Last month a bunch of reporters wanted to ask me about my season, which I spent with the Golden State Warriors after eight years with the New York Knicks. I wanted to play golf, so I spoke with the writers on a cell phone as a teammate, Bimbo Coles, and I got in a round at a nice public course in Salt Lake City the day before we were to play the Jazz. Near the end of the conference call I said, "Hold on, I've got to hit my tee shot." I put the phone down and hit. "Right down the middle," I said. The writers all laughed. They remembered how much I love the game.
I've been playing golf for six years—my best score is a 78; my favorite player is Tiger Woods—and the one thing that surprises me is that some people think golf and basketball don't mix. They say that golf is strenuous and that by playing during the basketball season, you risk wearing yourself out. If I didn't play well in New York, fans and some of my teammates thought it was because of all the golf. Come on! That's just an excuse for losing.
Herb Williams, my former teammate, and I played 18 holes on the day before Game 5 of our series with the Miami Heat last year. The next night I had a great game and scored 22 points, and we won. We were in the locker room afterward, and Herb said, "Go ahead, tell 'em." I told my teammates that we had played 18 the day before. Everybody had a good laugh.
Golf is only strenuous if you walk, which I don't do. Michael Jordan would play 36 holes during the playoffs and still get 40 points. What's important is where you're at mentally on game day, as Dennis Rodman has often proved. My coach, P.J. Carlesimo, understands. He's a member at Olympic Club, where Bimbo, Muggsy Bogues and I sometimes play. Golf is a way to relax, and I bet any coach would prefer that you do that by chasing a little white ball rather than by hanging around some bar.