Being a serious competitor does not protect you from bad events in the city. In fact, at times, it can make you a target.
Caron Butler, Miami Heat assistant coach, teamed up with award-winning young adult writer Justin A. Reynolds to write. Shot clock, a book about a young kid trying to score a soccer team coached by a former NBA star. The authors hope to bring awareness to the issues facing African American children.
Butler is a real visionary.
Before the NBA All-Star and World Champion (with the Dallas Mavericks) became a two-time icon on the court, he was a troubled youth. Shot clock a look back, while providing an inspiring story to get out of the closet and chase your dreams.
Butler was speaking Shot clock and upcoming projects with Zenger.
Zenger: Why is it exciting to discuss your new book Shot Clock?
Butler: It’s over. First, have an idea in your head, then follow through and see it hit. I can’t explain that feeling. I am a coach now. My main goal is to keep winning, eventually to win the NBA championship. Seeing it come true is a dream come true for me. It’s like writing and creating a book. After working with Justin, that balance and finish is different.
Zenger: You got involved with Reynolds to write this book. I’ve interviewed musicians who describe the feeling behind co-writing a song. Does co-authoring a book require a lot of chemistry?
Butler: Yes, but some chemicals flow like water, some chemicals are required, and some chemicals are not required. The chemistry we had, the pick-n-roll was easy, the layup was easy, and we knew we could do something special.
He knew exactly what I was trying to say, the message I was trying to get across, and the importance of these community things. I wanted to disturb those people and make them understand that no matter what the ceiling is, you can break it. You can do anything. Justin got that record right away, and that’s what made it such a big deal.
Zenger: With your first book, Tuff Juice, it was your autobiography. How different is this process, which is based on real situations but with imaginary images?
Butler: It’s different and the same because I have a program, “The Butler League Program.” I have many characters, and I draw situations from their reality. Some people in the program have five words in one. I took the pros and cons of their position. Justin then taught me many lessons in writing. It’s easy to write about yourself because it’s your truth. But when you tell stories, they need to be real and clear.
Zenger: Shot Clock is called a series. Will this be in other books, basketball or real life situations?
Butler: Real life situations. So that’s my opinion Shot clock It’s very special—it’s not just about basketball. These people come from all walks of life. We have one child who is an accountant. You have kids who are good with numbers, kids who are good at achieving, and kids who are gifted and find their niche elsewhere. They found a way to disrupt society. That is very powerful.
Zenger: Are you looking forward to the September book tour?
Butler: I am. And I’m glad it’s starting in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. To be able to go to Houston, Maryland, and Atlanta, touch base in DC, and Cleveland, and travel with Justin, it’s exciting. I look forward to seeing people up close and personal, asking questions and giving honest answers.
Zenger: What do you hope readers take away from Shot Clock?
Butler: First, you need to define reality. When you write or tell your truth, you are trying to create an interesting connection with the reader. You need to explain the truth. Think about some of the classics – “Outside,” “The Great Gatsby,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I look at all of those. Before you can change the story, you need to define the truth. What is real here, and what is now. We talked about anything and everything a child can do. We talked about hope, faith, dealing with trauma, loss, love, people who shape your life, and bullying. And finally, the journey of success. Because that’s what real success is—loving the process of becoming the best version of yourself and getting 1 percent better every day. The book covers everything.
Zenger: Do you have to wait until the season is over to start writing?
Butler: People think I’m an alien or something. I was talking to Coach Spoel (Erik Spoelstra), and he asked: “What are you doing?” “I wrote.” “Writing? We have a game.”
But I did, and we’re working on the second book now, all in the season. While we’re winning games, I’m up at 3 or 4 in the morning, with ideas, writing, and filming Justin, he’s shooting at me. All in the last two years. Even with the second book, we lost in the Eastern Conference Finals, and this is among our competition at the top. I can write because it is my therapy.
Zenger: We lost Bill Russell. Have an idea or personal story you’d like to share?
Butler: I do. My heart and sympathy go out to his family and those who knew him well. I remember, I think it was my second All-Star game. We were in New Orleans, and they said someone wanted to take a picture with me and Antawn (Jamison). I was like: “Who the hell wants to disturb us and take pictures?” Bill Russell comes from the corner … not that, either. That’s an icon. That’s what we want to be.
On the basketball court, he is one of the most successful, if not the most successful player. Also, from a work perspective, it speaks truth to power and tells our stories. Bill Russell, Kareem (Abdul Jabbar), and Jim Brown proved that. When we lost him, we lost him, but the NBA family found ways to preserve his legacy, including retiring No. 6 on the board. There was only one Bill Russell.
This story was contributed to Newsweek by Zenger News.