Return to Transcripts main page


Ray Allen Reflects on Title-Winning Shot; Former NBA Champ, Olympic Gold Medalist Turns Eye to Education; Can California Chrome Win Triple Crown?; Filmmaker Gets Inside View of College Sports

Aired June 6, 2014 - 22:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until then, the mystery surrounding Bowe Bergdahl and what happened to him that fateful night remains.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR; Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, has decided to cancel the celebration it had planned for him later this month over concerns that outsiders will flood the streets of their small town. It's a homecoming on hold.

I'm Jake Tapper. For continuing coverage of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's long journey back, stay tuned to CNN.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight on UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS, unflinching. After making the miracle shots that saved the Miami Heat last year, Ray Allen reveals just what kind of burden his team is carrying now.

RAY ALLEN, MIAMI HEAT: It's always laughable when people on the outside, they see you and they say pressure.

ANNOUNCER: Uncommon. Tomorrow, California Chrome tries to win the first Triple Crown in 36 years. And there's a tremendous amount at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If California Chrome wins, I think it will bring a lot more people to the sport.

ANNOUNCER: Unprotected. Morgan Spurlock discovers firsthand just how tough it really is in the world of college sports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has to be some kind of way where we're fairly compensated.


RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST: Welcome to UNGUARDED, Texas style. We are coming to you on location from the NBA finals, where last night the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat in game one.

It was the Spurs' first step in a revenge plan they've been harboring since last year's finals, when Miami's Ray Allen shocked them with a miracle shot with less than six seconds left on the clock. The basket snatched away what had looked like a sure-fire Spurs title, and as the Heat went on to claim the championship instead, Allen's shot became an instant classic.

I sat down with the future Hall of Famer to talk about the grudge match that he's created here this week. And, of course, that shot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back out to Allen. Boom!

NICHOLS: Your shot in last year's NBA finals became one of those iconic moments. We all remember Michael Jordan hitting that shot in Utah, Kirk Gibson's home run, David Tyree making that catch in the Super Bowl. Most of us will never know what it feels like to be inside of one of those moments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back out to Allen.

NICHOLS: Take us there.

ALLEN: Well, some of it you think about as a kid, especially playing basketball whether you're by yourself or with your friends. You did the five, four, three, two, one countdown and you made the crowd noise and want to make the shot at the buzzer. Still to this day, people talk about it.

NICHOLS: So there's going to be little kids all over the country pretending to be Ray Allen hitting that shot for years.

ALLEN: Yes. And social media allows us to understand that more. Because, you know, people send me stuff on Instagram all the time about that shot, about them hitting the shot. They'll split-take a shot of them shooting and then me shooting.

And more importantly, not just America. You know, you have these kids that are coming from all over Asia and all over Europe. And they're talking about these games.

NICHOLS: And that shot.

ALLEN: And that shot. As if it was in their backyard.

NICHOLS: You needed a three-pointer in that moment. If you hit a two-pointer, the Heat would lose the NBA finals. But you look at images from that moment, and you never made sure that your feet were behind the arc.

ALLEN: For most of the shooters, the shooters know and they understand.

NICHOLS: It was like an inch. And you never looked down.

ALLEN: Yes, I mean, I shoot it all the time. And, you know, my temperament is one that I always expect for it to go in, because I work on it so much and I shoot so many shots that day and before the game, so I put myself in that situation quite often.

NICHOLS: Your pre-game routine is legendary. You get to the arena at the same time every day. You go out on the court three hours before. You hit 1,000 shots before the game starts. And you're particular about what you do not just on the basketball court or once you get to arena. You eat the same food every day during the season, right?

ALLEN: Yes. You know, you want to go to the free throw line and not twitch. You know, you want to run down the floor and not feel winded. So how do you get that consistency, you know, in your body and your mind so your body doesn't give up on you? So I put the same things in my body every day to make sure I know what I'm getting out of myself and how far to push my body.

NICHOLS: Of course, I know the one exception with food is when your mom cooks. And I don't think I've seen this anywhere else in sports. She comes and brings in an entire home-cooked meal into the locker room. That's like the school mom at the PTA bringing in homemade cupcakes. It doesn't happen anywhere else. What's that like?

ALLEN: It's awesome. Because my mom, to be able to do that, you know, we could sit around after a game, win or loss.

I've got some gumbo, chicken, shrimp. We've got turkey sausage.

And we just get to eat this great food, and we can talk. And I think, you know, to be able to eat her food and talk and, you know, share stories is great. And I think my mom has allowed that, provided that for us as a team. And, you know, the guys certainly appreciate it.

NICHOLS: Your own family, your kids play such a huge part in your life. Your 7-year-old son has diabetes.


