Alec Burks talks family, God-given ability and contortionist moves
** Are you better than you used to be, or have you just gotten more of a chance to show what you can do?
I feel like I have more chance, you know? Learn from my mistakes out there. You know, last year, you know, we had a lot of vets on the team, so you know, you couldn’t learn as much as I am learning right now. So, I feel like, just learning.
** Were you too confident early on in your career and naive about the amount of work there was?
No, I didn’t. I don’t say that. I feel like I always had to have the confidence in my game, you know, ’cause if I don’t, who will, you know? But you know, I don’t think, I think the work ethic’s just coming along with it.
What is the work ethic?
Just learning how to work, like it’s your job, you know? I learned that when I first got to the league, and I’m learning that now.
Was the game easy for you as a kid?
I wouldn’t say easy, you know? I worked at it, but you know, just God-given ability, you know? I use that a lot more than, you know, working out.
** Do you realize that your body contorts and does things that no one else does?
Yeah, I’ve heard that before. You know, a lot of people have told me that.
Has it always been that way?
I feel like when I got to college, just, I think that’s where it really started. I just, more athletic people, you know? In college, I mean, in high school, I could just get around everybody. But in college, you know, I really had to learn to finish around people, and with contact.
So in high school, you were just blowing by guys?
Yeah, high school, just blowing by guys. Nobody really wanted to challenge me, you know? So, you know, and in college, everybody wants to, you know, make it to the next level, so you know, everybody’s playing a lot more defense.
It’s the NBA. I gotta figure out a way, how to get to the rim. That’s all it is.
Is it just crazy how fast it closes?
Yeah, it is. It is crazy, you know? Just some of the shots I make, I mean, I surprise myself, some of the things I do.
Could you explain what you just did right after one of your contortionist moves?
Not at all. I have to see it on the Jumbotron…Just God-given ability, man. I can’t say nothing else about it.
** Do the veterans teach you more about defensive off-the-ball stuff or on-ball, on-the-floor stuff?
I feel like, more off the ball. I feel like my on-ball defense is real good, but I feel like off the ball, just knowing where to be at, you know, just ’cause this league is athletes, you know? They just cut at any time, so I just feel like off the ball, [Richard Jefferson]‘s helping me a lot. Marvin [Williams]. I feel like [Gordon Hayward]‘s helping me a lot too, so I feel like they help me every game.
** What do you do to pass the time on the road?
I’m usually on my phone, somewhere, or I’m at the mall, you know, with Jeremy [Evans] or Ian [Clark] or Trey [Burke] or something. We at the mall, you know? There’s so much time, you know, you gotta do something with your hands, but I ain’t really doing much. Just chilling, you know?
Talking or texting on your phone?
Texting. Whatever it is, you know?
Is it boring?
Nah. It’s not boring. I don’t think it’s boring at all. If I was bored, I go to the mall.
Who are the guys you’re chilling with?
Just depends on who, you know, lotta people have different situations on different road trips, you know? So, just depends who it is. I go eat with anybody. You know, everybody’s around my age, so you know, we eat. I’m cool with everybody.
** Tell us about the relationship you have with your brother.
You know, that’s my big brother, you know? My, you know, it’s who I wanted to be when I was younger. That’s why I picked up the game of basketball, you know? Just, he quit his job and came and worked with me–come live with me, you know? So, and I appreciate him for it…He just there, you know, make sure I don’t bump my head nowhere, you know? That’s it.
** Who do you talk to you when you have a bad night?
Probably, I don’t know, who it is. I usually talk to one of the coaches. Maybe Johnnie [Bryant], you know? Or my brother might say something, you know? Just, you know, that’s probably it. Ain’t nobody else outside of that.
** What do you like most about the NBA world?
Like the most? Just the dream, you know? Accomplishing your dream. I feel like that’s the best thing.
What do you like the least?
The least? The traveling schedule is unbelievable, you know? The miles we get in that plane, it’s crazy.
** What do you do on the plane?
I watch a movie. Watch TV. I sit next to Marvin, so we usually talk about basketball, or life or whatever we are at the time, you know?
Marvin is a pretty good mentor for life.
Yeah, he is. He’s a great dude, you know? He’s just real, you know? He’s honest with you, you know? He tell you the truth whether you like it or not, and I like that about him.
** Is it hard to stay grounded with an NBA paycheck?
Nah. I feel like, just being from Kansas City, you know, if you don’t get humble, that city will humble you, you know? That’s how I was raised, you know? And that’s just, that’s why I go back every summer, ’cause you know, that’s humbled me every time I go back.
** What did your mom and dad do for work?
My mom, she had a couple jobs. She worked in Social Security. My father worked in a factory, a laundry factory, you know, in Kansas City…Everything was tough, you know? My brother worked, you know? Everybody worked but me, you know, when I was growing up. So you know, it’s just, you know, we made, we did, we had to do what we had to do, you know, to get the job done, you know?
** Do you feel like you’re here to carry your family?
Aw yeah. I wouldn’t be here without my family, you know, so I feel like every time I pla–go out there, I play for them, you know?
Is that heavy?
Nah, not at all. I feel like, they, it was heavy, they was doing it when I was younger, when I was just running behind them. They had to take care of me, so you know, I feel like it’s nothing at all. They got it done, and I can get it done.
** What would you be doing if you weren’t playing basketball?
I have no idea. I don’t know. Hopefully something productive, you know, but I have no idea.
** When did you say, “I’m going to play basketball for a living?”
I really didn’t know probably ’til my freshman summer in college, you know, when I really started getting a lot of attention, and people was really telling me that NBA people was really talking about me. And I was going to camps against other NBA prospects, and I was really playing well. I feel like that’s when I really, really knew that I really was gonna make this move to the NBA.
** Is there a player you pattern yourself after?
No, not at all. I feel like I just wanna be myself, you know? That’s why I don’t pattern my game after nobody.
** You’re not a particularly loquacious fellow. Do you feel like you wish people knew who you are, or do you not care about that?
Nah, you don’t gotta know me at all. Just know, you know, Imma play hard every night. That’s it. And I’m a good guy, you know? I ain’t gonna do no knucklehead shit, you know?
** Are you having fun?
Of course. Of course. Course.
Has the grind, travel and losses ever made it not fun?
Nah, not at all. If it’s not fun, I shouldn’t be doing it, you know? I think everybody complains about schedule, but they wouldn’t have no other job in the world, you know, that good. (Locked On Jazz)