Many are already calling last weekend’s Slam Dunk Contest one of the most overhyped in years. Can we place any of the blame with Kenneth Faried? Probably not. He was quietly solid, and had a couple of dunks (speaking of the Statue of Liberty, off-the-glass 360) that were severely slept-on.
I had a chance to sit down with the Denver Nuggets forward on Saturday afternoon of All-Star Weekend in the adidas hospitality suite. The “Manimal” was fresh off his coming-out party the night before at the BBVA Rising Stars game, and took time to provide some insight into his upbringing and current success.
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Dime: You did work last night, man: 40 points and 10 rebounds in the BBVA Rising Stars game and you took home the MVP. Is that the most points you ever scored in a game?
Kenneth Faried: It’s the most points I’ve ever scored in my life!
Dime: Even considering high school or middle school?
KF: I didn’t score over 30 in my life. I always got to 29 or 28, I couldn’t hit free throws. There was many a time I could have scored 40-plus or 30-plus but I couldn’t make free throws.
Dime: You are from Jersey, right?
KF: Yeah man, Newark, born and raised.
Dime: Tell me a little bit about being a baller growing up in the Northeast.
KF: You got to have heart, some grit, and some toughness. Playing in them playgrounds ain’t no joke. Guys know how to play. Usually guys out there have the killer crossover, not rebounding. I picked up the rebounding skill from playing out there watching the guys trying to bang with me. I was a skinny scrawny kid and I just picked up that aggression and that anger.
Dime: What were some of the courts you played at up there that stood out?
KF: I used to play at Weekway Park that was basically across the street from me. Lincoln Park, that was by my father’s house in Jersey City. Bergen Park and some in New York too. I never played at the Rucker though.
Dime: You never played at the Ruck?
KF: Yeah I know it’s the craziest thing. Or in The Cage.
Dime: I am sure you are trying to get out there soon, right?
KF: Yeah maybe this summer in one of the tournaments or something. We’ll see what happens.
Dime: Growing up were you interested in other sports?
KF: I was interested in other sports but I didn’t pursue them like I did basketball. I just love basketball and I loved the passion of the older guys I watched when I was younger. I mean I was a huge Knicks fan.
Dime: Who from those Knicks teams when you were growing up did you follow?
KF: Charles Oakley, that guy just amazed me. Then I was silently a Rodman fan. I didn’t really say too much about that.
Dime: Why silently?
KF: Because everybody was like Rodman… he’s weird this, that and (the) third. The dresses and stuff he used to wear. But I am basketball fan, I love basketball. I love the passion he brought. I mean he wasn’t afraid to guard anybody or go against anybody. He guarded Shaq for Christ’s sake when he was in his prime. Huge! But I just loved the way Rodman showed grit and toughness.