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June 25, 2018

Oscar Robertson

Santa Monica, California

Q. Congratulations on your award Mr. Robertson.

Q. With the evolution of the basketball game today in triple-doubles becoming much more prevalent today in the last couple years than they ever have been before, since you played, do you accept any responsibility for that, or how do you feel about the game and the way it's matured and developed today?
OSCAR ROBERTSON: I feel no responsibility because when I got the triple-doubles I didn't know what they were at all. So it doesn't really matter.

I think the basketball game today is a tremendous game. The people love it. They've got some great, great athletes who are playing, and they've got one great basketball team that seems to be head and shoulders above all the rest, and that's Golden State. They're a big TV draw.

You look at what they're doing around the world with sales all over the world with basketball and how a lot of the European players are becoming great stars here, some of the French players, it's really something that's marveled, to be honest.

For instance, you have a basketball team that sells for $2 billion. Players are making millions of dollars today. I think what else could be better?

Q. The game has changed so much since you played. When you look at where the league is now, do you see it being more successful in the next 10, 15 years? What do you think of the contracts? You mentioned millions and billions of dollars these franchises are worth. You didn't get paid millions of dollars in your contract at any point. Do you think the amounts are a little astronomical?
OSCAR ROBERTSON: No, the owners are still getting paid as well. So they're getting their money, so everybody's getting their money.

But they said the game has changed. What is changed about the game? You still have to play defense.

You still have to score points to win. The problem with the game today that I see, you don't have Kareems [Abdul-Jabbar]. You don't have Bill Russells, Wilt Chamberlains, you don't have dominant centers that can play basketball inside. So what do you do? You get the best player that may be 6-7 or 6-8 in the pivot, and this is where you are today. You just don't have those players. This is what happens where the game has evolved. But it's a great basketball game because now all the teams have to adapt themselves to try to get a team to beat Golden State.

Like years ago when the Celtics were winning basketball games, along came teams to get their players, get the right players together. A lot of managers and coaches, they don't know how to pick players. And sometimes I don't think the draft helps great basketball players, but that's another story.

Q. It can be, I think, moreover in the NBA Draft you've seen a lot of big guys getting grabbed. Do you see it going back to the big man, the more dominant guy in the pivot?
OSCAR ROBERTSON: Only if they can play. There are a lot of big guys in the world today, but a lot of them can't play. You have to be able to step out as a center sometimes and play a guard a little bit on defense. Do they have the agility? They don't have the agility like Kareem had. So therefore you don't have the player like Russell. You don't have those type of players. So therefore you can't use them anymore. Because now big men go outside and shoot three-point shots and you've got to go out and play defense. It's just a matter of the athlete today, I think, overall has gotten a lot better at what they're doing, and what they're doing, as you look at Golden State, they're doing it extremely well.

Q. You mentioned before about the amount of money the players make now. Back when you and Kareem, who is here, you guys did a lot of stuff in terms of social activism and kind of fighting for not only improved rights for players, but stuff outside of sports, too. Do you see guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony doing social work now and doing work in the community, are you proud as the game has grown and the more money has come into it there is still a thrust of wanting to see not only the league but the community be bettered by the players that are playing today?
OSCAR ROBERTSON: I think that as people evolve and things are changing so much in the world with social media and whatnot, these people are young people who have families. They've seen some injustice in the streets or wherever it might be, it might be almost anywhere, and they're stepping up. But the only thing that really bothers me is where are the white athletes when this is happening? This is not a black athlete problem. You see injustice in the world. It's all around you. Just because LeBron steps out, I'm glad he does. I hope some other players -- because this is what they believe -- I mean, what do you want players to do? Shut up and dribble? I think it's time for them to say what they want to say about life and say about politics and things about the street and whatnot. And about education. They're a lot of players donating money back into different colleges and whatnot.

But it seems that what we have today is a system where you don't want players to say anything at all.

Because years ago they didn't say anything because they couldn't say anything. But now I hope they all, the whites and the blacks get together. Even with the football. What do you think is going to happen when the Union gets involved with the owners? You think it's going to be settled really easily? No, it's not. It's going to be nothing but a total mess.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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