Josh Harrellson plays tennis, talks about NBA lockout at celebrity event

Having little else to do right now, Jorts tries his hand at tennis

cclaybourn@herald-leader.comJuly 20, 2011 

Josh Harrellson admits he is bad at tennis.

But that didn't stop the former University of Kentucky star center from teaming up with former UK All-American and national champion Kyle Macy in a celebrity doubles match Tuesday night at the Fifth Third Tennis Championships.

With the NBA lockout in force, the recent New York Knicks draft pick thought, why not play?

"I've got nothing else to do," Harrellson said jokingly. "I've never really played tennis, especially competitively like this. It's something new.

"I'm just trying to get my Ochocinco on and explore new sports. Maybe next I'll try golf or something."

On Big Blue Night at the tennis tournament, Harrellson was the main attraction in the celebrity doubles match, which also featured UK women's basketball coach Matt Mitchell and men's basketball assistant coach Orlando Antigua.

Harrellson showed up and immediately garnered attention for his outfit, which included a Knicks hat worn backwards, a Knicks T-shirt, knee-high black socks and his signature jean shorts.

"I suck at tennis, so I at least have to look goofy," he said.

He wasn't kidding about his tennis skills, but he said the last time he played was in middle school.

Clearly not knowing the rules, Harrellson stumbled around while chasing balls all over the court, often hitting them into the net or out of bounds.

He barely made contact with the ball on one shot, which prompted him to jokingly complain about having a broken racket. He followed that up by launching a shot into the stands.

Fortunately for him, Macy, who played tennis for one year at Purdue, was there to back him up.

"I said the only way I was going to play is if I was on Kyle Macy's team," Harrellson said. "I know he's pretty good, so I was hoping he could carry me."

It wasn't all bad for Harrellson, though. He hit a few winners, including a powerful overhead shot that hit the top of the fence.

Harrellson and Macy managed to win the match, an extended tiebreaker, 10-7 over Antigua and Mitchell.

"He's got game up there by the net. He's really good," Macy said in jest. "I liked his length up there by the net as a doubles partner.

"We were just happy to pull off the hard-fought victory. They were challenging opponents, but we hung in there long enough. We played really well in the big points."

However, the win didn't prove to be enough to convince Harrellson to pursue a career in tennis while the lockout is in effect.

"Not a chance in the world," he said. "I'm going to stick with basketball."

While his immediate future with the Knicks is in question because of the lockout, Harrellson said he's using his off time to relax.

"I've just been trying to do fun things," he said. "I've been riding some WaveRunners and just been going home to see the family. There's a lot of time where I'm not doing too much."

Harrellson said he's living in Lexington this summer and works out for about an hour and a half a day but leaves the rest of the day "open for whatever."

The thought of playing overseas during the lockout has crossed his mind, but he said he's not ready to pull the trigger on that option just yet.

"I'm all right right now," he said. "If it happens too long, I might have to. But I've got a lot of down time right now, so I'm just ready to start playing ball again."

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