SI: In the film you play a coach who gets banned from college ball and has to take a job at a junior high. Martin Lawrence coaching kids. Should parents be scared?
Lawrence: They shouldn't be scared at all. The kids wind up teaching me something, and I wind up teaching them the game of basketball. There's nothing to be afraid of.
SI: You spent part of your childhood in Landover, Md. What was it like going to Bullets games?
Lawrence: I remember the free basketballs they gave out and how Wes Unseld handled his business in the middle.
SI: What team are you rolling with now?
Lawrence: I'm an honorary Piston. I'm good friends with [G.M.] Joe Dumars. He even sent me a ring from last season, so I have the actual championship ring.
SI: Do you have a favorite basketball film?
Lawrence: No. I like the real stuff. I tune into NBA TV a lot to watch the old games. I haven't seen a basketball movie done yet that shows it the way I like basketball.
SI: When asked a couple of years ago which three people he wanted to have dinner with, Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich answered Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson and Martin Lawrence. What would that meal be like?
Lawrence: Very quiet on my part because I wouldn't know what to say to those guys. I have a great deal of respect for both of them, so I'd be very quiet.
SI: The IMDB website lists you at 5'6". Is that your real height or your basketball height?
Lawrence: I'm 5'8". If they list me at 5'6", tell them to go to hell (laughs).
SI: You get to play the life story of one athlete. Who do you choose?
Lawrence: I don't think I'm tall enough to play any big guys. Maybe I'll stick to Spud Webb. --Richard Deitsch
FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY IMAGES (LAWRENCE)
JOHN P. JOHNSON/TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX (LAWRENCE IN MOVIE)