After a busy summer that saw him named to the FIBA World Cup All-Tournament team, Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried hasn’t had much time to play video games. When we spoke with him earlier this week he was about to crack open his copy of Destiny, the Activision odyssey that — for Faried — hopefully lets him shoot some people like Call of Duty, another favorite for a player who showed he deserves to be mentioned with the game’s elite.
Faried finished his third year with a career high in points per game, despite playing fewer minutes then his sophomore campaign. Still, it wasn’t until he broke out with Team USA on their way to a gold medal that his potential was truly revealed. His energetic rebounding and agility in the paint was one of the largest reasons Team USA squashed international squads to cruise to the gold.
Now, with 30 days left for the Nuggets to sign him to an extension, or possibly lose him to free agency next summer, Faried’s agent is busy negotiating what could be a rather large pay day for the 6-8 power forward out of Morehouse College.
We spoke to Faried about the confidence he gleaned from his time with USA Basketball, his love for movies, music and — above all — video games. Plus, his pesky contract extension, which has a deadline at the end of this month and how he’s turned the haters who still bafflingly believe he should have never made Team USA this summer into the perfect inducement for his unique bit of controlled fiery on the hardwood. Oh, and Faried agrees he’s got a excellent shot at a second career in the ring as a wrestler; he’s already got the perfect nickname.
Edited for space and content.
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Dime: Congrats on the gold. Are you still a little tired after getting back from Spain?
Kenneth Faried: Thank you. A little bit tired, I can’t lie. That was a long, long experience, but it was worth it.
Dime: Will the confidence from your Team USA experience translate into this next season?
KF: It did sink in, but it came and went. I’m ecstatic about the whole situation, but it’s season time now and I’m ready to put what I learned playing [for] USA Basketball [to work] for the upcoming season.
Dime: Tell us what it was like when you saw Paul George go down? Just so you know, in case you hadn’t heard yet, but he was walking without crutches or a limp during his photoshoot today.
KF: It was tough. I ain’t gonna lie, it was tough. It was one of the [most] gruesome and scariest moments of my life that I [had] ever seen. But Paul George, he didn’t even cry. I don’t know, I woulda been crying, hollering, screaming, something like that, but he didn’t cry; he was just tough about it. That just shows how much of a person he is, and a player he is and he told us, ‘don’t worry about it, I’m gonna be fine. Just go out there and win the gold.’ And, when I heard — we had an interview, and I tweeted that we [were] gonna go out here and win it and do it for Paul. And that’s exactly what we did. I commend him for being so strong, and that’s what’s up. He’s walking now, so I’m gonna have to give him a text message to congratulate him.
Dime: You mentioned this a little bit at the time, but if Spain hadn’t lost in the quarterfinals, do you think you would have been as dominant as you were going through the elimination round?
KF: [loud, knowing, laugh] I don’t know. I honestly can’t tell you. I do believe my team woulda went out there and played with the fight and greatness that we [were] playing throughout the whole tournament. And, no matter who we played against, we woulda went after them. We played against Serbia, but if we played aginst Spain, we would have gotten after them the same way, with relentlessness and togetherness.
Dime: Can you feel your confidence rising after playing against the level of competition, not just in the World Cup, but during training camp for USA tryouts?
KF: Yeah, I’m very high, and I have the confidence and the mindset to know that ‘hey, I can do this and go out there and make an impact for my team, especially. And become an all-star this year.”
Dime: Is that a goal for this upcoming year[ make the all-star team]?
KF: It’s a huge goal, just as much as the goal for me was to make the USA team and live [out] our dream of winning the gold, and I did that. I surpassed that because I was also able to win the gold, contribute huge and make the tournament team.
Dime: Have you played the new Destiny game?
KF: No, I haven’t been able to. With all the basketball that’s been going on, it’s been tough. But I can’t wait to play it. Just, the whole experience. I love Call of Duty, and I always have. And it’s just so much fun playing with you friends. Especially since high school, I’ve always been playing Call of Duty.
