Last week, the Maloof brothers, the not-so-unknown founders of the Maloof Money Cup, put myself, other media heads, and a handful of skaters, up in hotel rooms at the Palms Casino And Hotel in Las Vegas for somewhat of a pre-party for the second annual Maloof Money Cup coming July 10-12. I sat down with Joe Maloof, and unexpected guest Lizard King, to see exactly what we can expect this year.

Joe, what were your initial thoughts after last year's contest?
You know, I think it exceeded all my expectations and I know that's a phrase that's used a lot with these type of things, but in my eyes I've never had so much fun in my life. It was an event that the skaters enjoyed. When I saw them happy, I was happy. I wanted to gauge their reaction first. Is it the real thing? Did we do it right? Is it core? Did we sell out? And I got the answer from the skaters, 'cause this year we got even more [skaters] and we got the best in the world.

Why did you decide to get into skateboarding as opposed to hockey, soccer, or some other kind of sport?
My brother and I did a basketball camp for many years in Sacramento and it got a little stale, a little boring. So, I said lets do something that's fun and when I looked out the window all I would see was skateboarding, skateboarding, skateboarding—everything skateboarding. I said, "You know what, lets do a skateboarding camp." So, that's how it started, as a camp, and then it progressed into a contest.

Interview continued below

Continued from above

[Lizard King pays us an unexpected visit and joins the conversation] Lizard King: It doesn't matter. If you ride a skateboard, you're a homey for life.

JM: One thing I learned about these guys is they all stick together. There's a brotherhood in skateboarding that you don't see in any other sport. They stick together, they support each other, and they want each other to do well.

LK: It's not even a competition, it's more of a psych your homey out thing. Like, someone lands something, and all right, then take this one.

JM: [To Lizard] How long you been skating for?

LK: For like fifteen years now. It's the only thing I've even been good at. I got nothing else.

JM: And you know what, guys like this can make a living now. Why not treat these guys like rock stars, treat them as celebrities. What I learned in skateboarding is something about the demographics, especially with the pros. It's just like a NBA team—they're 19–34 years old. They're really good athletes, they have tremendous abilities, and the tricks that they accomplish are daring, very daring. And I don't know if it's a dangerous sport or…

LK: It's a f—ked up sport, man. You got to put that passion on the line every time.

JM: And you know one thing, when you fall down, just like in life, you need to get back up. In anything that you do, I learned that as a kid. I'm sure Lizard here knows it.

Joe, now that Lizard’s here where do you see him placing in this contest?
I think he'll make it [laughs]. He wants to get a $100,000 first prize, right?

LK: I'm trying to mess sh-t up.

[Someone else drops in on the conversation]: They were talking about him entering the vert 'cause he can skate The Mega.

LK: Yeah, I skated the Mega Ramp a little while ago.

JM: How was that?

LK: It's scary as sh-t.

Lizard, how many tries did it take you to air over it?
Seventeen to land it.

All those dudes who skate the Mega Ramp are out of their minds.

JM: Lizard is tremendous. He's got a little flare to him, some color.

LK: I try to keep that passion.

Joe, the Maloofs seem like a family that are never going to settle or plateau out, how are you going to step up the contest year after year?
I learned one thing in life early on that my father taught me. What you do good today, you have to do better tomorrow. We had a tremendous event, a very great event last year, and we figured how are we gonna make it better? Number one, always have the top skaters—you got to have the best in the world.

LK: The passion.

JM: The passion. You got to have guys that really care and that really want to be involved. Number two, take care of 'em. Treat 'em right, treat their girlfriends right, treat their wives right. I've been at other contests where their girlfriends can't get in to an area to see their boyfriends skate or their husbands skate, so this year we're going to have a special section for them.

LK: I get that sh-t a lot. I roll into places and people sketch out on me. I'll go order some food and a drink and they'll give me my tab instantly. Everyone else is like on a bar tab, fine. Just pay us when you pay us. Are you kidding me?!

Joe, how has etnies helped the advancement of the contest?
Well, etnies came in and were one of the first partners we had. They all believed in the event and they taught us—we came in actually with our hat in hand. We asked the sponsors, we asked the etnies of the world, especially the skaters themselves, how do we do this? They gave us their input and we took that input, put it together and came out with this Maloof Money Cup.

Where do you see the Maloof Money Cup in five years? Will we ever see a one million dollar first place prize?
[Laughs] These guys deserve it. People don't realize how hard these guys work to do the things they do—it takes a lot of heart. They get banged down, banged down, and then get up. How many repetitions do they do?

LK: Oh, I love getting hurt more than anything in the world.

JM: It just fascinates me.

Joe, who're you putting your money on this year? Who's your pick for the 2009 Money Cup?
I got too many friends, I don't want to… [laughs]. Someday I think this Money Cup is going to be as big as basketball, I can see it because not everyone can be six-foot-nine, 275 pounds, but there's guys like Lizard, that have a heart as big as those basketball players that have something that they do that's just as graceful and that's why I believe in the sport—the lifestyle. I really do.

LK: That's why I love it, man.

JM: Yeah, Lizard's as big as a competitor as Kobe Bryant.