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Original Issue

TV Talk

Former NBA scrub Tom Tolbert is an All-Star on the air

Tom Tolbert doesn't take himself too seriously, which is good
considering that during his seven-year NBA career, neither did
his opponents. A bench warmer, Tolbert averaged only 6.5 points
per game. These days he's a regular on NBC's NBA studio show.

SI: You're 2 1/2 years younger than Michael Jordan. Does it
bother you that no one asks if you're coming back?

Tolbert: Actually, since I shaved my head, I was hoping some
people would confuse us.

SI: How would you describe your hairstyle?

Tolbert: I'd call it necessity. The trees are not as dense as
they once were.

SI: Why did you get into radio and TV?

Tolbert: So I wouldn't have to sweat when I was working.

SI: You said in an interview that you didn't know how to spell
work. What if I spotted you the w?

Tolbert: If you spotted me the w, I could get close. I might end
up spelling a Japanese cooking tool.

SI: During your career you were called everything from James
Dean to Alfred E. Neuman to Butt-head. Which do you prefer?

Tolbert: Butt-head. We had some things in common. I'm a little
bit goofy like he is.

SI: Why did you wear a neon-pink cast when you sprained your
ankle early in your career?

Tolbert: I wasn't playing much before the injury, and I wanted to
get a little attention.

SI: Did it bother you when Robin Ficker, the player-baiter,
confused you with Ray Tolbert?

Tolbert: Yeah. Ray was about 10 years older and 10 shades
darker. I told Ficker to get my name right. Then he screamed,
"You're terrible, Tom Tolbert."

SI: How did you know it was time to retire?

Tolbert: It could have been playing for four teams in four
years. You can rent things like furniture, but you keep buying
new kitchen stuff. Eventually I had seven blenders. When I could
make a margarita on the toilet, I knew it was time to go.

SI: You played a year in the Canary Islands. How was that?

Tolbert: The area around the airport was a wasteland. I expected
to see Charlton Heston from Planet of the Apes riding across the

SI: You once took 25 batting-practice swings against Mike Krukow
at Pac Bell Park but didn't hit one out. How many swings would
you need to go yard?

Tolbert: Just one. Krukow didn't want me to hit it out. If the
pitch was over the plate, Yellowstone is the only park that
could hold me.

SI: Finally, were you underrated as a player?

Tolbert: I didn't know I was even rated.

--Pete McEntegart