tv Charlie Rose PBS April 29, 2010 12:30pm-1:30pm EDT
>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. to want, mo ibrahim, an african billionaire who devotes himself to the future of africa. >> if you go to an african president and tell him "you are a crook" he will say "who are you to tell me that? but i am an africa. i can tell him "you are a crook." he cannot say that to me. that's the difference. >> rose: also this evening, craig robinson, he's a basketball coach at oregon state university. he's also the brother of michelle obama, the first lady. his new book is called "a game of character." >> after they'd been dating a while, she says hey, listen, this guy, he plays basketball. and i know what you and dad said about basketball. take them to play with you. and i'm thinking to myself, i don't want to be in this position. >> rose: mo ibrahim and craig
robinson next. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: mohamed ibrahim joins us in washington. he created one of africa's largest telecommunications companies. in 2005 he sold it for $3.4 billion. he now devotes himself to philanthropy and the future of africa. the mo ibrahim foundation promotes good governance, one of the foundation's initiatives is the mo ibrahim prize, it awards
$5 million to a worthy african leader upon his or her retirement. i'm pleased to have him on this program for the first time to talk about africa the continent and africa the people and his mission. >> thank you very much for having me. >> rose: why are you in washington? >> i was invited to attend to... take part in the presidential summit for entrepreneurship. it's a initiative of president obama which stemmed out of his famous cairo speech where the administration has tried to engage with the muslim majority countries through a wider front. much wider than just the arab/israeli conflict. is scientifically, business, et cetera, there's a lot of issues snuchlt so how is it going? >> there's so much. the people in the so-called
islamic world or muslim majority countries who really admire, love the united states. they love your culture. they love the social mobility, simplicity, the way the country built itself. it's amazing to see all this... >> rose: they love our movies? >> oh, absolutely. and it really is just a question... unfortunately, the arab/israeli conflict somehow colored the whole relationship and the perception of the muslim history with the united states. that the united states is maybe not an honest broker here, et cetera. which is an issue, of course. but there is a much wider issue of engagement, really, between the united states and one or two bitter people. >> and who was in the conference. who was there? >> it was about 210 entrepreneurs from the...
>> rose: so this is the business sector, the technology sector? >> all these rising young wonderful people and how will it help the culture of entrepreneurship. the islamic world is a huge bulk of young people coming through. what's going to be the future? small business, new business creates jobs. as it happens here, all the new jobs in america are really created by the small business. and how we encourage that, how... what the governments in our part of the world need to do to really help the culture of entrepreneurship to move forward we have a lot of things to learn from the united states, actually. >> rose: you were born in sudan. >> yes. >> rose: you were an engineer. >> yes, and i did work a little bit in sudan in the postal service, as you call it. then i went to u.k. to do my
masters in ph.d. and i ended up as an academic. my specialty was in mobile communications. >> rose: what can be said about your timing is amazing. >> it was wonderful. this was long before cellular came. so that was a subject of my research. when british telecom was about to launch the first mobile service in the u.k., they invited me to go on as technical director. so i was an engineer. it was an accident after that, charlie. i never dreamed to be a businessman. i never planned to be a businessman. i got fed up with the way things happen where half of the company is shooting other t other half. it's that culture, really. >> rose: more competitive than collaborative. >> absolutely.
i got disillusioned and i left. and i did what everybody did. i mean, one day i had a nice office, i had a secretary and stuff and then you lose your joy. what do you do? you say okay, i'm going to leave. so i went home and i tell my wife. my wife happens to be a medical doctor and i said, okay, look we don't need the dining room, that will be my office. >> rose: (laughs) >> she said fine. and she was used to working part time. i said if things go wrong, are you willing to go back to work full time? she said fine. so i had the support that was crucial and i started working and after one or two weeks i discovered i sold everything for three years. and i said oh, there's something going on here. this is a new technology, people need it. so i started to hire some of my colleagues and friends and
before i knew it i had a company. and i didn't know how to read the balance sheet or to do business plan and so i was just working. later, charlie, i discovered there that really that's the best way to do startup. just use your common sense, you don't need all these books. >> rose: you don't need high finance, you need a good idea. >> good idea and go forward. >> rose: common sense. >> so we started this, i had $50 in savings. that was the capital of the company. when we sold the company a few years later, we got a billion dollars for it. >> rose: that was the first company. >> that was the first company. it was a technology company. we were designing networks around the world, actually. we ended up 450 engineers in the u.k., we did moscow, we did most of the european big systems. so that is a wonderful high tech kind of operation. >> rose: so you're set for life. but? >> but i was really concerned.
