As aspiring professional basketball players prepare in the weeks and months prior to the annual NBA draft, they go through all sorts of workouts, testing and examinations with NBA teams, aiming to demonstrate their value and convince front-office decision-makers that they’re worth the price of a draft pick come June. During that pre-draft process, players will also often sit down for interviews with team executives hoping to gain insight into the prospects’ personalities, leadership qualities, potential fit within a team’s structure and culture, and more.
Sometimes, though, the questions can get weird and downright discomfiting. Last year, before the Sacramento Kings drafted him in the second round, Kansas point guard Frank Mason III told a reporter that one team asked him how he’d most like to die. This year, one team got even weirder. Former Kentucky forward and likely lottery pick Kevin Knox said during Wednesday’s 2018 NBA draft media availability that one team tried to “catch him off guard” by asking him, apropos of nothing, if he had a child:
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) June 20, 2018
This is not the first time Knox has told this story. It came up a few weeks back, about five minutes into an interview for “The Sidelines with Evan Daniels” podcast:
“I mean, I didn’t get asked that many interesting questions,” Knox told Daniels. “I mean, some teams … one team asked me, they kind of just dropped the question, it was like, ‘I heard you have a baby boy.’ I was like, ‘I don’t have no kid.’ And he just kept pressing about it. I guess he just wanted to see what my reaction was, and to try to push on me. But I don’t have a kid, so it was kind of a weird question to ask.”
Knox said Wednesday that the interviewer eventually revealed that this very cool and great question was just a goof:
Kevin Knox says one team interview at the Combine pressed him if he had a child. Knox, was surprised, obviously replying “no.” The team asked again, saying their intel had learned he had a child. Knox asked for the kid’s name and the team finally relented, admitting it was hoax.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 20, 2018
Killer bit, guys!
This sort of line-stepping personal question has become old hat in NFL circles. It’s been eight years since then-Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland had to apologize for asking then-Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute during a pre-draft visit, but that didn’t stop the practice. In the years since, NBA teams have asked draft prospects whether they “like girls” and “like men.” Mere months ago, former LSU running back Derrius Guice said teams stepped outside the lines to ask him similarly personal questions.
“Man, it was pretty crazy, bro,” Guice said. “Some people really try to get in your head, man, and really just test your reaction and see what your reaction is going to be. I’d go in one room and a team would ask me, ‘Do I like men?’ just to see my reaction. They’d try to bring up one of my family members or somebody and tell me, ‘Hey, man, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?’ Just random stuff like that, man, to see how you respond.”
One day before the 2018 NFL draft, though, the league announced it had found no evidence that Guice had been asked inappropriate questions during the scouting combine. Guice, once considered a potential first-round pick, wound up sliding to the bottom of the second round, going to the Washington Redskins with the No. 59 pick.
While the NFL didn’t turn up evidence of wrongdoing in Guice’s case, the practice appears to be common enough to have drawn the ire of the union representing NFL players.
“Find out what team did it and ban them from the Combine,” NFL Players Association executive director De’Maurice Smith said in the wake of the Guice report back in March. “The question is inappropriate. Questions along these lines are always inappropriate.”
You wonder whether Knox is the only NBA player — past, present or near-future — with such a story. If not, you wonder whether the National Basketball Players Association might have something to say about the practice, which seems less like a reasonable way to get relevant information about how a player might fit into an organization and more like inappropriately and unnecessarily putting teenagers in uncomfortable positions.
More NBA coverage:
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Female reporter sexually assaulted during live World Cup broadcast
• Sources: Charlotte ships Dwight Howard to Brooklyn for Timofey Mozgov
• Report: Top NBA prospects really don’t want to get drafted by the Kings
• Shams Charania: Kawhi Leonard meets with Coach Pop in Calif.