Brooklyn native John Salley was one of the first big men off the bench for the Detroit Pistons when they won back-to-back NBA Championships in the late '80s. He laid the lumber on unsuspecting cutters for the Chicago Bulls for a ring, and rode the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers on a championship run as well. 

However, Salley has always been more than “just” a basketball player.  Though intense in his playing days, he turned his jovial personality and tooth-filled smile into an acting career and was the host of a wildly successful show on Fox Sports called "Best Damn Sports Show, Period."

Recently, the four-time NBA Champion and Georgia Tech alumni sat down with The Shadow League to talk about his involvement in health activist Keith Tucker’s 10th Element of Hip Hop Tour.

“I have been involved since its inception,” said Salley. “We talked about doing a documentary about Hip-Hop being green and its connection to the Hip-Hop world and this movement, but that didn’t happen.  Then he started living the lifestyle and his idea became this.  It became ten times bigger than what his first concept was."  

To be honest, as a young teenager it seemed that hip hop culture could be the catalyst for massive awakenings among the poor and disenfranchised, but then gangster rap was commercialized and that dream was deferred.

Today there seems to be a resurgence of those ideals. The Hip Hop is Green Movement is looking to take advantage of a resurgence that mindset in today’s society.

“This is where it started. Hip-hop changes everything,” explained Salley. “Everybody can connect to it.  It’s the music. It’s a way of life now.  It changes everything. Jay Z changed pop culture. Kanye says something and the world has to listen. So, Hip-Hop is the music of the revolution now.  There’s a reason why it became included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” 

The former NBA player and media personality explained that he has been a vegetarian for 25 years. I asked him the advantages this diet has for athletes.

“As an athlete, I was talking to this 800-pound gorilla and I said ‘You’re that strong and you only eat green vegetables?’  Then I was walking by this unbelievably tall giraffe and I said ‘All you’re going to eat are leaves?’  Everybody wants to be as strong as an ox but they forget that the ox eats grass. The first thing, being black and African, we don’t eat meat.  I don’t know where that came from.  The people that ate meat did so because they had to."  

"A lot of cats now are eating slave food.  They’re eating chitterlings, chicken wings, ox tails, chicken necks, those are the things that the slave master used to throw out. We used to eat beans, rice and vegetables.  So, if you really want to be strong, you will feed your body things that make you strong and that don’t stop your body from working when you try to digest it.  We use food as fuel and the smartest athletes know that you have to keep fueling your body.”


Salley will be honored at a Hip Hop Green dinner alongside a host of illuminates from within Hip-Hop culture, the NBA and the world of health and fitness as well.  The Hip Hop Green dinner will be free for 200 Harlem residents and John himself will be a celebrity chef.  He continued explaining the importance of the endeavor.

“I am only one piece of it.  We have great chefs, one of my best friends, Laura Von Der Pool, will be involved. The best thing about doing this is putting like minds and like personalities in one place to show so many different sides. So people can’t say ‘because of this we can’t that’.  We’re already at an all-time high of black people killing black people and one of the things is we can’t sit down together and have a meal because there is no food. Once there’s food then all that anger and anxiety from animals gets out the way."  

"There’s a reason Russell Simmons wrote three books, there’s a reason why Waka Flocka became a vegan, there’s a reason why Styles P is opening up juice bars in the hood. We all have to stop being ignorant as to what we’ve been lied to about for 400 years. This isn’t new. We have to get back to who we are. Erectile dysfunction at an all-time high, the number one AIDS victims in America are black women between 18 and 25. We’re trying to be distinguished and we have to figure out why these things are happening.  I think that starts with the food. Real soul food is vegan.”

“I want people to realize that if you really want to be conscious, you have to be conscious in everything that you do. You can’t be conscious putting decaying carcass in your body.  That aids in the deaths of 56 million land animals. You just can’t do it.  I want somebody to tell me how fish or any dead animal is good for your body. I want them to show me that scientifically and I’ll go back to eating it.  But I can show you scientifically how there’s no place for animal fat in the human body.  KRS One said it in 1988 ‘No beef, no chicken, no pork, no hamburger.  To me that’s self-murder.’

The Hip Hop Green dinner is part of a larger event  scheduled to commemorate Earth Day that will run from April 21st through April 22. 

It kicks off with the Hip Hop Health & Wellness Ceremony on Thursday at the Schomburg Center followed by the Hip Hop Green dinner that evening. Friday attendees can check out the 10th Element Hip Hop Symposium while the 10th Element Hip Hop Celebration will kick off the actual music portion of the tour with STIC of dead prez, as well DJ Cavm & Arasia Earth along with many others, and will be hosted by Supreme Easy A.D. of the Cold Crush Brothers.  

For more information, log on to http://poagp.com/