Josh Powell is best known for playing alongside Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles from 2008-2010 where he won two championships, but his career and journey is deeper than that. Powell had stints with seven different NBA teams and has played overseas in countries like Russia, Italy, Argentina, Greece, Puerto Rico, China, the Philippines, Australia, and Venezuela.
Just as in the NBA, Powell had success in the EuroLeague—he won a championship there with Olympiacos in 2013. After a brief stint with the Houston Rockets in 2014, Powell joined the team’s coaching staff as an assistant for the 2014-15 season, then returned to play basketball overseas until 2017. Powell is now the co-captain of the BIG3’s ‘Killer 3’s’ team and is back in the United States doing what he loves.
On Thursday, September 19, 2019, Powell sat down with CourtsideBuzz.com’s Mikey Domagala for a 25-minute segment on Domagala’s show ‘Inside Buzz With Mikey Domagala.’
Powell discussed his basketball journey, his foundation ’21 Reasons Why,’ the BIG3, Kobe Bryant, the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony, and much more.
The entire Q+A script from the interview:
Domagala (Q): You may be the definition of a basketball journeyman, tell me about the journey.
Powell: (A): “I just have one of those paths where I was blessed and had opportunities, a lot of ups and downs. I pushed hard and worked even harder. I didn’t allow things to stop. I’m thankful that god used me in the way that he did.”
Domagala (Q): What was most appealing about the BIG3 when you first heard about it? What made you join?
Powell: (A): “For me, I finished playing after my 17th year, so, [it was] a way for me to be involved in the game, to still compete at a high level. It’s a new league and being a part of something new league getting off the ground. And, the fact that you’re able to play in the States again and be around family and loved ones, I just had so many different reasons as to why I was very intrigued about the BIG3 league.”
Domagala (Q): Your team was in the championship game against Joe Johnson and the ‘Triplets,’ can you tell me about that game?
Powell: (A): “It was a great, great game. Great atmosphere. The biggest thing is just seeing the amount of support and the people who came out. The BIG3 is gaining momentum as each game goes [on]. Obviously, to play in the Staples Center for the championship game and being in that environment was very exciting. I felt like we [Killer 3’s] gave one away. Salute to the ‘Triplets’ on what they were able to accomplish. Definitely no hate there at all. I don’t have any hate in my blood, period. I just felt like we came up short, kinda gave one away, and ran out of gas. It was great… we competed and had a fun game. Amazing being back at Staples. I definitely enjoyed it.”
Domagala (Q): What’s next for the BIG3?
Powell: (A): “I know that they’re working on doing some things overseas, and trying to figure out whether it’s China or other countries they’re trying to bring it to. It’s a waiting game to see how those details work out. At the end of the day, it’s exciting. Season four is coming up and I know they’re working hard. I’m sure the pool of players is going to be crazier. It’s an exciting league and I’m glad to be a a part of it. I look forward to see what cities we’re gonna be in next year; where the championship game’s gonna be at. Aim for that goal.”
Domagala (Q): A few weeks ago, Joe Johnson was signed [by Detroit], last year Xavier Silas was signed by the Boston Celtics on a 10-day contract. Do you see more and more players making a stop in the BIG3 then back to the NBA?
Powell: (A): “I don’t see why not. It’s a good level of basketball. I don’t see why guys can’t get oppurtunity and being a part of the BIG3 and playing on those stages. [Ice] Cube, Jeff [Kwatinetz], Clyde [Drexler], and those guys are giving opportunities to guys to showcase what they can do, and you’ll never know what can come from that.”
Domagala (Q): “What was it like playing with Kobe Bryant?”
Powell: (A): “Man, it was an amazing experience. One of the biggest things I picked up from him was his attention to detail. You know he works his a** off, you know he brings that mentality to the game, but I think what people don’t [know] is the fact that he pays attention to detail and that’s why he’s had the success he’s had. He breaks down the game offensively, defensively; he’s looking for the schemes, how he can get his teammates involved, how he can get a bucket. Things to him that are no problem to do, but the reasons behind that is his knowledge of the game and how he attacks and looks at the game of basketball.
These are some of the things I learned and I picked up from just being in that type of pedigree of basketball and around those players and Phil Jackson and his staff. It helps you elevate your game to a new level.”
Domagala (Q): To tie Kobe into the BIG3… if he were to join the BIG3, what would that mean for the league and how would he do?
Powell: (A): “He’s one of those guys you wouldn’t put it past him to drop all 50. I think it would be great [for the league]. It’s different because it’s half court basketball. A lot of people think it’s a lot easier than what it looks like, but you’re on an island. You gotta be able to defend. There’s only three [people] out there, the floor is bigger, it’s a lot more spread out. You gotta be able to do a couple of things right, outside of just scoring the basketball.
