Seven Questions for Former Rebel Shawn Marion

The former UNLV star on playing with LeBron, placing his name among NBA greats and being obsessed with cartoons

Photo by Ken Blaze/USA Today sports

Photo by Ken Blaze/USA Today sports

How excited are you about playing with LeBron James and Kevin Love after signing a one-year free-agent contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason?

It’s fantastic. I can’t wait; they’re good guys. But don’t forget about Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Mike Miller, everybody who’s here, the whole thing. It’s not just LeBron and Kevin; it’s everybody. But we’re still trying to get comfortable with ourselves right now. The media needs stories to put into the papers every day, but we just need to focus on what we’re trying to do. That’s all that matters.

You’re 36 years old and entering your 16th NBA season after leaving UNLV as a junior in 1999. How much do you still have left in the tank?

Oh, I’ve got something in the tank. Right now, it’s a new situation for me, and I’m making the most of it. I’ve been able to keep in good condition and my body healthy. I don’t feel [old], so who knows how long I’m going to be able to do this? I’m just taking it one year at a time. The older you get, the more you focus on what your strengths are. It depends on what my team needs. I’ve done whatever it takes to help my team win. If they need me to go out and get 20 points, I’ll get 20; if they need me to go out and get 10 points and 10 rebounds, then that’s what I need to do to win. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make my team successful, and to make my teammates better. Nobody likes losing; it’s not a fun feeling. But at the same time, if you win, everyone is rewarded.

That’s all I care about.

Last season you joined Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett as the only players in NBA history to accumulate 17,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocked shots. Where does that rank among your career accomplishments?

The longer I play, the more I keep breaking records. [Laughs.] The funny thing is, you never know how long you’re going to play, but I told myself when I started in the league, if I’m able to do what I need to do, I want to play 15 years [in the NBA]. And I’ve done that. But to finally win a championship [with Dallas in 2011], when you reach the top of that mountain, that’s the best feeling ever. Basketball is a team sport, and when you achieve something with your team, that’s the best feeling. I’ve been fortunate to play on some great teams in my career.

The New York Times once did a story on you because you love cartoons, and have a cartoon DVD collection numbering in the thousands. What is it about cartoons that appeals to you, and which character would you become if you had your wish?

They just always seem to have a positive message, a positive outcome at the end. … Man, I don’t know. That’s hard to say. I like a variety of cartoons, and I couldn’t pick just one [character]. I’d have to name multiple cartoons. I grew up watching and love ThunderCats; I was always a big fan of G.I. Joe, Transformers, DuckTales, Woody Woodpecker, Popeye, Bugs Bunny, you name it. I love those cartoons. I’ve also been buying a lot of anime now.

You’re a big poker fan and have played in World Series of Poker events in Las Vegas. Might this be
your next career?

I love poker. If I could play every day, I would. There are so many other things going on, though, you can’t play every day. It’s possible later on, though, when I have time to play in a few more tournaments. It’s really fun, it’s just really time-consuming.

You participated on the recent Full Court Press Vol. 1 compilation album on which you performed with young rappers such as T-Pain, Dorrough and Young Cash. Is music something you plan on pursuing further?

That was hard. I respected those guys as rappers and musicians before [the project], but I respected them more afterward for the hard work they put into their music and the stuff that they do. It’s not easy. I had some friends of their friends reach out to me and see if I wanted to be part of it, and it just happened. That was it for me, though. I’m going to stay in my lane. I know my limitations.

What is your relationship with UNLV these days, and will we see more of you here when you’re done playing?

Our relationship is pretty good. I try to reach out to them. When they do really well, I always try to send them gift baskets and stuff at the end of the season. I still like to see them do well. It’s funny because one of my teammates, Mike Miller, his brother [Ryan] is an assistant coach there now. I’m going to retire in Texas, so it’ll be hard to get out there on a regular basis, but I’ll always support the Rebels.

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