NICHOLS: He was rushed to the hospital in both the 2008 and 2010 NBA finals. We're sitting here in the finals again. How do those experiences change your perspective when we're in one of these environments and everyone says the stakes are so high? And you have those moments?

ALLEN: It's always laughable when people on the outside, they see and they say pressure. And we just had about maybe three months ago where we got -- we had to rush him to the hospital, and to me that's pressure. When you -- we have this child in our hands that doesn't know -- we don't know what's wrong with him, you know. And I'm always worried about him. So that always puts it in perspective.


NICHOLS: Perspective, indeed.

And you know, it was pretty interesting when the air-conditioning broke during game one here last night. As other players struggled, Ray Allen, crediting that obsessive preparation and diet, said he felt just fine. All right. You're going to want to stick around. When we come

back, I will talk to one of the greatest players of all time. The Admiral, David Robinson. He's now a minority owner here with the Spurs, and he has some strong opinions.


DAVID ROBINSON, MINORITY OWNER, THE SPURS: The league has to protect its reputation. They do it with players. They have to do it with owners, too. And as an owner, I'm 100 percent fine with that.



NICHOLS: I'm Rachel Nichols, and welcome back to our NBA finals edition of UNGUARDED, where we're coming to you tonight from the San Antonio Spurs' practice gym.

One of the biggest superstars to ever come through here, David Robinson, a ten-time all-star who won two NBA titles and two Olympic gold medals, one as a member of the historic Dream Team. And as he and I discussed, his post-playing career hasn't been too bad either.


NICHOLS: Well, as we sit here and watch the Spurs try to win another title, it's hard not to think about the title you won and then walked off the court. I mean...


NICHOLS: This is supposedly the athlete's ultimate dream, right? To walk away and retire a champion. We hear that a lot. Does it actually make it easier?

ROBINSON: Yes. It's amazing. It's a great, great experience. And especially since you work through your whole career, you're trying to build up to that one great moment. It is kind of the ultimate achievement. And it's a nice way to walk out.

NICHOLS: A lot of athletes have trouble retiring.

ROBINSON: Yes, the first year or two after you retire, it's real difficult, because you don't -- there's no place you can get that same kind of energy level. There's nothing in your life that gives you that type of instant feedback. You've got a job, but everything moves slowly. So there's a lot of excitement that you miss and a lot of intensity.

This is what transforming education looks like.

NICHOLS: This next phase of your life has been largely about the kids that you work with through the schools that you've started.

ROBINSON: Yes. NICHOLS: You've spent more than $10 million into schools.

You've got four or five schools going now, on your way to 20?

ROBINSON: When I was back in D.C. at Naval Academy, we used to go to all the schools in the D.C. and Maryland area with the Police Athletic League and talk to them and say, "Say no to drugs" and all that stuff.

But a lot of those kids were in situations where, you know, drugs was the only way they saw out of their neighborhood. And, well, say yes to what? You know, you're not giving them a great option.

And so when I came back, I said, well, let's -- let's start right now, giving these kids a better option. And it's been fairly successful.

So who's your favorite Spur player?


ROBINSON: Oh, Tony Parker. Why do you like him? Because he's fast? And he's handsome?

NICHOLS: You do still get to be a part of the league. You're a minority owner in the Spurs.

ROBINSON: Right. That's right.

NICHOLS: It's an interesting time to be an owner right now in the NBA.

ROBINSON: It is. It's been very interesting. Both good and bad.

NICHOLS: What did you think when the Donald Sterling recording surfaced and that exploded?

ROBINSON: Well, I thought it was obviously a huge negative for the league. I thought Adam Silver did a great job responding very quickly, kind of getting ahead of all of the speculation and all the foolishness that surrounds that.

But the league has to protect its reputation. They do it with players. They have to do it with owners, too. And as an owner, I'm 100 percent fine with that. I think we need to understand that the things we do reflect on this NBA.

NICHOLS: And you've been very outspoken against bigotry. Not just racism, but homophobia. It's a very key time for that in sports right now. We had Jason Collins. He's the first gay player -- openly gay player in the NBA, Michael Sams...


NICHOLS: ... who's coming into the NFL. What do you think about the way the environment and things have changed since you were playing?

RICHARDSON: I truly don't think that it matters to most players. You know, when you're out there, you're not thinking about, you know, what this guy's sexual orientation is. Nobody really cares.

You know, are we getting this job done? Can I trust you? Those are the bottom line questions that you ask your teammates. And if those answers are yes, then, you know, shoot, it doesn't matter what their preference is.

I think if your -- if your heart is right, you know, you handle things with the appropriate response. Right now, we're just so sensitive to everything. I think politics has made us that way. You know, you can't even talk politics you go places now. We have trouble having intelligent discussions now, because people, you know, get overly upset about different things. But if you disagree, it's fine to disagree. Just disagree and respect one another and move on.

