Q&A: Michael Carter-Williams’ Career Assists for Children with Special Needs

BROOKLYN, NY -  NOVEMBER 2: Michael Carter-Williams #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the game on November 2, 2015 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bucks starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams is starting his first full season in Milwaukee, but he’s already changing the lives of some locals. Through his work with Special Olympics Wisconsin, he’s donating a portion of his sneaker sales to the organization. And that’s not all he’s doing through the partnership. The NBPA caught up with MCW for a few minutes recently during Bucks’ shootaround at Madison Square Garden.


Jared Zwerling: I read that you’re also donating $5 to Special Olympics Wisconsin for every one of your stats this season. Now, is it for every assist or rebound, because both were reported?

Michael Carter-Williams: [smiles] It’s assists. I’m trying to get them up right now.

JZ: What inspired you to come up with the idea?

MCW: I just thought it would be something that’s a nice thing to help give back, with money for research, activities, whatever it is. I want to help in any way I can. And not to sound ignorant or selfish or anything, it’s not anything hard for me. I still go out there and play the game. So if I go out there and I still play my game and able to affect other people, that’s great.

JZ: How did you first get started with the Special Olympics?

MCW: Honestly I’ve been involved with helping kids with special needs kind of my whole life. Growing up, on Sundays I used to go down to the local park and there would be sports games and things like that, like soccer or basketball, for kids with special needs. And I used to just volunteer, so it’s something that I’ve started since I was young. I’ve always grew up in it, and this is something that I was used to and wanted to do, so that’s why I think I’m so involved with the Special Olympics.

JZ: Was there someone close to you with special needs who influenced you to get involved?

MCW: Yeah, my mom’s best friend, Nancy Thompson, her niece had Down syndrome and she was into sports. She loved watching me play—football, baseball, basketball—and she had passed when I was younger. I think I was in about eighth grade. That was tough for my family and I, and then [Nancy] ended up adopting another kid named Manny with Down syndrome also. And they lived with us for a while, so he was like my little brother almost. Just seeing him and how much he loved sports, and how much he loves the game of basketball, is like truly inspiring to me, and that’s another reason why I’m so involved.

Milwaukee, WI - OCTOBER 30: Michael Carter-Williams #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ballagainst the Washington Wizards during the game on October 30, 2015 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

JZ: Do you remember Nancy’s niece in any special way?

MCW: Yeah, when I always talk to Nancy about it or when I go home. Manny is always at my house. They live in another house now, but they always come over to swim, to shoot at the basket. He just loves to sit there and watch, so it’s nice. It’s always nice coming home.

JZ: On this very court, you participated in a Special Olympics event during All-Star Weekend this year. What was that experience like?

MCW: That was a big moment for me. I got to be the head coach of a Special Olympics team, and that was awesome. It was really cool to see them play and just see them compete, and really care about the game. That was definitely a touching moment.

JZ: Have you had any thoughts for creating your own special needs event?

MCW: I talk about it. I like camps and things just for the Special Olympics, or people with special needs. It’s nothing set in stone yet, but as move further along in my career, it’s definitely something I want to do.

JZ: On the court, what are your goals this season?

MCW: I just want to get better each and every day. I’ve got a great coach, great assistant coaches, great teammates. I’m just looking to continue on, try to win as many games as I can and just have fun.

JZ: With fellow point guard Jason Kidd coaching you, what’s the most helpful advice he’s given you so far?

MCW: We talk every day. I try to pick his brain all the time. I think the biggest thing he just taught me is compete on every possession and just to have fun.

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