If you hadn't had a chance yet, you need to immediately click this link and read the piece Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins wrote on Charlotte Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The piece was written for the February 2 issue of SI and was published digitally earlier this week.
The article goes into MKG's high school career, how he played with the likes of Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis long before being drafted #2 overall by Charlotte; how he developed his jump shot, lost said jump shot, and then redeveloped it thanks to hours of hard work and dedication from MKG and Hornets assistant coach Mark Price (#ThanksMarkPrice); where the Kidd in Kidd-Gilchrist comes from; and how he has fought and continues to fight the stuttering that has haunting him his entire life.
Jenkins goes into how much of a thinker Kidd-Gilchrist is — how he is almost never satisfied or happy with what he accomplishes. As coach Steve Clifford told Jenkins, "A lot of guys only see the good in what they do. He is the opposite."
Kidd-Gilchrist watched old clips of himself on his phone, draining jumpers at Kentucky, set to Eminem’s "Not Afraid." He was no marksman then, either, but he was a near 75% free throw shooter, and you couldn’t leave him alone at 10 feet. "I don’t know what happened or why it happened," he says, calling up the footage on his phone. "Everything got in my head. I was like, ‘Damn, I can’t shoot anymore.’" Kidd‑Gilchrist is the kind of guy who will go shopping for jeans and immediately see a pair he likes, but then go to five other stores to see if they have a pair he likes better. The shots were like the jeans: None of them were good enough. "I turned them all down," he says. "I lost my confidence." He attempted just 5.7 field goals per game last season, and most of those were within three feet.
If you are a fan of the Hornets, you probably know all about the reinvention of MKG's shooting motion. It was quite the topic during the offseason, and we here at At The Hive may have published a few articles on it. What you have not read as much about is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's speaking problem, which is part of the reason this article is so powerful.
I remember speaking with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at Hornets Media Day. It was at two small tables, pushed together. The group consisted of MKG, myself, fellow At The Hiver Bryan Mears and maybe four or five other bloggers. It may not seem like a big group, but for the young forward, you could tell how big a struggle it was for him and how hard he was fighting to persevere through it.
This is a photo I took during Media Day while interviewing MKG. It is hard to tell, but in his right hand, he was holding a clicker. Every time he stuttered or said something like 'Umm,' he would make note of it on the clicker. While speaking, he would trace something with his finger — just like Jenkins talked about in his article.
To read about the struggle MKG went through as child, the process and hard work it took for him to get where he is today when it comes to speak, it hit home for me. It serves as a reminder that the same athletes many of us look up and idolize are indeed human after all and have to overcome the same kinds of struggles that we as fans sometimes have to go through.
Long story short, Lee Jenkins' piece on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the best I have read in a long time, and it deserves all the publicity and recognition it can get. Go read it now. Share it on every social media site you have an account on — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Tinder, I don't care. People need to read this story and they need to read it now.