NICHOLS: Are you amazed at the state of politics right now? Is it something you spend a lot of time thinking about?

ROBINSON: Well, yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about it, because our nation puts so much in our politicians' hands to solve our problems. And if our politicians are crippled or nonfunctional, then we're not going to make a lot of headway. And that's kind of what's happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A verdict from the American people. And it can be summed up into three words. Worst Congress ever.

ROBINSON: We've got this national debt. We've got this, you know, all these different issues socially. And we've got a political system that's struggling to even make decisions, to get things done.

NICHOLS: Well, you've already served your country once in the Navy. Why don't you run for office?

ROBINSON: I mean, people have said that to me, but I really don't have an interest. Especially at this point. I've got kids in high school. I love being at home. I love being a dad and a husband, and that's what I'm going to do until they -- until they don't want me around anymore.


NICHOLS: I don't know. David's youngest son is already in high school. We're going to have to see about that political career.

All right. Coming up next, we've got the latest on California Chrome's attempt at a historic Triple Crown.

And later in the show, our own Morgan Spurlock is going to put his body on the line to give us the inside story on college sports.





NICHOLS: Welcome back to UNGUARDED. I'm Rachel Nichols.

We're on location here at the NBA finals where the Heat and Spurs are battling for the NBA championship. But tomorrow in New York, the competition will be for a very different kind of title. California Chrome is trying to become the first horse in nearly four decades to win the Triple Crown. Richard Roth brings us the story of his journey.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The year was 1978. Gas was 63 cents a gallon. "Grease" was the word. And Affirmed was the horse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Affirmed's got a nose in front as they come under teh wire.

ROTH: Affirmed won horse racing's most prestigious prize, the Triple Crown. At the time, winning the Triple Crown seemed easy. Secretariat was one of three horses in five years to take the Triple Crown.

However, it's been 36 years since a horse won the Triple Crown. That's the longest gap ever between crown winners. Only 11 horses have done it since 1919.

Now it's 2014, and California Chrome could be the horse. A Triple Crown is made up of three elite races. He took the first leg on the first Saturday in May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: California Chrome shines bright in the Kentucky Derby!

ROTH: And then triumphed two weeks later in the second jewel in the crown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: California Chrome has won the Preakness!

ROTH: The Belmont Stakes in New York is the final hurdle before Triple Crown glory.

(on camera): You expect him to win Saturday?

STEVE COBURN, CO-OWNER, CALIFORNIA CHROME: Yes, I do. Yes, I expect him to win Saturday. I really do.

ROTH (voice-over): Three-year-old racehorses face challenges to bring home the crown.

JERRY BAILY, FORMER JOCKEY: So you have to have speed to win the Derby and the Preakness and stamina to win the Belmont. And usually, it's very rare to have that packaged in one horse.

ROTH: The Belmont is called the test of a champion because of its rare 1 1/2 mile distance to cover. In 1998, Real Quiet looked like a Triple Crown winner, but Victory Gallup closed in fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be very close. Here's the wire! It's so close to call!

ROTH (on camera): Here at the finish line at Belmont, the frustration has grown every year. Since 1997, seven different horses have been on the verge of winning the Triple Crown, but something went wrong.

(voice-over): In 2008, Big Brown was a big brownout as the heavy favorite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Big Brown is plummeting.

ROTH: Two years ago, I'll Have Another didn't even start the race, withdrawn the day before with physical ailments.

California Chrome cleaned up nicely preparing for his Belmont. He was breathing easier after Belmont OKed use of nasal strips and competing owners had no objection.

Chrome had been compared to Sea Biscuit, the underdog superstar of the 1930s. There is a bit of a rags to riches aura since the mother of California Chrome was purchased for a meager $8,000.

ART SHERMAN, CO-OWNER, CALIFORNIA CHROME: We could win the Triple Crown, it would be a dream come true for me.

ROTH: The horse racing industry has been battered for decades by gambling competition and changing entertainment tastes.

CHRISTOPHER KAY, CEO, NYRA: If California Chrome wins, I think it will bring a whole new generation of fans to this great sport.


ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, at Belmont Park, New York.


NICHOLS: Wow. What a horse. And it's supposed to be a beautiful, sunny day at the track tomorrow. A great chance to see some history.

All right. After this break, I am going in search of our award- winning documentarian, Morgan Spurlock. Others have reported on the state of college athletics, but Morgan actually lived it. You are going to want to see this. I promise.


NICHOLS: Welcome back to UNGUARDED. I'm Rachel Nichols, and we jumped into the studio so I can visit with Oscar-nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock.

Every Sunday here on CNN, Morgan's show, "INSIDE MAN," gives you the feeling of what it's like to actually participate in all kinds of aspects of American life. And this week, he's looking at college athletes and whether they should be paid. As usual, he's willing to suffer for his art. Take a peek.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morgan, you all right? You all right?

