Before Nerlens Noel tore his ACL just 24 games into his freshman season at Kentucky, he was widely considered the favorite to be selected with the number 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Instead, Phoenix took Anthony Bennett, and Noel fell to the New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 6 pick, before he was promptly traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday and a future protected first-round pick. He took all of 2013-14 off, and finally returned during summer league play last month. Dime caught up with the 6-10 Noel at Rucker Park for the EBC All-Stars Reebok event on Monday where he talked about his fantastic skinny pants and his return to the hardwood.
Noel was decked out in Allen Iverson’s Reebok Question Mid “First Ballot” colorway, but he was also rocking some fly skinny pants, tapered at his ankles while the fabric around his waist was billowing from the wind off the Harlem River.
[RELATED: Road to Recovery: Sixers Center Nerlens Noel]
*** *** ***
Dime: Where did you get those pants?
Nerlens Noel: I actually got them in New York, in Harlem right next to [Rucker] Park…I think it goes well with me and my slim figure.
Dime: We were actually joking about it before, but if you were going to play [at Rucker], would [Sixers GM] Sam Hinkie lose his mind?
NN: Oh, he would go off the wall. Yeah, definitely.
Dime: How involved has he been with your rehabilitation and when you can play and can’t play?
NN: I mean, I’ve already played this year in summer league, but I make that decision [wen to play or not play] myself. I really try to be careful.
Dime: When you play in summer league, was it nice to finally get out there and show people your stuff? Were you nervous about it?
NN: I mean, yeah, I was nervous and anxious about it, but I hadn’t played for a year prior to that.
Dime: Were you getting some run in at the end of last year.
NN: Yeah, yeah, I was getting in at practice and I did everything at practice, so it was like I was actually playing, but I wasn’t playing in games. That was the time I got really good, working on my post-up. We met and decided it was best not to play and I think it was the right decision.
Dime: At Summer League, did you get butterflies or anything like that?
NN: Yeah, definitely.
Dime: Have you spoken to anyone on the Sixers this summer?
NN: Yeah, we got a young team so everyone is back [in Philly], and I keep in touch.
Dime: Have you had any conversations with Joel, he’s kind of in the same boat as you were coming out of college?
NN: Yeah, but I haven’t met him yet, we just have text conversations. I give him my two cents and just tell him advice. Just brief text conversations.
Dime: Like about coming into the league?
NN: Not even really that. Just seeing how he’s doing and where his head’s at, what he’s up to. Just really trying to get to know each other.
Dime: He doesn’t ever ask for Twitter advice?
NN: I think he’s just fine on Twitter.
Dime: What are you most looking forward to when you finally step on the hardwood next year?
NN: Just being able to play the game of basketball again.
Dime: When Dime spoke with you before, we mentioned how you’d been able to work on your shot. Are there aspects to your game that you think got a lot stronger during your absence?
NN: Yeah, everything. Post moves—
Dime: —Free throw shooting too?
NN: Yeah, and that’s confidence. The repetition gives you that confidence.
Dime: Who do you think will impress next year, like guys you played against who will do well next year — not necessarily rookies.
NN: Alex Len. I actually played against him in my first college game. Him and…Mason Plumlee.
Dime: We actually saw Plumlee play Dodgeball at a charity event last year. He can move. He nailed a few kids. We’re wondering if he’s got any rivalry with his brother [Miles]. What about your siblings?
NN: Yeah, I’ve got two older brothers. They play college football a little bit [Rodman Noel was a lineback at North Carolina State and Jim Noel played defensive back at Boston College].
Dime: You didn’t want to play football or anything growing up?
NN: Yeah, I played quarterback up until my sophomore year of high school.
Dime: Then you shut it down.
NN: The coach did, I wanted to continue with it.
Dime:You never got knocked and thought ‘enough of this.’
NN: Nah, too tough.
The Reebok Question Mid “First Ballot” is launching this Friday, August 15th for $125 at retailers including Finish Line, Champs, Jimmy Jazz, Eastbay, Footaction, Shiekh and Reebok.com
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.