Q&A: K.J. McDaniels

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 with No comments
Courtesy of James Herbert

J-Rich said he tells you he's not impressed with your dunks because you could get more creative on the break. You agree?
I agree with him. But at the same time I try to keep it simple. I feel like when I have breaks by myself, I should do more windmills or a 360 or something just to spice the game up. But I'm more of an in-game dunker anyway so I don't have that many tricks in my bag, honestly. I agree with him when he says he's not impressed with me ‘cause I've seen the dunks he used to do in the game. So that comes from him, it motivates me to try to get more dunks and to try to put a little flavor in ‘em. 
Can you explain to a normal person what it feels like to dunk on somebody? 
To a normal person? I mean, it feels, it's like an adrenaline rush after you dunk on somebody or if somebody's in the picture and you feel their body while you're dunking. It's like you kind of owned ‘em a little bit, just kind of embarrassed ‘em. 
I've been put on a few posters, but not many in the league right now. But through growing up and trying to block shots, it's naturally going to happen when you try to block shots or go for somebody's shot. Sometimes you miss, sometimes you get it. But it's a good feeling, a good adrenaline feeling. I let my little brother — he dunks on me a lot on my goal at home. I let our goal down and I just try to get him motivated and show everybody what it feels like to dunk. 
You also played Slamball at home, right?
When I was smaller in Birmingham, we used to have a regulation goal, a regulation 10-foot goal, and we put it in the backyard. And we would play out there for like six hours, it would be like probably six of us on the trampoline, and we would all play Slamball in the backyard and everything. It was good, my friends from down the street, down the neighborhood, would come. We'd play all day.
We had a lot of injuries. Not too many injuries, but a lot of fun times doing different things. I think probably like two people got injured. Because we didn't have a net around the trampoline, so it was just a little dangerous. But we didn't care. We were just out there trying to have fun and find something to do. We came up with Slamball in the backyard.
Do you remember the first time you dunked?
First time I dunked was in the seventh grade. I dunked once in the seventh grade. Then I consistently started dunking in my eighth grade, ninth grade years. 
The first time I dunked I had a tennis ball. I was trying to see if I could dunk with a tennis ball. Once I dunked with a tennis ball, everybody thought that was just amazing. Once I got up there with a basketball and dunked, they were like, ‘Wow, he can jump.' It was my first time dunking, I was just trying to learn the fundamentals of basketball. But once I started dunking consistently, I started finding new parts of the game.
Do you think you could dunk on yourself?
I feel like I'd have to catch myself slipping, probably off a rebound. I don't think so face-to-face. I feel like I jump higher without the ball. 
Why do you think that is?
I'm not sure. You're not concentrating as hard, like trying to hold the ball and dunk on somebody at the same time. You're just jumping. You go up with two hands, one hand, sometimes you miss. 
You ever watch your own dunks from this year? Have a favorite?
I watched a few of them. Most of the time, it's my family. They're amazed because they know how far I came and they remember me doing dunks outside. In the front yard, backyard, whatever. My favorite one I had this year, I'd probably have to go with the one from Orlando. My first major dunk that got me exposure. But I've had a few of ‘em. I think the second one was the one in Miami, the left-hand putback dunk. I have a few of ‘em, but it's just a blessing. I've gotta keep building on top of that and just try to get better every day.
Were you a big fan of the dunk contest growing up?
Oh yeah, I've watched every dunk contest. I feel like I've seen a few dunks that haven't been done in the dunk contest, but they've all been exciting to me. And the players in them. My favorite: Gerald Green. A personal favorite of mine, I love watching him play. And he plays with my guy [Eric] Bledsoe from Birmingham. I love watching Gerald Green dunk. And even the way he plays, it's fun watching him play.
You watch J-Rich?
I used to love watching J-Rich. I talk to him almost every day. I ask him, like, ‘What was your favorite dunk?' I tell him ‘My favorite dunk you did, this time, was …' I just randomly come up to him and I ask him questions or I tell him something. I used to love what he did. It's a dream come true to be in here with a guy like that.
Would you be prepared to do the dunk contest if you're asked to do it?
I've been asked to. I'm not sure yet because, like I said, I'm not a big trick dunker. I went between the legs a few times, or behind the back. But that was a long time ago when I had, like, extra bounce.
You're still young!
Yeah I know I'm still young, but I'm not really a big trick dunker. I have like older swagger, I guess. Yeah, I have to work on it if I plan on doing it. I'm not sure it'll be this year, but probably down the line.
I think J-Rich would like to help you.
I would love to have his help. But I have to just, I'm more of an in-game dunker. J-Rich was definitely a different athlete than me. He probably wasn't as afraid to try dunks in a game. I feel like, I'll go out there and try something and I might miss. You don't want to miss, I've seen all the old-school bloopers of them missing dunks. I'm more of an in-game dunker, though.
But you haven't turned them down?
I haven't turned them down completely. But I'm not sure yet.


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