Michael Bivins has been a major player in the music game the past 25 years, most notably as a part of two multi-platinum R&B groups, New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe. More recently, he was Diddys right hand man in the MTV reality show Making The Band 4.
These days the Boston native is venturing into a new avenue sports reporting. He is now pounding the pavement as a basketball correspondent on TNTs broadband program Overtime, which can be seen on the NBAs official website. We caught up with Michael and discussed his new job, his personal basketball skills and his thoughts on the NBA.
AllHipHop.com: You are now on TNT. How did that come about?
Michael Bivins: Through Kenny Smith and a guy Mike Doyle a guy who works for TNT. Basketball has always been a part of my world. Its always been my biggest passion, and I just felt it was the next step for me - to be on the highest level that the game is played in the NBA. Of course TNT is an intricate part of showing the game. It was a natural fit just to work with the TNT family.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us about your feature on TNT Overtime.
Michael Bivins: Well, its going to come on weekly - every Wednesday theyre going to post a new show. You know be able to get the ball players at practice, get to ride with them from practice, catch them at different places [and] get the interview some people cant get. [Ill] give you the insight, get them to open up and talk about some things they might not usually talk about. Its supposed to be an all around show that gives plenty of insight and plenty of access. Im not in the studio, Im out on the streets, Im like the TNT intern. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Ive seen the Patrick Ewing interview. Who else is coming in the next few weeks?
Michael Bivins: Well I spent time with the big three, the Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen. I did a special with Rondo, point guard for the Celtics, and I did something with the Boston Celtics cheerleaders.
AllHipHop.com: I heard Patrick say in the interview that you were a good trash talker. Where is he getting that from?
Michael Bivins: Basketball. I played ball when I was younger, which Im very good at. I take pride in that sport, I came up in the projects playing that sport. I wanted to be an NBA player long before I thought about being in the music business.
AllHipHop.com: I know you are like 55. What kind of game do you got?
Michael Bivins: I play a different type of style. When I was younger, I was always the littlest cat playing with the older guys. I put it between my legs very nicely. I pass very nicely, I just got the look and the swagger of a ball player. Im that - thats what I do. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: So you had a little bit of flash?
Michael Bivins: I had enough flash that used to put people in their seats.
AllHipHop.com: Could the other guys in New Edition play?
Michael Bivins: Um, yeah those guys got game, but they know what it is. [laughs] They know what we all do differently, we all have different styles of game.
AllHipHop.com: Back to the TNT gig. How is this venture different from Making The Band or even your music career? Is there less pressure?
Michael Bivins: Youre on time and on call for the ball players. When [most journalists] talk to the ball players you have to go through the PR person, or catch them at practice. Its a little different, because you dont get the interview at the time it was scheduled and you have to hang around all day. Its all about hanging. You cant have no ego, you just have to know that when the opportunity comes youll get them, and thats basically how it works. Its different because Im used to being interviewed; now Im the one interviewing.
AllHipHop.com: So what is it like being the interviewer?
Michael Bivins: I feel like Im having a conversation because Im not really going at them like Im trying to get some dirt out of them. I want my segments to feel like sit-downs with conversations, but at the same time, get information out of them where the viewers feel like theyve learned something.
AllHipHop.com: You are obviously a big basketball fan. What is your earliest memory that gave you this love for the game?
Michael Bivins: Just playing in the snow. Playing on ice and shoveling. Just wanting to play no matter what the weather condition was. I was in the projects, so nobody was coming in with a snow plow.
AllHipHop.com: So were you a big Bird and McHale fan?
Michael Bivins: I liked the Celtics, but I also liked players in the NBA. I liked Mike, I liked Dr. J - I liked the different players. I was from Boston, but I didnt just root for the Celtics. I also rooted for players I liked who played for other teams. You took pride in your city because you are supposed to, but there were a lot of good players in the NBA to choose from. The Celtics would never draft a certain type of player that I might like, so I had to watch them play for another team to see the style that I liked.
AllHipHop.com: Well the Celtics certainly have a new style this year. What do you make of the big three?
Michael Bivins: I think Danny Ainge and the Celtics have done an incredible job and they got with the program where the league is today. That is probably why they are the hottest team in the NBA, because they did what they had to do to become current. And those guys can play, they are veterans.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think theyll win it this year?
Michael Bivins: Who knows? I think they have to stay healthy. I think on paper theyre supposed to. But I think its a long way to say youll win the NBA, those are some tough teams. Some of these other teams have been together longer so they have a system for winning. Were still just 14 games in, so we got an 82-game season plus the playoffs. I hope we do win it, it would be great for the city.
AllHipHop.com: Do you like the other Boston teams? Its a great year to be a sports fan there.
Michael Bivins: Well of course, if you watch Making The Band, I wore Boston no matter where Id go. Im not a late bandwagon guy. I had all the Celtics, Patriots, Bruins Red Sox gear long before the World Series and the trade. Im not late to the table.
AllHipHop.com: You were just in New York for a Knicks game. What do you make of them this year?
Michael Bivins: They have a lot of talent. Maybe they just need to figure out what the new direction is. The fact that their losing is hurting the business aspect of it, and they have to figure out how to take the business back on the basketball court and not worry so much about the fact that the fans might be booing. They just have to get through it.
They are not the first team that has been upsetting in a big city, so they know what they have to do, all of those guys understand. They just have a big microscope on them because it is New York. I know some of those guys personally, and I root for them to come back out of it because nobody wants to be booed, that is just not a good feeling.
AllHipHop.com: So you didnt take too much enjoyment out of that 50 point beating last week?
Michael Bivins: I saw the game and I see what it is. I look at like that can happen to anybody on any night. The Celtics could get caught one game if they dont show up, so thats not exempt from nobody. Its the NBA, the best players in the world, and if one team comes out on fire and one team comes out cold? Shoot, you might see that score again before the season is over with two other teams.
AllHipHop.com: As far as the rest of the league goes, who do you like watching?
Michael Bivins: I enjoy Denver, with Carmelo and Allen Iverson. I like the Utah Jazz, I like Deron Williams and some of those players. I enjoy Detroit, you know Im kind of all over the place. You know Gerald, I like different players, I could name a thousand players. I like Orlando and what theyre doing.
AllHipHop.com: So if TNT gave you three or four segments to interview whoever you wanted to past or present, who would you interview for Overtime?
Michael Bivins: I would want to do Magic Johnson. I probably would want to do somebody in college, who is gonna be the next kid, only because Id want to be ahead of the NBA Draft. And then Id probably want to interview Jerry Buss daughter from the Lakers, because she is the only woman in the NBA that you hear about on the man side. I would be interviewing someone who is always behind the scenes, and has a very big say in whats going on and with the coach, because thats her boyfriend. So she knows what he feels when hes upset at Kobe, and I want to know how that feels when they have dinner. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Those are definitely some interesting picks.
Michael Bivins: I just do something different. Because if you get the college guy now, then I can say, remember you saw it here on my show. If he goes out in June and gets Top Three pick, then it says, I know what Im talking about, or at least I know ball.