Wednesday morning, P&T Slack: “Anyone free to interview Kevin Knox and eat some sandwiches tomorrow morning?”
Reader, I was.
I am always available to meet Knicks and eat sandwiches. The connection between these two things was never made apparent, but when the sandwiches are free you don’t ask too many questions. Arrangements were made and soon your intrepid reporter was on her way down to TriBeCa to sample the new Subway menu and talk to Knicks rookie Kevin Knox.
Some background: I have not eaten at Subway since college when I got food poisoning from a tuna sub. I have also never interviewed an athlete. I do, however, have a fancy recorder and a very smart-looking pair of glasses.
I arrived at the venue a few minutes early, only to be told by a Hannah (all of the PR women were named Hannah, which made things both easier and harder) that Kevin was delayed due to his physical and traffic, but I was free to have some food and hang out. We were, oddly, not at a Subway restaurant, but rather a nice apartment decked out like Martha Stewart had an acid trip in a sub shop.
“Just tick off what you’d like and we’ll have the cooks in the back make it up fresh!” they said. I saw no sign of “the back” nor any cooks, but OK. I asked for a “Firebird Wrap.” Maria Tallchief did not deliver it (ballet joke!).
There was swag. I grabbed some.
A regional bigwig for sandwich innovation was around to chat. He got me a juice. It was a watermelon-cucumber agua fresca and I am here to tell you it was delicious. My sandwich arrived (hot, brought by a cook who appeared from nowhere) accompanied by a t-shirt that hilariously just listed the sandwich ingredients. I ate it. It was very tasty, and genuinely quite spicy. I told this to the regional bigwig and he was pleased. I wrapped up the second half to bring home because it is a sin to waste food.
There was a ripple of excitement in the apartment as a Hannah announced that Kevin was on his way. Within moments everyone’s favorite (first round) rookie appeared and was ushered over to the sandwich display to be given a quick sandwich education.
Kevin and the first interviewer (a nice gentleman in vintage Jordans) went to the back. It occurred to me that I had no idea what I was doing, but it was probably too late to back out now. I also regretted my orange Nikes and wished that I had worn Pumas instead.
Then it was me, and I was brought into the back by many Hannahs to a room with a Fisher Price basketball hoop and some plastic balls, a couch with a Subway fleece blanket on it, and a very tall young man. I asked him if we were supposed to sit and he laughed and said yes, we should sit.
Kevin Knox is tall, as you would expect. He’s thin, but more on the rangy side than the delicate side. He does not give the impression of being fragile, despite being 92% legs. That said, please eat all the sandwiches you can, Kev. He’s quiet and thoughtful and has a very sweet air to him, although that might be the unexpectedly curly eyelashes. It was quite clear that this was not his first media circus, even if it was mine. I took out my fancy recorder, remembered how to turn it on, and we began. (Edited for clarity)
Chiniqua: I’m from Posting and Toasting, the Knicks blog (or one of the Knicks blogs), and we were wondering what kind of media around basketball and the Knicks do you consume? Do you read blogs, listen to podcasts, fan pages?
Kevin Knox: I like to read a lot of stuff on Twitter, like if I see a post or something on Twitter about the team, about the future or something like that, I like to click on it or read it sometimes. But I don’t listen to podcasts and stuff like that — I look at Instagram pages and stuff like that too.
C: Yeah, we always wonder how much back and forth there is between players — how much they see.
K: Yeah, I see a lot, I get tagged in a lot of stuff.
C: Do you find that being an athlete when there’s social media around, does that make it difficult? Do you feel like there’s more pressure to post pictures of yourself, like, working out? Because everyone is posting workout videos this summer, it seems.
K: Yeah, not really. I mean, I just kinda do my own stuff. I mean, you don’t gotta post anything, just put your work in. You don’t gotta show me what you’re doing. Sometimes I don’t even post for months, weeks [social media ed. note: no kidding]. Kinda like to just look at it, kinda just be on my own, in my own world and stuff like that.
C: Did you hook up with all the guys on the team?
K: Oh yeah, we’ve been together for six weeks or so, probably more than that, just doing conditioning, getting into shape, working out and stuff like that. We’ve been together for a while so I’m kind of getting used to them.
C: You like ‘em?
K: Yeah, yeah, yeah! We’re all cool. We went out to eat together as a team, I went out with some of the teammates and ate, we go to concerts together, go to the City sometimes, go shopping together, kind of just getting that bonding in together.
C: Nice! And you had a big workout yesterday, right, with everybody? Did you get to meet KP now that he’s back in town?
K: Yeah, KP, he was back at the [training] facility yesterday for conditioning. He didn’t run, of course, but he was there cheering us on and stuff like that on the sideline.
C: He’s tall
K: Yeah, he’s really tall.
K: Yeah, really tall.
C: OK, my next question: did you get to meet Rihanna?
K: I did, yeah, at the Diamond Ball. Yeah, it was fun. Lots of celebrities there. I had a great time, got to do a lot of auctions and stuff like that, meet some different people and take some pictures and stuff like that, go on the red carpet, so it was fun meeting her.
