An interview with ‘Original Flintstone’ and former Detroit Piston Justus Thigpen

July 16, 2009

The Original

The Original

 *Click on the pic to view this post at It’s Just Sports!

Back when Stevie Wonder topped the charts with his hit “Superstition,” and “Shaft in Africa” was new, Flint native Justus Thigpen was suiting up for the Detroit Pistons.

In the 1972-73 season, Thigpen became the first basketball player from Flint to play professional basketball, paving the way for the younger athletes in the city. He didnt get there by surprise though, Thigpen lit up gyms across the nation with his lights out shooting and knack for scoring.

Prior to his brief stint with the Pistons, he starred for several semi-professional teams including the Flint Pros of the Continental Basketball Association where he averaged 41 points a game!

During Mateen Cleaves’ “Piece of Mine” Initiative, I had a word with the legend.

Talk about your experiences during your journey to the NBA?

It started a long time ago, I tell you that. I guess it started from the playgrounds, that’s where you honed all your skills because as far as high shool, I didn’t play but one year of high school ball and that was my senior year at Flint Northern. Then it went on, progressed and I had a successful college life and after college I had a chance to travel the world, play ball over in France and then went on to the American Basketball Association and played there with the Pittsburgh Pipers and some of the old timers might remember a guy named Connie Hawkins…he was there so I got a chance to deal with the Hawk. From there we had a CBA league and I did well playing with guys like George “Iceman” Gervin, he was in there and some of the Russell boys out of Pontiac. Then from there (I) went to the Detroit Pistons with the likes of guys like Dave Bing and Bob Lanier. I was in the league with Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe and you learn from these guys, so basketball has been good to me.

What do you think separated Cleaves and Peterson from all of the others who thought they were going to the league out of Flint?

Dedication! You see these guys with dedication and hard work. Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson, Charlie Bell, all the guys from Flint that I had an opportunity to see and be a part of, you see you cant get there without it. No matter what it is, if you’re gonna be a janitor, be the best janitor and they were the ballplayers and it reflects on what they’re doing now.

Who was the best player that you’ve seen in Flint (…outside of yourself)?

You gotta put that on there! (laughs). It’s hard to say because of the people now, everybody has their own style. You’re good at what you do. If you’re a scorer, you’re good a scoring. If you’re a defensive ball player, you’re good at defense.

Back in my day, I was known as a shooter and a scorer and that’s who usually got the limelight but now they got guys that play different positions. Like we didnt have what they called the 1’s and the 2’s and all. If you played guard, you played guard and whoever got the open shot (they) took it unless it’s crucial situations and you didnt want the guy that’s 0 for 10 taking the shot (laughs). But everybody is really a specialist and back then it wasnt like that, you just played the game.

Out of all of the talent that you’ve played against like Connie Hawkins and Iceman, who was your toughest player that you ran up against?

Well it’s a bunch of them (laughs). There was a guy named Fred Carter that played at Philadelphia, now Fred Carter was real fast and strong. Fred Carter and Earl Monroe. But with Earl Monroe, when you get to that level, these guys were not out there trying to hurt a rookie, they were out there to help him. So Earl Monroe was instrumental, but I guess the hardest guy to check would’ve been Austin Carr. He went to Notre Dame, he was six foot five and he was a shooter and a scorer. He was hard to check. But then he told me I was hard to check! (laughs).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: