As part of a new installment on the site, we’ll check in periodically with former University of Washington and current Portland State University basketball player Phil Nelson, a close friend of the site. One of the more interesting individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, Nelson will offer insight to the world of college athletics, as well as provide commentary on current events in the world of sports.
In our first interview, we unveil the real Phil Nelson, talk Jersey Shore, find out if college recruiting is all that He Got Game has made it out to be, and discover the reason behind the ex-Husky’s departure from UW three years ago. Check it out…
Seattle Sportsnet: You’re a 6’8″ small forward that bears a striking resemblance to a gangly Sam Bradford. If you had to describe yourself to Helen Keller, assuming that Helen Keller is still blind and deaf, how would you describe yourself?
Phil Nelson: Well, 6’8″ is a stretch. I am actually 6’7” and 3/4. I have long, very fit arms that feel as soft as a new velour jumpsuit but also as hard as a walnut. Also, thick black hair that resembles an Indian by the name of Chuckmuckalo. If you have ever seen a ficus then you would see a part of me in it. My friends call me “Jumping Ficus.” Some people tell me that I look like a younger John Travolta.
SSN: John Travolta’s pretty freaky looking right now, kinda looks like he wears a lot of makeup. Do you plan on wearing makeup in your later years to preserve your looks?
PN: I would think that’s normal, since he has been my biggest idol since I was a kid. If wearing makeup will make me as cool as him, then sign me up and throw it on me.
SSN: So you’re a fan of the movie Wild Hogs then?
PN: Oh, of course. Wearing makeup and leather is something that only a few people can pull off and he sure does that. I don’t know how many people in the world today are able to provide such stunning features.
SSN: Good point. Okay, moving on. On your Portland State basketball profile you list one of your hobbies as sleeping. How would you say that sleeping has helped you through life?
PN: People are always talking about how stressed they are and how they’re always tired. Well one way of not being so stressed is to sleep. And if you’re tired, then sleep. If you sleep a lot, then what is there to be stressed about? And how are you supposed to be tired if you are sleeping?
SSN: Those are all valid points. I never thought of sleeping in that way before.
PN: It has always worked for me.
SSN: Of course I have to ask you this then. Would you say that you were asleep for most of the games you played against Washington during your time at Portland State?
PN: Well, this past year I kind of wish I was asleep. Maybe if [those games] were in my dreams we would have put up a better fight (laughing).
SSN: Fair enough. Next question. A while back I wrote an article comparing a handful of UW basketball players to cast members on Jersey Shore. You’re a big fan of Jersey Shore. You’re also a former Husky. So which cast member do you see yourself as? I see you as a combination of Snooki and Vinnie, but that’s just me. Your thoughts.
PN: I can kind of see that in me now. I got the looks of Vinnie, and the swag and attitude of a male Snooki. When I have a nice clean cut with some shades on, me and Vinnie are almost identical. Besides the fact that I am probably a good foot-and-a-half taller than him and her put together.
SSN: I just looked up their bios. Vinnie stands 3’8″ and Snooki is 1’0″. So you’re only one foot taller than their combined heights, but still, very close. (Pause for thought) I mean two feet, my bad. That’s my education right there.
PN: (Laughing) Damn UW education. Should have went to PSU.
SSN: (Taking my own mathematical failings in stride) Speaking of PSU, what would you say is better about your current school than your old one? And likewise, what did you like better about UW that PSU lacks? I’ve heard the women at PSU are more apt to transmit exotic viral strains that aren’t found in the Seattle area, but that might just be a vicious rumor.
PN: PSU is a nice campus and is right in the heart of Portland, which is a good and bad thing. There is always somewhere to go, and there is always something to do, but it is just surrounded by [a lot of] people. People who go to school and others who don’t. The gym is a little bit smaller here…well, okay, it is like a ninth the size of Hec Ed, but [our fans] still get loud in it. I miss a lot of things about UW. The atmosphere of a Pac-10 school, with a supporting cast that makes sure you have everything you need to succeed. As for the girls around here, I don’t know what to tell you about that (laughing).
SSN: I see that according to your Facebook profile, you are currently married to a girl from PSU. I assume only the best possible things about her. As someone who is not currently married, please enlighten me as to what married life is like for you these days.
PN: Being married is not exactly all it seems to be. Keeping someone happy for 24 hours a day is a job in its own right, which is another reason that I like to keep sleeping [as much as I do]. If I’m asleep, then there is no possible way that I can do anything wrong. [Marriage] does have its upside though. If the wife can cook, then it makes things much easier. It’s almost like having home-cooked meals all the time without my mom cooking it.
