown and you would know it would get hit directly to me. And I happen to be looking down at the ground. probably thinking about getting to the basketball court while I was on the ball and right through my legs so someone in the stands yelled out. Hey, get that kid out of the game. Please freakin sleep out there. So my teammates heard that and never let me live that down. So that is how I got that nickname being teased from some fan in the stands all and I'll get that kid out of the game and sleep and and within base and it was in baseball too. And it was in baseball.
Antonio Leal 9:46
Yeah, that's an awesome story.
So another nickname. That nickname is stuck over time and it has travel. I was in the airport in Chicago, one time in the sky. up to me and he says, What's your name? And I said, Eric, he said, Man, you look just like sweeping floors in this locked off and
Antonio Leal 10:11
just doing some research on on you know on that name. I mean it comes up as they have all these rankings for best nicknames in sports and particularly within basketball like yours comes up really high on the list, you know?
Oh, does it? Yeah, yeah, we got out there magic and yeah, absolutely. So my ranking, your ranking up there? Good, good. Some, listen. Yeah.
Antonio Leal 10:42
It's a very good you know, you're you're, you're so renowned for some of your records. And, you know, it's just remarkable I and reading through what you accomplished in that, in that one game. You hold the record for the most points and apply playoff quarter, and playoff house, and, you know, in reading about it, and you know, you managed to do this against the mighty Lakers, like, you know, I don't have any other description for this, you know 3040 years later, this record still intact like you had to be possessed on Friday like you just had I when I think about your accomplishment I almost relate it you know, me as I love the game of golf and playing golf up there. It's like I've had games where I'm watering a ball and that whole left field and everything go in. It doesn't matter what you know, you're talking to me I hit the ball as the ball goes in. Man, can you can you just take us back sleepy? I mean you. That is certainly an incredible day. I mean, somehow Can you bring us back to that moment and yeah, and and what possessed you, you know
Yes, well, like you mentioned before, they were the mighty Lakers last year with stack with some Hall of Famers and Kareem and magic and James worthy and other great players like Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper. And at the time, you know, we were just a little warriors down the road from LA, you know, just trying to establish ourselves as a bonafide playoff team. And the round before that we were down Oh, two to the Utah Jazz, john Stockton and Karl Malone, a man team. And we want three in the row just to get an opera Get up get the opportunity to play against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. So obviously, on odd made makers and you know, you don't put your money on the Lakers to win that. So we're all overwhelmed in the No pick the losers series are not really not even take a game really off the Lakers. So they will to all honors at the time and, and they're very cocky team like magic johnson talked a lot of trash and Byron Scott and Michael Cooper. Even the guys on the bench who didn't play they were talking trash, magic and dream and those guys talking trash. But even the guy there were so cocky the guy that the you know, the bitch thought they were so good, you know that they're talking. But anyway, you know, we were down, I think about 14 points going into fourth quarter and I just took it upon myself. I said to him, I said, Well, let me be aggressive to start fourth quarter to see if I can change the momentum of the game. Because at the time I mean, you know, I was a point guard. My main role was to distribute control in the Florida game. Make sure some of our bonus law scores like Purvis show and Chris Nolan and JB Carroll, you know, got their touches and got into the Florida game, but it's one quarter. I just took it upon myself. And, you know, I went to the basket the first time and I score. And everything was just so instinctive, you know, and, and I just had in my head, you know, some of the things that Michael Cooper in the group was talking, you know, it's easy to talk trash in your head. Yeah, when you're up and you got the kind of team that they had at the time. You know, it's easy to, you know, put the chest out, so to speak. Yeah. So anyway, I just instinctively started playing and the gods kept giving the ball to me and, and I joke about I say, when Joburg Kara's passing you the ball, you know you must be something good. This is one of those guys that looked he was a great score. So when he received the ball, chances are You weren't gonna get it back. So. So even he had recognized that I was on this amazing roll and, and it was a definite team effort. But we had always played the Lakers very well throughout the year because they played the same style up tempo that we like to play. Yeah, we had some competitive games with them, you know, throughout the regular season. So, we felt that we can beat them. You know, we didn't realize we didn't, you know, believe the highest or how good they were or they were just amazing teams. We felt that we could ask for this now. So one thing happened another like you said, Every shot I put up when in every move I attempted, I evaded the defense. And when the crowd behind us in the team advance, it was just an amazing afternoon. It was on Mother's Day, as well when I hit my parents back And it was just a it was just one of those Perfect Storm when everything came together for us and on and off the court and it was just a great way.
