kenneth faried

Originally published in SLAM 172

When Kenneth Faried got the invitation to be photographed—naked—for ESPN’s “The Body Issue,” he didn’t respond to it right away. But he didn’t throw it away, either. Instead, he just thought about it. And when the second came, then the third, he knew what his answer would be. It had nothing to do with fame (or infamy), or even pride in his own physique. This was a basketball decision.

Fear. This was a decision based on fear. Mainly that fear which the 23-year-old Faried would instill in opponents. Not that his style of play didn’t do that already—after all, one doesn’t get nicknamed “the Manimal” by playing timidly—and not that his physique was not already apparent. But this would make it beyond obvious that Faried was not one to be f***ed with.

As it turned out, Faried’s first games after the issue hit newsstands were with Team USA, including the Blue and White game that pitted USA Basketball against USA Basketball. Oddly enough, no one got in his way on his frequent forays to the basket. Perfect, Faried thought. It’s working already.

Russ Bengtson