SSN: That’s a fair assessment that might result in you getting your ass kicked by your alleged wife. Anyways, at least you get action whenever you want. I assume you’re no Tim Tebow.
PN: No. I am actually not like [Tebow] in that sense. To be honest, I don’t feel that I have anything in common with him.
SSN: That’s good, because Tim Tebow sucks. And sucking is something most of us try to avoid.
SSN: Speaking of getting laid, lately I’ve been writing a lot about the recruiting process in college basketball. Most fans are aware that some shady sh*t goes down when schools recruit a big-name player out of high school. You were a big-name guy coming out of Oregon’s McNary High School. Take us through your recruiting process and let us into that world for a moment. Is it everything that He Got Game makes it out to be? Did you get to hang with Rick Fox? Were you locked in a room with two naked chicks? Let’s hear about it.
PN: Man, the first time I saw that movie I was thinking to myself, “If anything, I need to get good [at basketball] in order to hook up with chicks like that on recruiting trips.” So from there on out, I had that motivating me. There were a ton of girls on recruiting trips, but I was never put in a room with two girls calling me “Jesus.” If that would have happened, I would have committed right then and there.
SSN: Interesting. I guess maybe more schools should take that approach to recruiting then.
PN: I think they were until it became illegal.
SSN: Tell that to John Calipari. I’m sure every UK recruit gets a run at Ashley Judd.
PN: I should have taken a visit there.
SSN: Yeah, you should have. I hear they’re a real class operation over at Kentucky. Anyways, take us through some crazy stuff that went down on your recruiting trips to various places. I recall that my girlfriend booed you on your official visit to Washington. She assumed you were with the Oregon Ducks at the time, but we later found out that wasn’t the case. I’ve heard stories about kids getting taken to strip clubs and stuff like that. So I know something good must have gone down for you. And don’t feel obligated to name any names or schools. We don’t need anyone getting sanctioned by the NCAA.
PN: Yeah, there were a few good times on the visits. I remember on one of the visits it was a Saturday night and I had to fly out early the next morning. But [at the time] I wasn’t ready to go in for the night, so the boys got all the cheerleaders to come over and play beach volleyball at three in the morning. I mean, that’s not all that happened but you get the point. (Pause) And by beach volleyball, I mean like we were actually at a beach and they were all in little bikinis and stuff.
SSN: Oh, okay. I was thinking beach volleyball might be code for something freaky I’m not yet aware of.
PN: There’s more [to the story, but] I figure I gotta keep it PG.
SSN: Yeah, that’s understandable. I’m pretty sure like one or two kids read this site and we don’t need them going to their parents and asking them about where babies come from or anything. It’s always best to leave stuff to the imagination anyways. I’m sure those girls were just impressed by your volleyball skills.
PN: My volleyball skills are amazing. I might take that up after I’m done with basketball and acting.
SSN: Look man, you’re gonna have to put on some weight if you want to get your porn career off the ground. So don’t get your hopes up about acting just yet. They have standards in that industry. (Pause) You’ll also have to wax your pubes.
PN: I have put on 20-plus pounds, so what do you have to say now? I’m sitting at a comfortable 235.
SSN: I’d say you better hit up InSpa and get the rest of your sh*t taken care of. I hear Brazilians are painful.
PN: I like pain.
SSN: You’ll fit right into porn then, I suppose. I mean, certain aspects of porn at least. But we don’t need to go into details. For the kids’ sake. Okay, final question.
SSN: I feel like you kind of get a bad rap from Husky fans who don’t know the “real” Phil Nelson. You left UW after one year, and it was a relatively unsuccessful year for the team as a whole. As a result, people in Seattle don’t really care too much for you anymore. I know you still have a place in your heart for Seattle, so let me give you an opportunity to speak to the fans around here for a minute and let them know why you left and how you feel about them.
PN: People think that I really wanted to leave the Huskies, but in all reality I still pay attention to every game and see how they are doing. I still have great conversations with Coach Romar and he will always be a great coach to me. I can only wish the best for him and the team. I had a few family problems while I was [at Washington] and decided that it would be best if I returned closer to home to where I was able to help out and be closer to the ones who have supported me since before I was a basketball player. I miss everything about that school, [and especially] the fans that did support me while I was there. I just want them to know I did not leave for any specific reasons, besides the fact that I needed to be closer to home.
Join us in a couple weeks as we continue our Ball For Real series with Phil Nelson. And if you made it through that entire crazy-ass interview without stopping, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.