just think about... i'm an african. and whatever you, do you know, i get all these nice clothes, still i'm an africa. >> rose: your head niece africa? >> my soul. >> rose: your soul is in africa. >> and i ask... my customers were verizon, bellsouth at the time and i asked those people, i said why aren't you scrabbling for licenses everywhere in europe? why are none of you wants to go to africa? and i remember the conference, a very serious person, a director of one of the baby bells. he was a very nice person, very educated. i said, listen, uganda. the people of uganda are asking us to help them get a cellular system up and running. they don't have a telephone
system. you are a big operation. the license is for free. people pay millions for license fees, why don't you do in the africa? and he said to me, mo, i thought you were starter than this. >> rose: he said that to you? >> yeah. i thought you were smarter than this. you want know go to my boss and tell them that i'm going to build a mobile network in a country run by this crazy guy edie a mean? idi amin left 14 years ago. >> rose: (laughs) >> but this is the point. i am the international director in my country. i was a hippy in new york in the '60s and if i as an intellectual don't know that'dsy amin left the country in 14 years, the people in my board, after of them don't have passports. >> rose: they know less than i do. >> they think uganda is still... >> rose: so the bottom line is hereafter a was there for the taking.
>> and nobody wanted to do it. >> rose: and the franchise is free. >> they're begging people to come. >> rose: bring us the technology. so you saw an opportunity to go in there and fill that. >> absolutely. absolutely. charlie, wherever there's a gap between perception and reality, there's a great business opportunity. so i talked to my friends and i said look, let's go into africa. nobody's going to do it. let's go and do it. these guys are afraid of africa. there's nothing to be afraid of in africa. so that's how we sought it out a little bit. is. >> rose: and when was this? >> that was in 1998. and charlie, in the first board meeting-- and it was a very big board meeting-- it was a very good board. i was the chief executive of vodafone, i had really a lot of senior people with me. all of them love africa and want to do something. so we're going to build a company to the highest european
standard and everything. especially in governance. and we will not pay a single you dollar in bribes. >> i said wonderful, how are we going to do that? everybody says you can't do business in africa unless you pay bribes. okay, here is the simple thing we're going to do today in our board meeting. we're going to pass a resolution, there's no check bigger than $30,000 will be signed by anybody except the whole board. so if anybody asks any of our people for a... we'll say wonderful, we'll go back to the board and get you your money. then you look at the people on the board. so that was a way to... >> rose: so nobody asked for a bribe? >> never. they cannot ask for a bribe.
but we need to put things which will support our people in the field. if they come under pressure and to our surprise, actually, that situation did not arise... it did arise sometimes. but when there was 15 operations in africa and many of this kind... nobody asked us for a bribe. so who actually is corrupting whom? is it african officials corrupting business or business corrupting politicians in africa? >> rose: so tell me what the impact both in terms of numbers and in terms of cultural political social impact of having cell phone technology is to africans. >> it's changed africa. it changed africa. and i cannot claim to really have the vision to predict what's really would have happened, to be honest. we were surprised more than inelse. it's... africa is huge. the african continent is the
second-largest continent in the world. it's huge. and most of it is europe, actually. and there's no telecom service. in the congo, 55, 60 million people. they have only 3,000 phones at the time. 3,000 phones. >> rose: in 19... >> in 1998. >> rose: in congo? >> in congo. and today they have seven or eight million. >> rose: 300,000 to seven or eight million. >> do you know how many africans now have mobile phones? over 450 million people. >> rose: for that politically does it have an impact politically? >> amazing. amazing. and, again, this is a wonderful surprise for us. i wish i said, oh, we planned that all, how smart you are. we are not really. look at what happened in kenya and zimbabwe which, by the way, i say is a great victory for democracy.
