In your book, A Father First, you get quite personal about your harrowing childhood. Was it hard to write?
I had to go back to remember being 5, 6, 7 years old and the way I viewed my mom's addiction to drugs and my dad's strict ways. I got personal because I see kids every day like I was. I wanted to give them hope that you can break what we call "the generation curse." But also to let them know that once you get out, things are still going to happen. I still go through things at the age of 30 that are challenging.
One of the current issues in education theory is the importance of resilience. Did your upbringing give you a level of resilience that few people have?
I give a lot of credit to my upbringing in Chicago. It taught me to be tough, to want more, to want to be better. It made me appreciate things. But all my dreams and vision had to come from within. Or I had to go find someone on TV. Knight Rider was big in my life. Obviously, Michael Jordan was big in my life.
In the book, you detail your difficult divorce. Why the battle for full custody?
I've always wanted to be a father. I've always known it was an important role. When the separation happened, I wasn't able to see or even talk to my kids. I couldn't sleep not knowing where my kids were. I had to fight just for visitation rights, and even that was getting interfered with. The judge felt that the kids would be in a better environment living with me.
What's the difference between the first NBA championship and this one?
In the six years between, I went through so much. I had three surgeries. I went through the divorce, custody, lawsuits. So I enjoyed this one a bit more when that clock hit triple zeros.
What was it like dealing with all the swirl around LeBron James when he went to Miami?
I think [at first] we fed into all the negativity that came with him joining us, with "The Decision." We didn't play the game pure. We wanted to win for the wrong reasons. So I just looked at him and said, "I'm playing with a guy who's 6-ft. 8 and 2-something--he never says what his weight is--who's in the prime of his career." I told him, "I'm man enough to understand that you are the best player in the world. I think we need you to assert yourself more." It was a very tough decision. Miami--we call it Wade County. But I had to take my ego out of it.
What was his answer to that?
MVP of the regular season and MVP of the finals. That was his answer to it.
How do you compare LeBron and Michael?
Both of these guys have talents you don't see every day. But LeBron James got a long way to go to catch up with Michael Jordan. He knows that more than anybody. But No. 6 ain't bad at all.
You just had your third knee surgery. How often do you play in pain?
People are like, "You make a lot of money. You hurting? So what?" It's professional sports. Everyone has to play with pain. It's very rare that you see someone that's 100%. It's a part of sports. You do it because you love it and you know you can't play it forever.
You played basketball with the President. How is his game?