Fred Fleezy: NBA First Rounder & Grammy Nominee Maurice Ager Talks Struggles of Being an Athlete in the Music Industry, NCAA Bribery Scandal & More

Former Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets shooting guard Maurice Ager spent five seasons in the NBA, after being drafted in the first round (28th Overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Ager retired after a short stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2010 season.

Ager’s retirement from the NBA fueled him to go even harder for another one of his life’s passions, music. He has worked with and produced for the likes of E-40, Royce Da 5’9 and Layzie Bone. He has also dropped several projects of his own including his most recent album Moe House and wrote “Forever I’m A Spartan” the anthem for his Alma mater Michigan State in 2010.

Ager spoke about the difficulties of being an athlete trying to break into the music industry.

Your music career really took off once you retired from the NBA, do you think it’s possible to be successful in music and being a professional athlete at the same time?

“Yeah I definitely think it’s possible, Shaq was a person who was successful in both at the same time. I think it’s rare because like I’ve said over and over again most people don’t take you serious if your not consistent with it,” Said Ager on a recent appearance on the Unnecessary Roughness Podcast.

Ager is one of the few athletes that has found success in the music industry and was nominated for a Grammy in 2013 for his single “Far From Home”, largely due to the fact that he never allowed himself to be suppressed as just being an athlete.

Ager performing on stage in Stockton Arena. Photo Credit: moeager/ Instagram

“A lot of people just cannot look past basketball even if you are dope, like I heard Lonzo Ball‘s freestyle and he was killing it! But because of the fact that it’s Lonzo Ball they can’t look past that. Meanwhile people love Lil Yachty and all these other mumble rappers but he is clearly a better rapper than most of these other guys, but you know people’s perception and what they choose to see and look at is so messed up.  People want you to be good at what you do but as soon as you try to step into another field they try to shut you down. Certain people don’t even want you to step in to do regular stuff outside of basketball.”

Ager had high praise for Portland Trail Blazers all-star guard Damian Lillard , as an up and coming artist who has achieved success in the music business while still playing basketball.

There are a lot of current NBA players who are starting to explore the music business, who are some of your favorites to listen to?

“There’s a few dope ones but my favorite is probably Damian Lillard. I think he’s dope because when you listen to his music you can definitely tell that the music is coming from a pain in his life. Not necessarily saying that he is dealing with struggle now, but you can tell that he’s rapping about his life and I can respect that.”

Even with all of the success that he has achieved off of the court and all of the work that he’s put in, Ager sometimes still feels a lack of support because some people still only view him as a retired NBA player.

“I’ve proved myself over and over again by consistently putting out music and doing other things musically and people still don’t tend to support it the way that I would like and I do have grammy nominations, I do have dope a** music with up and coming artists and TV shows with BET, NBC Sports, Volkswagon and movies and people still cannot look past Michigan State.”

Ager was a high school basketball standout out who was heavily recruited out of Crockett High School in Detroit. Needless to say, Ager is no stranger to the college recruiting process and spoke about the FBI’s current bribery investigation of the NCAA.

What was your reaction to the  NCAA recruiting scandal and were you even surprised to find out that players had been getting paid under the table for so long?

“I wasn’t surprised at all. I just feel like that’s the times that we’re in that when you have things going on for so long that eventually the truth is going to come out whether people like it or not. It’s just a manifestation of things that were always meant to be, whether you hear about or not it’s still happening. You never want to see anybody get indicted or anything like that but hey it was only a matter of time because I mean everybody knows.”

Ager also stated that the NCAA paying their athletes to avoid these types of scandals could turn out to be either a good thing or a bad thing.

Do you think it’s time for the NCAA to start paying college athletes being that they’re bringing in so much revenue to these schools?

“I can say yes and no to that question because if players got paid in college would they be as hungry to make it to the NBA? But I also feel like college players should get taken care of better than they do. Something like five thousand dollars a month is not difficult. Let’s even say you gave a college student between $2500 and $3000 a month that would be solid because then they could send at least a thousand home every month and take care of everything they need to take care of and it would eliminate a lot of this stuff. Quite frankly that should be something that the NCAA looks into just to experiment with it I mean why not?, especially because most of those players don’t even make it to the NBA.”

It wasn’t all serious business during Ager’s appearance on the Unnecessary Roughness Podcast. Although Ager is retired from the NBA, he is still a fan of the game and had no problem dropping hot takes about the current NBA season.

You were on the one seeded Dallas Mavericks team that could’ve been considered a “super team” back in 2006 but you guys got upset by the 8th seeded “We Believe” Warriors. The Western Conference loaded up in the off season, what teams do you see out west that can possibly upset the Warriors the same way that they upset you guys back in 2006?

“I like the Minnesota Timberwolves right now. Even though they’re not the same type of team as Golden State I don’t think you have to beat Golden State with Golden State’s style of play. They have a lot of fire power between Jimmy Butler and rising stars like Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns and then you add a veteran guy like Jamal Crawford they have a group of hungry players who can compete with the Warriors along the lines of toughness and talent.”

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