Fast Cars & Superstars: John Salley


CONCORD, N.C. — John Salley, the only NBA player to win championship rings with three different teams (Detroit, Chicago and the L.A. Lakers), is something of a media personality now. He’s appeared in movies and has a regular radio gig in Los Angeles. One of the hosts of “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” on Fox, Salley has a reputation for being a great interview, and he was in prime form at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. He’s one of the celebrity drivers for the sponsored “Fast Cars & Superstars — Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race,” which begins airing June 7 on ABC. We can’t be sure just how much of what Salley told us is 100 percent true, but he was awfully entertaining.

A lot of NASCAR drivers are shorter than 6 feet. How was it for you in there?

“Well, they custom-made my seat so I could fit, but I’m gonna tell you, you want to be as small as possible to be in this gear (jumpsuit). Because, one, it’s going to fit you better, and two, you won’t have as much to let out of your system when you go on yourself.”

What’s more nerve-wracking: A last-second free throw to win the game, or coming up to that first corner at Lowe’s?

“Coming up to the corner. A last-second shot, you can always take a time out, take a deep breath, and you practice, and practice, and practice, and it’s just technical. This right here can change any second.”

A lot of people, when they first drive, they’re driving their mom’s car, or grandma’s car. What was the very first car you drove regularly?

“I stole my father’s classic Caprice. [Pause] But I think he knew I stole it. So we would drive around in that, and I was one of the only kids in Brooklyn that had a permit, because I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., so we would take the train and the bus.

“I tried to teach Spike Lee how to drive when he was 35.”

How’d that go?

“Not well.”

So what are you driving today? What’s in the garage?

“For the past three years I was working with Cadillac, and I had a CTS-V and an STS-V, and then I got out of my Cadillac deal. Now I got into a Toyota deal, bought my daughter a Scion and I drive a BMW 750i.

Is riding in a NASCAR-style race car what you thought it would be?

“It’s worse than I thought it would be.”

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