Q&A: Kenyon Martin

Courtesy of Slam

SLAM: You were very emotional when you heard your name called back in 2000. What was going on in your head?

Kenyon Martin: That moment. Being drafted number one. Just my life, man. I didn’t grow up easy. There’s a lot of things that went on in my life with my family. Just knowing that it was all worth it to get to this point. That moment to hear my name being called and the emotion that came over me, it was all natural. I was caught in that moment. Knowing that I had gotten hurt my senior year. And nothing mattered because of the work that I had put in to get to that point. It was overwhelming.

SLAM: There’s so much work that you have to put in behind-the-scenes to make it.

KM: People speculate that it’s easy to get to the NBA. It’s not. It’s a lot of hard work. A lot of man hours and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Me growing up in Dallas and not knowing what the future held for me, in any aspect. But I was able to play the game of basketball at the local Salvation Army and be good enough, fortunate enough, to get a scholarship to go to college. I made the best of that. I got better every year in college. I worked my tail off. I had a great coach pushing me, Bob Huggins. Without him I don’t think it would’ve been possible. It’s knowing who you are, knowing what your ability will be and just applying yourself the best you can.

SLAM: Besides Coach Huggins, who were the players that made an impact on you when you were growing up?

KM: I was a big Shawn Kemp fan. My team was the Bad Boys. I liked guys that competed on both ends of the floor. That’s why I respect Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen so much. They did it on both ends. Of course, Larry Johnson being from Dallas. I just liked the game to be played the right way, with guys competing no matter what.

SLAM: Who stands out to you in this new draft class?

KM: I like the De’Aaron Fox kid. I like him a lot. If I’m picking, if it’s my team, I’m picking Fox. I like his athleticism, I like what he brings to the table. He competes. His passion. Just hearing his interviews and the way he approaches the game, I like that.

SLAM: We saw Kevin Durant play better than he ever has during the Finals. What would your defensive strategy be against him and the Warriors?

KM: Just gotta make it as tough as possible. You’re not going to stop KD from scoring. It’s too effortless for him. He shoots the ball too well from too many different angles. He handles the ball well. Just gotta put bodies around him, rough him up a little bit. He played free for five games. I ain’t saying hurt him, but nobody knocked him down.

SLAM: How did you link up with Michael Rapaport and start your own podcast?

KM: I was doing TV and I was trying to see whether I’d be doing [more] TV or radio and then I guess my name came up with the TuneIn people. We were thinking about just doing a radio show with myself at first but then I found out that Michael Rapaport came up and we just decided to do it together. We came up with Two Man Weave and we’re just talking hoop, man. For the Finals we added Caron and those guys. It’s just myself and Mike, mostly. It’s been great, man. Just to get to talk basketball with like-minded people.

SLAM: Whether it’s yourself and Caron Butler or just some guys in the park, you can always talk basketball. What is it about the game that brings people together like that?

KM: Everybody can play. You don’t have to be super athletic. People play it on their lunch break, people play it before work. Guys get up on Saturday mornings to play. They got rec leagues, 40-and-over leagues. There’s so many different ways that you can connect playing basketball. It’s a worldwide game now. Soccer’s number one around the world, but I think basketball is a close second.

 

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