Scoop B: Ex NBA’er Tim Thomas says Denzel Washington once got him excused from school

Tim Thomas (left) and actor Denzel Washington (right) in downtown Paterson, NJ. Photo Credit: Tim Thomas/Scoop B Radio

Tim Thomas drops by episode # 74 of Scoop B Radio and chats with Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson about the love of his hometown of Paterson New Jersey, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and the time actor Denzel Washington got him out of class. Press Play Below to Listen!

 

Tim Thomas is a pretty good story teller.

The retired NBA vet has given you his recount of his feud with Kenyon Martin during the 2004 NBA Playoffs, which subsequently found its way to the nightclub.

He and Martin have finally moved on from that, praise the Lord!

Thomas has  also given you the low-down on Charles Oakley’s GM abilities. While sitting with Scottie Pippen at Michael Jordan’s card game party  Oak informed Thomas that the Chicago Bulls would waive him. And yup, it happened!

Thomas’ stories don’t end there! Apparently, Thomas also has clout with Oscar award winning actor, Denzel Washington.

According to Thomas, Denzel once got him out of basketball practice early, while he was a high school junior at Paterson Catholic High School in Paterson, NJ.

Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Thomas says that a police officer dressed in a suit interrupted practice and approached the team’s coach. “The first thing we’re thinking is that somebody got in trouble,” Thomas joked.

“I’m thinking it’s a detective or something like that, not knowing that it was Denzel Washington that was downtown shooting a movie called “The Preacher’s Wife,” at that time and he actually called for me.”

“The Preacher’s Wife” was a pretty big deal in 1996, by the way; particularly in church circles! Directed by Penny Marshall, the film starred the late, Whitney Houston and Courtney Vance. The movie had a decent soundtrack, too.

Washington’s request to meet Thomas would change Thomas’ life. 

“So we ride downtown and we’re actually behind City Hall and he was going through his scene. We talked for a bit in his trailer and he was a good dude and dropped a lot of jewels on me about managing money and the stuff that I was about to come into as far as fame.”

The advice would pay off. Thomas was drafted 7th in the 1997 NBA Draft by the then-New Jersey Nets. He’d later be shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers in a draft day deal for the ’97 Draft’s 2nd overall pick, Keith Van Horn.

Thomas said the most important thing that came from the meeting was Washington introducing Thomas to boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.

For those tardy to the party, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a middleweight boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder and later released following a petition of habeas corpus after spending almost 20 years in prison.

Washington would later play the role of Carter in the 1999 film, “The Hurricane.”

In 1966, police arrested both Carter and friend John Artis for a triple-homicide committed in the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey. Police stopped Carter’s car and brought him and Artis, also in the car, to the scene of the crime. Upon the search,  police found ammunition that fit the description of weapons used in the murder. Here’s the kicker: Paterson, NJ Police took no fingerprints at the crime scene and lacked the facilities to conduct a paraffin test for gunshot residue. Carter and Artis were tried and convicted twice (1967 and 1976) for the murders, and both served time in Rahway State Prison. After the second conviction was overturned in 1985, prosecutors choose not to try the case for a third time.

“I knew nothing about Hurricane Carter,” said Thomas.

“I wasn’t even born at the time that the stuff involving him was going on. So it was great for him to connect us and for me to have the opportunity to meet a man that couldn’t come back to our hometown and went through so much in his life as far as sitting in prison for 20 years and it was beneficial for me to get the information that he gave me about our hometown and the politicians and what people do there with so –called famous people and celebrities from that town.”

While on Scoop B Radio, Thomas detailed his conversations with Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Thomas also detailed his documentary, I Am Tim Thomas while will release next year.

Check out our Q & A below:

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (right) and Denzel Washington. Photo Credit: Tim Thomas/Scoop B Radio

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What specifically did Hurricane tell you?

Tim Thomas: He told me to watch out pretty much for how our city moves. Our city is small so once you make it there’s a lot of people that’s going to come around mainly politicians and try to benefit off of your stature and financial situation and that was pretty much it because of things that he went through it just opened my eyes to a lot of the corrupt stuff that city officials actually were doing at that time and with him being a lot older he knew of what was going on and who was in position at that time and truth be told he was right because there were a lot of things going on with different mayors who ended up getting into trouble and he told me if I was ever going to do anything in the city for the youth to do it on my own and try to find loopholes where I didn’t have to give money to the city itself because the money would disappear. It was great advice because there were mayors who got in trouble back then and are still getting into trouble now. I had a cousin who was actually mayor when we had Hurricane Sandy, Jeffrey Jones but it was great advice that I got from the champ.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What did you do with that advice as you progressed in the NBA and even now that you’ve retired?

