Actor Donald Faison, 38, is best known for his long-running role on the TV series “Scrubs” and for the character Petey Jones in the sports drama "Remember the Titans," in which he played a defensive back who fumbled, a lot.
Faison wasn't a star athlete in real life, either. He has, however, always been a die-hard sports fan.
He uses some of that sports passion to play sports agent Phil Chase on the TV Land sitcom "The Exes," but his character isn't as cutthroat as some of sports' most famous agents.
"Drew Rosenhaus?" Faison asked rhetorically. "Nah man, I try to stay away from that."
Playbook caught up with the Manhattan native to pick his brain about his role as a sports agent, how he would handle President Barack Obama in a pickup hoops game and more.
ESPN Playbook: Your character on "The Exes" is a sports agent. Is there an agent in the real world or from a movie you model him after?
Donald Faison: Kind of Jerry Maguire-esque, you know what I mean? He cares about his clients. It's not all about the money. But he's also like the agent in the world who will lie and cheat to get his way.
Did you own the court playing pickup basketball as a boy? What kind of game did you have?
Nah, my brother was the star athlete growing up. But I got a little bit of game. I'm not a scrub. Kenny "The Jet" Smith once told me he was surprised at how good I was. He'll deny it probably, but he said it.
How often have you been on the basketball court since the 2009 NBA All-Star weekend when you played in the Celebrity Game?
I haven’t played in a long time, man. And I haven’t played strictly because of … man, I need to redeem myself, and they haven’t invited me back yet. So if they ever invite me back and if I get the opportunity to redeem myself, I guarantee it will be a better game no matter who I'm playing against, unless it's just straight-up NBA players.
So is that a message to the NBA?
That's a message to the NBA. You need me in your game.
How would you do in a one-on-one game against President Barack Obama? Do you have more game than the prez?
I'd probably lose because Secret Service would beat the crap out of me for fouling him. I would be all over President Obama's back, and he would have to work real hard to get to the basket. I don't know if he's used to that. I mean, I'm sure he knows how to play the game very well. He's definitely taller than me and longer than I am. But I'll foul him; I don't care. I would hack him. You think I would want President Obama to be talking to his friends and be like, "You know that cat from 'The Exes'? I beat him one-on-one." Do you think I would want to allow that?
Athletes want to be actors and vice versa. Which athlete would you switch places with for a month And why?
I would switch places with either, right now, Jason Kidd or Jeremy Lin or any Knicks guard. J.R Smith. I would switch places with any of them right now just so I could play in the Garden. I've played in it once in a clinic as a kid, but I would love to play in front of a crowd.
You're a huge Knicks fan, but your son's first name is Kobe. Was that a moment of madness? Can you really explain how that happened?
Look, let's be honest. Kobe, when my son was born, was the best player in the NBA, and the Knicks haven't had a good basketball player in a really long time until Carmelo [Anthony] and Amare [Stoudemire] came, you know what I mean? Even with [Latrell] Sprewell, Allan Houston, David Lee, Nate Robinson, even with all those cats, we haven’t had a marquee player since Patrick Ewing until Stoudemire, [Tyson] Chandler and Carmelo Anthony. So if they were playing for the Knicks when my kid was born, there's a strong possibility that my kid's name would be Carmelo or Amare or Tyson.
I know LeBron [James] is doing his thing and he got his ring, but it ain't gonna be easy to get the second one, and if he does it, I'm even more impressed with his game. But you can't deny Kobe. Anybody who ever denied Kobe just hates. For the last 13 years, he's been the best player in the league. I do think LeBron James is by far the best player in the league right now, though. You can't say LeBron is not the best player. Skip Bayless is hating. Name one player who is that dominant? You can't. If I had a kid now, there's a good chance his name would be LeBron.
If you were Jeremy Lin's agent, what advice would you give your client on his Houston Rockets offer?
Don't be a sucker. You have a chance to play for one of the most popular teams in NBA history. Don't go to the Rockets. Play your heart out in New York. They'll love you for it. If I was his agent, that's what I would tell him. I would have told him to play in the playoffs last year too -- even if he was hurt. That's just me.
Listen, man, before I'm an agent on a show, I'm a basketball fan. As an agent on the show, I would do what the audience would want me to do, and that's make him play. If I was a real agent, though, I would probably tell him to sit on the bench, hold out. But I'm not a real agent. I'm an actor agent. It would be a happy ending.
What do you think of the Knicks' decision to sign Jason Kidd?
It depends on if Lin comes back. If they sign Lin, it's great. This kid will learn from one of the best guards of all time. That's great for him, and his game would definitely be brought to the next level. You see what Jason Kidd did for Chris Paul and Deron Williams just by playing the summer with them on the Olympic team. Chris Paul was an MVP candidate that year, and Deron Williams, if his teams were winning, they would be talking about him like he's the best guard in the league. In one summer, Jason turns those kids into superstars. As a matter of fact, Deron Williams didn't make the All-Star Game until after that summer. So it behooves Jeremy Lin to freaking act right.
Will you ever ditch your loyalty for the Knicks and start rooting for Jay-Z's Brooklyn Nets?
They’re a New York team now, so if the Nets do well and better than the Knicks, I'll root for them in the playoffs. But they'll never be my No. 1 team. As much as I love Jay-Z, as much as I love Brooklyn, I'm from Hell’s Kitchen. I'm 10 blocks away from the Garden, you know what I mean? I grew up on it. So I can't root for the Brooklyn Nets unless the Knicks aren't making the playoffs. It's just like the Jets and Giants. I'm a Giants fan, but if they don’t make the playoffs and the Jets are in, I'm rooting for them. I'm a New Yorker.
What are your thoughts on the Dwight Howard situation? Is the possibility of him going to the Nets frightening to a Knicks fan?
Nah, I don't think anybody should be afraid of Dwight Howard anymore after what he showed. He's kind of a … I’m not going to call him any names or anything, but his loyalty is suspect right now. It's in question. He can say whatever he wants to say, but he's facilitating this whole trade thing. I think he's in a business where he shouldn't have the right to say, “This is where you should trade me to.” If he wanted to be a Brooklyn Net, he should have played out his two seasons or never signed a one-year extension with the Magic and just left. As much as we criticize LeBron for The Decision, at least he waited until there were no ties to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He wasn't saying, "Trade me, trade me, trade me!" He said, "Make it happen or I'm going to look elsewhere," and he did that. You're asking for better teammates and how do you think that makes [Hedo] Turkoglu and those guys feel? It's kind of lame, if you ask me.