Antonio Leal 16:11
Remarkable remarkable. And I congratulate you on that feat and that is still intact and I hope you hold 100 this record forever sleepy but does that ever pass through your mind? You know, as as you know, you ended your career and and sustained and maintain that record in the years went by and the greats after you. Did you ever think to yourself that it would be a player that had played and was close? Did you ever have the mindset of saying you know what, I think this kid is going to do it?
Well, yes. Oh my gosh. Steph Curry Of course. They've come close many times. Kevin Durant's has come close. Klay Thompson with outstanding player, one of my favorite players in the NBA. The entire NBA is Klay Thompson and he's come close several times in the playoffs. Now I think he did beat the record but it was during the regular season. Yeah, it's 37 and a quarter but that was the regular season. If you think about all the great players came you know, since I retired Allen Iverson and all these amazing you know scores Carmelo Anthony in the Bron James and you know, some of the all time great scores to not eclipsed that that record so I am kind of shot here is a matter of time before they break it, but flush it and play that because I established that 87 is still there, but yeah, they have to break it right.
Well, I you know, I don't know. I don't know. Sleepy nfhs it obviously complements the seat and what you did and you know could be etched In History forever, you know, so it's just remarkable what you did. And I congratulate you on that. And, and, you know, I hope it sticks around forever.
You know, every year I mean, going to play off. When someone gets close, I get all these calls from all around the country and yeah, you know, say they get close or what do you think about, you know, the chances of this God breaking it so it keeps me wrapped? That's for sure. Yeah, that's fair. So that's wonderful.
Antonio Leal 18:27
That's wonderful. Listen, you know, sleepy, you know, the world's changed. You know, obviously, it's, it's, it's the topic worldwide. The world we now live in is, is changed dramatically. You know, and especially for the sports and entertainment world. You know, I think I sense that we'll get back to some normal pre COVID ways, you know, but I'm certain that you know, habits will change forever. You know, I under Yeah, I understand. The NBA is planning To resume very soon and, you know, I'm a sports fan, many are sports fans. You know, what are your thoughts on on on what is inspired and how the NBA players are acting to the possibility of playing in empty arenas moving forward? Right?
It can be very interesting. Number one is the safety aspect of it. How safe can it keep the players, the staff, the people that's working at the hotels, no, just not the players, the coaches, some of the coaches are, you know, a lot of older so they're more susceptible to maybe contracting the virus. So it's gonna be very interesting. I think the NBA will set the template on how to move forward for the other major sports, the NFL MLB they'll be watching closely this See how this is executed down in Orlando? Yes, the world has changed and we have to change with it. We can't be afraid of change. So I think most of the players and the way I grew up playing basketball, there were no plans in the gym there were, you know, we will go to the recreation or when we play pickup, there are literally you know, people who came to the gym, but there wasn't a big crowd there. So, I think the competitiveness of the players, particularly because it's really playoff basketball, the intensity level should be at a high. So I don't think we will, you know, suffer, you know, the level of play. Some of the execution may be off, but the energy level should be there. I would, I would imagine because they're in a playoff, so he would not have played without fans. I don't think it's an issue. Now Marketing the NBA and the corporation. was invested so much money to get marketing opportunities, being a part in partnership with the NBA, that will be affected, revenue will be affected, not having fans inside their arenas. And we'll see how that trickles down to the player salaries and, and so there's all kinds of issues that need to be examined as we move forward and reestablished in, you know, the league, so it's gonna be interesting. Yeah, yeah, you answered you know, pretty well.
Antonio Leal 21:35
My next question was, you know, as the NBA ranking and top salaries and sports, some of the top salaries in professional sports and, and, you know, the teams are so dependent on gate revenue, you know, is right, you know, what's the future going to be in the way the salaries are split?
I mean, the NBA and ownership has been amazing. In the growth of sports and supporting and sharing revenue, but at the end of the day, if you eliminate gate revenue just as you mentioned sleepier, all of a sudden your marketing gets affected many, many ways of revenue gets get affected right in this in this new world. Yes it does. And and one great thing about the NBA, maybe above all the other major teams, the relationship ship between the players as you mentioned, revenue sharing has always been negotiate it where both sides win normally. So having that great relationship with the Players Association and the ownership in the and and an atom that's going to work well for for our league. Again, see the revenue will be affected. I'm sure agents out there won't like that. But I think, you know, you got the interest of the NBA and the NBA surviving, as all the players and, you know, the gyms and the owners want to continue, they have to work together. And that's going to be compromised financially on both sides. To be successful, go into clover.
Antonio Leal 23:30
Yeah, no, I totally get it. Yeah, it's going to be something and, you know, I also wanted to ask you and bring this up because in the love of hockey that most Canadians have up here I I had the opportunity to meet Bobby hole you know, yeah, an awesome star with the Chicago Blackhawks and his son, an awesome all star that that came. You know, after Words and, and in conversations about his history and journey and the old timers, etc. He'd always have a way of bringing up, man, my son makes more. My son makes more money in one year.
