Alumni Game: Postgame Quotes

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- After the Carolina Pros prevailed Saturday over the ACC All-Stars, 138-126, in the third annual World's Greatest Alumni Game, <i>IC</i> talked with Phil Ford, Donald Williams, Jeff McInnis, Jerry Stackhouse and Joseph Forte ...<br><br> --<a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/288430.html>Photos I</a><br> --<a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/288446.html>Photos II</a><br> --<a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/288448.html>Photos III</a>

PHIL FORD

What has this event been like knowing you are leaving tomorrow?

Well, it has been bittersweet. It is a great opportunity to coach with the Pistons, with Coach [Larry] Brown, but at the same time I'm leaving a lot of good memories and good friends here. I'm happy to be back in coaching and I can't wait to get started.

It has been a while since you've been involved directly with the NBA...

Yes, but the players are the same; the philosophies of basketball are the same especially with the Pistons. They play basketball a lot like North Carolina plays basketball, they play hard, they play together, they play smart. That is what I am looking forward to.

Was it hard for you watching the Olympics, with Coach [Roy] Williams and Coach Brown there?

Not really, because I'm a lot more understanding than the average fan. Number one, I realize that the team only had five days to prepare, number two I realize that the rules are different, and I think playing under NBA rules with more time to prepare the outcome would have been a little bit different than it was.

DONALD WILLIAMS

What was it like coming back to Chapel Hill?

Well, it is always fun coming back to Chapel Hill, seeing the people and former players and it is a great atmosphere here.

How much did playing for the cause of diabetes mean to you?

That's what it is all about, everyone was here for the cause which is a good cause. Hopefully everyone was here for the cause.

Is it like a family reunion at this event?

It sure seems like that, because a lot of these guys you haven't seen for four or five years and so it is always good to see old friends and other players.

How was your last season?

I was in Sweden last season, and it was a good thing. Any time you get a chance to win a championship it feels great, and all of the work pays off.

JEFF MCINNIS

What was it like being here and in front of a Carolina crowd?

It was fun, a great time being on the floor with all of those guys we could have been playing with. It was great playing with all of those athletic guys as well as the other guys trying to beat us. It was a very fun experience.

How seriously do you take the actual game?

We don't take it seriously I think until the fourth quarter. They start talking when the fourth quarter comes up, so we start really playing. We know we have to win the game so when the fourth quarter comes up we get kind of serious.

What happened on that alley-oop Stack tried to throw you?

He threw it too low [laughing], I had to show my hops but that was him because he threw it low.

What was it like to play with Vince again?

It was great to play with Vince, 'Twan, J.R. Reid, everyone. J.R. Reid is one of my favorite Tar Heels so it was especially fun to be able to play with him.

JERRY STACKHOUSE

Opening Comment-

I thought the game was great, and it was a great game. The ACC stars kind of came at us a little bit today so we had to tighten up but I thought it was a great game and everyone had a lot of fun.

Did you have to really focus in the fourth quarter?

A little bit, because we let them get back into the game. There are a lot of competitors out there and we knew they were going to make a run. We came back and started to go down in the post on them a little bit and get some high percentage shots, so I know Coach [Dean] Smith liked that.

What is the whole weekend like?

The entire weekend is a lot of fun, because we have a lot of activities we do not only for diabetes though diabetes is the definite focal point for me because I lost two sisters to diabetes. We had early this morning a Feed the Children program which was great, a lot of needy families were able to get a lot of food and toiletries and things they otherwise probably couldn't afford. It just warms the heart to know that there are people less fortunate who are able to benefit from us doing this this weekend.

You made a point to introduce Coach Smith during the pre-game introductions, why did you do that?

I think he is deservedly the most famous Tar Heel of us all. He and Michael [Jordan] are the pioneers of this family, and I think that with Michael it is his notoriety, but with Coach it is just his beliefs and his development of this family. Everyone coming back, guys taking from this program but also giving back, he is really the heart and soul of it. He and Coach [Bill] Guthridge -- Coach Guthridge, too, is a huge part of it.

How happy are you for Coach Ford getting an NBA coaching job?

It is great. Now I have to root against him, he's on the other side now with Detroit. I am very excited and happy for him. He is another main reason I came to North Carolina because there are so many parallels in our careers. Both coming from high schools in small towns in eastern North Carolina, coming to North Carolina he was a guy that I looked up to and has been with me every step of the way here. I'm just excited for him to be back on the sideline.

What is the Carolina crowd like?

Oh, it is great, every time you come back to North Carolina there is so much love, so much support here. Whenever in the NBA the ups and downs and roller coasters make me want to get pumped up a bit I can just drive down 95, come here and get that love from anybody.

JOSEPH FORTE

What have you been doing since you last played?

I took a whole year off from basketball and everything, because I had a lot of controversy to take care of. I didn't play at all and just focused on dealing with the controversy. I got that all taken care of and was able to play summer league with Detroit, and hopefully will be in training camp. I don't know, I have to get with my agent.

What is it like to be back in Chapel Hill?

It feels good, it is a bit overwhelming. I look up to these guys, they don't know that but it is good to just be here and feel the energy, the basketball energy, the positive energy.

How has everything been with you personally and what have you learned?

It has been tough; I'm 23 years old and I've been through a lot but I've found out that Carolina are the people I can count on through thick and thin. They've seen me through my best of times and been with me right through the tough times too.

Are you in touch with the people who are playing now?

Oh yeah, I know those guys and got to know them when they came in. Coach Gut has been a large part of helping me get through my process and so I'm still around.

What have you taken from the whole NBA experience?

I've learned that you have to be patient, you can't always control everything. It isn't about how good you are or how good you think you are or how good you can be, you just have to be patient and wait for things to fall into place. I think when I was younger I didn't understand that but I have a better grasp of that now.

What are you doing to try to get back into basketball?

I moved to New York in January to start working out so I could be prepared for the summer league, so I'm just trying to get into training camp now. They're going to ask me about what I've been through, and I'll have to be very open and free with it. Being back here has got me thinking about the energy from trying to be drafted and I'm going to try to get back there.

It puts things in perspective as far as you can have things or you can't have things, so it makes me a stronger person. From the positive things that come from being around all of these guys, from the positive things that they are doing, that we all came to the same University I can feed off of their energy.

Do you think that what you have been through says anything to those who are still at Carolina?

I think so because I'm still here, and I'm still here standing and they can see me. They can learn from my mistakes and that is a good thing that they can get out of it.


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