At Jamaal Wilkes’ press conference before the unveiling of his No.52 retired jersey, the Lakers legend shared genuine emotion and vivid stories with those of us in the room. Most notably, Wilkes opened up about his appreciation and admiration for John Wooden, as well as an instinctive and spiritual connection that he had with Magic Johnson and the 1982 Lakers team.
Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable quotes from his press conference. The entire interview is posted below.
On pride and success:
“I prided myself on winning. I learned at a very young age, you can debate who the best player was or wasn’t, but you can’t debate who won or lost. So, that’s where my priorities went.”
“We had a real sense of pride in our team success. Of course we had issues going on all the time, under currents, but we never let it get in the way of our objective, which was to be the best in the NBA and represent the city of LA as best as we could.”
On the current Lakers team:
“My message would be: five, ten years from now…whatever you feel now, five ten years from now, you’re going to look back and feel differently…and that they have a great opportunity, and I would just encourage them to do whatever it takes. I mean if you’ve got to learn how to play differently or whatever, do whatever it takes to help this team be as successful as they can be, because ultimately that will be their legacy.”
On John Wooden:
“My manhood my credibility and everything was on the line.” (When John Wooden asked to observe his shot)
“For a young guy in LA, he was kinda corny but he really believed it [his philosophy], and I thank god for him.”
On his connection with Magic Johnson:
“Instinctively, it wasn’t anything we talked about. It was just something that we all tuned into spiritually, we just knew it would be there.”