Up-and-coming actress Tika Sumpter brings real basketball knowledge with her when she comes to a game.
by Amber McKynzie / @amackgizzles
Tika Sumpter may play a badass in her latest film, Sparkle, and she may even look like just another seductive TV star, but this native of Queens, NY, certainly knows her basketball—thanks to Michael Jordan, of course. When the 5-7 Sumpter wasn’t sitting around reading the latest issue of SLAM in junior high, she was cheerleading for her school’s team. And nowadays, the actress is cheering courtside.
SLAM: I heard you’re a real fan of SLAM. When did you start reading the mag?
Tika Sumpter: Michael Jordan got me into basketball, [and in] junior high school I would literally go buy SLAM. I don’t know the age, but it was junior high school ’cause I was a cheerleader so I would cheerlead for basketball [and] football.
SLAM: MJ got you into basketball, but what team or player has your attention now?
TS: Oh God, it’s so complicated. Because Jordan got me into basketball, I was a Bulls fan for a very long time, especially with Derrick Rose. But the Knicks, man! I’m from New York, [so] I always feel like I’m cheating on the Knicks every time I tell somebody I’m a Chicago fan. But I feel like I’m allowed to have two boyfriends. And the Knicks are killing it right now. They’ve gone through so much struggle, and now they’re finally reaping the benefits.
SLAM: Since you’re already dating two teams, who are you expecting to see in the Playoffs this year, and who do you think will take home the title?
TS: I think OKC has a chance; I think the Knicks, obviously; the Rockets, I mean [they’ve] been winning lately so they might have a chance; I think it’s wide open. The Lakers, they suck, obviously. It’s kinda nice to see them finally struggling. They’ve won for so long it’s like turning to another channel, finally somebody else gets a chance. I’m not saying I’m enjoying their demise, I’m just saying, you know…but I really do hope the Knicks. They’ve struggled for a very long time, so I think it’s their time.
SLAM: Every girl had that one player they dreamed of dating when they were younger. Who was that for you?
TS: I remember in junior high, Kobe Bryant was the man! It was like, Kobe! [in a dreamy voice] When Brandy went to the prom with him, every girl was like, “Seriously?” And then Tyra did that song with him and it was like, Oh my God, you know what I mean? I understand Bieber fans now because every Bieber fan thinks they have a chance. [Kobe] was that guy.
SLAM: You’re a huge basketball fan, but since you’ve been in The Game, does that make you a football fan, too?
TS: I’m gonna be honest about football: I’m just now getting into it. I didn’t understand it for a long time. I’ve literally asked somebody to help me with the rules and all this stuff. I would get confused sometimes, but I’m just now getting into it, and obviously the Giants are pretty awesome. I don’t have a favorite team yet. Nobody’s really won me over yet.