people portrayed zimbabwe as just wonderful. it shows that african people with the technology in their hands were able to document fraud, were able to prove that, look, this election does not represent my vote. you guys are not inspecting our phones. we'll not let that go. >> rose: we can tell you that we queued up to vote and we can call in and tell you. >> because people also photograph. use their phone to photograph the list of... because each station had to by law... they have to put out the result of elections. so once they photographed all these results, people know that knew gab bay lost. so how can you... you remember this sat on the election for two months. the end, there's no option but to declare the true results,
which is mugabe lost. after two months. >> rose: but he still has power. >> absolutely. but we understand that. but what shown the world that zimbabwean people are not taking it lying down. >> rose: and it's just beginning. it >> it will happen. >> rose: why did you sell the company? >> okay. a number of reasons. number one. the major problem we had, charlie, was access to finance. we build a company and it's a huge investment to build infrastructure because we're not just building the cellular operation, we're building the actual infrastructure. we're putting the microwave, the broadband to connect our operation. we're doing... so there's no backbone. we have to do it. a huge investment. we have to continually support the investments through our old
equity. it's incredible. banks will not lend us money. >> rose: why not? >> we are africa. banks don't deal with africa. >> rose: still? >> absolutely. the last round we tried to have some launch to the company and was handed $90 million. we managed to close that deal in december '04. we had... this was so many banks i've been working with for nine months and the i.f.c. actually was doing half of it. so the rest of all these great banks were doing probably $90 million. for this amount of money, $190 facility, i had to mortgage 15 operations. i had to mortgage $40 million. i have cash in the bank because this is africa, a huge risk.
the same guys rule, really, piling on the mortgages. we say no, no, this is huge risk. three months later we tell company for $3.4 billion. and is there any connection between the $190 million? that was the security offered to us. and $3.4 million. we didn't get any financing. funny thing, the people who bought us, actually, was a kuwaiti mobile company and in order to buy us they needed to raise funds. and so they raised $2.5 billion in three months and the same bankers, with the same security, same assets, because it's a kuwaiti company they gave $2.5 billion. >> rose: it was a vote of no confidence in africa. >> in africa. the same assets, three months
later the bank is happy to give $2.5 billion. >> rose: so suddenly you're sitting there with a lot of money yourself. >> yes. >> rose: and everybody calls you mo ibrahim. and you decide to create the foundation. and the foundation is dedicated to doing what? >> to get good governance in africa. we are not into taking food to people in darfur or... we think we need to go to the basics. >> rose: you don't deny that's a big need, but you're saying that's not what we should do. >> we need to do something completely different, which it cannot be done except with an african foundation. the european america foundation cannot do that work because it touches in sovereignty and there is tough and only africans can handle that. charlie, you're a wonderful intellectual, but few f you go
to an african president and tell him you are a crook, he will tell you you are an imperialist. who are you to tell me that? but i am an africa, i can tell him you are a crook, he cannot say that to me. so that's the difference. >> rose: so you want to create good governance because good governance in a civil society will create an opportunity for people to invest in africa and you believe that africa's future depends on a recognition that it is a good place to invest. >> we are a rich continent, one of the richest continents, but we are poor people. so we ask why. why? why are we poor? we have the second-largest continent in the world. we have 25% to 30% of the minerals and resources of the world. why, charlie, are we poor? it's a good question. >> rose: how do you answer that question? >> it's absolute mismanagement of our resources and our governnts.
