Two-time NBA champ tells his story to Joe Arlauckas
Although he has reached some of the greatest heights in basketball, Norris Cole's conversation with Joe Arlauckas on the newest edition of The Crossover podcast always comes back to family.
The current LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne point guard and team leader grew up playing four different sports, but his father, a nuclear medical technician, and his mother, an accountant, made it clear that education came first and gave their son the tools to succeed, like teaching him time management at an early age.
00:03:02 "I took care of the things that my parents demanded that I take care of first, and I was efficient with it," Cole recounted. "I made good grades and spent my time wisely doing what they asked me to do, and so I had leisure time to do extra sports."
The young Cole excelled not only in basketball, but also in baseball, American football, and track and field, as a long jumper. Another lesson along the way was how to handle losing, and it was taught to him by his father after Cole came home with an "attitude" following a bad game:
00:12:27 "He just flat out told me, 'Hey man, don't be mad at us. You had a bad game. You're still going to eat tonight. You've still got a bed to sleep in. You've still got clothes. We're gonna love you anyway, so don't come home with no attitude after no loss.' And after that day, I never felt pressure to have to perform well, because they were gonna love me anyway."
Eventually, in his last year of high school, Cole had to choose, and surprisingly, basketball wasn't the sport for which more universities requested him.
00:07:57 "I always knew in my heart that I was gonna be a pro at something, I just didn't know what," Cole said. "And it came down between basketball and football. And I was reasonable. I loved playing basketball. I liked football, but I loved basketball. I was willing to do all the sacrifices necessary to play basketball."
After four years of getting better and better at Cleveland State University, Cole was drafted into the NBA, where he landed on a storied Miami Heat team that proceeded to win the NBA title in his first two seasons. Playing alongside future Hall of Famers LeBron James and Dwayne Wade taught Cole a lot about how to be a pro.
00:39:58 "LeBron knows that he's blessed with certain gifts, but he don't take those gifts for granted," Cole said. "He's the most disciplined individual that I've ever seen with my own two eyes. "
After five full NBA seasons and one in China, Cole joined the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with Maccabi Tel Aviv and has since been back in the competition with both Buducnost VOLI Podgorica and now ASVEL. What impressed him from the start was how not only every game counts in the EuroLeague, but every possession.
00:58:02 "The margin for error is so slim in the EuroLeague," Col said. "It's not 32 teams; it's only 17 [other] teams, so you know you don't have a lot of room for error. It definitely makes for more intense competition on the night-in and night-out basis."
Now, Cole feels that his experience can help ASVEL reach its dream under team president Tony Parker of firmly establishing its place among the EuroLeague elite.
01:03:55 "You can definitely feel that something special is coming down the pipeline," Cole said. “I wasn't here last year, but I know Tony, and Tony is a guy that's gonna be doing things in a first-class way."
Even since coming overseas, Cole keeps his heart close to where he grew up in Dayton, Ohio. His Norris Cole Foundation is dedicated to encouraging academic achievement, health and well-being, community service and leadership development among the youth of his hometown.
1:10:07 "Other than education, inspiration is the biggest thing you can do for a kid," Cole said, "because if you spark that fire, they'll do the rest."
With a one-hour format of exclusive one-on-one interviews, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas goes well beyond the playing court with each podcast to delve into the life experiences that have made his guests protagonists and legends of the EuroLeague. The Crossover debuted in 2018 and has featured such current stars as Toko Shengelia, Shane Larkin and Kyle Hines, coaching greats such as Ettore Messina, Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Theo Papaloukas, Nikola Vujcic and Mike Batiste, among others. The first guests in Season 3 were FC Bayern Munich Coach Andrea Trinchieri, Zalgiris Kaunas star Marius Grigonis, Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos Piraeus and CSKA Moscow assistant coach Darryl Middleton. Pangos is the seventh guest for the 2020-21 season.
The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on Youtube, iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, Deezer, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, CastBox, iVoox and other platforms.