ESPN Magazine The Body Issue | Behind the scenes with John Wall & Kenneth Faried

I’m sure most of you come to this site to see John Wall breaking ankles and Kenneth Faried trying to break the backboard on some defender but today all I can offer is Wall and Faried butt naked…but tastefully done (Kevin Garnett and Marbury voice).

Dwight Howard, Amare, Tyson Chandler and WNBA’s Candace Parker have posed for the special issue in the past (Pics after the interviews).



Interview Excerpt with John Wall from ESPN

What do you like about your body?
JW: I think my best feature are my abs. They’re cut up. Last year, when I was injured, I got overweight and I didn’t like myself because I had a big belly, and that’s not what I want to be. I like to stay in shape, and I like to be fit even when I’m not playing. So I’ve been doing a lot of sit-ups and conditioning to make sure my abs are there. Crunches are my go-to. I do 100 crunches in the morning and at night to get myself going and get my body moving.

If you could change something about your body, what would it be?
JW: I’d want bigger arms. I’m strong, but my arms are skinny; they’re never going to get big and bulky like a football player. I’ve gained a lot of weight — I went into college 165, left at 185, and now I’m 210 — but my arms haven’t kept up. But I’m cool with them. As long as I’m getting stronger and preventing injury and able to take hits and finish through contact, they don’t need to be big.

What would you define as your edge mentally?
JW: I’m always motivated. Anytime I step on the court, I know I’ve got to bring my A-game. If I go out and play hard but have a bad shooting night or an off night, I’m cool with that. But if I didn’t play hard, I’ll feel like I was outplayed. When I was 16, I was cut from the basketball team. I was on my way to school and got a call from my friend, the best player in the school (we were going to be a great backcourt duo), and he was like, “You didn’t make the team.” I was like, Are you serious? I thought he was playing. But when I got there, I found out he was serious. To this day, I don’t know why I got cut, but it was one of the best things to happen to me. That gave me motivation and has driven me to be who I am today. I had to transfer to a private school, and I had a great experience. I had a new coach who believed in me and wanted me there, and we went to the state championship.

What’s the most unusual thing you do to train?
JW: I run the Runyon Canyon in LA, and that’s a great workout. You hike up a hill, and in some places it’s like a stairwell; there are wood planks in the ground and you have to lift your legs and pull yourself up. It’s tough, especially the first couple times. I’m fast and I push myself, but it still takes about 30 minutes.

What’s the one workout you couldn’t live without?
JW: Working on my jump shot. I love that because my jump shot has improved; I’ve been doing the right mechanics, things like holding my follow-through. As you get more reps in and get more confident, the sky’s the limit. I do an hour workout every day, and if I don’t have a great day shooting, or even if I did, I go back and do another 30 to 40 minutes.

How has your diet changed over the years?
JW: It’s changed a lot since my first year in the NBA. I used to eat fast food and burgers and stuff like that. I didn’t put on weight during the season, but after the season was over, I could feel it coming. Now I eat salads, fruit, salmon, healthy things. I don’t eat fast food anymore. And I don’t eat ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles. I don’t like sausage. I’m a different breed.

Have you ever felt self-conscious about your body?
JW: I was always small and skinny, like a stick figure, so I wondered when I was going to grow. I was like 5’7″ in 10th grade. And then one summer, I just started to grow. But nobody ever pushed me around. I never let that happen. I think basketball harnessed and built my toughness and competitiveness. I grew up in a tough neighborhood, and you were either going to cry and moan about it or get tough. I never complained, I just kept fighting, and I let it be known the day I moved to my neighborhood that I wasn’t going to be pushed around. I was 7 or 8 playing with the 13- and 14-year-olds, and I went out and played and left my statement there. Everyone knew I was good enough and I wasn’t going to back down.


Interview Excerpt with Kenneth Faried from ESPN

Why did you decide to pose?
KF: I’m comfortable in my own skin, and I love my body. I feel that this is the year for people to feel free to express themselves. This is the year Jason Collins came out and said ‘I’m an NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’ I’m the first NBA player member to join Athlete Ally, so I wanted to show I’m happy with who I am and support people who are gay, lesbian, transgender, transsexual and so on.

How did you get the nickname “Manimal?”
KF: A guy at my agency said people were calling saying, “Kenneth Faried is a man. He’s a beast. He’s an animal.” So he said, “We’re going to call you Manimal.” At first I was like “No, that’s kind of weird.” But then 10 minutes later: “Manimal! Rrrrr!”

How did your mother and father toughen you up?
KF: The first time I ever got dunked on in my life was by my father. I was in seventh grade. He said, “You want to play this game?” “Yes.” And he grabbed the ball and dunked on me. “If you want to play this sport, don’t ever in your life let this happen to you again.”

When I was younger, I wanted to shoot instead of rebounding because nobody wants to do the little things, but my parents told me, “If you want to shoot the ball, go get it and rebound it.” “If you want to shoot in the park with the big kids, rebound the ball.” I took that advice and ran with it. From that point on, it was always about rebounding and blocks for me.

What did you learn from your mother about toughness?
KF: My mother battled lupus my whole life — and still is. She keeps fighting and fighting just to stay alive. So no matter my obstacles, no matter who it is or what it is, I know I can fight through it and overcome it.

What do you like about your body?
KF: My abs. Weirdly enough, I was a skinny kid, but I’ve always had abs. But I’ve toned them a lot as I’ve developed my body. My favorite exercise: I balance on a big rubber ball, and a partner throws me a medicine ball. I catch it from each side — right, left, middle, and at the top of my head. You have to focus on balance and control. It works your brain and muscles at the same time.

If you could change something about your body, what would it be?
KF: I want my thighs to be a little thicker so I can move people instead of just having to jump over them all the time. It’d be better if I could just hit them and move them out of the way with my hips. I want a little bit more meat; I need a butt back there.

What is your favorite thing to do to train?
KF: In the NBA, we get strapped to this board at the waist, ankles and wrists, and they throw the ball at the backboard, and you’ve got to rebound it. It’s a platform and they strap you in with these elastic bands and the resistance is pulling your body down, and you’ve got to try to jump and grab the rebound. When I was younger, it was hard. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

What is your biggest body challenge?
KF: Keeping myself at a good weight. I eat six or seven meals a day, and I could eat right now, then go work out and be hungry right after. I’ve always had problems keeping weight on; it’s God’s gift, I guess, because it’s certainly not a curse. I’d rather lose easily than gain easily. So I eat all the time. I only eat beef once a month, and I don’t eat pork, so I eat a lot of chicken and turkey. I just indulge. It’s nothing like I must have this or that, I just eat and I eat well.”

Have you ever felt self-conscious about your body?
KF: When I was younger, I was built like a coat hanger — all you could see was my collarbone; I had no chest. I needed to fill out and wanted to bulk up. I thought I was strong, but I was a toothpick. In 10th grade, people started giving me more respect because I got taller. It wasn’t until the basketball season, when I was rebounding and blocking shots, that I came into my own. I was about 6-foot-2, and I grew two inches every spring. As my mom would say, when the flowers were growing, I was growing.






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