a lot of things happened. and what... without good governance there's no way to move forward. we need to have... and for us, good governance is not only about transparency, it's also about democracy high, man rights. >> rose: as a rule of law, creating the rule of law. >> absolutely. >> rose: creating education? >> gender equality. all these issues. good governance. >> rose: but your money goes to support what? the money given away in this foundation? >> we do three things. first thing we do, the index. we talk about good governance, what is good governance? can we measure it? so we produce an index and comprehensive set of data. 85 parameters for each country, 53 countries. and this describes exactly what's going on. economic opportunities, participation, democracy, rule of law. access to courts. how long girls stay in schools.
access to computers. we do a comprehensive photograph of where the country is and we give that to the government and say exactly what we did. here's what's going around. and it's up to our society to have a conversation with the government. our performance or rather the lack of it. it's not us. >> rose: you also recognize leadership? africa. >> at the same time, this is tough to take all those countries, really take issue with them, at the same time we recognize that there is african leaders who want to really come and do the right thing. charlie, you have your president we have the prime minister.
and the issues at the end of the day, health care, how much it's going to cost the issues our leaders are facing are a little bit more tough than what you people are facing here. half my population haven't got clean quarter. three quarters don't have electricity. i have half a million kids coming to school age. i don't have schools... seats for them. i have so many people with h.i.v. i have so many people with malaria. i have this, i have this, i have this. how is this guy going to sleep at night? it's tough. those people need support. so we're going to support the good people are really coming first come democratically. serve and serve the people, not
serve... really serve the country. take it forward. see how and they they no hanky-panky with the constitution. you come and serve and you go. after you go, you say you have done that, you are a hero. you want to take you really to our civil society, celebrate you bring them show here to say here's our heroes, don't keep talking about mug gabbie and this people. those wonderful african leaders who do the right thing. clean hands, no blood on their hands, no funny stuff in their pockets those are the african heroes. we need to have them have life after office. your leaders, they have life after office. >> rose: sure, look at tony blair. >> everybody.
you go to his speech, the right published memoirs... >> rose: better after office than in office. >> it's fine and legitimate. it's all fine. but where our leaders go, we have nowhere to go. they say okay, hand us the keys to the castle and you leave everything here. she we call you a taxi? we don't have the corporations to invite them the balls. so we say don't worry about, that you are a hero. >> rose: you give the largest prize in the world, larger than the nobel prize, which i guess is close to a million dollars, as i remember. >> $1.5. >> you give $5 million, $500,000 over ten years. >> yes. >> rose: so that's $5 million prize for the... how many do you select a year? >> one. >> rose: one each year. so that person gets over ten
years $500,000 a year. and then after that you give them $200,000 for life. >> also give them $200,000 per year for his own foundation. because we want them to go out, form the foundation, take up causes go to speak to school kids. do this. here is expense money for you. >> rose: here's how you can make a contribution to your own money and what do you require? >> we require nothing other than to get out of politics, help civil society help africa. you need to travel around africa. but we don't have much demand on this other than to be good ambassadors for africa, engage with the kids, with young people with... >> rose: as you know there's some debate always about aid and whether it's effective or not. people write books saying it doesn't work. good idea, good intentions, doesn't work. what do you say?
>> we have to be very careful. we have differentiate between humanitarian aid and developmental aid. i think humanitarian we all agree upon. it is a problem with haiti somewhere. we have to help the people. there's no argument about humanitarian aid. i hope so. developmental aid, of course, we need to always offer better systems. we need to improve... to measure the effect of it. partnerships, commitment. so we say no, no, no, the danger of saying no, no, no we don't need aid at all. i'm referring to ms. moyers book which i think she was on your program. >> she was, indeed, yes.