SPURLOCK: I'm all right. I'm all right.


SPURLOCK: Got tingling down my arm. But I'm all right. I'm going to feel that in the morning.

(voice-over): And probably for many mornings after that, as well.

(on camera): I got clocked. Got hit so hard. Got knocked flat on my backside. Birds flying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morgan, you all right?


NICHOLS: Welcoming in Morgan now. And Morgan, I'm just going to say it, that looked like it hurt.

SPURLOCK: Just when you think, you know, you have some athletic ability, that you're not too old, you know, along come some guys like this to absolutely prove you wrong.

NICHOLS: Absolutely. That video was of you embedding yourself with the Ole Miss football team.


NICHOLS: And what did spending time in literally those players' actual shoes tell you and teach you that you wouldn't have known, just as a sports fan.

SPURLOCK: Well, I mean, I think for me, the biggest thing that it shows you is that the idea of being a student athlete, I think, is actually flipped. I mean, when you come to being student athlete, especially in the NCAA and at that level of being a player, you are actually an athlete first. You are an athlete student. You know, athleticism dominates your time in college, and it dominates your time at the university.

NICHOLS: And you delve into this issue of payment. For people who aren't as well versed in the big issues at play, what would you break down as the main things they should know? SPURLOCK: I think the biggest thing is that, you know, players

-- a large group of players now who were saying that the NCAA and colleges themselves are making millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, some schools. And the players are saying, "Shouldn't we be able to get a piece of that on some level?" Not -- they're not saying, "We should actually get paid," but how else can you incentivize these players to basically benefit from all the money the schools are making?

NICHOLS: Yes. And you had an interesting discussion with a bunch of the Ole Miss players about this. I want to take a look at this clip here.



SPURLOCK: So what do you guys think of what DTR and I were talking about, being in college and making ends meet and everybody saying that, you know, now is the time when we should start paying college athletes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NCAA, this is a multi-billion-dollar industry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We draw in the crowd. How much are y'all making off us? I mean, it has to be some kind of way where we're fairly compensated.

SPURLOCK: But then people say, you are getting paid. You're getting an education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, we're playing the game. We're tearing our knees. We're messing up our shoulders. That's us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting the education, that helps, but think about it. I had two knee surgeries. Who knows what type of effects I might have later on in life? You know what I mean? As far as walking, might need a cane. And I feel like, if they take care of people in the NFL after they retire, we should be getting taken care of also after we graduate, too.

SPURLOCK: So you guys are saying, things should change. Where should that change come from? Should that change come from, like, the university? Should that change come from the NCAA? Should that change come from players? Who's the person that should lead the charge in making that happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NCAA rule all. They rule all, but there's power in numbers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what, first game of the season. If us and Boise State came together as players and decided not to play the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It'll be a riot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It'd be crazy. We have more control than we think we have.


NICHOLS: All right. So that's pretty fascinating. Them discussing the power they have just to walk off the field. And that touches on this idea of unionizing, which is, of course, something that already a quarterback of Northwestern University has moved to do. Do you think that's the right approach here?

SPURLOCK: I mean, I think that the NCAA has to realize they have the ability to really control this conversation, to control the narrative. And they have the ability to kind of switch these -- switch this in a way that is both beneficial for them, for colleges and for the players. I think they need to actively engage this.

And they can't ignore it. I mean, players are at the point now where they do realize they have power. They do realize they have influence. That's what happened at Northwestern. And if they don't nip it in the bud, it's going to be -- it's going to be a bigger issue in the next year or two. Where we take these kids to college, where they are getting

scholarships, while the universities are making so much money. I think that it's something that's important that we have to address. If you had 15,000 guys playing that are playing college football, 250 of them are going to get to go to the pros. You know, there's 14,750 of them that are not. Or some of them will get to go to camp. These guys are going to have lifelong injuries. They could have lifelong health problems as a result of playing in college. Who's going to take care of the medical bills when they're gone? The university's going to keep making money, what's going to happen to them? So for me, it's like you have to figure out this balance, and you have to figure out a way to both educate and to take care of these guys.

NICHOLS: Yes. And by the way, the guys that do make it in the NFL, that's a three or five-year career.

SPURLOCK: If they're lucky.

NICHOLS: So there's an aftermath for them, as well. It's a big topic. Absolutely.

Well, Morgan thank you. There is still much more ground to cover in this topic. I cannot wait for everyone to see your whole show. "INSIDE MAN: airs this Sunday at" at 10 p.m. And that's going to be it for to our show. But you can follow me

on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or find us at the Web at CNN.COM/unguarded. And you can join us next Friday night, right back here on UNGUARDED, where the end of the game is just the start of the story.