Shortly after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist signed his four-year, $52-million contract extension with the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday, we sat down for a one-on-one interview. One of these five questions will need revisiting in a couple of months – read the last question for details on that.
Q. With this contract, you just provided financial security for yourself and a whole lot of people in your immediate family. What sort of importance do you attach to that?
A. It’s a great feeling. But I never did any of this for the money, fame, fortune, Instagram followers or Twitter followers. That can all come and go. But ball and family – that’s not going anywhere.
Q. A lot of people may not know the extreme closeness of your relationship with point guard Kemba Walker, who you cite as one of the main reasons you wanted to stay in Charlotte. What is that relationship like?
A. We always talk. I was a freshman in high school when I first met him – think about that. And then I was just a fan of Kemba, who was a senior in high school. I kept following his career.
So when I got drafted, I was like, ‘Oh snap, Kemba Walker’s on my team!’ When I met him, I just kept asking questions every day about everything. He never seemed to get tired of it. We are similar people. We’re both competitive, humble – we just click.
Q. There was a lot made at a similar press conference in Charlotte several months ago – when Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signed his own lucrative extension – about the belief that Newton can lead the Panthers to a championship. Do you feel pressure to do that for the Hornets?
A. When you talk about pressure, all the pressure I ever felt was making it into the NBA and really into college first of all. Because if I didn’t go to college, where would I be? That was pressure, that, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to go to college somewhere.’
This isn’t pressure. This is adding fuel to the fire. But as far as the pressure part? I’m comfortable in my own skin. I work as hard as I can every day. After that, it’s in God’s hands.
Q. You are known for sacrificing your body on defense and for loose balls. Are you going to continue throwing your body around just as much now that the money has come?
A. Yes. How much can my body take? I don’t know. But that’s how I play. I can’t change it. I wouldn’t change who I am, how I play, how my jump shot used to be, or anything like that. I wouldn’t change a single thing in my life until now. Not a single thing.
Q. The Hornets were a disappointing 33-49 last season and have made huge personnel changes in the offseason. Will this team be a lot better than last year?
A. I like our team. But what do you think?
Q. I don’t know enough about all these new guys to know how they will mesh. That’s why I’m asking you.
A. All right: The first week of the season, I want your answer. Let’s shake on it.
(And we did shake – so I will take MKG up on that in early November and we will revisit this conversation).