Domagala (Q): Every former teammate of Kobe has a story whether it’s good, bad, or crazy. You got anything for me? Anything juicy?
Powell: (A): “Sh**. I think you’ve heard them all. From going out, drinking and being out all night, to knocking on the doors at four in the morning. One summer I spent working out with him at four in the morning [and] it was a great experience. The things that I learned. First of all, getting up at that time of the morning to go work on your craft shows a different level of dedication and hunger for the game. Before I started that with him, I was actually doing 6AM workouts. So, I’m thinking I’m doing my thing, but when I was on the court with him, we were in that thing at four. You hear so many stories from different players, from teammates, [but] I don’t have anything. It’s just great to have played with him and be on the floor with him and be a part of that greatness. I was very thankful for those two years.”
Domagala (Q): Out of those championships teams, who do you still keep in contact with? Do you still keep in contact with LaMar [Odom]?
Powell: (A): “Yea, he has. Yea, LaMar, Shannon [Brown], DJ Mbenga. You just run across guys here and there and it’s always good to catch up. Some of the trainers and even the equipment guy. You get a chance to connect and vibe with so many different people from those years. Families and kids are all over the place, so when you can catch up with those people, it’s cool.”
Domagala (Q): How would one of those [Lakers] championship teams do today? Would they be in the running for a championship
Powell: (A): “I think we can play in today’s game. I don’t see anything that’s different because Phoenix [back then] was that team that everybody is now. They were doing that with a Hall of Fame point guard [Steve Nash] and then you got ‘The Matrix’ [Shawn Marion], you got [Amare] Stoudemire, [Leandro] Barbosa coming off the bench. It was just nonstop. They’re putting up 100-something [points] night. It wasn’t like there weren’t a few teams doing that. I just felt like we had different lineups and different ways to not only attack you, but to defend you as well. That’s why we were so dangerous for those two years.”
Domagala (Q): As you were teammates with Kobe, would he ever bring up his beef with Shaq? Would he ever go ‘you’re not working out, you’re like Shaq. Would he ever lay that out there.
Powell: (A): “I didn’t get that. But, internally, within himself, after the comments he made after the 4th [ring] and then with the 5th [ring], for him, he has his own mental games he plays within himself, but he was locked in after how things turned out against Boston, so he was just locked in and trying to get things going.”
Domagala (Q): You’ve played in so many different leagues across so many different countries, how was that journey and how was learning all of those laguages?
Powell: (A): “Amazing journey. And I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to travel the world the way that I did and be a part of so many traditions and cultures. I was able to pick up a couple of languages. Just things that helped me on a deeper level as a person, as far as my development and my growth spiritually and everything else. I was able to travel the word doing something that I love to do. I got the best of both worlds and the environments and the atmospheres in the games are definitely a lot different too. My kids and family was able to experience going to Greece, Australia, and China. Those are things that are not only great memories, but they can be life changing for people to be able to experience those things. I’m beyond grateful for my journey in the States as well as overseas.”
Domagala (Q): In 2009 you founded ’21 Reasons to Give,’ a platform that provides outreach and resources to children and people in the urban community. Tell me about that and some recent events and stuff you’d held for it.
Powell: (A): “I came up with something where I wanted to be able to touch people all over, and [to] not just focus on one thing in particular, so that’s why it’s ’21 Reasons to Give’ with 21 different principles. Most of my time [now] is spent mentoring with a group called ‘Next Level Boys Academy.’ The leader of that group is a gentleman named Gary Davis. It’s a diversion program, so it’s used to help young men. He’s doing great work in the city. We just went into a school to talk to kids and I’m real passionate about his movement and what he’s doing. I’m just trying to help in any way I can.
We’ve been able to do all kinds of things, from camps, to speaking engagements, to feeding families, to Christmas’, to back to school drives. I’ve done ‘Dream Night’ at Zoo Atlanta, where I rented out the zoo for three, four hours for terminally ill kids and their families, providing them with a way to get out of the hospital and enjoy a night of being a child and to not be around doctors, medicine and things like that. Just things that are passionate to my heart. I know how I grew up, I know the things that I went through. I’m just beyond grateful that I have the chance to use my platform and be able to do those types of things. It’s even better when I get to bring my kids along for the ride to show them those things so they’re humble and doing the right things in life as young men and young women. These are the types of things that help them learn and give them some good life tools as they get older and progress in the world.”
Domagala (Q): Where’s the foundation based out of?
