It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a blog entry, but it was important to me to write this one now.
Currently, I’m in Las Vegas, where I’m training with Joe Abunassar of Impact Basketball. Joe is one of the best trainers in the pro game. He has tons of experience, and he knows what it takes to get a guy into NBA shape. That’s my goal right now.
By the start of the 2014 season — probably before, actually — I‘m expecting to be back in shape, and ready for the NBA.
This past year showed me one thing: I still can play, hands down. The D-League is not the NBA, but it is competitive. To be able to get out there a year removed from ACL surgery and contribute to a team like I did helped me out a lot with my confidence. It made believe that I can return next year, and give it another shot.
Being back on the court with the Austin Toros, the Spurs’ developmental league team, was a great challenge, and I was happy with the results. My teammates, guys that follow me around the league, everyone seemed happy to see me back. The coaches on the Toros seemed pleased with my approach and how I handled myself out there. I felt motivated to push myself, and to try to excel.
Of all the things that stood out to me from the D-League, relationships were at the top of the list. The friendships I made with the players on the Toros — with guys coming from all aspects of life, different parts of the United States, different professional basketball backgrounds — it was just fun getting to know everyone. Seeing their quests to try to get to the NBA was an inspiring experience for me. I got close with a lot of my teammates. Flip Murray was one of our key guys, and to see him playing the way he used to when we were both in the NBA was a great sight. Courtney Fells was another guy that came out there and played great. I can name pretty much everybody on the team. We had some great guys.
The most humbling thing about the past season was the traveling. After 11 years in the NBA, I knew coming in that that was going to be the biggest change, and even now, after the season is over, that’s the one thing that I continue to think about, and it makes me laugh. But once I got over those initial trips, it was fine. I knew what to expect. The one I remember most was when we played in Canton, and we had to drive to Cleveland through a snowstorm at 6 o’clock in the morning. If it hadn’t been snowing, it would have been a 45-minute drive. I think it took us two and a half hours to get there in a shuttle, the kinds of vans you see at hotels. I said my prayers. The driver did pretty good. They had to slow him down just a little bit, but after that, he got us there.
Playing basketball in Texas again was great. I was still a few hours away from home in Dallas, but to be able to get home easily, and have my friends and family members come down to see me, was a pleasure. That wasn’t the case for my teammates who weren’t from Texas.
In Austin, they were also very excited to have a professional team in the city. A lot of fans knew who I was from my days with the Dallas Mavericks, and rooted a little harder for me because of it.
The one thing you hope for all of the D-League teams is that they get a bigger following. The players are out there just like NBA players, putting their heart into it. No matter what happens to me, the D-League teams could definitely use more support.
As I move into the summer, I’m going to spending time with friends and family, and doing a couple of camps. But that’s pretty much all I’ll be doing outside of training.
Focusing on basketball is what I’ll be doing from now until the fall. Working with someone like Joe is a great opportunity, and I’m looking to take full advantage of it.
He’s motivated. I’m motivated.
Together, we’re hoping to go far.