Dime: What did you gain from your year at Duke?
KI: My being a part of this team, even being hurt, was so special for me. First of all, I got to be a regular student. Though I had a lot of rehab to do, I had a lot more free time on my hands, so a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had outside of the game, I got to experience. That’s why I love Duke so much – when I was hurt, I was still a part of the program, but I got to experience so many other things as well. It was special for me, and I had a great time. That’s why I’m back at Duke. I didn’t leave (for the NBA) because I didn’t want to be there, it’s because it was the best opportunity for me and my family.
Dime: Is there a part of you that wishes you were getting ready to play with Austin Rivers in the Duke backcourt?
KI: I mean, absolutely, it just goes back to what could have been. I think everyone would have loved to see Austin and me in the backcourt, it would have been a great backcourt.
Dime: How bad at this point do you just want to get out there and play?
KI: I definitely want to get out there and play – bad. Around this time, I’d be playing preseason games or getting ready for the season, so it’s definitely tough, but this will only strengthen the NBA and what we bring to the table. Last year was one of the best years for the NBA, making the most money in terms of television, and socially just being out there, so the NBA was on top of its game. But this lockout is just going to be a learning experience for me, just going through this.
Dime: Given that you and LeBron James are friends, how was it going to Cleveland, knowing that people were going to say you were following in his footsteps as they rebuild their team?
KI: Definitely, I think those comments will be inevitable about trying to follow in LeBron’s footsteps, but honestly, I think we bring two different things to the table. We both bring a winning attitude, but at the same time, we’re two very different players. Being drafted by Cleveland will give experience in being part of a rebuilding team, and it’ll give me more experience that I need to be a superstar in the NBA – which I can see myself being. You know, I don’t say that arrogantly, but that’s kind of the plateau I set for myself right now. Being drafted No. 1, it comes with a lot of pressure, but I’m just looking forward to getting to Cleveland and incorporating my game into their system.
Dime: I recently took a trip to Cleveland, and everyone I talked to is really excited to have you playing for the Cavs. Have you spent some time there to gauge the reaction of the fans?
KI: Absolutely. When you walk around Cleveland, having everyone recognize your face and you haven’t played an NBA game, it just shows you how much they pay attention to their sports teams. It’s a really great fan town, I’m looking forward to getting started there.
Dime: How do you feel about signing with Nike?
KI: It was definitely special for me just knowing that it was one of my goals that came to fruition. Being able to be part of such a unique brand – I’m part of history. It’s a special opportunity, and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of all the opportunities they afford me.
Dime: What did it mean to you personally to be drafted No. 1?
KI: Being drafted No. 1 was a very special thing for me. It was something I’ve been dreaming about since I was in fifth or sixth grade. It comes with a lot of pressure, but that was something I’ve kind of expected. Knowing that the Cleveland Cavaliers have enough confidence in me to take me No. 1, and me being in a position to do great things in Cleveland, is something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life. I’m glad to be in this position, and I’m going to take full advantage of it.
Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.