Powell: (A): “It’s in Atlanta, but we’ve done things everywhere and internationally too. I was just telling a story that when I was in Venezuela, I went into a village and got money in cash and went to the grocery store and got groceries, water, supplies, medicine, to give back into this village. It’s humbling experiences like that to see kids and what these parents and other families are going through. We think we’re struggling and [there’s] nine, ten-year-old kids that don’t have clothes on their bodies. They’re naked. They’re sleeping in shells. No furniture, just floors. Those things are really humbling. I’m just trying to do my purpose to serve people and communities. That’s something I’m passionate about, something god put heavenly on my heart.”
Domagala (Q): You were in Houston as a player, then you were on the coaching staff. What do you expect from James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and the Rockets this season?
Powell: (A): “They’re gonna be top three offensively and [they have] an exciting brand of basketball. The thing with Houston is, ‘can we get over that hump? I think for them guys getting over the hump and it’ll be interesting seeing what they do defensively and also how James and Russell will be able to distribute and run the offense with the both of them together.”
Domagala (Q): How do you feel about people comparing James Harden to Kobe Bryant as scorers?
Powell: (A): “I mean, James has done the work to put himself in that conversation. Kobe doing something for years and years, I just think it’ll be exciting to see James when it’s all said and done. He’s an unbelievable offensive weapon, the different ways he scores the basketball, how he can dominate the game; you can’t deny that. I can’t do nothing but take my hat off to him and what he’s doing and obviously the hard work he’s put in.”
Domagala (Q): Lakers or Clippers finishing with the better record?
Powell: (A): “Man, that’s going to be interesting because even though with the Clippers, again, defensively on paper, that’s beyond crazy. Patrick Beverley, Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George at the 1-2-3. Defensively that’s going to be another level. As far as the Lakers are concerned, when you look at the matchups and different sorts of lineups they can throw out there, that’ll be scary. If Anthony [Davis] and LeBron [James] can get on the same page, that’s gonna be tough. You got someone like Anthony Davis… athleticism, can defend, we already know his rebounding ability. You got a healthy LeBron… he’s listening, he’s hearing all the noise, all the ruckus. I don’t know bro!”
Domagala (Q): Obviously Carmelo Anthony is a big topic in the NBA today. This is a double question. Is he being blackballed by the NBA. And two, is the BIG3 next?
Powell: (A): “Yes. Well, I already answered one. For two, is the BIG3 next? I think if he comes to the BIG3 I know they’ll welcome him with open arms. I mean, I don’t see why not. Melo would love the league. It’s unfortunate what’s happening, but how many problem guys are still in the league? How many problem guys are still getting job opportunities? [He’s] definitely a future Hall of Famer, at least he should be. He’s not able to get a job. It’s unfortunate.
I’m a huge [Chris Paul] fan and what he brings to the table, but kinda look at how this last year might be for him. He’s one of those guys who has that label. Yes, he’s a competitor, but they talk about how he is in the locker room and things like that. A guys mentality, how he rocks, things that he does… you can’t take it personal. Is it that major where we have to black ball and not hire him? No, I don’t think it is. Nowadays it seems like if somebody creates a story, people will run with that and keep things going. If a guy can still play, let him play. I don’t care what sport. From the Kaepernick’s to Melo’s, we just have to cut that out. A lot of these GM’s and coaches… they keep consistently getting jobs. We never talk about that part of it. You can hoop your a** off, but if there’s something they don’t like about you, instead of talking it out, they just won’t play you.”
Domagala (Q): How were those egos in L.A.?
Powell: (A): “I mean, honestly, everybody still had egos. But, at the end of the day, regardless of that, we had one goal in mind. So that was the thing that put the egos to the side. We’re trying to win a championship, to hell with everything else. Lets come together to do whatever we gotta do to achieve this great goal and accomplishment. That’s what I love about being in situations like that and being a part of teams like that. That separates a lot of guys and a lot of situations. Being a part of something and putting whatever else to the side because you want to win.
When you understand why teams don’t win and why they get to a certain level and they can’t quite get over that hump, it’s because of the pride and ego that gets involved, man. You’ve gotta leave that alone. ‘What are we gonna do to help us win a championship?'”
Domagala (Q): [Who are] three players you’d like to see in the BIG3 next season?
Powell: (A): “I think D-Wade will be dope. [I] would love to see Melo. Vince [Carter] is trying to set the record and play 25 years… I don’t know about Vince. I’d love to see Tim [Duncan], but somebody that’s a little different. Dirk. Dirk just finished up and he’s the only one of his kind. Fade on ’em! I think we can think of many, many more.”
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