In his 14 years playing NBA basketball, Earl Boykins never let his height hold him back.
Now, five years after retiring from the league, the 5-foot-5 point guard isn’t letting age hold him back either.
At 41, Boykins is now coaching at the high school level, but while he’s still in basketball shape, he’s not finished competing.
This summer, he’s playing for the Champions team in The Basketball Tournament, and at the TBT Jamboree this past weekend, he shined, going for back-to-back 20-plus-point performances and leading his team to a spot in the 64-team field.
On Sunday, in the ticket-punching game, Boykins went for 21 points (8-15 FG, 3-3 FT), also recording three rebounds and two assists.
As soon as he got a look at the stat sheet, however, it’s clear that his two turnovers caught his eye most.
“I’ve got to play better than that. Got to do better than that,” he said.
But, given that his side clinched a win over the Silver Springs Willow Runners, Boykins agreed to answer a few questions on his lengthy basketball career.
Without further ado, here is that interview:
Question: What have you been up to since retiring from the league in 2012?
Answer: I’m a high school coach out in Denver, Colorado. I have a basketball club team, Boykins Basketball Academy. I train the youth and try to develop better basketball players.
Q: What is your motivation for playing at TBT this summer?
A: I don’t know how long I’ll be able to compete with these guys. I didn’t want this summer to go past without actually coming out here and competing and just to see if I still had it. To come out here and have team success is great.
Q: With back-to-back games of 20+ points, you’re clearly still able to compete. How have you been able to stay in basketball shape?
A: I always play basketball. I try to play at least 3-5 times a week so I’m in shape; shape’s not the problem. I just wanted to come out here, like I said, I don’t how much longer I’ll be able to play, and I just wanted to see what I can do.
Q: Being such a seasoned veteran in the basketball world, how are you able to mentor younger guys on your team (such as Mamadou N’Diaye)?
A: These guys, they listen. When you have young guys that listen, that makes it a lot easier in terms of leading them. In order to lead, you have to have someone following, and the young guys on this team, they’re really following, they’re playing hard, and they’re trying to compete, and that’s all you can ask.
Q: Having gone undrafted despite scoring nearly 26 ppg at Eastern Michigan, what kind of underdog mentality do you take with you?
A: From day one, I always had to fight and earn everything. Playing in a tournament like this, it’s no big deal to me, it’s all about competition, it’s all about competing, and that’s what you want to do, you just want to come out here and compete.
Q: How challenging was it to try and break into the NBA after going undrafted?
A: It’s definitely a challenge because you don’t have a lot of room for mistakes. When you get your opportunity, you have to be ready to play.
Q: What do you miss most about the NBA?
A: Competition. That’s what I missed most. Competition and competing against the best.
Q: What is your most memorable moment as a player?
A: The first time I actually put on an NBA jersey, that was probably my most memorable moment.
Q: Do you have any crazy stories from your time in the NBA?
A: Nah, I just had an unbelievable time playing and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Q: You played the 2008-09 season in Italy; what was that like?
A: It was great. Going to Europe was an unbelievable experience for me, it was a great learning experience for me, I got a chance to learn about the world, I got a chance to travel Europe, so I had an unbelievable time.
Q: You also had the chance to play for USA Basketball in college; how was that experience?
A: It was unbelievable playing USA basketball, getting an opportunity to win a gold medal. When you look back on it now, it was great, it was great for me.
Q: Do you have any aspirations of later on coaching at a higher level than high school?
A: Right now, I’m just enjoying high school.