Right? You know, that I spent my whole life for I hope that I ever start playing at the wrong time. Right? No. You know, so does that ever crossed your mind when you look? I mean, I just compliment the NBA and the Players Association and the owners and the owners of the teams. I mean, they're doing it together. And they're sharing Do you ever look back and say, Man, I you know, I, I wish I started 20 years later or 30 years later Does that ever end we are mine we were born we always say we were born 20 years through the players we talked about that all the time and we discussed it and I have found this formula on on Online one time when you could put your stats in and how it can relate, and compute. You know, in today's time and my salary was quadruple what I made when I played in this era. Wow. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, for sure. No, you're not the body. Yeah. All the time. Trust me.
Antonio Leal 25:26
Yeah, yeah. But I think, you know, when, as I as I tell my son and I know that, you know, based on your story of getting into the NBA that really money isn't really it's the passion of the sport, right? Yes, it is.
Yeah. If you don't have a passion or if you just plan for monetary gain and monetary gain is great. But to become an NBA player, or just a player, whereas is trying to make college or make your high school team or whatever it is, on whatever level whatever Support. You gotta have a passion. Yeah, someone is pushing you and telling you all you need to practice or they should be telling you to stop practicing. you're practicing too much. Yeah, no, that's the response that you should be hearing from people. But yes, your passion drives you and motivates you. And competition. You know, you hear the great players talk about you listen to Tiger Woods is to competition or Michael is to competition or myself or other great players have not even great player just to make it to a certain level of competition. That's why I don't think the fans will affect the place in the golf tournament was on the day and I check check it out for a few minutes. They have no fans. But the golf has not suffered. You know what I mean, that level of golf play has not suffered because of the fans not been there.
Antonio Leal 26:55
Yeah, so true. And that competition side and you had mentioned you know, MJ Mike Jordan, did you see that Netflix special on the last dance for him?
Yeah, I watched some I didn't watch all of it.
Unknown Speaker 27:07
But you know, it was impressive. And you saw the level of passion, right?
Yes, that you know that it takes to be great in a sport or make the NBA or NFL or you know, make a theme it takes a lot takes a lot of sacrifice, you know, and, and motivation.
Antonio Leal 27:29
Absolutely. I know I know I know sleep you have some connections with and wrap the Raptor nation here. We'll be happy to hear this. That you have some you know, great rapport, alumni connections and but first I wanted to ask you, you know what, what your thoughts were of the Toronto Raptors run to glory last season and you know, yeah, really became recognized and wrote the NBA. As you know, the rafters became the real thing. Live, right?
No, they were one of my favorite teams last year when kawhi was there and they run to the championship, but not only just kawhi, how well coached they were. And how, how do you say they could change styles of play that gets really up tempo. They could play fast break style, or they could play half court. And that was that's what made them so difficult. In addition to the already established team, we're talking about a team that wants 50 plus games the prior year. And they bought or traded for the perfect superstar. You know, he didn't try to go out and get extra attention because he came to Toronto. He just came in, fit in, the players liked them, and the chemistry that they generated or established in the short period I was amazing. And yeah goes back to the kind of people that they have on a team. A lot of high character Guys. Guys that sacrificing for the team so yeah, they were one of my favorite teams and I enjoy watching them and the fans oh my god the Toronto fans were amazing. You have the best fan bases in the entire league and I played out in Golden State and they have a strong fan base. But I'll put them up there with the Golden State Warriors. I mean, that was definitely a home court advantage when they played
Antonio Leal 29:36
Yeah, yeah. And you know, and you're sweet even with with with kawhi leaving as you know, it was expected we thought that would keep them here. You know, for the the season cut short, like the Raptors were still contending and and and and making their presence known in the league without collided Did this surprise you?
No, it didn't. Because like I say before I got there and there were no established team. There were a playoff contending team. Very well coached great players now siakam came over. And I think heaven colada where he could see, you know, how pro plays and and how a leader can leave without being as vocal. You know what I mean? Having a sit down watch Co Op play throughout our entire season probably benefited him so much going into the season where he could take the leadership role of the team, obviously cow Laurie is there and he's the leader. But the outcome, his style of play, he's a difference maker. And I think you guys have one of the best coaches in the league. Players love them. You know, he treats the players like men, and obviously he is excellent hos very top level. So yeah, they're one of the top teams and I wouldn't be surprised if they made the Eastern Conference Finals this year again. We're not Yeah.