Tim Thomas: I took it to heart even though I was in a position to give back and I definitely did that for numerous things I’m probably the only guy who has put a million dollars into my city for the youth, so I took the advice for what it was but I still made sure I did things for the community and youth in various ways, for 10 plus years I took care of full tuitions at my high school, started a Pop Warner football team with Marcel Shipp and flew the team out to LA to play against Snoop, started an AAU program we had 23 pros who came out of the program, I got two girls basketball programs that I started, donating money to Kennedy and Eastside High School just different things man there’s nothing in Paterson pertaining to youth that I haven’t touched and the people that are around me know what I have done. As far as the real information that he gave me pertaining to politicians I have helped a lot of people get into office with my celebrity but I haven’t really crossed the line with using my name to go towards the actually city itself. There was one building that I actually wanted but the city wouldn’t help me financially with taxes and different things. It was called the armory, an older building that could have been used for different sporting events it could actually could have been rebuilt into a new stadium for the high school teams that are there, concerts, basketball games but they had armory trucks and stuff in there. When I was younger my grammar school was right next to that actual building it was just sitting there for forever and that was the one building I actually wanted to get but the city wouldn’t  back me on that but other than that I’ve been doing numerous things for the community, especially the youth.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: When Denzel reached out to have that conversation and wanted to get to know you did he make a call to someone in Paterson how did you know about you?

Tim Thomas: I don’t know that’s a great question. But Denzel is a sports junkie so he probably knew that he was in my town so he sent for me like in American Gangster because literally I was in the middle of practice. I lived like two blocks from the high school so I had to asked the guys hey can you shoot me over to my house to crib so I can change because I wanted to look right but in the picture I don’t even think my jeans were ironed or anything I just threw them on and took off, but pretty much that’s what happened he sent for me and that was it and once I got there it was cool because on my 33rd birthday I got to meet Obama when I was with the Chicago Bulls and that was a great weekend for me  and that’s also going to be in the documentary in 2018 but it was similar to that with all the security and everything being blocked off, but Denzel is one of those type of people that he is a major figure anywhere and if you can get around him he’s a great guy with a lot of information and a lot of jewels he can drop on you.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Your mom must have been jealous that you got to meet Denzel.

Tim Thomas: Sort of. It was kind of weird because when people are in town shooting movies nobody announces it unless it’s in New York or LA nobody is going to say or put in the paper that Denzel is in town shooting a movie, you just won’t get that kind of information so when it happens it’s all a shock to everyone, especially me. When we actually met after we introduced ourselves I couldn’t even talk because I couldn’t believe I was sitting there with Denzel Washington, I was in high school and it’s awkward but he was so cool that he made me relax and be myself so it was a good thing and the other thing was that he was giving me so much information about my town that I didn’t even know, I had no clue about it. We were right behind City Hall and the old police station was right there the same police station that they held Mr. Carter in during his days so with his powers he took me in there to see that old prison and that’s something to this day even with me being who I am from my hometown couldn’t get the okay to go see that old jail cell so that just goes to show you the power that he has.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Tell me more about the I Am Tim Thomas documentary that you’re dropping next year.

Tim Thomas: The doc is pretty much about my life as far as what I have seen and been through good and bad from an early age up until now. I had so many different stories, playing in the 90’s which most people consider the golden era of the NBA so during that time there were a lot of things going on but we didn’t have social media or camera phones and people weren’t walking around with cameras in their pockets or anything like that. This documentary gave me an opportunity to tell my story and give you an inside look on my life the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m putting it out there especially for the younger generation because I have an AAU program based out of Jersey and 23 pros have come out of that program and a lot of kids know of me but they don’t know the story, they don’t know that I’m the player to the players and that I was such a bad dude that I had Kobe and Vince Carter playing with me which was a good thing because we went out there and we were like rock stars so I’m trying to change the way that the AAU manifest is being ran now and days as far as not having these super teams with the AAU programs.

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About Brandon Robinson

Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson is a managing editor and columnist at RESPECT Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @ScoopB and Instagram: @Scoop_B. As a 12 year old, he was a Nets reporter from 1997-1999, co-hosting a show called Nets Slammin' Planet with former New Jersey Net Albert King and Nets play-by-play man Chris Carrino. He's also been a writer and radio host at CBS and a staff writer at The Source Magazine. He's a graduate of both Eastern University and Hofstra University. You can catch him daily on the Scoop B Radio Podcast. Visit ScoopBRadio.com to listen. For inquiries and to contact Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson visit ScoopB.com