Four years ago, Brandon Knight was named Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year and before he traveled to Hollywood, CA, to accept the award, he cut his hair for the first time since fourth grade, giving up on his carefully manicured braids. His hair has been short ever since and Knight admits he doesn’t miss his long hair at all.
“When I first got them it was something I did because my dad had them,” he says. “My dad cut them off and for some reason I felt uncomfortable changing my look so I kept them. I ended up cutting them because I was really particular about them and if somebody else did them, I would take them out right away. One of my mom’s friends named Renee used to handle them for me and I knew she couldn’t come with me to Kentucky so I had no choice but to get rid of them. If she came to Kentucky with me, maybe I’d probably still have them.”
Knight came back to Cali for Gatorade’s annual athlete of the year gala this year, presenting the 2014 Male Athlete of the Year trophy to future Wildcat Karl-Anthony Towns. Following the awards dinner, the Milwaukee Bucks PG sat down with SLAM for a few minutes.
SLAM: How do you spend your free time during the offseason?
Brandon Knight: When I’m not working out I like to catch up on my TV. I bowl a lot, go paintballing. I read a lot of spiritual books. Those are really the main things. I take advantage of the time because when you get to the season you don’t get too much off time. When you get off time then you just want to rest. I’ve been traveling a lot this summer too.
SLAM: Where have you been?
BK: Rome. It was good, lots of fun sight seeing. I’m going to Israel later this summer and that should be good.
SLAM: How did the travel bug get going for you?
BK: It’s good for your brand and I have the resources to do it. It’s something I wanted to experience and right now is the time to do it because when you get done after the season you just want to relax a bit.
SLAM: Your interests are somewhat different than most young NBA players. How has the transition been for you into the League?
BK: It hasn’t been hard at all especially with my teammates because I grew up in several types of areas—underprivileged areas and a better area as I got older, so I think I can relate with all types of people and I think I’m good at gauging different personalities. As far as fitting in, that was easy for me. But transitioning to the nature of the business, that was the biggest thing, not even really playing the games. The business part was the biggest transition.
SLAM: What do you know about Jabari Parker?
BK: I’m very excited to have him. He’s a very straightforward guy—he reminds me a lot of myself. He’s a high character guy, a hard worker—he’s the type of person that we need especially after the type of season we had last year. I’m excited about him and not just about the way he plays. When you can meet a person with those qualities and those types of traits—for me it’s motivation and it’s inspiring to be around somebody that lives his life the way that he does. I’m sure we’re going to get along fine.
SLAM: What do you think it’s going to be like being to be coached by Jason Kidd, someone that played the position so well?
BK: I’m excited, all that I’ve heard is that he’s a player’s coach, so it’s one of the best situations for me and I’m going to take advantage of the time that I have with him so I can learn from one of the best to play the position, a Hall of Famer. You ask for opportunities to sit down with people like that and now I have the opportunity to work with him on a daily basis. I’m looking forward to using it as a resource and advancing my game.
SLAM: What did you think of LeBron joining the Cavs?
BK: I wasn’t expecting it but it did not surprise me. Nothing in the NBA surprises me.
SLAM: Why do you say that?
BK: The nature of basketball: Things happen, people move—relationships sever, relationships grow. A lot of times it doesn’t even matter and guys will move in a heartbeat or they will stay—there are no surprises.