Car Talk

Ten years ago, the Cavaliers retired Brad Daugherty’s No. 43 — his nod to NASCAR legend Richard Petty and evidence that the NBA’s 1986 No. 1 overall draft pick always had his heart divided between two sports. Even after making the NBA’s All-Rookie Team, the 7-foot center started building a racing team during his second year in the league. With a childhood friend behind the wheel, Daugherty’s team went on to become the first rookie owner/rookie driver combo to win a Busch Series race. Last month, Daugherty turned his asphalt obsession into a job as a commentator for ESPN2’s new daily “NASCAR Now” program and the cable network’s pre-race “NASCAR Countdown.” We recently talked to him about cars, Cleveland and the Cavs bobblehead doll bearing his likeness

On the roots of his race obsession: “You go [to a race] and you see the colors, you see the speed and you smell the smells … you’re enveloped by everything involved.”

On being the Cavs’ “43”: “I had some great teammates and got to play for a great coach in Lenny Wilkens. I had a lot of fun, and I thought we brought basketball back to more respectability in Cleveland.”

On meeting the other “43” as a kid: “[Richard Petty] actually spent about 10 minutes talking to me about what I like and who I am and where I’m from. It’s not necessarily the words that he spoke to me. It was the way he had time for me. Here I am, this little African-American kid walking around with my dad. No one else stopped to speak to us. He didn’t have to do that. It made an impression on me.”

On getting behind the wheel: “Physically, it’s not pretty, me getting in a race car. The Good Lord made me this size to keep my behind out of race cars.”

On the Cavs Brad Daugherty bobblehead doll: “You’ve really arrived when you’ve got your own bobblehead doll. … My wife uses it. I think she thinks it’s a voodoo doll.”

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