Going into this offseason, I was just looking forward to playing basketball after suffering an ACL injury again last year. So instead of sitting around and waiting for a team to call, I took the great opportunity the Spurs gave me to sign and play on their D-League team. Now I’m just trying to take advantage of it.
So far I’m feeling good. It had been a while since my last game in the NBA and I’ve only played in nine games here so far, so I’m shaking off the rust. I’m just trying to plug away at that, get consistent and get in a rhythm so that hopefully I can come back to the league sooner than later.
My body is getting there. I’m not that spring chicken I used to be but I know when my conditioning comes everything else will fall into place. I’ve always been one of those guys that can get in shape pretty fast. Once I feel that happening I think the sky will be the limit again.
I try to put in some extra work here and there. I do some extra wind sprints after practice, get extra shots up, all the things that I’m supposed to do to get my conditioning up. In practice when we do competitions, even if my team wins I’ll still get out there and run with the losing team.
With the extra work I’ve put in and through just staying on top of my health and my diet, my conditioning is going to get better as time goes on. I’m just enjoying getting out there and proving to these teams that I can run around with the best of them again.
ADJUSTING TO AUSTIN
I play on the Austin Toros and it’s a fun team. Everybody gets along. Of course it’s the D-League so a lot of guys are learning as we go, but it’s been a great experience so far. The coaching staff is pretty cool. They’re kind of new to it as well, but we’re all embracing the learning process. It’s a great group of guys and we enjoy being around each other.
We have a good mix of younger guys and veterans on the team with a few guys in their early 20s and then the rest of us are mid-20s to early 30s. If you’ve followed the NBA or even college basketball for a long time, you’d know some of my teammates. One of more recognizable names is Flip Murray and he’s been a great guy to play with. He’s a similar situation to me in terms of just wanting to just get out there, play ball and have a good time.
There are definitely some differences in lifestyle at this level, but I was prepared for what to expect when I came into it. I knew it wasn’t going to be the NBA in terms of the travel life and things like that. We take vans for games that are close like in Dallas. That’s probably one of the biggest differences. It’s an adjustment, but once you get used to it, it’s not a big deal.
It reminds me of the old days of AAU or high school ball. When we take the vans sometimes it takes us a little bit longer, but guys have a good time just relaxing and enjoying the road trip. When we play in other states we fly commercial, so it’s not that much different in that regard. We still stay in hotels and we get a per diem, so that’s cool.
At home, we have our own practice facility, but it’s a recreation center, so that’s a little different, but we practice just the same and work with the trainers individually like on a NBA team. We play our games in the Cedar Park Center, which is a smaller arena compared to the NBA, so the fanbase isn’t as big but they come out and support us down there in Austin and we show them the love back.
Having that fan support is a big plus for us. We have meet and greets after the games and we go out and do public appearances around Austin. It’s a lot like the NBA just at a smaller level.
LONE STAR STATE OF MIND
I’ve enjoyed being in Texas again playing basketball. Being able to play so close to my home in Dallas has been great. My kids have actually been able to come out and see me play in a couple games. They’re at the age where they can actually understand that they’re watching their daddy play basketball, so that’s a great experience for me.
A lot of the people around here realize that I played with the Mavericks and I have a lot of fans from down there that follow me here. Since the Toros are a Spurs affiliate, you have some Spurs fans who saw me as a rival over there, but I think we’ve kind of smoothed that out now that I’m with the Toros. I think they’ve enjoyed watching me and it’s been a great time because a lot of people remember me from back in the day.
My role isn’t that much different from what I’ve done in recent years on NBA teams. The Toros expect me to go out there and play defense, score the ball and also lead the team as much as I can. I get some shots up, but I’m not one of the main scorers.
I’m one of those guys who is more like a glue guy, making sure guys are out there running the offense and defense right. I just want to continue to get in game shape, stay consistent and lead the team while I’m here. I’m one of those guys that keeps it simple as far as getting my point across. I just one guys to play hard and give it their all. That in itself will get us a lot of wins.
I’m just happy to be back out there playing the sport that I love. I always play hard and go out there and do the things I’m supposed to do. Coming off two ACL surgeries I see it as a chance to show my fans, players and anybody else watching that I can still play.
To have the support from my fans that I’ve experienced since I joined the Toros has been great as well. I appreciate you all continuing to keep up with me. I’m going to play as hard as I can and hopefully make it up to the NBA again, and I thank you all for your support.
I’m just trying to stay positive and get that call to the next level. If not, then I’ll finish the season off here. I never quit. I’ve love the game of basketball so I’m going to do what it takes to stay in the league. Even if it’s not playing, maybe I’ll end up somewhere coaching. I’m just going to stay consistent with my dreams and my goals and if I do that I know it will play out the right way as long as I stay true to myself.