Dunk superstar enjoys reaching out to youths

Joey Payeur

Just because Jordan Kilganon can catch some big air doesn’t mean he wants young people to see him as larger than life.
Kilganon put stars in some eyes—and left some jaws on the ground—as he staged a no-holds-barred exhibition of slam dunking Saturday to cap a day to remember for those involved in the Rainy River First Nation Youth Sobriety 3-on-3 tournament at Manitou Rapids First Nation.
Earlier in the day, before he hosted an instructional session for the players, Kilganon talked about how high a priority connecting with children is to him.
“The most important thing to me is kids; it’s the reason why I dunk,” said the 24-year-old Sudbury native, who goes by the pseudonym “Mission Impossible” as part of the Dunk Elite team.
Kilganon also gained international fame when he came out of the crowd during a time-out at the NBA all-star game back in February in Toronto and pulled off a spectacular dunk in front of the best basketball players in the world.
“As a kid, I looked up to dunkers,” he noted. “I idolized them and anything they said I took to heart and paid attention.
“I do this on purpose to show the kids I may have something they think is a superpower, but I want them to come to me and I want to listen to what they have to say,” he stressed.
Kilganon, who came at the request of his former Humber College classmate, Nancy Indian, has been in mostly big cities and performed in front of large audiences in his travels with Dunk Elite to various slam dunk competitions around the world.
The serenity of Manitou Rapids was a welcome change of pace for him.
“I was super surprised to be invited but very happy that I came,” he remarked.
“It’s a lot more homey here,” he added. “I like it a lot more because I can interact more with the kids here and have a better connection with them.
“I’m just as excited to be here as I would be going into a new country.”
Kilganon was the point guard and captain of his senior boys’ basketball team in Grade 10, and also played volleyball and did track and field.
“I reached a point where I knew I wanted to be the very best at whatever I do, so what do I do know?’” he noted.
“That’s when I decided to take all my energy and focus on the one thing I love the most, which is dunking.”
Kilganon trains for several hours a day when at home—a workout that surprisingly doesn’t include any cardiovascular work to increase his stamina.
“Different athletes have different amounts of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles,” he explained.
“A marathon runner couldn’t jump like I can while an Olympic sprinter should be able to dunk,” he added.
“I find that cardio work only serves to deteriorate my muscles.”
Kilganon said while getting to visit new locations always gives him a rush, the downside of travelling all the time is beginning to become more apparent.
“It’s starting to get old now, which is too bad,” he admitted. “Every time I get on a plane, I have to deal with jet lag and there’s no time to train, eat, and rest properly.
“With my mentality, if I can’t train every day, it drives me crazy,” he added.
“It takes its toll on you not only physically but mentally.”
In fact, Kilganon already has an eye on life after dunking.
“I’m already marketing my program to teach people how to jump better and I just bought my first triplex recently to rent out, so I’m trying to set myself up to do other things down the road,” he said.
But with the idea he’d like to dunk until he is 35, there is more than a decade of hang time to be had.
“This is something I’ve trained for eight, nine years every single day I can and not only train, but there’s the constant research I put in to learn how to jump better,” noted Kilganon, whose 50-inch vertical leap is half-a-foot more than any player currently in the NBA.
“The trick is to do something you love,” he added. “If you don’t love it, you’re not going to be happy.
“Live your dreams.”