Q&A: Kim talks NBA, M.J. and advice from Barkley

Badz/PGA TOUR
Anthony Kim learns something every time he speaks with Michael Jordan -- including, no doubt, some great trash-talk lines.
October 27, 2009
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer

Anthony Kim is a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR and, at age 24, one of the game's brightest young stars. He's also arguably the TOUR'S biggest basketball fan. As the NBA season tips off this week, Kim spoke with PGATOUR.COM's Brian Wacker to share his thoughts on his favorite team (Lakers), the greatest player ever (Michael Jordan) and some recent career advice from the Round Mound of Rebound (Charles Barkley).

PGATOUR.COM: When did you figure out you'd make a better golfer than basketball player??

NBA season tips off
The NBA's 2009-10 season tips off Tuesday night. Click here for more details

Anthony Kim: When I was in the 10th grade, I hurt my ankle pretty bad. I rolled it twice in the same week, and my mom and dad told me to look in the mirror and see what I thought I could do as a profession, and that was it. No more basketball after that. Being 5-foot-9 on a good day, I had a pretty good idea I wasn't going to play basketball for a living.

PGATOUR.COM: You played a lot as a kid growing up in Southern California, though.

AK: I was going to play [for my high school] when we moved to La Quinta, but then I got hurt and my parents were pretty strict about it after that, about not playing basketball.

PGATOUR.COM: What kind of player would you be if you never gave it up? Obviously you'd be a guard since there aren't too many 5-9 power forwards.

AK: Ever since I played soccer [as a kid], I was always the fastest guy on court. Always. Then I went and played tennis a couple times, and it was embarrassing how slow I was. But I was always small, so I had to have more energy than everyone else and go faster than everyone else.

PGATOUR.COM: The injury didn't squash your love for the game, though. How'd you become a Lakers fan??

AK: Born and raised in L.A., man. My parents owned a business at Sixth and Kingsley, and they worked from 8 in the morning until 8 at night seven days a week, and there was a little TV in there, so every time I came back from playing basketball at the park or wherever, the Lakers were on.

PGATOUR.COM: Not a Clippers fan??

AK: No way, man. Even though my boy B.G. (Blake Griffin) plays for them now, I'm still a Lakers fan. Blake and I both went to Oklahoma, and my strength and conditioning coach, Darby Rich, used to be the strength and conditioning coach for the men's basketball team and trained Blake when he was there.

PGATOUR.COM: You ever play against Blake??

AK: I don't even fool around with Blake. How am I going to mess with him on the court? That would be like him trying to mess with me on the golf course. But I always played with other guys from the OU team, and I was probably the only guy from the golf team to do that. It was good because it was competitive, and it's good to try stuff you don't always practice. And I love to talk trash.

PGATOUR.COM: What was meeting Michael Jordan like at The Presidents Cup??

AK: I'd met M.J. before, and it's hard not to learn something from him every time you talk to him, so I tried to be around him as much as possible. He's nothing but a class act, too, and he was great for our team. He brings passion to whatever team he's on, whether it's his brand or any of the actual teams he played for. I learned a lot from him in terms of trying to stay patient, even though I beat the hell out of him on the course. It's hard for me to be patient at 24 sometimes, but I'm learning. Or at least I'm trying to.

PGATOUR.COM: Have you played a lot of golf with Jordan, or any other NBA players??

AK: Have you heard that expression about taking candy from a baby? Yeah, [Jordan and I] played, but I could never take any money from that man. I had a couple of opportunities to play with some of the guys from the Lakers, but I just haven't been in L.A. that much lately. But whoever wants to get a beating, I'll be happy to play. I love talking trash all day long.

PGATOUR.COM: Speaking of talking trash, you've become pretty good friends with Charles Barkley.

AK: I'd met him at a restaurant one night, and we hung out and have stayed in contact. I came out to Dallas to watch "that swing," as I like to call it when he was filming the Hank Haney Project. Chuck knows how to throw salt in the wound, though. He was ribbing me for not making THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, but I love it. He makes me laugh.

PGATOUR.COM: He's also tried to counsel you on how to handle being a professional athlete off the course.

AK: One of the things he's tried to get through to me is that things are going to be said that are true and not true, and that if it's not true, you don't have to defend yourself. You just say what you have to say and move on. There are always going to be haters.

PGATOUR.COM: Who on TOUR would make or is the best basketball player, other than you of course??

AK: We all know everyone thinks they're better than they are. I don't really know, though, because those days are behind me, unless maybe the Lakers want to call me up and want to give me a jersey. I can't even mess around because one twisted ankle, and everyone's going to start saying I don't care about golf.

PGATOUR.COM: If you could be 6-foot-6, instead of 5-9, would you rather play basketball for a living??

AK: My dream was to be a professional basketball player, but this is what I got, and I'm good with that. I think it's worked out pretty well.

PGATOUR.COM: Who in the NBA would make the best professional golfer??

AK: I know there are a lot of guys who are already good players, but I would say someone like Kobe Bryant. He played soccer a lot, and there's a lot of hand-eye coordination involved. He's also not too big and muscular to the point where he can't swing. I have some football player buddies who are just huge, and they just can't swing because they're too big. It takes some flexibility and a lot of hand-eye coordination.

PGATOUR.COM: You mentioned Kobe Bryant; so Kobe or Shaq??

AK: I'm hoping they reunite. I can't pick, though. Shaq is one of those guys, you see him on television, he just looks like he's fun to be around. Kobe is my favorite player, though. I've never met [Kobe]. A friend of mine knows him, and I was supposed to go meet him, but our schedules didn't match up. But I like meeting people and learning from them, how they think or prepare to be great like a Kobe or a Michael.

PGATOUR.COM: Speaking of great players, who are your top-five players of all time??

AK: You have to put M.J. at the top of the list, then I'd say Kobe, LeBron James, Nick Van Exel and the last player would have to be the first Korean-born NBA player, Ha Seung-Jin.

PGATOUR.COM: Nick Van Exel? Top-five all time?

AK: He was one of my favorite players, but for the top five greatest players of all time, just give me M.J. five times.

PGATOUR.COM: How about your dream foursome of NBA players, past or present??

AK: M.J., again. You can't go anywhere without him. Then I'd say Charles Barkley. That's my guy, and I know he'll be somewhere in the trees, but you can still hear him talking trash. And of course Kobe.

PGATOUR.COM: Your season coincides with most of the NBA season. How often do you get to follow it??

AK: I got to go to about seven or eight games last season. Comedian George Lopez is a good friend of mine, and he'll get me floor seats at the Lakers. I just go to my boy George, and he takes care of me. But I'll watch it just about every night, especially when the Lakers are on.

PGATOUR.COM: All right, we'll wrap this up with a season prediction. Though I have a pretty good idea where you're going with this, who do you have in the conference finals and NBA Finals??

AK: The Lakers, and it doesn't matter in the West, and Cleveland against Boston in the East with the Lakers whooping the Celtics in six games in the Finals.

PGATOUR.COM: I'm surprised you gave the Celtics six games.

AK: That's the respect I'm giving them, saying they'll even get there and they'll win that many games.