Local NBA connections: Catching up with Martell Webster
It's all about family — and reading — for former Seattle Prep star Martell Webster.
We caught up with Martell Webster as he was driving home from practice. The former Seattle Prep star was part of the final group of players permitted to jump from high school to the NBA. Originally drafted by Portland in 2005, the 6-foot-7 guard was traded to Minnesota last June 24.
Seattle Times: That was some NBA trade deadline, with players going everywhere. You weren't rumored to be traded, but what's it like to play amid all the changes?
Martell Webster: It's been crazy. Even the stuff that happened (on deadline), some of the things don't make sense and then all of a sudden you hear that somebody else got traded in the packaged deal and it begins to make sense. It's always a roller-coaster ride when it comes to teams trying to make moves to win. You're like, "Oh, God, what's going to happen next?"
ST: Are you the type who stays on top of every transaction?
MW: Nah, I'm the type of person who just doesn't care. I've got more important things to worry about than what teams are making what moves. I've got two kids, my oldest has a birthday on Wednesday, and a third on the way. And I've got a wonderful wife at home. That's all I need. I don't need to pay attention to anything else going on in the world.
ST: One on the way? How far along is your wife?
MW: She'll be here April 20. I've got three girls! It's easier after the first. You don't know what to expect with that first one then all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, that wasn't that bad."
ST: Is your new addition why you switched jersey numbers to No. 5 with the Timberwolves?
MW: I just wanted to switch it up. With No. 23, everything has been said with that number. You can't say anything else. Michael Jordan has done everything and LeBron has pretty much backed it up, so that number is history. No. 5 doesn't mean anything, I just told them to throw me whatever.
ST: You've worn No. 23, 8 and now 5, so have you ever slipped when signing autographs?
MW: No, it depends on what card they give me. If they give me a card and I'm wearing No. 8, then I'll put the 8 and if it's 23, I'll put 23. But normally it's No. 5.
ST: Heard you love to read, what's on the nightstand?
MW: Yeah, I have a book I'm reading, again, it's called "The Alchemist" (by Paulo Coelho). It's a really good book. It's about a kid that has a dream and along the way he has to go through these different obstacles. At some point he begins to think, "maybe this isn't what I really wanted." But those obstacles that he's facing are things that are getting him closer to his actual goal, but he doesn't know it until the end. It's one of those books where you wonder what's going to happen next.
ST: Is that why you wanted to read it again?
MW: Yeah, it's not really dry. There's all this suspense in like 200 pages.
ST: Does it make you think about your decisions, like what would have happened if you would have gone to college?
MW: All the time. Even now, I think if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have gone to college just for the experience. Not just the basketball experience — the whole experience itself, education and meeting new friends. Those are things that when you come to the NBA out of high school, all of that is taken away from you right away and you're forced to become this adult at 18. That can be quite the transition.
ST: Have you taken any classes?
MW: I took a Business 101 class and a drafting class. It was a good course, I got a 98 in the class and was really excited about that. I'm thinking about going back this summer and taking a real estate class. I reside in Portland, so I go to Portland State. I'm doing some real estate development right now in Ballard. That's me getting my feet wet.
ST: Is it hard to make new friends now that you're an established NBA player?
MW: In this business, you keep your circle very tight. I don't let anybody in. The people I came into the league with are the people that I'm still with today and that's how I keep it because you really can't get attached. My family is really big, but really close. This summer we'll have barbecues and I'll spend time with my grandmother because she's pretty old and I'm relishing the time that I have with her.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.