we let banks finance african development. she worked at goldman sachs. she could have just asked, did goldman sachs put one dollar in any development project in africa? >> rose: the answer is? >> no. i gave goldman sachs $30 million when they're supposed to bring our company to... to take us for an i.p.o.. so they're happy to take money but no money was given to us to help us develop our business. banks will not do it. how can we rely on bank which is really are not involved in africa? >> rose: are you critical of most of the governmental aid that comes to africa or do you think it's simply what? >> it can be improved. it needs to be improved. >> rose: but you want to focus on governance. >> absolutely because me as an
african, i think i would love the day we mediate. all the aid in the world, all the aid going to africa, all kind of aid, loans, whatever, guaranties at about $40, to $50 billion a year. african internal incomes is $500 billion a year. so i'm focusing this $500 billion dollars of our own money and i'm saying to our governments let's do something useful for this. let's have rule of law, let us focus on development. let's focus on real issues. we can the, as the beatles said, with a little help from our friends. but i don't think it is going to change africa. >> rose: but you are also, i assume, very appreciative of what people like the gates foundation have done in terms of global health.
yes >> yes. this is wonderful. >> rose: filling a void that no one was doing and providing seed money >> i work on the board which is the great revolution in africa which is $500 million. >> they're hopeful malaria can be literally stopped. >> how can we say these things are not useful? how many lives have they saved? so we have to be careful, really because this subject has many... and people can be too supervisual and say, oh, it did not change africa, stop it. no, we need better aid. >> rose: i was told that when he was you and bono were touring africa, you were the rock star and bono was tagging along. >> well, this is a bit of exaggeration, i think. for me it was a little bit unfortunate. not many african people knew
what one is doing for africa. one is a wonderful organization. >> rose: one is the organization. >> yes. and you can check one.com. and it's doing something wonderful for african people there. and when i go and talk about it, i say do you know one? and people say no, who is one? and i say, look, you need to understand, you need to give those guys a standing vo oh separation because at tend i am an africa. whatever i do i have to do it as my people. but why this irish guy, why this american guy come all the way from here to help people he doesn't know? this is humanity. this is humanity at its best. >> rose: tell me about china and africa. >> let us start by saying in africa we really welcome having partners. because the more part neshs we
have, we're in better position. the commodities prices started to rise in africa. they've been stagnant for 40 or 50 years. it's very interesting why these prices have been there when the shops kept rising in prices. >> rose: they were paying the same and selling it for more and more. >> exactly. so it's good news that people... more people are interested. we have no issue with the chinese. but china has to be careful and i hope some chinese are watching the program here. i know you are meeting the foreign minister of china. china should not commit the mistakes committed by the west many years ago. and to preend that... i'll do with government, i don't care about the governments. you can be dictator. buck a killer. i don't care.
no because you can end up supporting people. i mean, there was the terrible incident in guinea recently where we had a military coup and then there was a terrible accident at the stadium, i don't know if you heard about it. massacred people at the stadium. they raped women in the street, the soldiers. a week later we heard china is extending a lifeline of $7 billion to this military junta. which is the african union. africans said we are not obliging you. and then china say "oh, i'm giving you $7 billion." so i was at a conference and i asked the chinese colleague and i said how could you do that? how could you do that? the answer was, oh, this money actually is not the chinese government, it's the chinese
company. it's a chinese company doing this. so i said if any young secretary in the office of your prime minister picked up the phone and spoke to the chief executive of that company and said you know what you're doing is hurting the mother land. what would you do? so don't tell me that is a chinese company that did that. you are responsible for doing this. and please pass this message back. so i don't think that the chinese have said you know... designs let us go and support dictators and rape women. i don't think they're doing that my question to them, we would love to be friends with the
