Tuesday, April 16, 2002 Updated: April 17, 1:15 PM ET
Special to Page 2
It's said in the world of celebrity, fame is measured by name recognition. At the most rarified levels, all that's necessary is a first name or nickname -- Demi, Britney, Madonna, Tiger. And now comes Moochie.
Page 2's Todd Gallagher headed to Houston with 10 Burning Questions for the Rockets' Mr. Norris, the hairball that walks like a man -- and here's what he came back with:
1.Page 2: The hair. How did that start?Moochie Norris: I always had hair. When I was younger, I had braids 'n' stuff. When I was in school, I used to do crazy things with my hair. When I was in high school, I used to put bow wraps in my hair, kind of like how girls do. Except my bow wraps had writing on them -- days of the week, months, names, stuff like that. I was always one of those guys that never cared much about what other people think of them, so I pretty much go with the flow. I'm outgoing and soft-spoken, I'm a loving and caring person.
Does the hair talk get on your nerves?Norris: Actually, I like it when they're talking about my hair because I know somebody's thinking about me more than if somebody's not.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Steve Nash, who's become sensitive about his hair to the point where he won't talk about it. What do you think of his hair?Norris: I like it. It's a nice little 'do for him, with him runnin' all out on the court, runnin' everywhere. It's just shakin' and going everywhere ... it reminds me of when I have my hair out. To me, it's nice.
Who's got the worst hair in the NBA?Norris: I'm gonna say Ben Wallace, because we're in competition for the best hairdo.
Does anyone rival Jeff Hornacek, how bad his hair was?
Norris: No, not that I can think of. He used to make me laugh the way he moved it to the side when he was shooting free throws.
2.The whole Moochie experience. The look -- the socks up, the baggy pants. How did that come about? I know at one point they wanted you to curtail that and tone it down.Norris: It's just been me. I think that's when I lost it and fell off a little bit is when I was worrying too much about what people were thinking about me. Because everyone knew I was a nice person, but when I was getting drafted they were tellin' me people would judge me because of my appearance, and that I wasn't a top draft pick and this, that and the other, so I ended up cutting all my hair off and went bald because I was worrying what everyone was thinking about me, and it kind of distracted me for a while. Even when I got in the CBA, it was kind of difficult.
Moochie Norris bobblehead
Now I'm just glad that everybody accepts me for me. No matter how my hair is, they know that I won't do nothing too crazy to embarrass myself or the people I'm representin'. If they have a problem with me, then I won't do it. But I know they like the way I wear my hair, it's bringing a lot of national attention and it's not just me not doin' it because I'm doin' it.
3.What did you think of the Moochie bobblehead night?Norris: I loved it; it was exciting for me. I called all of my friends, my family. The people here in Houston made it that much more special for me. It was something that I always wanted to have when I first seen they made 'em, and I knew they made little mannequin dolls of players. And then to have the first one they made with hair ...
4.Where does the name "Moochie" (his given name is Martyn) come from?
Norris: My grandfather used to love Cab Calloway. The song "Minnie the Moocher" was his favorite song, so when I was born, that was one of the songs he sung for me.
Are there any other Moochies, as far as you know?Norris: I met a few of them in my time ... some grandmothers and some females and stuff like that. I don't know any of 'em that play basketball.
What kind of music do you listen to?Norris: I listen to jazz, rock 'n' roll, I'm a Celine Dion fan. I just bought Creed. I just like all kinds of music. I like it all.
5.Who's the best player not in the NBA right now, excluding college guys and Yao Ming?Norris: There's so many of those guys. I know there are guys back in my neighborhood that never had a chance, and some of those guys are twice as good as I am. They just didn't get the opportunities, because they didn't make the necessary adjustments in their games, and they just didn't go the extra yard like I did. Everybody in D.C. can play.
6.Where's everywhere you've played so far?Norris: Odessa Junior College, Cardozo High, Dunbar High, got drafted to Milwaukee, played in Vancouver, played in Chile, played in the Dominican Republic, France, Venezuela, USBL, CBA, here in Houston, Seattle. (laughs) That's about it.
What's your favorite place?
Norris: My favorite place is D.C., because all of my family and stuff is there.
Your least favorite place?Norris: Utah. That's the one place I feel like I got nothing to do when I'm up in the city visiting. I mean, I would love to go up in the mountains and just mess around and stuff like that. But I never do anything when I'm in Utah, so it's probably my least favorite place. Utah and Denver is runnin' neck and neck.
When you were going through all of the different leagues, at what point were you the most frustrated where you questioned everything said to yourself: "God, I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go with this."Norris: When I was in Seattle and Milwaukee, I felt like I did everything to get myself to that point, I worked hard to get myself
drafted and everything, and then I get to Milwaukee, and I felt like they just didn't give me a fair shot or opportunity to play. And at the time before they made the trade, they said they were going to give me a fair shot.
But, I mean, it's a business where you got guaranteed contracts and there's moves you got to make. I was just the odd guy out -- a second-round draft pick. They had acquired Elliot Perry and already had Sherman Douglas.
In Seattle, I thought I was doing good up there, but I didn't think I'd go from playing to not even on the IR. They just let me go, so it was kind of hard.
7.Are you aware ESPN.com's Page 2 has a writer named Bill Simmons that's obsessed with you?Norris: I heard about him. I'm supposed to do something with him, I think. I'd like to do something, a special piece on me. Either way, I'd like to meet him.
8.From what I understand, you were a big Transformers fan growing up?Norris: Oh, definitely. Transformers was my favorite cartoon growing up, just 'cause they could go from being a robot to a car, airplane, stuff like that. I just thought it was neat. I'm into stuff like that. I had all kinds of transformers.
Did you have a favorite?Norris: I was really on Star-Scream, because Star-Scream was just a troublemaker, and he could turn into a plane, so he was my favorite.
9.Favorite movie?Norris: "Love & Basketball."
10.You've hit three game-winning 3s in the last year. Right place, right time or a little "Moochie Magic" at work?
Norris: Little bit of everything. Little bit of magic, little bit of luck, and just coach and my teammates having faith in me. It's not like it was a situation where people got stuck and didn't have no one to pass the ball to. It happened just like we drew it up. For instance, against New York, Steve came towards me and I knew those guys were going to leave me open for the shot -- and I hit the shot. Same thing up in Phoenix. I even went to the scorer's table and told them, "They gonna leave me and I'm gonna have a free shot, and I'm gonna hit it." And it happened just like that.