Right Down Euclid Co-Editor Zak Kolesar had the chance to catch up with former NBA journeyman and Cleveland Cavalier Donyell Marshall on Tuesday, who is currently an assistant coach for the Rider University men’s basketball team. The Broncs current assistant played with eight different teams during his 15-season NBA career, that saw him average 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. Marshall played for the Cavaliers during LeBron James’ glory days, including the season that the Wine and Gold made the championship game. During the 2005-06 campaign, Marshall averaged 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
Special thanks to Rider University Director of Basketball Operations Paul Johnson for setting up the interview with Right Down Euclid and Marshall. Marshall also aided Backdrop Magazine in their efforts for an upcoming piece on collegiate basketball.
Right Down Euclid: The news broke Monday that Zydrunas Ilgauskas was going to have his jersey hung up in the rafters. How deserving is Big Z of this honor and what did you appreciate about your time playing with him?
Donyell Marshall: I think he’s very deserving. For a guy whose career went the opposite way playing through feet injuries. Being a teammate and being a good friend of his is unbelievable. I think he is someone definitely deserving of this honor.
RDE: With Coach Mike Brown coming back, what do you have to say of your work with him in your three seasons with the Cavaliers and what he will do for the Wine and Gold this time around?
DM: I’m not sure about this time around. First time around obviously we had a great team. He fit our style and we fit his style. Obviously he didn’t get a championship, obviously we didn’t win it, but just getting there. I think it was a team that bought into his system and his system fit our team. I think if these guys buy into his system, I think they will be a good team. I think he’s a pretty good coach and he knows what he’s doing, as long as they buy into his system, I think he’ll be fine.
RDE: Now, the only Wine and Gold member left on this roster that you played with is Anderson Varejao. What do you have to say about playing with someone as athletic as Wild Thing is?
DM: He’s one of those guys that you love to have on your team and you hate to play against just because of the way he plays and the things he does. Taking charges, playing hard, the rebounding; he knows the game. He’s a good player. Like I said, he’s one of those guys you love to have on your team but you hate to play against.
RDE: What would you say is your finest memory of your time spent playing in Cleveland?
DM: Obviously getting to the championship. Seeing the city of Cleveland embracing the team and us achieving our goal that we said at the beginning of the season, saying that’s where we’re going to go. We wanted to win it, it didn’t work out, but we just had a great experience. Those guys on that team are all guys that I’ve cherished time with. We were a team that was family, that liked each other and that was probably one of the best teams that I’ve been on where we all liked each other. There was no turmoil, we could all talk to each other, we could get on each other, even down to the coaching staff. I think those are some of the greatest memories I have.
RDE: Getting the chance to play with one of the greatest players in the NBA today in LeBron James is a fortunate opportunity. What do you have to say of your time playing with LeBron?
DM: I did play with a lot of great players like Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin and obviously LeBron. I just think that his work ethic is really admirable. I’m glad to be able to play with a player like that, especially coaching here at the collegiate level, because these kids look at players like LeBron, Kobe Dwyane Wade. It really helps me out that when I’m getting on these kids about their work ethic that I could go back and say that LeBron works just as hard, if not harder, than anybody else I’ve ever known. And it really helps me out because these kids know no days off. If they want to get to the next level, there’s no days off, so actually I thank him a lot without him even being here as far as work ethic as far as reaching these kids.
RDE: How have you embraced your career choice at Rider University getting to be an assistant basketball coach?
DM: I’m embracing it with everything I have. I’m blessed to be at a school like this under a coach like Kevin Baggett. He’s a very good coach, he’s been around the game around a long time and one thing that he does that’s amazing is he lets us as assistant coaches coach. He wants us to coach, which is good because it helps us hopefully down the road become head coaches. He expects us at practice to get on the players, he expects us to coach, he expects to stop practice when we see something wrong, and that’s good. You want to be an assistant coach for a head coach like that, because I think it’s only going to make you better. I think being here under him, I’ve been blessed to be able to learn, and I’m going to continue to learn every day being a coach under him.
You can follow Donyell on Twitter at @Dmarsh42.