Joe Maloof interview and the Maloof Money Cup

Joe Maloof and The Maloof Money Cup

The Maloof Money Cup (July 11th – 13th 2008) is causing a lot of big waves in the skateboard arena with the largest prize purse in skateboard history – $450,000 to be exact – $100k for first place pro street, $75k for first place plus tricked out SUV for first place pro vert and $25k for women’s pro street. With capital like this involved, I was more than interested to get more insight into the entire event directly from the source. Luckily, I was able to get a telephone interview scheduled with the man who gave his name to the event, Mr. Joe Maloof, who readily answered my questions with some quite interesting details about the event. Enjoy!

Thanks Mr. Maloof for taking the time out for this interview. I hope we can give our readers a little more insight into the whole concept surrounding the Maloof Money Cup. Let’s get started…

You are well known for your involvement in professional basketball. What attracted your attention to skateboarding and creating this new type of skateboard event?

Well actually what happened is my brother and I started a basketball camp in Sacramento. Every summer we have one in July, we’ve had that for eight years. It kind of got a little bit stale so one day in the car up in Orange County, driving around and looking out the window I saw all these kids skateboarding, skateboarding (laugh). Skateboard parks…when I was young, kids used to play catch with a baseball or frisbee or football. Now all you see are a lot of kids in America skateboarding. So I thought: why don’t we do have a nice skateboard camp and then it just grew from there. I started getting calls from sponsors like Carls – different corporate people started to call me saying they wanted to get involved and a lot of skate board companies around Orange County and shops as well. So I thought why don’t we do something different and we’ll make it the world’s richest skateboard competition. That’s how it started.

Okay that sounds good. I left America a long time ago, back in 1985, and there was no such thing as a skate park where I grew up so one could “only” skate on the street and now things have really changed, going really big. Looking at the list of confirmed skateboarders, it really looks like you were able to convince people about this concept. What are Rob Dydrek and Jake Brown’s rolls in the organization of the event? Anyone else need to be mentioned?

Well in order for us to gain credibility within the skateboard lifestyle, within that whole culture and community, we couldn’t just come with just having the most money in payoff, almost half a million dollars. That wasn’t going to attract the skaters themselves. So what we had to do is get credible. What we wanted to do, we wanted to let the skaters tell us how to run this competition. And they designed it – Andrew Reynolds – he designed the street course and it’s going to be a one-of-a-kind course. We are going lay down cement, going to build it from scratch and once it’s been skated it is going to be destroyed, never to be skated again. And that’s very, very expensive. And then on the vert we have Jake Brown and some others – Jake was one of the primary guys – who are going to do something a little bit different this year. It’s technical, I don’t understand it but skaters will.

The Maloof Money Cup course
The Maloof Money Cup course – to be skated only once and then destroyed!

Sure, you can’t be playing in all of the ballparks and know the technical details as well. I think Jake knows what he’s doing with all of his experience and after falling from I don’t know how many feet off the ground.

That was the worst story. You know, it’s a tremendous sport. I think it’s ready for the next step and as long as you stay true to it and stay core, get the pros to help you with it, you’ll be okay.

You know what you’re doing in professional sports so I have nothing to say against that which leads me over to my next question. It’s good to see these sponsors coming into skateboarding today, that’s my personal opinion. It’s a good idea to actually support skateboarding, to keep pushing it and making it more popular. There are always two sides to the coin of course and there are always going to be people disagreeing about skateboarding being put into this type of limelight, wanting to keep it underground. What is your main goal, what are you trying to achieve?

I think there’s a couple of things. First of all it’s a sanctioned event – it’s sanctioned with the WCS – we like to look at it like the World Series of skateboarding. The best of the best are going to be here. We have every top skater in the world / America attending this event which we’re very proud of. And that’s means that this event is credible which was the most important thing we had to accomplish this year. We had to make the Maloof Money Cup not just a competition but a competition which the skaters all strive to win.

Do you see the Maloof Cup as a viable competitor to events like the X-Games, Panasonic, Mountain Dew sponsored events?

We have all the repect in the world for the X-Games and the Mountain Dew tour, they’re the best of the best. Our event is a skateboard-only event and I think it helps enhance the action sports lifestyle. Right now, the Maloofs are getting into it, we’re not coming in like bigshots. We’re coming in with our hat in our hand, humble. I’ve been at this for two years and I’ve developed relationships and friendships and I want to give something back.

What we’re going to do, we’re going to create a foundation – The Maloof Skateboarding Foundation. When I saw Jake Brown fall four stories, that actually really did affect me. Nothing like I’ve ever seen in sports affected me that way. It really bothered me, upset me. And I didn’t know Jake Brown from the guy on the street, I wouldn’t have known him if he was two feet from me, but it made me think: what can we do for the sport or for the lifestyle. I don’t even know if you call it a sport.

