Thursday, March 21, 2013
Jay Bilas on NCAA tourney, family, book
By Lynn Hoppes
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas looks pretty comfortable in front of a camera, either breaking down the NCAA tournament or "preparing his son for the Big Dance."
That's because Bilas, who finished with more than 1,000 points playing for Duke (1982-86), caught the acting bug early on.
Bilas graduated from Duke in 1986 with a degree in political science and from Duke law school in 1992. He appeared as a teenager on an episode of the TV show "The White Shadow" in 1979 and in the 1990 movie "I Come In Peace."
Now, beside his analyst appearances on ESPN, Bilas is back to making commercials, this time for Dove. He, along with Dwyane Wade, are promoting fatherhood in the "Real Moments" campaign.
"I love having my chair with my name on it," Bilas said from the commercial shoot in North Carolina a few months ago. "They are feeding me grapes and fanning me. I'm just kidding. It's a fun gig."
Playbook had a few minutes to talk with Bilas about basketball and family.
Everyone knows you as a basketball announcer, but how did you get into commercials and film?
"I remember when I was playing basketball overseas, and in between seasons, I was home in California. My friend said they were looking for 6-foot-8 white guys for this commercial. I show up and there were 50 guys who looked just like me. I did get the callback and ultimately got the part. On the video shoot, I was playing this kid one-on-one, and one of the camera operators asked me about my agent. I thought he meant basketball agent, but he meant theatrical agent. I didn't know what that was. I eventually got one and starting doing commercials, TV and film."
What made this campaign so special for you?
"Like the campaign, I'm balancing my basketball life with the moments that matter to me. I have a wife and two kids. So it was a perfect marriage to do this program."
Your book "Toughness" has gotten a lot of critical acclaim. How difficult was it to write?
"It wasn't difficult. It all stems from a toughness article I wrote a few years ago. It's not about being a bully. You're not supposed to taunt people. You need to be tough in everything you do in life. It has struck a nerve and resonated with people beyond basketball. Do you have it in you to dive for the loose ball instead of just bending over to reach for it? Do you have it in you to sacrifice?"
How have you been able to balance everything these days?
"I try to say yes to all my friends. Several years ago, my wife -- who never once has said a cross word to me -- took me aside and said, 'I'm really proud that you're in demand. I'm really proud that you're giving your time. But you must remember this: When you say yes to someone, you're saying no to us.' That hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been tough enough lately to say no. It definitely was a defining moment for me as a husband and a parent. I'm glad my wife was tough enough to tell me that."