Of all the things that Kenneth Faried could have learned while playing alongside the best basketball players in the world at the FIBA World Cup this summer, the most impactful won’t help him grab another rebound or score more points. The Denver Nuggets forward learned that he too could be a leader.
He discovered that his voice matters, even in a locker room filled with superstars with their own briefcases full of accomplishments. And it’s not just that Faried may have found his voice while helping lead USA Basketball to a gold after the team’s 129-92 win over Serbia in the final, Faried also separated himself as the breakthrough player of the tournament, averaging 12.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. These might seem like modest numbers on the surface, but they are amplified when put in the context of Faried’s limited playing time on a truly loaded roster.
Faried’s performances on the world stage skyrocketed his value and has the basketball world talking about a giant payday, as the New Jersey-native is up for a contract extensio. His energy – the thing he’s most known for – has helped build the case that Faried is a bona fide superstar, worthy of his nickname, “The Manimal.”
Nuggets head trainer Steve Hess had this to say about The Manimal: “When he walks into the weight room, the energy level goes from high to ridiculous.”
We talked to Faried in New York City this week while he donned his gold medal as the NBA announced its new partnership with HARMAN International, making HARMAN the official headphone, speaker and audio partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA D-League and USA Basketball.
Men’s Fitness: So, in your opinion, why do they call you The Manimal?
Kenneth Faried: My nickname the Manimal just came from the way I play, my energy, enthusiasm, how I attack everything. I’m just aggressive about my play and I’m so passionate about it.
What are some of the things you’re working on in the gym to keep that high energy and motor going?
My explosion for one. Getting my body in the right positions to go up strong enough. I’m working at that each and everyday. It’s just repetitions of certain things and certain exercises.
What kinds of things are you working to improve on that explosion?
I like working on abs. Everything starts from your core. It’s not so much from your legs or your arms or how big your upper body is, it’s from your core and so I like doing a lot of ab workouts to make sure my core is strong enough. So even when I do go up strong and explosive, if I get hit, I’m not going anywhere. I’m still going to be able to finish.
What exercises do you like or hate the most?
I hate lunges. I’ve just never seen the point in bending and hurting your knees like that.
That’s good for your core too, you know?
Yeah, I know. But I still hate it. My favorite exercise would be kneeling on a stability ball and keeping your core tight while catching a medicine ball in different directions, while your knees are still on the ball.
What was your experience with USA basketball, learning both on and off the court?
It was good. It really taught me how to be a leader and how to just open my mouth and when I do talk, to know that my words mean something. I’m not just a role player anymore. I have to stop thinking that. I have to step up to be that All-Star, superstar that my coach, management and even my teammates want me to be and need me to be.
How do you go from Spain and transfer that to your team in Denver?
It’s easy. Just be more vocal on the court. Lead by example. Don’t try to take a backseat anymore to people because, oh, you’ve been in the league this long. It’s your turn. You have to step up and that’s what the NBA has always been about. The next person has to step up and lead. Our team, we’ve been looking for a leader and I think I can step into that role now.