The latest episode of the podcast Point Forward (with Andre Iguodala & Evan Turner) features beloved New York Knick, Immanuel Quickley.
Recorded during the summer, Quickley was interviewed at “The Sanctuary.” For the second year running, the NBA partnered with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Andalucia, Spain to host a performance retreat for players. The interview had been bumped back on the schedule once or twice, but is finally available to your ears—and eyes, at their YouTube channel.
As usual, I.Q. comes across as immensely likable. He reflects on training overseas, his ‘welcome to the league’ moment, and social media’s effect on the current generation of basketball players. To that point, he admitted, “The way social media is used . . . especially being in New York, everything you do is magnified, so you have to watch what you do.”
He discusses his time at the University of Kentucky, which wasn’t an easy experience for him to start because the program was tougher than he’d expected. “My mindset at first was that I thought I had made it. This was my first time having a slap in the face of, ‘Alright, now you gotta be humble. What are you gonna do? You gonna quit, you gonna give up, or are you gonna continue to keep working?’”
About the challenging experience, he adds: “A lot of guys don’t get that until they get to the NBA, and then it’s too late . . . I definitely think it’s helped me in my NBA career.”
At Kenucky, he played with Tyrese Maxey, who was selected 21st in the 2020 NBA Draft, four spots ahead of Quickley. The young Knick still holds the former Wildcat in the highest regard, calling him, “One of the best teammates I’ve ever had. We still talk, pretty much all the time. . . . We used to work out at 6 a.m. during the summer, four times a week. That’s kind of how we got close. We both just love being in the gym.”
The energetic and effervescent combo guard gives an amusing look behind the scenes at his first start, which was against Kyrie Irving. (Kyrie posted 40 points.) As for how he needs to grow as a player, Quickley says, “It’s bigger than fans think. It’s the mentality, the fundamentals. It’s so much bigger than somebody coming up, doing 10 moves, and shooting a shot. . . . And the film study. You can tell guys that watch film.”
Quickley dishes about being a sixth man, the mentorship of Derrick Rose, and what it’s like to play in New York. Once again, he has a level head: “I don’t really see it as pressure, but as opportunity. . . . Even the best players, like Steph Curry, get criticized. You’re going to get criticized . . . just continue to try to get better every single day, I think that’s why our team has been good. We have a lot of individual guys that love being in the gym, that love working.”
The interview dawdles briefly while Iggy, Evan, and I.Q. all shower praise on the team’s starting point guard, Jalen Brunson, and they marvel at his history of winning. Immanuel says, “Jalen’s been a lot of help for me, especially on the court. . . . Somebody I can watch, as far as footwork and things like that, the way he scores . . . just being able to get his shot off, I try to watch for things like that.”
What struck me was how helpful an injured Jalen was to his understudy. Quickley says, “Even when he was hurt and I had the chance to start for like seven games, I would text him, “What do you see?” He would send me paragraphs. He was always a help.”
As for being a bench player who has expressed a desire to start, I.Q. opines, “Even though I come off the bench and back [Jalen] up, I still see myself as a starter. I still come in the game and feel like I’m impacting the game. Try to impact it just as much as anybody. Always try to keep my attitude right and carry myself that way.”
He discusses his core faith and the values instilled on him by his mother. Even after he’d been named 2017-18 McDonald’s All American, mom still made sure that he washed the dishes. His character is evident in how Quickley conducts himself on the court and in the interview: he pairs a healthy confidence with genuine humility.