The Art of ... the Knockout

November 13, 2012
Donald Sloan

Cavaliers backup point guard Donald Sloan is one of the Wine and Gold’s more laid-back players. But on the hardwood, he’s one of the club’s toughest scrappers.

The Dallas native played four years for Texas A&M and was part of the Aggies’ all-time most successful class and earned several all-Big 12 honors. Before coming to Cleveland midway through last season, Sloan had short stints with Sacramento and Atlanta, but also spent time playing in the D-League and the Philippines.

But before Sloan cut out a career in basketball, he was a Golden Gloves boxer as a teen. Of his 15 bouts, he won 13 by knockout (with one loss and one draw).

Sloan put pugilism aside to focus on his hoop dreams, but he still gets in the ring from time to time in the NBA offseason. So as the Cavaliers wrap up their early-season road trip, sat down with Sloan to ask him about the sweet science and “The Art of … the Knockout.”

How do you measure an opponent up in terms of whether or not you’ll go for a knockout?
Donald Sloan: Well, it kinda depends. It’s like scouting in basketball. You’re going to try to scout him. You’re going to try to prepare to know your opponent well – their tendencies, what they like to do. And sometimes you come across fighters where you can search for those knockout punches. But sometimes you get those fighters that are so solid – not saying they’re as good as you – but they’re pretty tough.

But while you’re looking for that one shot, you might loosen up and accidentally get hit. So you just have to fight it out.

But normally, there is an art to it. You know your opponent’s weaknesses, their tendencies. What they like to do, how often they drop their hands, when they like to turn their head and listen to their trainer. So you kinda see that throughout the fight and you kinda set him up.

What weight class were you?
Sloan: Now, I’d be light-heavyweight. Back then I was light.

How would you describe your style?
Sloan: I’m definitely a puncher. There’s the Floyd Mayweather-type who, defensively, plays off you. But I’m a go-getter, always the aggressor. I’m always coming forward. A pit bull.

I can’t say any of my fights were boring.

Have you ever been knocked out?
Sloan: I haven’t been knocked out. I have been knocked down and dazed.

Where do you hit an opponent when going for the KO?
Sloan: The chin. A lot of people think, ‘I’ll hit him in the head and that’ll do it,’ but not necessarily. You hit a guy in the chin because it shakes the brain up against the skill. Normally, that’s the best place to hit him. It rattles the head.

What’s the feeling of KO’ing an opponent like?
Sloan: At first it’s kinda scary. When you first do something like that, you kinda get scared, like: ‘Oh, #&*%! What have I done?’

But after a while you know and you realize that it’s a good feeling. I don’t want to say you feel invincible. But in that sports sense, you feel good about doing something like that.

What would be the basketball equivalent?
Sloan: Knocking somebody out would be as great as the Blake Griffin-Kendrick Perkins dunk. Something like that.

Do you ever think about getting back in the ring?
Sloan: Not really. Even when I came out of my last year of college, I got so many letters from trainers and boxing organizations and stuff like that who wanted me to come train. Like in Cali, Florida. They really wanted me to pursue that. But you know, I’d have to do it professionally.

It’d be good, but my heart isn’t in it. So I don’t even want to mess around with it.

When was the last time?
Sloan: Not this past summer. I didn’t get a chance to do anything this past summer. But the summer before, I got in the ring a little bit with my cousin.

Which Cavalier (besides you) would make the best boxer?
Sloan: D-Gibb! He got a nice little stance. He kinda knows his moves. He’s quick, tough. He moves his feet really well.

It’s not always about punching. Sometimes it’s about how you move.

Yeah, I’d have to say D-Gibb.

The Cavs have weathered some shots on this road trip.
Sloan: It’s definitely been a rough trip, but I think we’ve done some great things. All coach asks is that we compete hard and give ourselves a chance to win night in and night out. And I definitely think our group has done that.

It’s early in the season. I don’t think we can keep using that as a crutch. But I think we definitely learned some things about ourselves. What we’re capable of on this road trip. So I definitely think it’s a stepping stone that’ll help us down the line.

Can a long trip – even a difficult one – help a young team solidify itself?
Sloan: Definitely. Being put in that situation has definitely helped us grow a little more. We’re a young team with a lot of new faces. A couple of us weren’t here the whole year last year and a couple of our key guys were hurt last year.

But I definitely think this is our time to bond outside the practice facility. It’s definitely teaching us a lot about ourselves.