SportTechie’s Athletes Voice series features the views and opinions of the athletes who use and are powered by technology. As part of this series, SportTechie spoke with Kenneth Faried to find out about his esports gaming and tech-driven training.
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Kenneth Faried spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets before an offseason trade landed him with the Brooklyn Nets for the upcoming campaign. The power forward is also a graduate of Morehead State where he broke Tim Duncan’s modern-era NCAA Division I career rebounding record with 1,673 boards.
In June, Faried paired with pro gamer CourageJD—a last-minute substitution as teammate—to finish second in Epic Games’ Fortnite Pro-Am, winning $250,000 for charity. He used that as seed money to start a foundation he’s calling Kenneth Faried HAT. He also sponsors an AAU team called Manimal Elite, in a nod to his own nickname.
Initial Interest in Technology
“When I went to school, I actually told my mom and my dad that I wanted to study CSIS [Computer Science and Information Systems]. I was going to do that in college, but it was just too difficult for me to do while playing basketball because it was too much of a headache to stay up and do coding. Basketball in college was harder—two-a-days, with sprints at 5 o’clock in the morning because you’ve got school at 8 o’clock. That was brutal. I ended up majoring in speech communication and got a minor in business management.”
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“I use a camera all the time. We keep track with heart-rate monitors, your explosion, how much weight you’re putting on one knee, or when you jump, which side you favor when landing. I learn so much with technology to get better. I want to know the quickest way to get better or the quickest to not be hurt anymore.
“And look at all the analytics: how many times this person goes right, left. They record that with technology to break down everything. It ends up on your iPad or your phone.”
“There’s a machine, VertiMax, where you wear a vest, and you hook these straps up to a tension band. Usually a coach would throw it off the backboard, and it keeps track of your movements. The bands pull you down so you won’t have as much strength. The plate keeps track of how much force you’re putting down when you’re landing, so you can put less force on the bottom. It keeps track of what I’m doing with my body and how much strength to put on or take off. They usually use air pressure with it, too, so yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on around here.”
Family (Video) Games
“I got into gaming because of my dad and, weirdly enough, my mom. My mom and my dad both were gamers. My mom has a TV in her room beside her bed where she has an Xbox she likes to play. My dad has his Xbox set up to his TV and uses it for the cable and knows how to do all that. He plays his Xbox with me—like we’ll play against each other in Madden or we’ll play with each other in Dynasty Warriors. I try to get him to play Fortnite, but he’s not real big into that. He likes sports games and RPG games.
“I’ve got my parents all the way up to the Xbox One. We’re going to keep going. Whenever a new system drops, they’re going to get it with me. All those times they said, ‘Go on and go play your game and get out of my room’—it paid off with Fornite.”
(Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The Fortnite Pro-Am
“Let me tell you about that, that was crazy. First, I was supposed to be playing with Summit1G, but an illness came over him so he couldn’t travel, which was understandable. They replaced him with CourageJD, so me and him teamed up and it was great. Summit and I had already been connected and talking about what we were going to do and had been playing together. For him to not play, I was like, ‘Aw man, I need a substitution.’ I didn’t know he wasn’t going to be there. I literally didn’t find out until I got there, and they told me, ‘Yeah, your partner has changed. You don’t have Summit no more.’ I was like, ‘Wait, what?’
“Courage came in, we met, talked about strategy right there in front of each other, and next thing you know, we played the first game. I came in 35th out of 100, which was a singles match. I was getting warmed up, seeing how people are. I was watching Courage, and he did pretty good—almost came in first on that one. Then the second game together, we came in fourth place and then we lost to Ninja and DJ Marshmellow. They killed us. Then, the last game, same story. We came in second place to them. But it was fun, though. Courage was really a great partner, kudos to him. He was a great teacher also and leader. He led us through the whole thing.”
His New Foundation
“With the money I won for charity, I started a foundation called Kenneth Faried HAT. ‘HAT’ means humble, appreciative, and thankful. I’ve been a person my whole life who believed that, through obstacles in life that you see, you may have good and bad, but you should always remain humble, appreciative, and thankful for everything—no matter what heights you reach in life or what you receive in this life.
“The foundation builds upon that for kids. I’m trying to teach kids to be this way through basketball and the fundamentals of basketball, teamwork, being a partner to somebody, being respectful, listening to a leader and not just a coach as a leader. Some players step up and become leaders. We’re trying to teach that through basketball and other sports.”