Monday, September 26, 2022

How Jonathan Kuminga’s loneliness was cured by two French bulldogs

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How two French bulldogs cured Kuminga’s loneliness originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

LAS VEGAS — Jonathan Kuminga was just 17 years old on July 15, 2020 when he both reclassified from the high school class of 2021 to 2020 and announced his intentions to skip college and join the NBA G League Ignite on a one-year contract.

The Ignite, whose headquarters have moved to Henderson, Nev., were located out of Walnut Creek at the time. That’s a long way away from West Virginia, New York and New Jersey, the three states Kuminga played high school basketball. It’s even further, to put it lightly, from his home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

That didn’t stop Kuminga from taking the leap and jumpstarting the process of being a professional basketball player. He wanted to learn how to be a pro on and off the court faster, provide for his family and felt it was the best opportunity to showcase his skills to NBA teams.

It also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loneliness crept in for the teenager at a time when he wasn’t able to explore his new home or meet new people over safety concerns. As so many others did, Kuminga turned to man’s best friend.

“I got my first dog when I was in the G League,” Kuminga said to NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of Dubs Talk in an interview during the Las Vegas Summer League. “It was around COVID and out there in Walnut Creek was boring. I didn’t know anything, everything was closed, we had to order food. I was lonely basically.

“And I thought the one thing that I can be around is a dog, so I went and got the first dog.”

To be exact, Kuminga went and got a French bulldog. He wasn’t done either.

The Ignite played their 2020-21 schedule with a 15-game slate in the Orlando bubble. Kuminga found himself now far away from his newest four-legged friend. When the season ended, he had another realization.

One pup wasn’t enough.

“After the G League was over, my dog started growing and I felt bad for my dog because it was super lonely too,” Kuminga said. “When I’m not home, he needs another dog to play with so I went and got another one.

“Before that, I never really wanted to have a dog. I love dogs, but I never really wanted to have a dog. But since then, I love dogs more than I used to.”

RELATED: ‘Never satisfied’ Kuminga dreams of extending Dubs’ dynasty

The Warriors high-flier doesn’t just show love to his two French bulldogs behind the scenes. He also has an Instagram account for them as well. And if you have ever seen the high-end apparel that Kuminga wears before games, it’s no surprise his dogs’ names are Dior and Prada.

First came Dior, then came Prada. Kuminga originally made an account just for Dior but now has a combined one (@dior_prada00) that has over 3,500 followers with a handful of pictures of the two.

Off the court, the 19-year-old says he usually just plays NBA 2K, hangs out and chills with his two dogs. What interest sparks his curiosity the most outside of basketball, though, clearly is fashion. If it wasn’t for him going home this summer for the first time in nearly a decade, Kuminga would have been even more involved in that arena.

“I’d say I’m bigger with it than people think,” Kuminga said. “I don’t force it. I don’t try to be out there like that. But when I do some of my fashion, people recognize. The real ones know what’s going on. I’m really into fashion. If I wanted to go to fashion week, I was gonna end up going to it but I decided to go back home to Africa for my first time in almost eight years.

“If I focus and sit down and say I want to do this with fashion, I don’t think anyone will try and match my level.”

Such a statement begged the question, who has the best fashion on the Warriors?

After giving me an are-you-f–king-kidding-me look, Kuminga didn’t hesitate.

“Me, for sure,” he said with a deserved laugh.

Dior and Prada have been a sense of comfort, a newfound level of love and happiness and a cure to loneliness. At the same time, those two names — both as brands and dogs — give Kuminga another level of passion while growing his brand as a player and person.

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