4-time NBA champion delivers speech at Fox Valley Technical College


You’ve got to get out and experience life. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. That’s what John Salley will tell you. That’s what he told people at Fox Valley Technical College on Thursday night as part of FVTC’s 2012-13 Speaker Series, Postcrescent reported.

“Happiness is a choice,” the former NBA star said. “This is the only life you have. I’m from the project on the east side of Brooklyn. Most of my friends got murdered before I was 25. Adversity and bad things. I’ve seen them.”

Faced with that, many would think there’s not much that’s good about this world.

“It didn’t stop me from being happy,” the four-time NBA champion said. “That was that. This is this. Everything is black and white, night and day, good and bad, ugly and not ugly, fat, thin, sexy, unsexy. I’m on the sexy side. I just know there’s a counter to everything. God needs a devil. I’d rather be on God’s side. It’s a positive thought.”

That attitude has led Salley down many paths.

Salley, who looks like he could still play the game, has gotten involved in one particular charitable venture that you can tell is dear to his heart. It’s Operation Smile, an international children’s charity that provides reconstructive surgeries on children born with facial deformities.

“I was with Joe Simpson, Jessica Simpson’s dad,” said Salley when he attended an Operation Smile event. “Jess was on stage doing her thing. I looked around and asked, ‘How do I get involved in this.’ ”

Salley started doing his standup comedy at Operation Smile events, hosting the events and for the past seven years has been an ambassador for the organization.

“It’s not just for name recognition,” he said. “It’s because you want to see someone smile. A smile can change the life of anybody. You walk into a room of people and you’re new to it and somebody smiles at you. That makes you relax. It only costs $25 per person to give a kid a smile.”

Salley, who is a wellness advocate, encourages everyone to eat properly.

“I encourage everybody to eat human food, meaning animals are predators,” he said. “Humans are not predators. But people go, ‘Yeah, man, that’s why you have those two canines (teeth).’ Let’s see what happens if you bite the back of a cow and see if your two canines work. You don’t have what a wolf has. I also realized that the more I convince people to eat a plant-based diet, I save lives. Not only human lives but animal lives. The Bible says, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ It didn’t say, ‘Thou shall not kill humans.’ There’s no reason to kill an animal. Nothing should die so I can live better.”

The 6-foot-11 gentleman has been in front of the camera a lot.

How did that happen? Like everything else in Salley’s life, it goes back to keeping those positive thoughts going.

“I wouldn’t let anybody else choose it for me,” Salley said. “You can’t tell me I can’t do something. You can tell me that but I’m not going to listen. Just not. Not going to listen.”

Salley, who has hosted “Basketball Wives,” “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” “The Car Show” and his own talk show “Game On” would rather keep thinking about why he should try something rather than why not.

“You’re too tall to be an actor,” he said he has been told. “Fourteen movies. You can’t be in a sitcom. Sixteen sitcoms. I don’t care what somebody tells me I can’t do. I tell you what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it and when I’m going to do it. It’s the only life I’ve got. Frank Sinatra said that it’s the only life you have. You only live once. Do it right.”

Salley spent 11 years in the NBA, appearing in 748 games (228 started), averaging 7 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 1.3 bpg in 22 minutes of playing time. He has won championships with Detroit Pistons (twice, 88-89, 89-90), with Chicago Bulls (95-96), and Los Angeles Lakers (99-00).

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