Kenny Smith knows a thing or two about basketball, having covered the NBA for years with TNT as well as the NCAA Tournament. And while his Carolina ties certainly show through at times – check out his hilarious responses below to questions I posed on the now former Dukie, Austin Rivers – Smith has added a breath of fresh air to CBS’ continued coverage of March Madness.
Smith is currently touring on behalf of his work with Coke Zero, and fans can gain unique codes from Coke Zero products – as well as from the Watch & Score Instant Win Game – by entering these codes through their My Coke Rewards account at www.enjoymoremadness.com. With each code entry, fans receive the chance to pick a team to advance to the next round in the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament. Each correct pick will enter that fan into a drawing with a chance to win a variety of prizes, including a trip to the 2013 NCAA Mens’ Final Four.
I had a chance to chat with Smith about everything from his unpredictable views on this weekend’s Final Four to what he thinks about the Kentucky vs. an NBA team debate.
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Dime: Tell me how you got involved with Coke Zero.
Kenny Smith: With Coke Zero you just enjoy more Madness. When you’re watching the games on CBS and Turner and March Madness Live, you just look on the screen at certain keywords that’s gonna flash and you just text to win. Text those words in and you get an opportunity to win tickets to the Final Four, home entertainment systems, ultimate basketball fantasy camps. So just enjoy more Madness with Coke Zero, and I’m giving away stuff man (laughs).
Dime: To go off that, this weekend, do you think there’s any way Kentucky loses?
KS: Well I actually think Louisville’s gonna win. I think that when you give Rick Pitino this kind of… time… you know he’s a great coach. He’s going to make it a close game, and when it becomes a chess match, he’ll have an opportunity to pull this out and I think they’re gonna win.
Now if the game is checkers and it’s just a player’s game, they lose easy. But it’s got to become a chess match, and in a chess match I would pick Rick Pitino today.
Dime: With Kentucky, there’s this thing going around where people really believe Kentucky could beat an NBA team. What do you think about that?
KS: Yeah Charles said. Charles kinda started that jokingly and halfway serious because they have so many potential pro players on their team. But UConn beat Kentucky last year and Kemba Walker was on that team. They had a great time. This guy’s on the last place team in the NBA. You know what I mean? Let’s just start there. This guy won the NCAA Championship last year, single-handedly almost at times and he’s on the last-place team in the NBA. Let’s keep that in perspective. Kentucky can’t beat an NBA team (laughs).
Dime: From your time with the tournament could you give me the names of a couple of guys who might surprise people in the NBA?
KS: I think people have kind of made their name in the tournament. I don’t think people would be surprised. All of those Kentucky obviously have been playing great. I do like Thomas Robinson, for sure. The kid Kyle O’Quinn from Norfolk State, like who is this guy? 6-10, runs the floor. I love the kid from Iowa State (Royce White). He kind of reminds of a Rodney McCray. I don’t know if you remember Rodney McCray. He was a great NBA player who played with Louisville, handles the ball, 6-8, 6-9. That kid reminds me of him. I like Russ Smith from Louisville. I love all my Carolina compadres so there’s a lot of kids.