Published: 30th January 2018
Sacramento Kings was the perfect place to start my career, says NBA star Kevin Martin
One of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, Kevin Martin opens up about his stint with the NBA, his visit to India and the growth of basketball in the sub continent
Having played 12 seasons in the National Basketball Association and being hailed as one of the most efficient scorers of NBA with an average point-per-game of 17.4, Kevin Martin has earned his place in basketball history. Kevin, who started his career in 2004 with the Sacramento Kings, went on to play for the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and finally ended his career in 2016 with the San Antonio Spurs. We caught up with the 34-year-old star during his recent visit to India to promote the NBA's training programmes in the country. Excerpts:
Is this your first visit to India?
Yes, it is. And it's been more than amazing for me, my wife and my daughter. We couldn't have asked for a better country to visit.
What was it that first struck you about the place?
It's just the people; they made me feel at home as soon as I landed. I didn't really get to see the city (Delhi) when I landed, but the next morning I woke up and the skyline was so beautiful.
Discovering India: Kevin Martin with his wife & daughter in front of the Red Fort
Will it be a challenge for the NBA to promote basketball in India?
Oh no, not at all. I've seen it first hand in Africa, China and the Philippines. I think once the NBA gets hold of something, they are very successful in changing the whole dynamics of the game of basketball. They've done an amazing job over the last five years with companies over here, just promoting the game. Now you see so much potential in the kids. They are able to watch NBA on TV and I think that's the number one step — just watching the best players in the world. You never know; it could become the next 'cricket' in India. They're off to a good start.
When did you start playing basketball?
I grew up in a small town called Zanesville in Ohio and I started playing basketball at the age of 5. Michael Jordan was such a big icon for my generation. I would just walk around and try to be like him.
You've played for five teams. Which was your favourite?
They were all great. But I would say my favourite was the Sacramento Kings. As a boy, they walked every step with me, just made sure that I was going to be successful. I've got to credit the entire Sacramento Kings community for helping me through that phase in life where it was such a big lifestyle change for me. I didn't really know where I was headed. But that was the perfect place to start my career.
Top notch: Kevin has an average of 17.4 points per game
Why did you retire so early. Do you miss playing professionally?
Umm...I don't think that was early. I played for 12 years. I could have squeezed out a couple more, but I was kinda at the end of it — of having to wake up every day at 6 am, run on the track, play games, stay away from my family. Now I'm just excited about what I'm doing with the NBA.
Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the NBA?
I'm a firm believer of the fact that the present generation is greatly influenced by the generation behind them. I'm just trying to inspire little kids; tell them that was me 20-25 years ago. I try to give them hope and let them know that basketball is not the only way, but it's an amazing way to learn how to become a better person, become competitive and adapt some great skills.
You were often noted for your unique shooting style. Did your coaches ever try to change that? Were you forced to conform to the norm?
When somebody sees something unique, like my shooting style, they're going to be tempted to change it. But over the years, I've put in a lot of work and once I got to the NBA level, it might've been funky, but the coaches saw the end results and they never tried to change it. Not all the coaches will try to change you.
Any crazy fan moments?
Yeah, I'm a pretty attractive guy, so I had a lot of stalkers. (laughs)
What was your most embarrassing moment in your career?
Oh...my airball shot! In front of 17,000 fans! The referee stopped the game and I had to walk to centre court and make a shot. That was probably my most embarrassing moment.