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Re-Introducing the Manimal: Kenneth Faried returns home

Brooklyn Nets

Kenneth Faried had a lot to say in his first media session in Brooklyn and why not? He’s excited to be home, a 45-minute drive away from his home of Newark, New Jersey.

While pundits and fans may have their own view of how things will play out for the “Manimal”, he simplified his goals earlier today saying he wants just wants to play basketball … although he did mention that thing about messing it all up in the process. Manimal as Disrupter!

“For me it’s, ‘Hey, come in here and be yourself. Kenneth, you’re basically a rookie again, take it as that because you’re on a new team, they have people starting in place, a whole rotation.’ But at the end of the day, I’m the type of player who’d like to come in, just like if I was a rookie, and mess all that up. In no disrespectful way. I just to come in and mess it up, but mess it up in a positive way,” he said with a smirk.

“We’re here to change that whole culture. We’re here to change all of that. We’re going to play hard, we’re going to continue that, but we’re going to be able to close out games now. We’re going to be able to do that; believe that. Our team believes that, our coaches believe that, and everybody else on the outside looking are going to figure that out sooner or later.”

So the “Manimal,” which he sees as a beloved nickname — ‘You can call me that all you want’ — is insistent that he’ll bring an energy and toughness, which this Brooklyn Nets team did struggle to find at times during the 2017-18 season.

“We want to get results; we want to get wins,” he said. “The little things, the intangible things I do, I want to rub off on my teammates. My energy is contagious, so my energy when I was in the game doing the things I did with Denver were contagious around the whole team. The stadium, period. That’s why when you hear, ‘We want Manimal!’ back when I was in Denver, or fans chanting, ‘We Want Manimal,’ it’s for a reason. Because I bring that energy and that’s what I plan to do here.”

Okay, then.

Now part of what made Faried expendable in Denver, the only place he’s ever played, was the Nuggets decision to invest in their younger bigs. That led to his drop in playing time, (but not in production as measured per 36 minutes.) Then, there was his contract situation. Denver needed to dump his $13.8 million expiring contract so they could avoid the luxury tax.

Like Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll before him, Faried arrives with the “salary dump” label, and the soon-to-be 29-year-old will be fighting the stigma all season long, whether or not it’s actually real. (He says it’s not.)

“Coach (Mike Malone) wanted to go a different direction. It wasn’t me. I still worked hard, I still did what I was able to do,” said Faried, who averaged 14.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per-36 last year, matching his career average on the boards and falling two points short of his career average.

“I’m just here to get better and help Brooklyn the best I can. I’m here for my teammates, the Nets, the coaches, the organization. They brought me in here to be the player I am, and that’s the hustle, grit, grind hard, energy guy, go grab every rebound, play defense; and you may be surprised this year about the other things I can do in my repertoire. But I’m not one to talk about it; I’m going to just show you.”

“Hey, I never stopped being the player I am. There’s no ‘were,’” he added

As he proved Tuesday night at Nike Pro City in Baruch College — where other NBA players like Kyrie Irving, Ron Artest and Miles Plumlee have competed in past summers, he can still sky. That’s him, wearing No. 23, with the slam...

And he might even be able to shoot a bit.

Asked if that indicated he might follow other Net bigs, like Brook Lopez, Quincy Acy and Jarrett Allen, adding a 3-point shot under Kenny Atkinson’s tutelage. Faried didn’t rule it out.

”We’re going to see what happens, sir. I’m not saying anything. I’m not implying anything. We’re just going to see what happens,” he replied.

“Y’all saw Quincy Acy shooting 3’s last year, so I’m pretty sure y’all didn’t believe he could do any of that before the year started,” he added. “But these coaches here, Kenny – especially him, as the head coach – he got everybody in line – Kenny I hear is one of the best shooting coaches in the game so it’s going to be fun.”

Speaking of bigs, Faried had some high praise for Allen, who may occasionally play alongside the “Manimal.”

“He’s going to be a great player. He’s athletic, tall, can jump out of the gym. Being 7-foot is nice. He’s getting his touch around the basket a ton better.”

He also preached the gospel of development.

“Brooklyn, the training staff and coaches, are really helping all of us to get better – you want to get guys better, you want to help guys develop. You don’t want to have all the talent and then leave it, and not be able to pass it on. You want to pass it on while you still can,” Faried said. “And right now I’m able to play, I’m healthy, I’m able to show guys. And not just by telling them: Lead by example. If you’re able to do that now, that’s what I’m trying to do for my team - lead by example and be a leader pretty much.”

Oh, and regarding his Newark neighborhood, formerly the home of the New Jersey Nets, he mentioned that, too.

“I’m excited to be here, and it so happens to be the Brooklyn Nets. Used to be the New Jersey Nets, but it was years ago. I’m excited to be here pretty much, because it’s like home for me, coming home pretty much, back to where it all started,” he said.

For audio, listen below: