Former Detroit Pistons guard finds niche in podcasting

Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans receives a commemorative ball from Former Spartan Mateen Cleaves for breaking his Big Ten assist record . (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans receives a commemorative ball from Former Spartan Mateen Cleaves for breaking his Big Ten assist record . (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Mateen Cleaves may not have had much success with the Detroit Pistons, but he is taking over the world of basketball podcasts.

Cleaves was the floor general and catalyst to one of college basketball’s most dynamic tandems the “Flintstones,” which was a reference to several of the Michigan State Spartans’ hometown in the late 90’s early 2000’s. They showcased the grit, will, unselfishness, and competitive spirit you get growing up in Vehicle City.

These players from Flint and their Head Coach Tom Izzo were a match made in basketball heaven, quickly rising to superiority over the Big Ten Conference and taking the collegiate game by storm. Mateen’s illustrious career at Michigan State was capped off by Most Outstanding Player honors and the 2000 NCAA Championship before he headed to the NBA.

The Detroit Pistons selected Mateen Cleaves with the 14th pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Cleaves played only one year in Pistons’ teal, starting in eight of the 78 games played as a rookie. He showed flashes as a passer with his exceptional court vision, however there was a log jam of point guards in Detroit, which led to his departure.

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He was eventually traded to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for veteran guard Jon Barry and a future first round pick. This allowed him to team up with another high profile athlete from his home state Chris Webber. He went on to play six seasons in the NBA before retiring from professional basketball in 2009.

What’s the former Detroit Pistons first round draft pick doing these days? A lot.

Detroit Pistons: Mateen Cleaves succeeding in the podcast game

Mateen hosts a podcast in its second season called Run It Back, and he’s bringing listeners some heat. He’s teamed up with Truth + Media and 19Nine to giving a new perspective on college basketball. Truth + Media told me “Mateen is one of the greatest college players ever, he loves connecting with other former college greats to review the stories, memories, players and coaches of the golden era of college basketball” when I asked about Cleaves’ knack for hosting.

His love for the game hasn’t diminished and it’s noticeable in his approach. You can hear the enthusiasm and passion, highlighting the collegiate game. Cleaves oozes with confidence as he talks with high profile guests. So get a pair of earbuds basketball fans, Run it Back is music to your ears.

He’s providing in-depth looks into some of college basketball’s biggest moments from the perspective of the players who made it happen. Mateen is in his comfort zone, executing interviews as if they were half court offenses, setting the table for an insightful conversation on every episode.

Most recently Cleaves sat down with the 2023 Naismith Hall Of Fame inductee, and Marquette’s own Dwyane Wade. The two talked candidly as Wade recalled Mateen showing up to talk to his college team. It has the vibe of two brothers just talking, covering everything from his journey to the NBA, to his soon-to-be enshrinement, and even musical preference. He spoke openly and freely making this one of the most exclusive interviews of the year.

Watch the interview in its entirety here:

Mateen Cleaves has found his niche, fitting seamlessly in the world of media. Next up for Run It Back is former UNLV Runnin’ Rebels star and NCAA champion Larry Johnson, which should be another compelling conversation.

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