chinese but we have to win the friendship of the beam, not the governments. dictators come and go, charlie but the people out there, please come and support the people. and we'll be grateful and we'll have bridges of friendship with you and all the other wonderful people who work with us. so please pass this message. i'm trying to reach the chinese, i cannot. >> rose: how do afternoon cans feel about america? because it's said that george bush-- even by president clinton-- did well on africa. >> he was the best president for africa. >> rose: george bush 43. >> absolutely. and i was amazed. i mean i was... that should have been his legacy. and somehow the people in the white house i don't think they realize what he was doing what
the united states did with africa was fantastic. for >> the millennium challenge, it's wonderful. the way he stood up for africa was great and that actually raises the bar for the current administration. all africans are sitting there waiting for mr. obama. what obama is going to do for africa. >> rose: he hasn't done it yet? >> not yet. you gave him a tough hand. >> the economy, afghanistan. >> afghanistan, iraq. we are patient waiting him for sort out the united states. but he needs to come out and help us really in waiting for him. >> rose: you're saying africans are saying at some point, mr. president, don't forget we're here and recognize us and give us an opportunity to become
what? >> we need to move forward. we need to be well governed society. we have the resources. nobody africa wants to sit on the side there waiting for aid from america or anybody or christmas you all say oh my god. nobody is proud of being a beggar. we are notbergs. we want to build our continent. we have the resources to do it. we need to take our governments really to task for what you're doing. we need to ensure we have democratic societies and we need to be governed well and that's our right. what is happening in africa now. it's amazing. the rise of the civil society in africa. communications, mobile phones enables the civil society now. people are connected and this is a new force in africa now and
things are changing and we need to own our problems and sort it out. we don't expect anybody to sort our problem. yes, any help given to us is wonderful. but we know 99% of the lifting has to be done by us. because otherwise it doesn't work. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you very much for your tolerance and your time. >> rose: pleasure to see you. mo ibrahim. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: craig robinson is here, he is the brother of first lady michelle obama. he left a successful career on wall street to coach basketball which was his true passion. he is currently head coach of the oregon state university men's basketball team. that program was at the bottom of the pacific ten conference but has been revitalized under his leadership. previously he was head coach at brown university where he was named the ivy league coach of the year in 2007. he has a new booked called "a
game of character: a family's journey from chicago's southside to the ivy league and beyond." i am pleased to have him here at this table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. glad to be here. really glad to be here. rose: so you wrote this so that we would appreciate what basketball says about life? >> a combination. what basketball says about life but it also... when i think about memorable people and that can be a teacher, it can be a talk show host, it can be a leader or a parent the one thing that comes to mind, it all boils down to character. and a game of character is a love letter to my parents. and the lessons in a game of character resonate not only with people on the cord but people in the board room and people at the dinner table.
>> rose: what have you learned about character? from your parents, from basketball, from the dinner table. >> i tell you, first and foremost my parents just how much thought they put into our upbringing and the practicality of it. just tremendous. and my father has always said that you want to... you don't want to do things because they look like the right things to do. you want to do things because they are the right things to do. and i've sort of just fashioned my life behind that and have moved on through my life living that story. and basketball has just been a wonderful tool for me to learn
about self-confidence. i've been very successful at it and it's helped me become the person who i am. >> rose: tell me what you mean by that? you've been successful and it's helped you become the person you are? >> i think, charlie, the being good at something helps you with self-s sdepl. i didn't realize that when i was growing up and my dad would come home from working a double shift and not be too tired to take me out and work me out, play catch, go to the courts. i was just doing it for fun. and as i got better my confidence started to build and it was the same thing in the classroom. my parents never graded me or my sister on what we... how well we did. they really graded us on how
