At the time of this interview San Quentin prison was on quarantine because of COVID. I had the opportunity to catch up with the new commissioner of the Intramural Basketball League (IBL), Jamal Green, and get his thoughts on what he plans to do with the league now that he is in a position to decide what its future looks like. Before quarantine, league games had already started. Then, another quarantine.
Timothy Hicks: What’s going on with the new IBL commissioner?
Jamal Green: Since the pandemic hit, things have been a challenge. This [lockdown] also happened before, when I was a player.
TH: Yeah, it was brutal on all sports then, like it is now. How do you plan on continuing the season through these times?
JG: As long as they [prison staff] let us have programs, we can do it. I want to bring everybody together. It’s weird to me that we have different rules than the staff. I think that the system has to develop a different structure to deal with this pandemic. I think that we should at least be able to interact with each other behind these walls because it’s therapeutic for us.
TH: I agree. So far, what do you think about the league you inherited?
JG: I feel real good about the league so far. To me, we are like a baby NBA. But I say that basketball and sports in general is therapeutic, because we better ourselves.
TH: That’s true. When former IBL commissioner Ish had the league, he paved the way for you by bringing the league this far for you to take it further. What do you plan to do with the league?
JG: Before the lockdown I was on course to creating some certificates for the guys for participating in the basketball program. I want to show the CDCR and other people that we are not our crimes. I want to show them that sports programs promote unity. They stop violence and relieve tension on prison yards. Sports help us get along with each other.
TH: I agree. Sports do help change people in many ways. For some people, sports are the only way they can express themselves. I see that you like to play ball, too. You are on the SQ Kings 40 and older team. How does being on quarantine affect you?
JG: I miss being out on the yard shooting hoops. I’m coming off an injury. I had surgery on my meniscus. But although I still feel like I’m 27 years old, I realize that I am 47 and my body lets me know.
TH: I feel you right there. (laughs)
JG: But I wanted to make the transition to be commissioner because the competition was fierce and I wanted to change the game.
TH: Who is your favorite NBA team and who do you predict to take it all the way?
JG: My team is the Lakers, but my son’s team is the Warriors. I like Boston but I can see it being the Warriors and the Miami Heat in the Championship.