AzSportsHub.com got a chance to catch up with former Phoenix Sun forward Paul Shirley as he soaked his ankle in a bucket of ice in Spain to ask him “The Burning Questions.”
Shirley talks about his life in and out of the NBA, about writing his book, and about why the Geico Cavemen are better than he is.
AZSH: As a kid growing up in Kansas did you ever imagine that you would be asked to write a book...and that it would actually turn out decent?
Paul Shirley: While in the middle of the latest Hardy Boys book, it never occurred to me that I could actually try to write one. (A book, period. Not a Hardy Boys book. Although the franchise could use a dusting-off.) Apparently, I needed better English teachers. As to whether I would write a decent book—I don’t know why I would write a terrible one. Seems like that would be a waste of everyone’s time.
AZSH: Which was a bigger challenge—writing the book or securing a spot on an NBA roster?
Paul Shirley: NBA roster spot. Everyone knows that white people write books. They don’t, however, play in the NBA.
AZSH: Your book is entitled “Can I keep My Jersey?” How many jerseys were you actually allowed to keep?
Paul Shirley: I was allowed to keep almost all of them. The title refers to the question I asked the equipment manager of the Lakers—the first team with which I went to training camp. After I was released, I went into his den of NBA gear and asked if, obviously, I could keep my jersey, thinking the question was a mere formality.
He said, “We’re not a club that does that.”
I was so shocked that I couldn’t come up with a response. I couldn’t imagine what they were going to do with a Lakers jersey with "Shirley" stitched on the back. So I numbly walked back to the makeshift locker room my fellow non-guaranteed free agents and I were using and stole two pairs of shoes.
AZSH: You are currently in Spain right now. Have you received any offers to join any NBA teams in training camp?
Paul Shirley: People seem to struggle to understand this—once I sign with a team in Europe, I can’t just walk out on them. They’re trying to win games too. It’s not like my Spanish team is the Wichita Wranglers to the Kansas City Royals—nobody’s going to get called up from Spain because the teams here need the guys they sign. So no.
AZSH: Which was a tougher assignment—guarding Shaq/Amare in training camp or trying to pick up a woman in Spain?
Paul Shirley: The women is Spain are brutal. Amare’s easy. Make him shoot jumpshots or make him go left. I didn’t dare try to guard Shaq. He outweighs me 2-to-1.
AZSH: Can you explain to me how your show pilot didn’t get picked up...but a show about the Geico Cavemen did?
Paul Shirley: Those Geico Cavemen are damned funny. Looking back, I understand why our pilot didn’t make it. It’s a great concept, and should have worked. But it got watered down, sissified, and manipulated. The product we finally turned in to the studio is closer to Scrubs: Basketball Edition than it is to the tone of anything I’ve ever written. It might be worth trying again, but only under the condition that no morons be allowed anywhere near the set.
AZSH: When you left the Suns, Pat Burke emerged as the funny guy on the team. Who's funnier—you or Pat? If it came down to you and him for the final roster spot on an NBA team, who would win out?
Paul Shirley: That’s like the “Tell me a funny story” question. Anything I say comes out as less funny than if we had never talked about funniness before. As to the roster spot...I’ve only played against Pat once, when we were both in Greece. My team won.
AZSH: How have the sales of your book been, and can we expect a second book anytime soon?
Paul Shirley: Sales have been better than Random House expected. The book is on its sixth printing now. There will be a second book, but it will probably be fiction and it won’t be about basketball. So it will sell 13 copies.
AZSH: Where can Arizona fans read your blog and keep up to date with what’s going on with you?