hard we worked. and it's these tenets and these values that have been the foundation of my life and have gotten me from the south side of chicago to being the head basketball coach who was formally on wall street. >> rose: what did you father who you called the philosopher in chief say about race? >> you know, he was very honest with me about race and he wanted me to know that at the time... i was born in the early '60s, that i would run into people who would treat me a certain way based on my race. but because they did that i didn't have to act that way based on my race. he never took offense because he thought that people who would treat you poorly because of your race were just ignorant, they
hadn't had a chance to get to know you. and he was the best at getting people to let them get to know him. >> rose: what was his relationship with your sister? >> very similar. you know, they had a wonderful... they had a wonderful relationship. i talk about in the book how even at the... my sister's early '30s, late '20s early 30s she used to sit on his lap like she would when she was a kid and he would treat her like a little girl and they had this great relationship. yes he was very proud of the things that she had accomplished as a yuck adult. >> rose: did she know early on she wanted to be a lawyer? you know, i don't think... i think early on... i haven't
talked to her about this in a while but either on neither one of us knew what we wanted to be. what we did know was that whatever we wanted to be we could be it. >> rose: and you wanted to be number one at it. >> we wanted to do our best at it. that was the... it's a slight difference there, charlie in that our parents didn't pressure us to be number one. they just said work as hard as you can and see what results you get. >> rose: but they knew that if in fact you excelled at something i would build your self-esteem and the more confidence you had the better you would be in terms of an overall flight pattern? >> that's correct we were never discouraged about reaching beyond where people... where conventional wisdom thought you should be and i'll use the example of learning how to read i wanted to learn how to read when i was four years old. because i wanted to know how to
read. my sister could care less about learning how to read. so my mom never pitted us against each other by saying "you need to start reading because craig started reading." we each started reading because we felt like it. i think that' a perfect example of why we were so close because we were never pitted against each other. >> rose: both went to princeton. >> we both did. >> rose: why was that? >> i went there because i got recruited to play basketball i use the wonderful example in the book of howfy almost didn't go to princeton. my father working shift work as he did, i was worned with the finances of going to college. so/get a scholarship offer from the university of washington which is in the pac 8. i'm in the pac 10 now. now, you know princeton doesn't
offer athletic scholarships, it's a need-based situation. and the university of washington was full scholarship. so we have our sit down at the kitchen table. my dad says okay what are you thinking about? where are you going to college? and i said well, i think i'm going to university of washington. and what my dad did was what dads do when you've made the wrong decision but he doesn't want to panic. so he did one of these with... he stroked his chin and he put his head down and he said well, why do you want to go to the university of washington? i said, well, i've got a full scholarship over here and princeton's saying we've got to pay $3,000. which could have been a million dollars to me at the time. my father said to me, he said, if you pick your school based on how much money i have to pay, i'd be very disappointed. he said think about it, we'll talk about it tomorrow. tomorrow came and i said i like
prince top. >> rose: why basketball for you? >> i grew up in the time when you played all the sports, so i didn't start with basketball. i thought i was going to be the next ernie banks. >> rose: really. >> oh, yeah, i just knew i was the first baseman who could hit. he started out as shortstop, but that was before i started watching the cubs. and then i moved from being ernie banks to being gayle sayers and i wanted to be a football player. and then as i talk about in "a game of character" we went on a trip to michigan to a small resort that didn't have a whole lot. they had a swimming pool, a tennis court and a basketball court. >> rose: right. >> and i'd get up in the morning and go play basketball and my dad saw me, he came out and work med out and that was the begining of basketball and i just fell in love with the game. >> rose: who what did you fall in love with? >> i fell in love with the artistry. i fell in love with the fact that you can play offense and
defense i fell out of love with football when i found out you have 75% practices and 25% game. i fell in love with the competition. i didn't get the stature until later on after i had been playing for a while. so it wasn't that basketball chose me. it was... i played all the sports and i really fell in love with the game and the strategy and that's how... >> rose: when did you know you were good? >> rose: really, i didn't know i was good until i was getting recruited to go to college. i should have known it earlier because as i meet professional sports guys, 85% of their ability is up here.