Dime: What were some of your favorite games growing up?
KF: Well, Call of Duty…and it was NBA Live back then. The other thing was Game Day. And I WWF, Smackdown vs. Raw. I loved those games, the Smackdown games, I was playing those games for a long time.
Dime: Are you a big wrestling fan?
KF: Yeah, I love wrestling, like to watch it, but play it now more than watch it. Yeah, but those were some of my favorites.
Dime: If WWF or WWE [Important note: We’re lapsed aficionados of wrestling and haven’t watched since The Undertaker nailed the Ultimate Warrior into a coffin in an attempt to suffocate him.] asked you to come into the ring and play a character, would you do that?
KF: Oh yeah, I’d go on there and unleash the Manimal real quick.
Dime: Yeah, you have a tailor-made wrestling name.
KF: Yeah, my nickname goes with the whole wrestling forum and stuff and my style of play go with it, too. I guess it would work out.
Dime: How many of your Nuggets teammates play Call of Duty?
KF: Me, Darrell [Aruthur], Nate [Robinson], Wilson [Chandler], we all play Call of Duty. Or sometimes, sometimes a little bit Quincy [Miller] and sometimes a little bit of Ty [Lawson], but they don’t like to play as heavy, or as much as me, Nate, Darrell, Wilson and I play.
Dime: Does your username reference the fact you’re The Kenneth Faried of the Nuggets? Like do people playing online know you’re Kenneth Faried?
KF: Nah because I don’t want the best Call of Duty players to just come find me and kill me [laughs]. My username was “LowKey” and I changed it because last time I put it out there, so many people were requesting me, I was like ‘I can’t do this.’ When I got to the NBA, I put it out there…and the next thing I know there were so many requests that I couldn’t have my friends who I picked, so I’m changing it.
I got my butt kicked a few times.
Dime: Do you get into games like Destiny, or is it just Call of Duty?
KF: I actually own Destiny, but I haven’t opened it up. My two cousins are always playing Destiny online and they always want me to play. And they keep requesting me, but right now my eye — I can’t play when I get off the phone because you gotta get into that one.
Dime: Back to basketball. You’re coming up on a big year, and your agent is negotiating an extension right now. You had mentioned trade rumors sort of getting in your head towards the end of last season. Are you hoping the extension gets signed before the deadline (Oct. 31) so it’s not hanging over you head when the season begins?
KF: Yeah. Yeah, I do. An extension is just, we get it to the point where both sides agree, and I can just sign — And go ahead and do my thing. Do what I’m wanted, or basically what I have been [doing]. But it’s tough, you know. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. And I’m gonna try my best not to let it just effect me, like it did last year with the whole trade talk. It’s tough when you’re a player and you don’t know where, or who wants to lock you down. And if the team that drafted you doesn’t really want you, it seems like it’s a waste of time even wanting to play for that team.
Dime: Are actively involved in the negotiations, or do you just let your agent handle that and hope it works out?
KF: I’m not actively involved like that. It’s a big deal, but it’s not that big of a deal, where I’m like, ‘Yo, I need to know every day every detail.’ ‘Cause it’s stressful. The ups and downs, like one side gives an argument and the other side gives an argument. You don’t really want to deal with that especially when you’re putting it on yourself, as a player, to have a big year and people don’t understand that…It’s a business at the end of the day and it’s stressful.
Dime: Have you talked at all to Ty [Lawson] about it because he kind of — when he was coming out of his rookie deal, like you — they didn’t sign the extension until like the day before the deadline. Did you talk to him about dealing with that through training camp and the preseason?
