As one of the best dunkers in the world he is simply known under his nickname ‘Smoove’. We touched base with the Ukrainian high flyer to find out what makes him tick… and fly. Little did we know he’s been a fervent K1X fan long before the Dunk Elite fame. A true K1X Warrior!
Let’s get into it…
Rob: To kick things off let’s get some hard facts. What’s your full name, when and where were you born and when did you start playing basketball?
Smoove: My name is Dmytro Kryvenko. I was born in a small city called Komsomolskii (now Slobozhanske) in the Kharkov region (Ukraine) on September 11th, 1990. I started to play ball at the age of 6.
Did you have any basketball idols?
Growing up I had three idols: Allen Iverson was my favorite basketball character, Shaq because of his dominance and Michael Jordan as the all-time great.
When was the first time you dunked?
First time I dunked was in my school during physical education class. I was 14 and that rim was 3,07m or something, but girls were watching so I decided to jump. I made it with the first try. Felt like a king that day. (laughs)
Any athletic talent in your family?
Both my dad and older brother played and still play ball sometimes. Both played on their university teams. But basketball wasn’t their #1 sport. My brother was chasing a dream to become a professional volleyball player. He almost had it. Being a volleyball player he had a great vertical leap and he was dunking on everybody during pick-up games. My dad’s first love is chess. He is an European Champion of chess problem solving and also a coach of the Ukrainian national team.
Except for your natural talent, what do you do to maintain or even improve your jumping ability?
Oh, I tried every popular jump program when I was younger and then after research and testing my body I decided to make a personal program for myself. I still work with it. Everybody can find a good training method if they really want to. I work on my vertical 2 or 3 times a week depends on the time – if it’s season or off season. Other days of the week I work on my handles. I’m not the highest jumper in the world, but I have one of the quickest hands in the game, so I need to work on it very hard to be able to make difficult dunks.
Where do you get inspiration for new dunks? Who do you watch?
Inspiration is everywhere. My favorite dunker of all-time is Kadour Ziani. I always watch his videos and try to emulate his style with his crazy double windmills or 360’s. Also hanging up and working together with my Dunk Elite teammates is the best time to improve. Everybody has crazy ideas and we share it with each other. For example the idea of my latest big dunk (one-handed-eastbay aka «Kamikaze dunk») was born during a conversation with Jordan Kilganon in our camp in Morocco.
Is there a specific dunk you are working on right now?
There are a lot of dunks and variations I work on right now. I can’t tell you the list, because I prefer to surprise people when it’s actually on tape. But I can say that right now I’m woking on 180 variation of my Kamikaze dunk. I almost had it at the FIBA3x3 World Championship dunk contest in China. I’m sure it will be my go-to dunk next summer.
Who’s the best dunker in the NBA right now?
It’s not easy to say. For in-game dunks I like Russell Westbrook. He hates rims. He brings crazy energy to every dunk. In the dunk contest my favorite is Zach LaVine. I would say, he is a professional dunker who plays really well in the NBA. Honorable mention – Vince Carter. Guy is 40 and he still does great in-game dunks. Not “barely dunks”, but bangs over 7-footers! If he competes in the Dunk Contest once again it would be a great present to the dunk and basketball community.
How did you end up in Dunk Elite? What’s the selection process?
I’m on the team from the very very beginning. My agent Simon invited me to the Midnight Madness dunk contest back in 2012. By that time there was no Dunk Elite. Simon was working part-time with Midnight Madness to help them put together a great dunk contest every year. I did ok in that contest and we kept in touch. A few moths later Simon reached out to me and told me that he wants to start his own agency (PrimeStar Sports) and he wanted me to be his first client. So in early 2013 I had another event in the UK under the PrimeStar umbrella already. It was successful. Later this year PrimeStar signed Lipek and Kristaps. And then Simon decided to put together a team of the best dunkers. So in the end of the summer Dunk Elite was born. And I think I can say that I was the first member of this team. To make the team you simply have to be one of the best in the world. And not only on YouTube – you have to win contests. Also you have to be a good guy of course 🙂
Do you want to be the best individually or is it more important that Dunk Elite shines as a group?
Of course it’s a competition in our team. Dunking is an individual sport. You can’t rely on anybody when you are on the court. Of course we are friends. On the court we really support each other, off the court we are real pals who spend time together, but during the competition everybody wants to win. But as a team player, I really enjoy when my teammates do well and perform on a high level. I want our team to grow and that’s why I sincerely support everybody.
How does K1X fit the Dunk Elite style and what’s your favorite K1X shoe to dunk in?
Honestly, I was a big fan of K1X way before Dunk Elite. I always wanted to have cool K1X clothes in my wardrobe. And now having the support of the company makes me very happy, man. It fits me just perfectly. I feel stylish and confident on the court. I’m sure the whole Dunk Elite squad feels the same. My favorite shoe to dunk in is the Anti Gravity for sure. I think I have every color right now. The shoe is comfortable and it looks very good which makes my dunks look even better.
Social: Insta @smooveukraine
The ultimate Smoove dunk compilation
Dunk Elite at Dychman Basketball Dunk Contest 2015