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.
COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL A. JONES/SACRAMENTO BEE