Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returns “home” to Kentucky

Kevin Erpenbeck

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grew up in Somerdale, N.J., and now calls Charlotte, N.C., his home. But even so, the former Kentucky basketball star says he still has a strong connection to the Bluegrass State.

“I got a national championship here,” Kidd-Gilchrist said with a smile. “So it’s always going to be home for me.”

During the current NBA offseason, Kidd-Gilchrist made a trip back to Lexington to assist in UK’s SkillZ and DrillZ Camp. The camp gives Kidd-Gilchrist the opportunity to work with boys and girls ages 7-17 on basketball, something he says he always enjoys doing.

But the weekend back in Kentucky also gives Kidd-Gilchrist the chance to catch up with familiar faces visit familiar places on UK’s campus, even if some of it has changed since he left school in 2012.

“I grew up a lot here in that one year and I feel like I knew you guys personally,” Kidd-Gilchrist said speaking to media members. “So it’s always good to be back and see your faces here and there. … Everything has changed on campus. The (newly built) football facility is crazy, and I’m very jealous of it.”

After leading UK to a national championship during the 2011-12 season, Kidd-Gilchrist was drafted second overall to the then-named Charlotte Bobcats (now known as the Charlotte Hornets). Though he has battled numerous injuries throughout his professional career, including a torn labrum in his right shoulder that prematurely ended his season in February, Kidd-Gilchrist remains an integral part in getting Charlotte to be a regular NBA playoff contender.

The Hornets made it to the playoffs last year and won their first postseason game in 14 years. But they were knocked out in the first round after taking the Miami Heat to seven games.

As for his current health, Kidd-Gilchrist said he’s “200 percent” and ready to help vault the city’s franchise to that next sustainable level.

“A lot of work needs to be done on my part,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “… I love it there, it’s home to me. I’ve been there for five years now.”

The 6-foot-7 forward has averaged 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds during what he has called a “decent” professional career so far. In seven games last season, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds.

Kidd-Gilchrist’s Kentucky connection followed him to Charlotte last year when the Hornets drafted fellow Wildcat Aaron Harrison in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft. Harrison was assigned to Kidd-Gilchrist as his rookie learner for the year. While Harrison bounced between the NBA D-League and Charlotte, Kidd-Gilchrist used every opportunity he could to “show the ropes” to the new player.

But despite having the UK connection with Harrison, Kidd-Gilchrist said he didn’t hesitate in making the rookie do his first-year teammate duties, including doing laundry and fetching him lunch when he was tired.

Harrison averaged 4.4 minutes and shot 41.7 percent last year, but was impressive during the 2016 NBA Summer League and earned his way into the rotation for next season.

While Kidd-Gilchrist has not had the opportunity to play any pick-up games with the newly formed Wildcats team, he said he is impressed with what the Wildcats have and is excited to see where his Kentucky home team will go in 2016-17.

“I like Bam (Adebayo) for sure,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “And (De’aaron) Fox, Malik (Monk) and Isaiah (Briscoe) for sure. … (Bam) is strong, a dog and he knows how to play the game.” 


  • While saying he’s disappointed in the NBA’s recent decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte due to the league’s objection to the state’s House Bill 2 against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Kidd-Gilchrist added that he has no control in the manner and that he has “no comment” on the state’s law itself.
  • Kidd-Gilchrist said he talks to Charloette Hornets owner Michael Jordan a lot about basketball and how to improve as a player. But when asked about whether he has ever played the former NBA Hall of Famer one-on-one, his response was, “You’re funny.”
  • Kidd-Gilchrist said he’s happy that former teammates Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis are now together once again in New Orleans after Jones’ recent signing with the team. But he also added that he doesn’t want to say he’s jealous of them because he “loves Charlotte.”