Antonio Leal 31:09
Yeah, that's great. You're saying that and I think many feel that way. You know, sticking with the rafters. I know one of your dear friends and the alumni is the famous rafter. Muggsy Bogues. He's a huge favorites in in Toronto. Can you give us an insight into your connection with with mugsy and shed some light on his experience and career in Toronto?
Oh, yeah, he, first of all, great person, great character. I knew mongstad back in my Georgetown days when when he was playing that Dunbar has come up in Baltimore, Washington. I'm in Baltimore, Maryland. And he and David Wingate, Reggie Williams. They had one of the top high school teams in the nation, legendary teams. And we almost thought we had them coming to Georgetown. Before you decided to go to Wake Forest, and so his journey has been long, you know, given his height, he never looked at as high as a negative. He looked, he looked at it, as you know, as a positive, great defensive player. And man, when you brought the ball up against McGee, you've got to be better be on your team or he'll be taken right away from this great team player, the energy that he play with the fans to relate to him. The key is to relate to him. And he just did a great ambassador of the game in Toronto was very lucky to have him on a team and I know, you know, he's a fan favorite up there. And it really helped generate that fan base for the Toronto's over the year for Toronto over the years. So, you know, he's a great guy. He's a great friend. We play golf together sometime and he's just a good person, great family. very humble.
Antonio Leal 33:01
That's awesome. Put the success of Toronto, you know, over the past few years in Canada, and again, this all relates to, you know, numbers and investments and NBA policy. But do you feel Do you sense that the NBA will locate, you know, will will, you know, will embrace expansion in the Canadian market to other major cities in the country?
Well, that's an interesting question in this environment, probably not. With the revenue changes. We're going to be going through Paulo in the next two to three years. I don't see India expanding at this point, for the next few years. Obviously, the league is always looking to expand whether its global, whether it's overseas somewhere, but I do see expansion at some point, after we recover, you know, through the COVID and all the effects of that. Yeah, and I Freedom expanded to, you know, Canada again with another team but you know, given this day in time and you know what we're going through and the changes to the game and you know, we down in Orlando planned in a bowl at this point so yeah, they're not thinking about expansion at this point but long term sure I could see that happening makes sense for sure. That's great.
Antonio Leal 34:26
You know what, you know, I've enjoyed really speaking with you sleepy we're coming right to the end of the show, but what I wanted to bring up a point and this again was was you know, sort of doing some research what I could you know, about you and getting to know you a bit more, you know, after your career and i and i want you you know, I love hearing this and one of your objectives and and what you love to do is giving back to the community and and you're focusing a lot on children and kids and and things like that. You know, I want you to share with our listeners, you know, some of your giving back stories and and what you do. That's enlightening to me. Right?
No, you know, I think we have a responsibility to reach back and try to impact our kids to have them try to, you know, enhance the opportunity to have a successful life, career experiences, positive experiences. So I had a company called job ahwazi. We were pre online, website or resume building, and we did a lot more than just resume building. We did job placement for teenagers. We did some stuff with the military with with some of their Army Staff coming back transitioning into the working world. So yeah, this trying to create opportunity to teach kids, you know the importance of integrity, respect, hard work, and just giving them an opportunity, I find that if you give a kid direction, opportunity and you know, focus, a lot of them will be successful. We just got to, you know, give them opportunity to go into a program whether whatever, whatever that program may be, and just give them opportunity like fail. You know, you have to look down on them based on the economic community that they come from or family that they grew up in. Treat them all the same, and it's up to us to give them an opportunity to excel. That's one thing I like about and admire about so many of the NBA players in league like LeBron James has created a school. So many players given back reaching back into their community. is making a difference. You know, a lot of times we hear through the media, you know, they report on the negative aspects of the sport. For headlines a lot of times a lot of these NFL guys baseball, they are doing an amazing job and creating opportunities for our youth and I've used it definitely that they're going to change the future they're going to make it better for everybody. And so yeah, my my word to everyone is reached back, try to help someone. Create a program, mentor someone to see a kid, you know, you don't have to be part of an organization to have one kid out in this respect and try to help them out whether it's financially or opportunity wise, or advice, then that's what you want to do.
Antonio Leal 37:51
Beautiful words sleepy and what a way to end the podcast just honored to have you on today and it's been a real blast. Speaking with you, and I hope that you know the borders open up a bit and I'll make the journey down and bring my clubs down. We'll see.
Let's do it. I'll look Yeah. And I got the mutual dear friends here andthat'd be awesome.
Antonio Leal 38:16
As long as we can, as long as we can use Canadian dollars as a tool. I'll take you out. Appreciate it. Yeah. Thanks so much.