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One-On-Two With Singler and Smith
Courtesy: Jerry Kavanagh
Release: 10/19/2010
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Nolan Smith (2) and Kyle Singler (12).
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DURHAM, N.C. – Jerry Kavanagh caught up with Duke’s Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith a couple of weeks after the Blue Devils defeated Butler for the NCAA championship and asked them about their passions and pursuits-- in life and in sports. Their answers provided some insight into their personalities on and off the court.

The co-captains, returning for their senior seasons, hope to make Duke the first school to win back-to-back titles since Florida accomplished the feat in 2006 and ’07.

Q. What’s the best thing about basketball?
The competition. Even though basketball is a team sport, there are a lot of individual challenges. I like that aspect of the game.
Smith: I love to compete. There is really no limit on potential, so it is always great to challenge yourself.

Q. Tell me about competition.
It’s the opportunity to go head-to-head with another individual or team to see who comes out on top. Both teams are trying to beat each other, and that brings out the best in them.
Smith: Competition excites me. Every day when I take the court, I get to compete and make myself better or help someone else improve. The way I see it, if you are not competitive you should go live in a box. Life is about competing in everything you do.

Q. What’s it like competing in the ACC?
The ACC has always had great teams. I love the tradition of the conference.
Smith: Every game that you play is going to be a battle in a tough environment. The ACC has great tradition and a history of a lot great players.

Q. What’s special about college sports?
The fans. They really get into the action and support their teams.
Smith: It is people who are playing for the love of the game. And the fan support in college athletics is amazing.

Q. What about the NCAA Tournament?
It is crazy. Anything can happen. You have to stay focused and never let down.
Smith: It’s win or go home for every team. No matter the seed or school, each team is fighting for a chance at the title. It also teaches you that tomorrow is not promised. And that is a life lesson that I live by.

Q. What do you like about pro sports?
I enjoy watching the top players competing at the highest level.
Smith: Professional athletes are the best in the game. Watching them, I can learn so much about what it takes to reach that level of competition.

Q. Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My family has been the most influential in my career because they always supported and encouraged me.
Smith: My mom. She has always been there for me and taught me how to fight for what I want and to never run when things get tough.
Q. Tell me an idea you wish you had thought of.
The iPod. It makes sense and has great applications. I use it all the time.
Smith:  The iPhone. Everybody wants one.
Q. A fantasy job?
Astronaut. I would like to go in space just for the experience.
Smith: Take Reggie Love’s job as right-hand man to President Barack Obama

Q. Any pet peeves?
I hate being interrupted.
Smith: I hate being poked and when people stare at me. I am a friendly person and want people to feel free to come up and talk to me.

Q. What is something about you that would surprise those who know you?
I’m weird and like a lot of different types of music.
Smith: I am a pretty open person, so there aren’t many surprises about me. What you see is what you get.

Q. What do you like best about yourself?
I am a driven person. I can motivate myself easily, and that is a good quality to have.
Smith: My smile. I am a happy person. I love life.
Q. Hero?
My mom and dad. They did a great job of raising me.
Smith: My dad. He taught me so many lessons in a very short time. My mom. She reinforced all those lessons my dad taught me and many, many more. Her influence has made me the man I am today.
Larry Bird. He is one of the greatest basketball players ever. I admire what he was able to accomplish.
Smith: Kobe Bryant. He is a warrior. He has a look in his eyes that says, “I want to be the best.” And Juwan Howard. He is a good friend of mine. He has been in the league for a long time, and that just shows what hard work can do for you.

The Portland Trail Blazers. They are my home town team.
Smith: The Los Angeles Lakers – the champions. I root for champions because they know how to win, and I like winning. And the Washington Wizards. They are not your typical champions, but they are my home team and a lot of people within the organization played a very big part in my life and my family’s life.
Medford, Ore. I might be biased, but it is a great town.
Smith: D.C.  It is my home town. I enjoy the people, and there is a lot to do there.

My computer. I have a lot of my artwork on it and I use it to watch movies or listen to music.
Smith: My family. They have meant everything to me. They have been my backbone. They keep me up when things are going down and they keep me humble when things are going well. I love them to death.

Old family photos. There is nothing better than looking at family photos.
Smith: The last thing my dad gave me – a little glass car. I have it on a shelf at home. Just seeing it helps me remember everything my dad taught me. 
Time of year:
May – It is my birthday month and it marks the start of summer.
Smith: Spring time. I like the warm weather and March Madness is under way.

Depends on my mood. I listen to anything from hip-hop to slower R&B.
Smith: Everything. I am a very diverse person. I listen to everything from Miley Cyrus to Lil’ Wayne.

Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, and all the other sports magazines
Smith: ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated. I will read just about any sports magazine to learn about fellow athletes.
Web sites:
Singler:,, and
Smith: Any sports web site and Twitter. Twitter allows me to connect with fans and followers.

Nerf Guns.
Smith: I love gadgets. I have two phones – the iPhone and the Blackberry Tour. I give the edge to the iPhone because of all the apps.

Art, paintball, ultimate Frisbee, Frisbee golf, and board games.
Smith: Anything from arcades to go-karts to putt-putt to batting cages to bowling. Anything that puts a smile on my face and lets me be a kid.

I took a trip to Europe last summer. I had a great time and visited a lot of cool sites. I am hoping to go back again.
Smith: Cancun, Mexico. It is a city that doesn’t sleep, just like New York, with much better weather.

My favorite genre is comedy – “Blue Streak,” “Dumb & Dumber,” “Pineapple Express,” and “Heavyweights” are some of my favorites.
Smith: Any movie that makes me laugh. “Life,” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, has to be my favorite and one of the funniest movies of all time.

“The Office,” “Flash Forward,” and “Community”
Smith: Cartoons. “SpongeBob Squarepants” is the apple of my eye.

David Garibaldi, Salvador Dali, and TuPac.
Smith: Lil’ Wayne and Lauren Hill.

I love Mexican food, and my home town has a great restaurant in Las Morenas Taqueria.
Smith: Anything my mom makes. She has a lot of specialties, so I can’t pick just one item.

Anything milk chocolate.
Smith: I am not really a sweets guy.

Vacation spots:
Anywhere with a beach. I like to relax in the sand and play in the water.
Smith: Miami and Houston are two spots in the states that I enjoy. The weather is always nice and the people are very friendly.
I am holding out for the flying car.
Smith: Fast ones.

Erykah Badu, Devil Doll.
Smith: Jennifer Hudson, especially when she sang “One Shining Moment.”

“If you are not living on the edge you are taking up too much space.” My papa used to always say that to me.
Smith: "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." -- Muhammad Ali

Jerry Kavanagh is a former editor with New York Magazine and Conde Nast.
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