A postgame chat with Hakim Warrick

 

By: KJ Edelman | @Kyle_Edelman


Warrick dishes on his college career, Boeheim's Army and what's next after his basketball days are over

Everyone knows Boeheim’s Army -- a perennial final four contender who leads the Northeast region with a number one seed this year. But after its defeat to Overseas Elite last year in Baltimore, the Army looked to add new pieces to gain some ground on the three-time defending champions.

One of its additions is Hakim Warrick, a 36 year old forward who brings length and experience to the team.

The former SU standout is known for many accomplishments -- securing a national championship for the Orange, winning Big East player of the year and playing five seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies to name a few. Now, he finds himself as the oldest player on a team built on chemistry and leadership.

After a 90-72 victory against the South Jamaica Kings on Saturday, I spoke with Warrick about playing in TBT for his first year, his relationship with Carmelo Anthony and his memories on the infamous block in the 2003 National Championship game.  

The Basketball Tournament: The game was close for the first three quarters, but you guys pulled away in the fourth. Did you know it would be that close?

Hakim Warrick: “I knew that coming in before. And they’re a New York team, so I knew they had the fans. They fed off that energy and just weathered the storm. They shot sixty, seventy percent from three, and the younger guys saved us because our starters struggled. Not many teams can keep throwing waves of guys at teams, so that’s definitely a plus for us.”

TBT: There was a play in the third quarter where you were on the bench. John Gillon got whistled for a call, and everyone on the bench including Blackwell got up and gave the referees some words. You, though, didn’t flinch, but cracked a smile at the end. Off of that, what’s it like being the oldest guy on your team and do you see that as a part of your role?

HW: “I’m for sure one of the older guys. I just have to keep a leveled head and make sure everybody is calm. That play late in the third, I was just soaking everything in. Seeing everyone together reacting like that was great.”

TBT: You chose to play for Syracuse instead of for a college in Pennsylvania, where you grew up. What was the decision like to play in upstate New York instead of Philadelphia?

HW: “I wanted to get away from (Philadelphia) at the time. I wanted to play for a coach that was going to be there for me for four years and I knew Boeheim was that. The atmosphere, the fans -- that’s what it was all about.”

TBT: Speaking of Boeheim, do you guys still talk every so often? What’s your relationship with him like nowadays?

HW: “I’m in contact with Boeheim every once in awhile. He’s not really much of a phone guy, but I see his tweets and I know somebody else does that. But when I see him, it’s a click -- we’re still teammates. We still talk about old stories and stuff like that.”

TBT: Arguably, your biggest moment during your tenure at Syracuse was the block you had in the closing seconds of the 2003 National Championship. Take me through that moment.

HW: “I was playing the center and I didn’t think i was going to get out there. I just wanted to contest and thought maybe I had fouled, but nobody really talks about that. Every March Madness it reminds me about it. It’s been 15 years, but it seems like it was yesterday.”

TBT: When was the last time you were in Syracuse?

HW: “Last year. It’s out of the way, but my sister even goes there. I need to go back more and I should be back soon.”

TBT: Not many players in TBT have NBA experience, but you do. Almost a decade in the league in fact. Does that give you any advantages in this tournament?

HW: “I saw (other players on Boeheim’s Army) were getting a little anxious during the game. Even on paper we had more high level guys, but we came across that a lot in college. Mid-major schools would always circle us on the schedule and it felt like that. They shot the (lights) out of the ball, but we fought the storm.”

TBT: After your NBA career, you decided to take your game overseas. What’s that like been so far and do you see yourself continuing with it?

HW: “It’s good. I’ve been blessed these last couple of years to play where I never thought I would go -- Israel, China, Greece -- and seeing different cultures, food and people. It’s honestly a great experience. It’s just a different game over there. It’s more of a team game and not as much isolation. They don’t call any fouls, that’s one thing I learned early on. In the NBA I got to foul line so much, and it was frustrating seeing that difference.

TBT: Your days of playing professional are dwindling down, though. Have you considered some of your future plans after basketball?

HW: “I’ve been working on it the last couple of years. I’m getting older -- thinking about playing 2-3 years left -- but I want to do something I can enjoy. Not an office job where I sit at a desk. I want something that I can move around. I’m in (Washington) D.C. nowadays, so it’ll be somewhere around there. I love Syracuse, but I cannot see myself living there.”

TBT: Do you get recognized a lot, especially after having a long, four-year career at Syracuse and a lot of years of NBA experience.

HW: “Every once in awhile. I get it by some of the guys around my age, for sure. For the most part though, unless they’re huge Syracuse fans, I’m pretty much in the clear. When I see a Syracuse fan though, they always ask about the block -- number one thing they care about.”

TBT: I know you’re good friends with Carmelo Anthony. He’s in the process of being bought out by the Atlanta Hawks and should become a free agent. What’s your opinion on his current contract situation?

HW: “He’s about to double up. He got that bag and now he can compete for a championship -- I hope he does at least. I know he’s taken a lot of slack over the years, but he’s doing it the right way. He’s winning and trying. He tried to carry teams, but it’s great that he has a chance to enjoy free agency.”

TBT: He will be a free agent soon, so is there any possibility he could play for Boeheim’s Army midway through the tournament? Did that cross your mind at all?

HW: “It’s funny. The crazy thing is Demetris (Nichols) is wearing the number 15. And I saw the two jerseys together and I said ‘Man, you know what happened the last time those two jerseys were together.’ (Carmelo’s) not under contract, but he’s pretty much under contract. But the finals are in Baltimore, so we might have to talk to him.”


 

 

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