Former NBA player Harvey Grant talks value of hard work during ABF festivities

WINCHESTER – Harvey Grant was in his rookie year with the NBA’s Washington Bullets in 1988 when, during a preseason game with the Philadelphia 76ers, he got a lesson in the amount of work he was going to need to put in if he hoped to endure a prolonged career in the league.

Grant, a special guest at this year’s 90th Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, recalled on Friday afternoon how during that game, while lined up along the lane for a free throw, he found himself standing next to future Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.

A teammate offered to switch Grant places so the rookie could avoid tussling for the rebound against Barkley, he said, a suggestion Grant obliged. But Barkley followed him to the other side of the lane.

Grant recalled saying to himself, “OK, I’ll box him out.”

“I tell you what man, I got a beating that night,” Grant said with a laugh.

“Long story short, after the game I had one of my assistant coaches say if you wanna last long in this league, you’re gonna have to hit the weights, you’re gonna have to put the work in. Then that next summer I spent the whole time, my whole summer up in D.C. lifting weights and playing.”

Grant, the twin brother of four-time NBA champ Horace Grant, would go on to enjoy an 11-year career in the NBA, which included seven non-consecutive seasons in Washington, three in Portland and another in Philadelphia. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds during his career, and he joked on Friday that one of the biggest highlights of his career was his lone win over his brother, who won three NBA titles with the Bulls and another with the Lakers.

“In 11 years I beat my brother once. That’s it,” Grant said with a laugh.

“He played with the Bulls, so we beat them one time and I’m like OK, I’ll hang my hat on that.”

Grant retired from basketball in 1999 and has since raised four sons to appreciate the value of the hard-working mentality on the basketball court that defined his own NBA career.

“Just work ethic, just try to outwork the next guy,” Grant said of his biggest message to his kids. “Be the first in practice, last one to leave. But most of all, beside basketball, just treat people right. Try to do the right thing in life.”

Grant’s teachings have helped mold the basketball careers of his sons – Jerai, Jerian, Jerami and Jaelin – as three of them are in the middle of professional careers while the fourth is playing basketball in college.

Jerai, the oldest, is playing professionally overseas. Jerian, drafted 19th overall by the Wizards in 2015, has played two seasons in the NBA and started 28 games for the Chicago Bulls this past season after coming over from New York in the trade that sent Derrick Rose to the Knicks. Jerami, a second-round draft pick in 2014, played for Oklahoma City this past season, his third in the league.

Grant said it’s “very nerve-wracking” being on the spectator side of his sons’ basketball careers.

“As a father you wanna get out and help them but you can’t,” Grant said. “The only thing is you can just watch them go through the process, which I did, and eventually they’ll learn, they’ll get to that next level if they put the work in. and they have been so far.”

Grant hasn’t limited his teaching to just his sons, however. He got into coaching shortly after retiring, he said, and has done so at various levels of competition.

He most recently served as the head coach of the semi-professional basketball team Virginia Storm – formerly the Winchester Storm – last season and said he “definitely” plans to resume that role again next season.

The Storm is owned by Norman Blowe, the man responsible for opening Grant’s eyes to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

“He was like Harvey, you have got to come to it. It’s great. You meet a lot of people, the people are nice,” Grant said.

“He said most of all the food is good. And he didn’t lie,” he added with a laugh.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com