KF: Yeah, I did. Me and Ty had a conversation. We’re tight and cool. He was just like, ‘just make sure that you’re happy. That’s all that matters.’ If you’re not happy, then why even go through with something. And just make sure things that…basically on the court, you do all that you can do. Like the end of last year, you’re playing and for USA you killed, so the ball is in your court. So you just gotta go out there now in preseason and just try to be a leader and lead. And don’t worry about the contract if you got a good agent. And, I believe my agent — Thad Foucher — is one of the best in the world…and he’s doing a great job, so I’m fine and not really stressing about it.
Dime: Did they, after your performance in Spain, [your representatives] come to you and say, ‘hey, great job with USA, great timing’?
KF: Nah, I just thought about going out there and winning the gold, really. It’s the only thing that I was worried about. I didn’t worry about whether it’s extension time for me or if it was money time. You only care about that stuff in that atmosphere. Because you’re worried about A, what can I do to help my team to bring home a gold medal; [B] I want to win a championship; I want to be like the guys who came before me.
Dime: What did you work on during World Cup tryouts and during the tournament practices, scrimmages and games that you want to bring to the Nuggets this coming season?
KF: Just all out leadership, my vocalness. Just my free throws, too. I’ve worked on my free throws a lot with them [Team USA coaches) a lot. But it’s hard because the basketball is completely different than the NBA one. So, it was a little hard, but we worked through it, and was trying to get used to it. But when you get back to the NBA ball, it just feels a lot different and my free throw, my shot, is still different, so I have to get acclimated to the ball again…mainly my free throws, my leadership and my vocalness.
Dime: So nothing really specific to the game except the free throws because we noticed, when we were looking at film of you, how much bigger and heavier your opponents are. Is that something you notice when you have a specific matchup against a guy? Is there anything you do differently when you’re matched up against them?
KF: Nah, I just try to use my speed. You know bigger guys tend to be slower, so I rely on my speed and my quickness and my agility just to, basically, get around them, or stop them from scoring — things like that.
Dime: So you haven’t put on any muscle mass this offseason, or sculpted your body any more, at least in terms of getting bigger?
KF: Oh I sculpt my body. I actually sculpt my body a lot more. I actually lost weight with all the Team USA stuff, believe it or not. Yeah, I was probably 225 at the end of the season. Now I’m 223. I had maybe seven point-something percent body fat, now it’s 6.6 percent body fat.
Dime: So how do you get bigger? Training camp starts today [we conducted the interview on Monday evening]?
KF: Well my playing weight is usually 225, and now I’m 223. So I’m skinny still, like there’s no weight I could get off. But I’m in great shape; I can run all day, still. I feel like a different specimen after USA Basketball.
Dime: You’ve said you’d like to do [USA Basketball] every summer, but with Kevin Durant, he had to drop out to just rest. Are you someone that works out all summer to stay trim, or do you take some time to unwind from the year and get back at it after a couple weeks?
KF: I like to take a couple weeks to unwind. I’m not gonna sit here and…after a season of hard work and dediction, you’re tired. Not even just physically, you’re mentally tired, too. Because you’re just used to play, and having to cover this guy and have to recover to that guy. Knowing this play and knowing that play. And when you get into the playoffs, it’s just so much more dense. Everything is just so much more intensified that you have to come up with different schemes just so you can guard people.
Dime: Now what are you doing when you take those weeks to unwind?
KF: I do a lot. I like to watch movies, I like to hang out with my friends and go watch some concerts. I play Call of Duty, of course, but I play all video games. I love to just sit there in my room, play video games. And Call of Duty is one of my top ones, if not the top one. It’s just more fun for me. To shoot people — you can’t do it in real life, so you need that outlet.
Dime: What are some shows you’ve seen this summer?
KF: I went to see a 2 Chainz concert, I saw a Fabulous concert. My cousin is a rapper, I saw his concert; his name is Josh TooCool. I saw a Whiz [Khalifa] concert. A lot of different concerts, like Summer Jam, Denver Summer Jam, I go to that. Whenever they have the big people out to Denver. I wanted to see the Drake vs. [Lil] Wayne, but I was with Team USA when they came here [Denver].
