If you liked Eduardo Najera, chances are you are going to love Renaldo Balkman. The Nuggets' newest energy guy is described by J.R. Smith as being "like Eddie, but more athletic." And hairy. Balkman's trademark dreadlocks flow down his back. Balkman chatted with staff writer Chris Dempsey on Wednesday about being in Denver and loving patty melts.
Q: So your nickname is "Kool," with a "K." Why?
A: Because I'm cool.
Q: Simple as that, huh?
A: Yeah, I got it when I was in college.
Q: Speaking of college, you were No. 34 at South Carolina, which you said was a lucky number. You had to wear No. 32 in New York, but you'll also be No. 32 in Denver. No more No. 34? It's available.
A: My sister played in high school, and she had No. 32, so I said, "I'll get the same number she had." I've had it ever since. I didn't check to see if No. 34 was available. This is my new lucky number.
Q: Tell me about patty melts.
A: (laughs) Oh. That was my favorite meal in college. It was the No. 1 thing I would eat. I walked into the cafeteria and the lunch ladies already knew what I want — a bacon cheese patty melt. Every day at a certain time they had it ready and I would just pick it up and keep going.
Q: You said at one point that you could live on patty melts. Can you still?
A: Oh, yeah. The ones they was making, they would melt in your mouth.
Q: Now, in college you made the decision to never part ways with your hair again.
A: I actually said that because my coach, Dave Odom, was joking about making me cut my hair. And I told him I'd never cut my hair again. Eventually one day I would cut it, but while I was there I would never cut it.
Q: So you've steered clear of the clippers for how long?
A: It's been like five years.
Q: Wow. So how long is it?
A: They're down my back.
Q: You're an East Coast guy. How do you like Denver?
A: Eh, I haven't been here that long. But it's a much slower city than where I was at.
Q: You're a defensive guy. Where do you rank, in your mind, among the NBA's best defensive players?
A: If you ask coaches, they would probably say I'm a pretty good defensive player. One of the best in the league.
Q: You were in the house for the Nuggets-Knicks brawl in 2006, right?
A: Yeah, I was there. I was sitting on the bench. I didn't have nothing to do with that. Whatever happened, happened. That is in the past. The guys don't even talk to me about that.
Q: I was going to ask if anyone has said anything to you about it yet.
A: Nah, nobody has said anything to me about that. I mean, we were playing hard and it escalated to being something else. But for the most part, that situation is pretty much done with and over.