If you would have told me back in ’08 that an undersized four named Kris Humphries playing for the Raptors would be producing double-double numbers in 2011 while starting for an NBA franchise, I would’ve said you’re crazy. I guess I was hasty in my judgment. This year, “The Incredible Hump” sprouted from a cocoon to a butterfly seemingly overnight, posting averages of 10.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, with a respectable PER of 17.91 (ahead of Rudy Gay and Danny Granger among others). Whether you attribute his improved play as being the product of playing in a contract year, a depleted Nets frontcourt that can’t rebound *cough* Brook Lopez *cough*, or the “hot and heavy” effect of being Kim Kardashian’s latest fling, Kris has emerged as a candidate for Most Improved Player and is one of the lone bright spots on a Nets team under renovation. We caught up with Kris to talk about the Nets’ move to Brooklyn, competing against Michael Phelps and scoring on his own net.
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Dime: Being on your fourth team in seven seasons, how has your transition been this time around with the Nets?
Kris Humphries: When I came onto our team I was pretty deep on the depth chart, especially this fall. I just continued to work hard and Coach Avery Johnson gave me an opportunity to play more minutes. This is a spot where I can play long term and continue to grow and help our team win.
Dime: In your past few seasons, you were mostly relegated to the bench. How have you relished the opportunity now that you’re starting?
KH: I did enjoy starting, but I want to be where Coach feels I can be the most productive for our team. I want to win basketball games, so whatever it takes to do that is what I am all about.
Dime: What do you feel about the Nets moving to Brooklyn?
KH: I feel it is going to take Nets Basketball to a new level and be one of the best basketball markets in the country. I look forward to helping Nets Basketball move to the next level with the support of the fans and the Brooklyn community.
Dime: As a native of Minnesota, describe what it’s like to go back there when you have a game against the Timberwolves? Do you get a chance to eat at any of your Five Guys Burgers franchises?
KH: When I am in Minnesota, I get a chance to catch up with my friends and family. That is the best part of coming back home. I usually don’t get a chance to get a burger at Five Guys during the season, because the stores are in St. Cloud, Duluth, Rochester and Mankato – which are outside the Twin Cities. But you can bet during the offseason I make up for it. I am thinking about those Cajun fries right now…
Dime: Why do you think the Timberwolves have trouble developing a loyal fan base in Minnesota?
KH: It could be a combination of things. One reason is that the Timberwolves are in a rebuilding phase. Another could be because Minneapolis/St. Paul has so many professional and college sports to chose from, and the Viking and Twins have been really good in past years. And due to economic times, people may have to limit the number of events they attend.
Dime: People might not know this, but in addition to your skills on the hardwood, you’re also a gifted swimmer – and even competed against Michael Phelps when you were younger. Do you remember that experience at all?
KH: As a 10-year-old, I was the best swimmer in the country and believe that’s where my competitive nature first showed up. Michael Phelps had not emerged at that time. I really didn’t know who he was back then.
Dime: What skills did you pickup from swimming that may have aided in your development in basketball over the years?
KH: Competitive swimming is mostly an individual sport, so I found out early on that I love to compete. I also gained a tremendous work ethic because swimming requires a lot of training time. It also took a lot of discipline and focus to swim back and forth in a pool for a two-hour practice.
Dime: What made you go down the basketball route as opposed to sticking with competitive swimming?
KH: I grew up in the Michael Jordan era, and my dad took me to a game to see the Bulls. It was then that I decided I wanted to play basketball. In the third grade I scored on the wrong basket, so I have come a long way since my first days of basketball. In eighth grade I decided I only wanted to play basketball and left football and swimming behind.
Dime: With a couple rookies on the team this year, is there any hazing that you put them through, now that you’re a quasi-veteran on the Nets?
KH: A group of ladies came into the restaurant we were in and wanted a picture, and we made the rookies go and sing happy birthday. I don’t put the rookies through much because I didn’t go through much.
Dime: What are your road trip essentials? You know, the things you can’t leave home without.
KH: Toiletry kit, iPad, headphones and a good book.
Dime: What’s in the rotation on the iPad/iPod?
KH: Prince, Maxwell and Kanye West.
Dime: What’s one thing that nobody knows about you?
KH: That my parents and I started the Kris Humphries Foundation in 2007 to help encourage and support youth in the areas of health, education and community service. We have camps and events setup every year to help the kids in our communities in Minnesota and New Jersey. They might also be surprised to know that I love dogs, especially Yorkies and Miniature Pinschers.
Dime: Last question. Who’s the toughest guy to cover in the NBA?
KH: Dirk Nowitzki.
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