Well, we can call it a sport, what else is it? It’s a lifestyle too.

What I wanted to do is create a foundation which takes care of any kind of catastrophic injury a skateboarder might have and develop a catastrophic insurance so that, well God forbid, that somebody falls off and really gets seriously hurt. They’ll have insurance now. A lot of these kids/people don’t have insurance so if they get hurt, who is going to take care of them? That’s one thing I think the Maloofs are going to give back to the sport.

That sounds really good especially coming out of America. Living in Germany or Europe in general, it’s normal that you have health insurance of a lot different quality than you have in the States. That is a good point from you, haven’t heard about this yet. Are you thinking about expanding on the entire idea of the Maloof Money Cup? An American tour next year? A world tour?

I like to think that in the last two years I’ve been involved in this I’ve met some really smart people, one of which is Rob Drydek. He has his own show on MTV called “Rob and Big”. I got to know him. He’s really the one who guided me through this. So with him I’d like to do something eventually I think. I want to get through this one first. I want to get my feet wet, develop this and make this the premiere event in all of skateboarding and from there take it to the next level. I don’t know exactly what that is but that could be a separate tour, a street league. There’s a million things where we could take this. But the one gentleman I really lean on a lot is Rob. He’s been great.

That’s really good because he does have his experience in skateboarding so you do have a good man on your side there.

You know, he is very articulate, he’s a business man, he’s got a good business sense. Another thing that I have learned, I thought skateboarding was for 11 to 18 year olds. There’s 18 year olds, there are 25, 30, 35 year olds still at it.

Yeah, not only that. I was just up in Malmö, Sweden at the Quiksilver Bowlriders competition and there are lots of the pros coming in from the States. And they have the Masters as well with guys over 40 (note from the editor: yes, there are master divisions everywhere, not just in Europe!) and I still skate with a guy who’s fifty years old.

I think it’s time and if it’s done right there could be a beautiful blend, a nice marriage between mainstream and the core of skateboarding. It will enhance everything. Why shouldn’t a tremendous skater make a lot of money? What’s wrong with them being able to make a decent living at this if they want to? They don’t have to be a NBA player, they don’t have to be a professional football player in the States. They can make a great living skateboarding. This is the first step. And if they don’t want to go that way up, they can do anything they want individually. It’s an individual, great artistic sport.

That’s true. It’s also worldwide so anybody can make it which is good. The whole idea seems now after these two years you have invested in time and organizing to be going over well in the skateboard community due to the fact that this event is 100% skateboarding only. The bigger problem was probably to sell the idea to what I’ll call “the suits and ties”. How were you able to convince CBS to televise this?

I think that they realize that this is a sport which is growing, more kids in America now skateboard than play little league baseball. Little league baseball is like an institution. There’s a tremendous movement towards skateboarding, not just as a sport or recreation, but as a whole culture, a whole lifestyle. You take a look at the clothing. A lot of the clothing is going away from the hip-hop and it’s going more towards skateboarding. The kids, they want a more relaxed lifestyle. They want to be able have their skateboard with their girlfriend and hang at the beach. That’s what they like, they don’t want to be in a gang.

How many people are involved in the organization of an event of this size?

It started out with me, an ex-basketball coach, his daughter and his assistant, the four of us. For a year we tried to do this and we found out that this thing was taking on a life of it’s own so now I don’t know how many people we have involved. There’s a lot of people involved and it’s a lot of planning, meetings, a lot of everything.

Another huge event. I mean, the size of this event from the money point of view is huge, but there have been other large events such as the X-Games as well. We have not seen anything in this size over in Europe for many years so the biggest event had maybe 10,000 spectators so this is a completely different ball league which is great. We are looking forward to seeing something like this in Europe someday hopefully.

If anyone in Europe wants to come over, they should and make it a nice vacation. Come over, go to Disneyland, come to the Maloof Money Cup which has very affordable tickets (12 dollars and up).

For the Europeans it would be a great time anyway with the Euro and all. Well, I’ll end this one up with the one necessary basketball question : how are the Sacramento Kings going to get to the top next year? Any good draft picks in there?

We got to get back to where we once were and we are going to build through youth. We have a couple of good picks that we are going to take , some real good picks. We have a 19 year old center, 7.1 foot Spencer Hawes out of the University of Washington. He’s the future of our franchise so that’s how I think we’ll get back. We have him and Kevin Martin, we have a lot of young players that are on their way up.

Okay. Thank you very much for taking the time talking to me.

Thanks for talking to me, I appreciate it.

Keep up-to-date with everything that is going on at the official websites:

– Maloof Money Cup website
– Maloof Money Cup Community website

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