by Amber McKynzie / @amackgizzles

Malika Haqq was once best known for her role in the 2006 film ATL. Now the former child model is a rising starlet—and Khloé Kardashian Odom’s best friend. And just like her pal Khloé, whom she often appears alongside in E!’s Khloé & Lamar, Malika can never get enough basketball. Whether it be watching her current teams—the Lakers and Heat—or favorite childhood squad—the Chicago Bulls—Malika can often be caught eyeing the court. Just don’t expect her to suit up and play anytime soon.

SLAM: Your best friend’s husband is Lamar Odom. Is Khloé’s marriage what got you interested in basketball?

Malika Haqq: Um, no! I end up going to way more games [because of] Khloé, to support Lamar and be there with her, [but] I’ve never not watched basketball. I happen to really like sports. I like the sports, I like the men, I [just] don’t wanna necessarily play the game, you know what I’m saying?

SLAM: So does that mean you watched it as a kid, too?

MH: Absolutely! That was, like, my quality time with my father or brother, watching the Lakers or the Bulls.

SLAM: So even though you won’t play the game now, did you ever try to play as a kid?

MH: No. My mother’s idea of “letting” me play basketball: I could play, but I still had to do it in a dress. So it never quite went over all that well. Mom was more interested in us being dancers and singers.

SLAM: Because you couldn’t really do sports growing up, what activities were you into?

MH: I did print [modeling], and a lot of commercials when I was younger. I trained, as a little girl, with a million different [things]—tap, ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, and I did gymnastics and ice skating. I did a lot as a kid!

SLAM: Do you and Khloé ever try to beat Lamar in basketball at the house, just to see if you can beat him?

MH: I know I suck, so I would never try, but I know Khloé has tried to play Lamar in basketball. That’s just her personality. You can’t really tell her she can’t do much.

SLAM: So who’s your favorite basketball player of all time to watch?

MH: When I was younger, I was a very, very big Michael Jordan fan. I had a little girl crush on him. And as I got older, when it comes to the Lakers, I really do love Kobe as a player.

SLAM: Aside from the Lakers, who’s your team to watch?

MH: I would have to say the Miami Heat. There was a lot of talk in the fact that LeBron James and DWade were gonna be playing together. I love the leadership role [DWade] takes and how him and LeBron play together. The combination isn’t nearly as negative or unfair as people made it out to be. I think it’s just really good basketball, actually.

SLAM: If it came down to the Heat vs the Lakers for the Championship this year, who would you root for?

MH: God, I’m gonna sound like such a traitor. I would root for…the Heat. Either way, that would be a great matchup.

photos by Benny Haddad