Dime: What about movies?
KF: Movies, it’s gotta be funny, scary, dramatic, emotional, romantic, it doesn’t matter. I like movies. Me and my girlfriend go to A LOT of movies.
Dime: What’s you and your girlfriend’s favorite movie of the last year?
KF: Hold on [in the background: Baby, what’s my favorite movie of the last year — garbled conversation]. Oh, The Last Man Standing. Yeah, it was the military movie; the four guys went to war—
Dime: Oh yeah, it’s called Lone Survivor.
KF: Yeah, that was it. Sorry.
Dime: We love that you had to ask your girl what your favorite was, that was hysterical.
KF: Yeah, ’cause we watch a lot of movies. She knows better than me. Of course, women always know best.
Dime: Last question, is there anything you’ve ever wanted to be asked, but they never did?
KF: That’s tough. That’s a hard question. I wish I could say, I don’t really know.
Dime: It’s a hard one, but we almost always end with it. The best answer we ever got was from The Answer, Allen Iverson. He said that he’s got feelings just like everybody else and that he reads all the negative press, even though he doesn’t respond to it. It’s a good question to ask people.
KF: Yeah, that is a good question to ask. Like how do you feel about all the scrutiny and — people asked me that this summer, and I told them it was disrespectful. They asked me: ‘How do you feel about fans on social media saying you weren’t going to make the [USA] Team, like why are you even there and stuff like that. And you do read that and you see it and it hurts. But you also feel like you do use that [criticism]. Like, OK how do you feel about me…everybody’s trying to say their own opinion, but it’s kind of messed up they get to say what they want to you, but you can’t say anything back without sounding like a — like a prick, or a jerk, or an all-around A-hole. Like, ya’ll trying to hurt our feelings and you’re way in the wrong.
This was Faried’s game-winner this past April:
Dime: Right, like that’s kind of what Iverson told us. Like if you say anything when someone says you shouldn’t be on the team, or you won’t make the team, or you tweet something — though Iverson wasn’t really around for that — you become the bad guy.
KF: Yeah, they’re just all-around jerks. Man, like I said to the people [who said he wasn’t going to make the team], they were disrespectful. That’s cool ’cause everybody was wrong. Whoever doubted me or continues to doubt me, I’m just gonna prove you wrong. You can say stuff and think it’s OK, but I’ll just show you and work hard and do the things I’ve been doing. Then, see what you have to say about it after [I’ve] proved you wrong. You say I couldn’t do this. Now look at me. Like I still get scrutiny about USA even though I did so well and good, people still say…’oh, if KD was there, you wouldn’t even be doing nothing. If Blake [Giffin] was there and Kevin Love and all them was there, you wouldn’t even be on the team.’ I respect that. I probably wouldn’t have gotten picked, but that didn’t happen and I was on the team. And I played very well. Why can’t you just be happy for that? USA still won. Boom. I don’t understand it.
Dime: Well, first thing, you won the gold, but you also made the All-Tournament team — you and Kyrie. I think people should probably shut up about you not deserving to be on the team. You should totally ignore those people. But yeah, we can see it bothering you, after you accomplished so much with USA Basketball, some people are still giving you a hard time because ‘Oh, KD dropped out and Kevin Love didn’t play and blah blah blah. I could see that pissing you off. Just use that for fuel with the Nuggets next season.
KF:And I always have and I always will continue to do and this is no different right here. I took it, and — like you said, there’ve been a lot on media today — and people still got a lot of scrutiny. I take it.
Dime: Plus, if it ever gets to be too much, just turn on Call of Duty and blow some people up.
KF: That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Right now I’m gonna turn on Destiny, unitl the new Call of Duty is out and just blow some people up.
Get ready for Kenneth Faried, Nuggets fans. He’s still hungry for more after his exceptional play with Team USA.
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