but i was a decent high school player. i wasn't a high school all american. i've always been a late bloomer because i was a little ahead for my age so i was always the youngest guy in the group of guys playing. so i thought i was adequate but i didn't realize i was good until i got recruited and then once i thought i was good i went to play for pete, hi reminded me that i was terrible. >> rose: (laughs) >> rose: but he had real influence on you. >> absolutely. absolutely. i like to say that i really learned how to play the came from coach. that's not a slight to my other coaches. >> rose: but what do you mean by that? >> well, what i mean was i learned to look at the game from a different point of view. when i was growing up and playing in the parks in chicago i was running the ball up the court, let's use our athleticism when i got to princeton it was a completely different kind of
basketball. there was a huge focus on fund. als. there was a huge focus on giving yourself up for the next guy and that was key for me because i didn't understand that until i met the coach and it took me... it even took me a couple years before i got it when i was at princeton. and the ability as the coach used to say, to see the game and what he meant by see the game is knowing what's going to happen before it happens. that's what the larry birds and magic johnsons and lebron james can do. >> rose: is it the program or the coach or the alumni or success in the enbay or something else that takes a kid who is in the top ten in the country and the choice of a place he wanted to go. what is it that you do and why
do they all go to so many of these schools that i just mentiond? >> there's a combination of things i think. >> rose: which is what you want to break through to. >> that's what i want to break through to. each and every one of these kids wants to make it to the next level. be it the n.b.a. or playing professionally in europe. the traditional mind-set is what's the best way to do that is go to the places that send guys to the pros. and that's what we're trying to break into. we want people to understand that if you come to oregon state you have a good chance of making it to the next level. and in order for us to start to attract those type of players, we have to win basketball games. and in order for us to win basketball games, we have to attract better players. so in between the time of getting the best players and the players we have now, we have to coach them up so we can beat the best players and participate in the n.c.a.a. tournament and
though them that playing in oregon state in the pac 10 helps them get to the next level. and what i have to do as the leader of the oregon state program is get into that group of five because you're allowed five visits that coach k is in. because i maintain that if we can break through and we're one of those five or six schools who come into the living room, how i like to say, we'll have our shot at a lot of kids. >> rose: i have avoided talking so far about your brother-in-law. the president of the united states. >> (laughs) >> rose: who, based on what i saw with clark kellog has a pretty look left-handed jump shot. does he? >> he does.
>> oh. p.o.t.u. to p.o.t.. >> if i came back... >> that would be a shining moment! he is a formidable pickup basketball player and i really enjoyed that piece, by the way. i thought he and clark... it was... they had a good communication going. it looked like two guys out in the backyard playing horse. and... >> rose: except they were playing p.o.t.u.s.-- president of the united states. >> right. and i think what you saw there was you saw two guys who absolutely love the game and we're talking about this great tournament, this great n.c.a.a. tournament and president obama is a very good pickup basketball player. >> rose: your sister wanted him to play basketball with you. >> absolutely. and forgive me because i've told this story... >> rose: i know you have. >> ...a bunch of times and i love telling it over and over again. we've talked about how my father
particularly influenced us a lot. well, my sister grew up in the same house where she heard my dad telling me how you can tell a guy's personality on the basketball court. and i'm sure he wasn't the first and i won't be the last to say that. well, she meet this is guy, this terrific guy, by the way, that we all met and were like oh, this is great. >> rose: you like him. (laughs) >> we like him, don't mess this up. and after they've been dating a while she comes to me and says hey, listen, this guy, barack, i'm seeing, he plays basketball. i know what you and dad said about basketball. take them to play with you. and i'm thinking to myself i don't want to be in this position. >> rose: (laughs) >> and initially i said no way. >> you don't want to come back and say the man you're in love with is a jerk on the court. >> rose: that's all i could think of, charlie, was that i
would be the bearer of bad news and we're very close. she said look, i want you do this. she was serious. and i said okay, i put together this pickup game and at the time of course, he didn't know he was being only analyzed. >> rose: he didn't know? >> absolutely not. so we play and there are a couple things that happened that really stood out for me. i mean, number one, if a guy plays basketball he kind of knows where to run on the court, where to pass. but it was things like there was an unselfishness about him. and the amount of integrity that goes into pickup basketball. because in order to keep the game going when there's a decision to be made about a call you give up what the truth is. you have your regular group and you say, yeah, i walked on that one. you cake the ball and let him go. it was clear he gave up the calls that that he should and didn't give up the calls he shouldn't. so that was good.
but the thing that had me singing his braise back to my sister was when we're playing this game and i'm just waiting for him to pass me the ball every time and try to suck up to me because he's dating my sister. >> rose: (laughs) >> and he didn't. he's just playing a nice flow. it was a nice flow to the game. >> rose: craig robinson, head coach, "a game of character" about his life. "a family journey from chicago's south side to the ivy league and beyond." thank you. >> rose: thanks for having me, charlie. >> rose: pleasure. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group 1t wgbh access.wgbh.org