Some basketball players are, quite simply, cut from a different cloth. In a game so predicated on finesse – especially in the modern era – it’s increasingly rare to find those tough-as-nails, blue-collar workhorses who understand their limitations and take pride in doing all the dirty work required to make a team successful, whose effort and competitive myopia are as much a part of their skill-set as any tangible, quantifiable ability.
They’re the guys everybody wants to play with.
Early in his career, former No. 1 pick Kenyon Martin had the whole package. He was a capable scorer in the post, a gritty rebounder and tenacious defender, and a high-flying roll-man who routinely hammered home the types of vicious alley-oop jams that demoralized opponents. In just his second and third seasons in the NBA, he helped lead the New Jersey Nets to two straight Finals appearances alongside Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson and was named an All-Star in 2004.
But a pair of micro-fracture surgeries on both knees drastically limited his athletic abilities in the prime of his career. Still, he never lost that competitive fire and effectively reinvented himself as a complementary player whose career extended all the way to the 2015 season.
Thanks to his fiery personality, he often locked horns with coaches (George Karl) as well as his own teammates (Richard Jefferson, Alonzo Mourning, J.R. Smith) along the way, not to mention the officials and a litany of opposing players. In retirement, he’s finding new ways to channel that intense love for the game. Last week, we caught up with K-Mart to talk about the BIG3, his new NBA show with Michael Rapaport, and, of course, why he still believes the league is too soft today.