photo credit Getty Images // Michael Stewart
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With the NBA All-Star Weekend about to tip-off in New York City, we decided to talk to some celebrities who know both basketball and New York, to chat about what’s happening in the NBA, their advice for people visiting New York, and whatever else happens to come up in discussion.
Today we catch up with the model Hailey Clauson. A native of Los Angeles, Hailey has been the face of several brands, and she’s about to make her rookie debut in the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. You can keep up with her on Instagram.
We spoke last week during a snowy day in Manhattan…
HAILEY: I just got to New York late last night, and I just went outside to walk my dog and it’s pretty rough.
ME: Yeah, I just went outside a little while ago and it’s pretty brutal today.
HAILEY: It’s quite a shock for me.
ME: Right, because you’re from California, right?
HAILEY: Yeah, and I just got back last night from California, and I’ve been gone for like a month-and-a-half.
ME: You must travel a lot, right?
HAILEY: I do, I’m all over the place. I’m actually back and forth to L.A. a lot, which is nice but yeah, I’m all over the place.
ME: Were you a basketball fan growing up?
HAILEY: Yeah, I was always a Lakers fan. My dad was always super into basketball, so when I was a kid that’s all we did was watch Lakers games.
ME: Wait, you must be relatively tall if you’re a model. Did you ever play basketball?
HAILEY: I did play basketball. I played for five years. I’m six feet tall and I’ve been six feet since I was twelve.
ME: So you were like the Shaq of the league you were in?
HAILEY: Pretty much (laughs). I was towering over all the other girls. I had long arms.
ME: Did you like playing basketball?
HAILEY: Yeah. I was definitely a good defensive player, but wasn’t that good on offense. I was good at blocking… (her phone cuts off; we reconnect a few minutes later).
ME: You OK?
HAILEY: I’m sorry. My phone is all messed up, and when my face touches it, it hangs up. So now it’s on speaker so that won’t happen again.
ME: It seems like being able to touch someone’s face should be one of the main jobs of a phone.
HAILEY: Well, it’s because I dropped it in the toilet and somehow it’s still working.
ME: You were saying you were a defensive specialist when you used to play. When did you stop playing basketball?
HAILEY: I stopped when I was about 13, which was when I started modeling. So I started to use my tallness for something else.
ME: At least you’ve always been able to put it to some use.
HAILEY: I know, I took advantage!
ME: So when you were growing up back then in L.A., did anyone like the Clippers? They weren’t as good then as they are now.
HAILEY: No. I mean, we would go to Clippers games because the tickets were reasonable. No the Clippers are killing it, and that’s cool. I’m kind of sad for the Lakers, but everyone has their moments.
ME: Were you Team Kobe or Team Shaq with those Lakers teams?
HAILEY: I was Team Kobe And Shaq. We had a signed Shaq jersey framed in our house. My Dad washed cars and he washed Shaq’s car, and Shaq gave him the signed jersey, which was pretty cool.
ME: Who was your third-favorite player on those teams?
HAILEY: Um, Derek Fisher probably.
ME: OK. I co-host a podcast with Rick Fox so I was going to see if you happened to mention him. I’m actually glad you didn’t choose him.
HAILEY: I liked Rick Fox! He was always like, in movies and stuff, too, so I thought he was cool.
ME: So are you still a Lakers fan now even thought you moved to New York?
HAILEY: Yeah, I’m still a Lakers fan. I’ll always be a Lakers fan.
ME: If somebody was coming to New York for All-Star Weekend, where would you tell them to go visit?
HAILEY: I feel like New York’s known for its good restaurants. My favorite restaurant is called Lovely Day, and it’s a little hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. When it’s not snowing, New York is super fun to walk around, and the Highline and everything is super cool.
ME: Last thing before I let you go, who will win a championship first, the Lakers or the Knicks?
HAILEY: Um…Lakers? Yeah, Lakers. I had to think about it but I have to stick with the Lakers.