by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack

Josh Duhamel understands that NBA fans can be born and raised anywhere – even in some of the most remote areas of the United States. Duhamel grew up a fan of the NBA, among other sports leagues, in Minot, ND, a town of 40,000 in the upper-central part of the state. Now one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors, the star of the Transformers trilogy – the third installation comes out July 1 – has much easier access to NBA games these days.

Duhamel sat down with SLAMonline to discuss his love for the game during an even in New York City to promote Reebok’s RealFlex running shoe ($90). The nine-ounce, minimalist-constructed shoe contains 76 independent “sensors” on the sole that give runners the feeling of running barefoot while offering the protection from actually doing so.

SLAM: Did you gravitate to the Minnesota Timberwolves growing up?

Josh Duhamel: Well, I’m more of a Lakers fan. But yeah, the TWolves – I follow anybody from Minnesota. That’s our closest professional sports town.

SLAM: When did you become a Lakers fan?

JD: Ever since Showtime back in the ’80s. Mostly just because I loved watching Magic and Worthy and Cooper and Scott and all those guys back in the ’80s.

SLAM: I read that in high school you wanted to become a pro basketball player. Is that correct?

JD: I thought that I was going to be a pro basketball player or pro athlete of some type until I realized that I wasn’t athletic enough.

SLAM: Why basketball at that point over baseball or football or something else?

JD: You know, I’ll never forget. For two summers in a row, all I did was work on drills that I learned from the Steve Alford video. [Duhamel to another reporter: 'Do you remember the Steve Alford video?'] He had those little short shorts. I think he had those US Olympic team shorts, and he had these drills where he’d stick a broom inside of a folding chair and he’d shoot over the top of that. And he had these dribbling exercises. I was religious about it for two summers; that’s when I thought I was going to be a big-time basketball player.

SLAM: Who was your favorite player growing up?

JD: Favorite player growing up…George Gervin, maybe. I used to have a Gervin poster on my wall. And underneath that George Gervin poster – I had a Playboy centerfold.

SLAM: Who’s your favorite player now?

JD: My favorite player now…I got to go with Kobe [Bryant]. Although Derrick Rose is unbelievable.

SLAM: Do you get to sit courtside at games, at Lakers games?

JD: I have been able to a couple times, yeah.

SLAM: You get to hear the players talk to the refs and to each other. Anything you heard where you thought, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect to hear that’?

JD: You know, I don’t remember. I don’t remember so much. I’m more amazed by how…I remember seeing [Allen] Iverson play against the Raptors in 2001. I saw two games in that series – Raptors, Sixers. One game, Vince Carter had 50 [points]. And in one of the other games, Iverson had 50. I just remember seeing Iverson play; he’s one of my all-time favorites, too. I just love the way he played basketball. He was so quick. Like, there was no wasted movement and for a guy who was under-sized and underweight, he made up for it in his ability…he was so efficient with his movement.

The same with Steve Nash. He’s another one of my favorite players. Because they are a little bit shorter and not as quick as some of these guys, they saw every move. They almost see it before it’s going to happen. And that’s what I love about watching guys like them.

SLAM: How many Playoff games do you think you’ll catch?

JD: I’ll watch a lot of it – I’ll watch every game, pretty much. How many will I go to? I don’t know. But I’ll definitely watch them.

SLAM: The MVP race has been controversial. Do you have a horse in the race in that one?

JD: I’d like to see the Heat get beat. I didn’t like all the shit-talking last year. When they did the pep rally in Miami and all that – it’s too much. I like when teams like Chicago come out of nowhere, these young teams that aren’t all hyped. I’d like to see, I don’t know, out of the East I’d like to see Chicago get there, maybe. Out of the west, I’d like to see the Lakers.