Q: Your passion for hunting and the outdoors is legendary. Who introduced you to hunting?
A: My mother, who passed away 5 years ago, and my grandfather both were my mentors. When I was growing up in northern Louisiana, we didn’t have much, but they taught me how to survive on what I could catch or kill. And they taught me about the outdoors. When my life gets busy and crazy, I need my quiet time, and I get that by being outside.
Q: You’ve hunted all over the world. What’s your favorite place and species?
A: I love to hunt black bear, and my favorite place in the world is probably my cabin on the Kenai River in Alaska. But my all-time favorite hunting is squirrel hunting back home with my dogs, my .410 and my brother Terry. When I was a kid we weren’t too picky about our dogs—we even trained a German shepherd to hunt squirrels. But these days I like to hunt squirrels over my mountain curs.
Q: When you were playing in the NBA, did you ever have a chance to hunt while you were on the road?
A: I never did, and I never would have. To me that would have been disrespecting my team. In the off-season I hunted like crazy, but when you are in the season you focus on that one thing.
Q: Tell me about your Hunts for Heroes program.
A: It’s a way to give something back to our soldiers, who are over there every day fighting for us so we can lay our heads on our own pillows. I wanted to start a hunt that says, I was blessed to make a great living playing basketball, but there’s nothing heroic about that. Those soldiers, and policemen and firefighters, they’re the heroes. So we take them hunting. We take care of everything, and even carry their bags and guns if they want us to. They carry us every day. The least we can do is give them a few days where we can carry them.
Q: You will be remembered as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. What do you want to be remembered for?
A: Basketball has been great to me, but I’d like to leave a legacy as a conservationist, as someone who left this place better than I found it. As somebody who didn’t just talk about how much they love hunting but actually made a difference, by improving habitat and introducing people to hunting and trying to bring people together over a gun or a fishing rod or just by spending time outside.