C: Is it a huge adjustment being here and doing all of those things from being in college or did you get a lot of those things in college too?
K: Well, in college I didn’t do, like, red carpet stuff, stuff like that, but we got a lot of publicity, especially in Lexington. The fans love us there, great sports city, everyone watches basketball, so everywhere we went everyone takes pictures and stuff like that, but it’s a little different from here in New York — fashion shows, and different fashion stores, and it’s fancy and different celebrities, so it’s a little bit different.
C: Do you feel like you get less recognized around here then you did around Lexington because it’s a bigger place, or more?
K: [Sucks teeth] Well, I don’t know, I feel like once the season starts it’ll get worse. But now it’s kind of, now I go into the City and people recognize me, but I think it’s only going to get worse during the season.
C: Do you like it, getting recognized?
K: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It’s like I’ll take a few pictures with the little kids or something like that, but nothing too wild. I don’t spend two hours there.
C: It’ll probably get weirder as the season goes on.
K: Yeah it’ll get worse with the season. I mean, I come to the City every now and then of course for games and stuff like that but other than that I’m in White Plains and at the facility.
C: So are you living up in Westchester with most of the guys?
K: Yeah I’m living in White Plains
C: They haven’t convinced you to move down to the City? I know that Lance and some of them are here.
K: They told me to live in White Plains. Not a lot of people live out here in the City because the team’s facility is out in White Plains which is an hour away so... nobody really wants to drive an hour.
C: It’s not a fun drive
K: No, its not. Especially when you need [to be at] practice.
C: I have a friend who wanted to know why you decided to go into basketball instead of football like your dad?
K: Well I feel like basketball is the right way for me. I mean, football’s my first love but basketball just felt like it was the right route.
C: Is that because you got tall? [note: background]
K: Yeah, I mean I really enjoyed it, I got pretty tall, I had a lot of fun playing it. Football I kind of got too tall, a lot of 300lb people running at you, so that’s a little bit different. Basketball, I just felt, had a lot to offer.
C: You were one of the big stars of Summer League — do you feel like that puts more pressure on you for the season, or do you feel more relaxed about knowing you’ll be able to handle NBA level competition?
K: I think I’ll be fine. I don’t really keep that much pressure on me at all, I just go out and play my game and be myself. I trust that my coaches and my teammates will let me do the right things on the court. So I don’t really have pressure on me at all, I just go out and do my thing.
C: Are you, like, super anxious for the season to start?
K: Yeah, it’s really exciting! I’ve been waiting for a while for the season to start. The first pre-season game is what — the Sunday after next? So it’ll be crazy.
C: So soon! How did you choose No. 20? Or did you choose it?
K: How’d they choose it? Well I was looking at No. 5 at first, which is, um, not KP… Courtney Lee has 5. Then 23 I think, which is Trey Burke, so then I went to the next number I saw, which was 20. It’s something new to try -- I’ve never worn that number before, so I think it will be a great experience. Allan Houston wore 20 too, so…
K: It’ll be pretty fun.
C: I read somewhere that you actually know Allan Houston, or his family?
K: Yeah, yeah. I’ll talk to him a little bit at the facility and stuff, he’s always around and chatting it up. We’ll eat lunch together sometimes, so it be pretty cool.
C: Is it cool having a bunch of the old Knicks around? They’ve got, like, a lot of them hanging around these days.
K: Yeah, yeah it’s cool. I mean they just give us tips, advice, I mean just chopping it up a little bit, talking about how much different the NBA is now from what it was back then.
C: I bet they love to talk about that! What’s the most challenging thing since you’ve moved here?
K: Just adjusting to the culture, the traffic.
K: The people here, stuff like that. There’s a lot of traffic and a different culture from where I was in Florida. As far as basketball-wise, it’s getting stronger. I got in shape this summer, that’s what we did throughout the whole summer — conditioning test. So I got in shape and I’m looking pretty good.
C: And do you have friends out here also, from, like, home? Or are you making new friends?
K: Not really. I’m making new friends. I mean I’ve got some friends that live in Queens. Most of my friends live in Queens that I hang out with, and my cousin lives with me in White Plains, so I’ve kind of got family around.
C: I saw your mom was in town recently.
K: Yup, mom in town [note: Kevin’s mom was apparently in the other room while we were talking, I did not meet her].
C: Let’s see. My last question: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
K: Um… [thinking] uh… I think it is a sandwich. You got a bun, and then you have the meat in the middle. That makes it a sandwich.
C: OK! [Laughing] That’s what I need to know! Thanks a lot, it’s great to meet you.
K: Thank you
C: Good luck with the season! We’re really rooting for you.
K: Thank you!
And so I shut off my recorder and we shook hands. I grabbed one of the plastic basketballs and made a basket. (No one was impressed.) I took a pair of Subway socks, my t-shirt, my half wrap, and went home.
The second half was still warm when I ate it for second lunch.