Eastbay and Nike teamed up to provide an all-access look into basketball’s brightest young athletes. These athletes are tomorrow’s biggest superstars, and we wanted to get an inside look at some of the hungriest players in the game. The interviews were conducted by Scoop Jackson, a writer for espn.com and ESPN The Magazine, who also appears on ESPN radio and television. He worked as a copywriter and author for Nike from 2001-2005 and has previously contributed to XXL Magazine, Slam Magazine, and other publications.

Jackson sat down with Aaron Gordon, who starred at Arizona before being drafted in the first round by Orlando. Gordon quickly made a name for himself as one of the game’s best high-flyers during one of the most memorable dunk contests in years. His explosiveness and athleticism led him to a solid season last year, as he averaged nearly 10 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

ho16_bb_eastbay_con_hp-mobile_gordon_640x350-1

Check out highlights from the Q&A between the two, where they discuss Gordon’s upbringing, his love for the game, his work ethic, and, of course, dunking.

On where Aaron played the most while growing up:

My home court growing up in the Bay? It was in my backyard. All concrete. So we grew up and it was physical, man. It was my brother, my sister, and my dad. We were battling every day in the backyard, on the concrete.

On what’s so special about the game of basketball:

I could tell you what made basketball special for me. It’s the rhythm of the game. Walking onto the court and being the only one in there and hearing the ball hit the floor. It’s a beat, man. It’s a beat and it just sounds so nice. The ball going through the net sounds so nice. It’s just that swagger to the game. That bounce has a heartbeat for sure.

On basketball vs. other sports growing up:

I was in the Junior Olympics. I had a chance to go run for the 100 and 200 and I chose to go to my local basketball tournament. I think it’s the competitive aspect. Obviously in track you’re racing against other people, but I think with basketball – it’s a team sport and I like the camaraderie that comes with it. And that heartbeat.

On what fuels his work ethic:

I don’t believe that I have a limit so I’m going to keep pushing myself. I want to see what my full potential is. I love this game with all my heart. I don’t want to see somebody be better at my passion than me. I think it’s my love for the game. When you settle and you’re okay with just being good and you think you have what you need, I think that’s disrespectful. For me, I want to be the best that I can be and I want to see if the best that I can be is better than everybody else. At the end of the day, that’s where I’m going to let it stand.

On turning fear into a positive:

Self-doubt, inadequacy, all the above, man. You have to stay present. You have to keep working. I think that’s where my work ethic first started – from a fear of not reaching my greatest potential. Now I just enjoy the game and I love to work out. Knowing that somebody else is in the gym working harder than me? I can’t have that. That’s not okay. I can’t live with that.

On the secret to becoming such an explosive dunker:

Alright, alright, I guess the secret has to come out at some point. Here you go: you put a weight vest on and then you do plyometric jumps. It’s a lot of work. It’s not easy, but it’s as simple as that. You just have to jump.