Interviewing Andre Agassi was definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-body experiences. The same goes for meeting Steffi Graf.
I still have the interview on my tape recorder. We've posted the story and full interview on our website. Plus, we have a few photos of our meeting earlier this month in Los Angeles. Despite all of those reminders, it's still hard to believe it all happened.
Agassi and his longtime trainer, Gil Reyes, sat down with me and Associate Editor Brittany Keithley to discuss their new BILT by Agassi & Reyes strength equipment. As we were walking to the interview from the convention center, where the IHRSA show was taking place, I tried to fill Brittany in on some of the details of Agassi's life, a lot of which had nothing to do with the interview itself, just me blowing off some steam. I had watched both Agassi and Graf play practically their entire tennis careers.
We had arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in plenty of time, and while we were waiting in the lobby, a man walked by, heading out the door.
"Brittany," I said. "That guy that just walked past us? Mark. Cuban."
Maybe seeing the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner lessened the star-struckness of the whole deal and calmed a few nerves. Still, after we were escorted to Agassi's suite and began the interview, I'm surprised I didn't do a Chris Farley with a question like, "Remember—that one time—when you won Wimbledon? That was awesome!"
I have no idea what the view of downtown Los Angeles looked like from the 25th floor, because had I looked at what I assume was a spectacular view, I wouldn't have gotten much accomplished. It also was difficult not to turn to Graf, who was sitting politely on a couch behind us, and ask her, "How's things?" And had I known who he was, besides being the company president, I would have chatted a little more with Steve Miller, who also was in the room with us. For a nugget that may only interest me, Miller was the athletic director at Kansas State University when he hired Bill Snyder, who went on to become one of the greatest college football coaches ever.
The only significant part of our interview we did not post involved a story Reyes told us about a star-struck feeling of his own. Years ago, Reyes and a young Agassi were in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt near Indian Wells, a popular stop on the tennis tour. Reyes had just begun his association with Agassi as his strength coach.
"It was my first time out, keep in mind, a kid from East L.A.," Reyes recalled.
A few minutes later, Reyes was introduced to tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who chatted with Agassi's agent. As Ashe started to walk away, he motioned toward Agassi and told Reyes, "Take good care of him. He's going to be important."
"I thought that was pretty cool," Reyes said.
I do know the feeling.