Here in New York, you need to be nice to get a nickname. Cats can kill courts for time and still be known by what’s on their birth certificate, and it takes more than a good game or two to change that. With that in mind, it ain’t hard to tell that Adrian Walton – owner of four (and counting) aliases – is a bigtime baller.
Currently best known as “A-Butta”, his smoother-than-Parkay game justifies the multitude of monikers, and his commitment to off-court business interests means that he’s not far from picking up a new title: “Boss”. Still, until the day when he ditches the sneakers and shorts for a suit and tie, we’ll have the pleasure of watching him play his way into yet more names.
HoopsVibe had the good fortune to run into “A” after the EBC All-Star Game, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
C.Y. Ellis: How does it feel to be out here at Madison Square Garden today?
A-Butta: It feels good, man. I mean, I can’t complain: I’m doing well; I’m living well; the basketball is coming along. I’m just enjoying the summer.
CYE: How does being in here differ from playing out at Rucker Park?
A-B: You know, the streets is totally different from playing on hardwood floor. Not only that, but, as you can see, my jumpshot is water in the gym. It feels good playing in here.
CYE: How would you rate your personal performance today?
A-B: I played a’ight. I mean, I could do better but, being that it was an all-star game, everybody had to take their chances to shine. I mean, if you look at my stats, I only missed two or three shots out of about twelve, so I got a good percentage.
CYE: Something I’ve noticed is that you keep it fundamental as well as bringing in the streetball flavour.
A-B: You know, I was getting ready to get into my dribbling stuff, but there are other guards on my team who got good handle, so it was just better for them to do it and for me to knock down shots ‘cause that’s what I’m good for.
CYE: You can see up in Harlem that there’s a lot of love for you from the streets. How was the crowd for you today? Do you feel as if you still get that Uptown love Downtown?
A-B: Oh, of course, all the time. I mean, they see what I’m doing. I’m stepping into all different markets. I was known for being a basketball player, for playing college basketball, and now I’m doing business. I’m also rapping, you know, doing a whole lot of different stuff. I work for a publicly traded company, so basketball brought a lot. I’m just enjoying it.
CYE: Tell us about your record. I’ve heard it a few times at the park, but it’s not getting enough spin. Perhaps that’ll change in the second half of the season.
A-B: That’s how it always is. You know, people don’t understand nothing until the bigger people catch on to it, and then they understand it. So I just try to do what everybody else do: Start from the ‘hood and work my way to the top.
CYE: There were a lot of highlights today. What was the biggest play of the game for you?
A-B: Either that windmill I had at the end of the game…
CYE: I didn’t know you had that in you!
A-B: Yeah, I didn’t neither! I can do that stuff, but I just keep that on the side. The other plays to me, to be honest with you, would be any of the alley-oops that Africa and the other kid – Special EFX – was catching. I mean, those were some good dunks that they were doing and they showed their hops. I just hope these guys will be able to do it on another level. This streetball stuff is fun, but you wonder why people like that, when you watch them play college basketball or professional basketball, why they’re not able to do that. It has a lot to do with picking and choosing. You see, with me, I can do both, you know what I’m saying?
CYE: Cross-compatibility, right?
A-B: That’s what it’s about. As you can see, the game is back – basketball is back. People are back to loving basketball again, and people are back playing it again. It had died down for a second, but now it’s exciting and I’m just glad to be a part of it.
CYE: So do you think you’re partly responsible for that as a figurehead of streetball, which has become a lot more popular over the past few years?
A-B: Definitely. I mean, I’m a part of that because I’ve played against NBA players that the viewers watch on TV every day, so when they see a kid like me play against those people and do good, it’s like you’re playing good for the neighbourhood, playing good for the streets. I’m playing well, but I’m looking to do something else with street basketball. I’m looking to be the first businessman out of street basketball. Like Skip was the first street basketball player to make it to the NBA, I want to be the first player to go from street basketball to business.
CYE: What’s your business model?
A-B: Look out for BG7, the energy drink; we’re about to be competing with Red Bull. He’s the first NBA player to have his own energy drink. Look out for the soda shops; we’ve got our own website called “H3 Players” where you can go online and play against the people that are getting ready to start buying. We’re opening up Hip-Hop Soda Shops, so I’m looking forward to a lot of good stuff.
CYE: H3 have been looking strong so far. What are your prospects for the second half of the season?
A-B: Basically, Joakim and everybody is coming back. I might bring Ben Gordon out there, but I don’t want to put it on him knowing that this is his last year coming up. I’ll call him up, but I don’t want him to just do it, because we’ve also got to respect the fact that he’s a person that plays ball to take care of his family, so I wouldn’t want to jeopardise that for me to have him play a game at The Rucker. But he’s definitely going to come out for us and rep, just like he came out today and repped.
CYE: As we could see today, there’s a lot of public support for you. Do you have any messages for your fans?
A-B: Oh, definitely. You can check me out on MySpace. Other than that, just get ready to look at all the business I’m getting ready to do. Continue to watch BET, watch TV, read the newswires, because I’m part of the first publicly traded company devoted to hip-hop. If you look at the way the world is turning, everything is about hip-hop and videogames, and I have those locked down for the next generation, so get ready to look at that stuff.