NBA Star Steve Francis On His Path From Expelled High School Student To Becoming Second Pick In The 1999 NBA Draft

NBA Star Steve Francis On His Path From Expelled High School Student To Becoming Second Pick In The 1999 NBA Draft

Today, former NBA star, Steve Francis sat down for the latest episode of Knuckleheads Podcast with Darius Miles & Quentin Richardson to discuss his path from receiving his GED to attending a junior college, then the University of Maryland, and eventually going number two in the 1999 NBA draft.

The three-time NBA All-Star also dishes on how he didn’t want to play for Vancouver and was blindsided by being traded from Houston to Orlando, how he got his nickname Steve “Franchise” Francis, and how Yao Ming changed his perception of basketball.

  • On where he wanted to be drafted – and it wasn’t Vancouver (24:22):I definitely wanted to go to Chicago, man... The whole mystique of me wearing number 23, and I was excited. To me, I thought it was a go but, you know, things didn’t work out. I knew Vancouver wasn’t going to draft me...I was in [deep] conversations with Coach Paul Silas [Charlotte Hornets] and talking to him. So, Vancouver flew to D.C...told me I had to wear the jacket. So I came straight from the gym, straight from the workout and I was like ‘Man, I told them I didn’t wanna be there’... I had a meeting with my agent, five minutes I’m like ‘Yo, I’m gone’ I didn’t wanna shoot no BS and tell them I feel comfortable playing there.”
  • On playing with Yao Ming and his impact (40:23):I think that, for me, was the closest I have ever been to seeing a rockstar… For me, it taught me to be calm and to be patient because this man has a whole country who is depending on him to take care of their country – to be the initiator, to break the barrier for a sport they all love over there. If you go to China, you see all kids on the court, everywhere, day and night trying to emulate some basketball players. But for him to take that big step, you know I was happy for him just to see that...But I’m gonna tell you man, one day I took him to a club here in Houston, they couldn’t believe it was– of course it was Moochie [Norris]’s idea. Oh my gosh.”
  • On when he got traded from Houston to Orlando (46:12):It was shocking, you know. The shocking part was that I actually talked to the coach that week ‘If you wanna trade me, let me know’ and he was like ‘No no no no no no no’ so– and I’m on vacation, I’m chillin’ and I see somebody was like ‘Yo, you about to get traded.’ I was like ‘Yeah right.’... So then the next day BOOM on the trade lines so I’m like ‘Dang.’... So then I pulled a Donald Trump – and I don’t even like Donald Trump – ‘I’m not leaving! Y’all gon’ have to trade me.’
  • On his nickname Steve “Franchise” Francis (1:05:08):I think that’s a testament to Hakeem [Olajuwon], the way that he taught me of being that type of player, um, being early and leaving late. And I think that I exposed that early in my career to– like when Cynthia Cooper says that she was in the gym, I was one of the guys with her at 6 o’clock in the morning before– they practiced before us, so when she was working out, I would talk to her about ‘How do you become a leader? You just won three championships’...The summer before my rookie year they would be in season so I would spend the summer in the gym and I would work out with her and ask her how it is to be a champion. So I think a lot of people around town and the commentators probably got wind of that I was taking the right proper steps. So I think it was a testament to that.”

Fans can look forward to new episodes on Tuesdays on all major podcast services and online at The Players’ Tribune website and video of the episodes will be available on Thursdays on The Players’ Tribune YouTube.