Steve Francis looks back on his career, escape from D.C. crack epidemic


Steve Francis is almost an NBA legend at this point, a judder on the journey to the modern-day NBA. In 2018, there’s no doubt that many basketball fans do not remember just how big a deal “Stevie Franchise” was at the dawning of Allen Iverson’s NBA. Now, Francis is 41 years old and hasn’t played a game in the Association since December of 2007.

Today, he’s back.

In a captivating feature posted to The Players’ Tribune, Francis detailed the story of his life and his journey from working the block as a crack dealer in Washington D.C. to getting drafted into the NBA without any D1 offers, and despite playing what he says was only two games of high school basketball.

Francis titled his article “I Got a Story to Tell” and in it he recounts some pretty heavy-hitting and incredible plot twists, the kind you might not even believe were real in a movie.

In a story apparently untold in full to the public before, Francis said that he went from helping to deal drugs on the corner, to playing AAU ball, then quitting completely after his mother died. Francis was then convinced by his AAU coach to keep on going. Franics was eventually picked up by a junior college, finally transferring to Maryland before making it to the NBA.

The classic Francis bluster is there — he talks about schooling everyone from Gary Payton to Shawn Marion — and there’s some great tidbits about his relationship with Hakeem Olajuwon.

Here’s Francis on finally heading to JUCO:

But my grandma convinced me that it’s what my mother wanted for me, and I just gave in. I got my GED, and my grandma gave me $400 and a plane ticket to Houston. The San Jacinto coaches picked me up at the same airport that the coaches at Houston had picked up Dream at when he came over from Nigeria. And honestly, I was probably just as shell-shocked as he was. It was 30,000 white people and your boy Steve. Total culture shock. But I finally had some stability. I had a bed. I had a roster spot. And with that in the bag, I’m telling you, I went out there and killed it.

Ask Shawn Marion. Go ahead and ask him. He was playing for Vincennes University at the time, and he was a juco All-American. He was supposed to be the guy. And we went up there to Indiana and I murdered him. I got a quadruple double on his ass. I remember when we both got to the NBA, we were laughing about it during some shootaround, and he told me that he’s actually got the VHS tape of the game somewhere at his house. The tape exists. For 20 years I’ve been asking Shawn where the hell that tape is, and he’s been ducking me.



The whole article is worth a read, and it’s a stunning and heartbreaking one at that.

My real takeaway is how much influence an outlet like The Players’ Tribune has in allowing players of Francis’ age to tell us his unfiltered story. No doubt we’ll learn things about this era of the NBA some 10 or 20 years down the line from stars similar to Francis.

Update: A previous version of this article attributed a quote to Steve Francis that was intended to be a hypothetical. The quote has been changed.

Kevin Love returns to Cavaliers lineup Monday vs. Bucks

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The last time Kevin Love suited up for the Cavaliers, it was still January and Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder were still on the team.

That is about to change tonight — Love will return from a fractured hand and play for the Cavaliers, but on a minutes restriction to start, interim coach Larry Drew confirmed.

Cleveland needs Love back. The Cavaliers went 11-9 without him in this stretch (and 6-7 since the All-Star break) with an offense that has still been top 10 in the NBA but a defense that is holding them back. The Cavaliers’ defense is just not on the same page right now, and the more time the regular rotations guys get to play together, the better they should be before the playoffs start.

As Love rounds into form, the Cavaliers have to figure out their rotations. Does Love start Love next to Larry Nance Jr., or does Nance come off the bench again? Probably the latter, but the Cavaliers will toy with the rotations (and do that more when Tristan Thompson returns).

Former NBA All-Star Steve Francis cited for public intoxication

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What happened to Steve Francis [after his playing days]? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad (as drug use). In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.”
—Steve Francis, writing in the Players’ Tribune earlier this month, about his journey from selling crack to the NBA, and what happened after.

Addiction, once it’s got you, never goes away. The fight to stay sober/clean is a new one every day.

Steve Francis was cited for public intoxication in Burbank, Calif., after an incident at a hotel bar, according to TMZ (since confirmed by other reports).

Francis, 41, was arrested around 11:40 PM after police were called for a disturbance between two men at a hotel in Burbank.

Law enforcement sources tell us when cops arrived, Francis was intoxicated. He was arrested for being drunk in public.

Francis was transported to jail … before being given a citation and released around 7 AM Monday morning.

Francis denied in the Players’ Tribune article rumors he had a drug problem, but he owned up to drinking.

Lakers coach Luke Walton: I thought Pacers’ Paul George trade was ‘lopsided’ in favor of Thunder

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Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said the Pacers “could have done better” than trading Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Gilbert would have company with egg on their face if more people shared their views on the deal when it happened.

Lakers coach Luke Walton – whose team plays Indiana tonight – joined the club with an admission.



Originally, I thought it was kind of a lopsided trade, but I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong. Indiana has, I think they’re probably the surprise team of the season so far. They’re playing unbelievable. They have that three seed. And both of those players they got in the trade, they’re playing some really, really good basketball. So, obviously, a good trade for both teams.

Me too, Luke. Me too.

George is basically who we thought he was. But Oladipo and Sabonis have taken major steps forward. Sabonis’ growth as a second-year player was more predictable. Oladipo’s breakthrough seemed far less likely – and has carried far larger ramifications.

Oladipo was fine in Oklahoma City and Orlando, but he got into the best shape of his life and developed his outside shooting, particularly off the dribble. He has become a true star, putting up big offensive numbers while remaining a plus defender.

All the credit goes to Oladipo for making it happen and Pacers president Kevin Pritchard for ensuring Indiana reaped the rewards. I bet even Pritchard is surprised by Oladipo’s level of play, but Pritchard bet on Oladipo. Pritchard gets credit for the outcome.

People like Walton and myself eat crow.

Rajon Rondo on Ray Allen’s book: ‘He just wants attention’

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Ray Allen wrote a book that spills a lot of dirt on Rajon Rondo – how Rondo told Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Allen and other Celtics he carried them to the 2008 title, how Rondo clashed with Doc Rivers.

Rondo, via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:

“He just wants attention,” Rondo said. “I need actually some sales from [the book], only [publicity] it’s been getting is from my name. I need some percentage or something.”

“Obviously, that man is hurting,” Rondo said of Allen. “I don’t know if it’s financially, I don’t know if it’s mentally. He wants to stay relevant. I am who I am. I don’t try to be something I’m not. I can’t say the same for him. He’s looking for attention. I’m a better human being than that. I take accountability for my actions. Certain [stuff] happens in my life, I man up. But he has a whole other agenda.”

“He’s been retired for whatever years, and now he comes out with a book,” Rondo said of Allen. “People do that in that situation they need money. He should have hit me up and asked me for a loan or something. It’s no hard feelings.”

Obviously, Allen wants attention. He’s promoting a book.

But that doesn’t make the stories in the book inaccurate.

Allen and Rondo, now with the Pelicans, have feuded for a while. Neither is completely reliable about the other. Both are too colored by their dislike for each other.

I doubt Rondo knows about Allen’s financial situation. Rondo is just trying to dig at Allen, like Allen dug at Rondo in the book. Famous people write books for many reasons. Financial gain isn’t necessarily Allen’s primary motivation. Allen has a lot of time in retirement.

I’d rather hear Rondo address the book’s claims. He’s extremely forthright, even admitting he’s difficult to coach. He might corroborate the stories involving himself and Rivers. Telling Garnett, Pierce and Allen he led them to the championship? I’d like to know Rondo’s side of that story.