I’m excited to say that I’ll be participating in the NBA Summer League beginning on Friday in Las Vegas, as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. I’m very excited about this opportunity. The hard work is paying off.
I had a few different things on the table, but the opportunity that presented itself with the Pelicans was the best one for me to take. So right now I’m down here in New Orleans participating in the training camp they have here before heading out to Vegas.
I’m very grateful to the Pelicans organization for the opportunity. By now, teams know what I can do as far as my game on the court and the things that I do off the court as far as my foundation.
Now it’s just about getting out there, taking advantage of this opportunity and having fun playing the game that I always love to play. That’s what I’m here for.
I’m not putting any added pressure on myself. I just want to go out there and have a good time playing the game I love, and I hope that the opportunity does come to pursue it beyond that.
A POSITIVE IMPACT
Prior to signing on with the Pelicans for the Summer League, I’d been working out over at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas for about a month and a half. I’m planning to remain there after Summer League is over and continue working with Impact.
My relationship with those guys has grown quite well since I started over there.
Going into it, I didn’t know much about Impact and what Joe Abunassar had going on in Las Vegas. But once I got out there and saw what he’s done for guys’ careers and how straightforward of a guy he is, how he really cares about the players, I knew it was going to be a great experience for me. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, and now I can say I’m taking advantage of it. If you have the opportunity, why wouldn’t you?
Impact’s facility in Las Vegas is incredible ,and this is the first time I’ve worked out at any place like that, where they had so much going on in there. It’s a cool atmosphere and you can tell everybody in there is working hard. That’s one thing that I like. You feed off that vibe. You’ve got a great group of guys around there that’s going in there to work out hard every day, so you can’t slack off.
This is like the first time I’ve actually worked out with a personal trainer like this, and it’s just been a great experience. Normally, as a NBA player, you work out with the team that you play for and player personnel guys and trainers from that team.
So outside of the NBA, this is a first for me, and everything that it could be, it is.
It actually feels similar to a NBA workout, and the atmosphere is basically the NBA atmosphere, so there’s no letdown in the gym. Guys are coming in there to work and you feed off that energy.
Joe has helped me out tremendously, and I’ve also been working out with a few of the other trainers there. All those guys have helped out a lot, and I’m just thankful that they have helped me further my career.
They do a great job of breaking down each guy’s potential and what they did and have done in the league. Joe had me doing a lot of “on the break” things, ball handling drills like I used to do when I was in Dallas, spot up shots to knock down an open shot. Just typical spots and things that I would do as a player if I were still in the NBA or what I did last year in Austin.
I kind of relate it to the summer time workouts I’d go through when preparing to come back to the league. I’m in there for about three and a half hours every day, doing weights during the day, then some individual workouts on the court, and then guys come back and play pick up. It’s worth putting in the time.
All the guys I’ve worked with there are great at providing continuous motivation, showing constant effort and support in what you do and what you believe in, which is the game of basketball. It’s just a motivating place to be.
I’ve always pushed myself, so I wouldn’t say it’s anything out of the ordinary as far as them pushing me. It’s just cool to know that you have a trainer that’s pushing you, that wants to support you and wants it for you as much as you do.
As a result of these workouts over the past several weeks, I can honestly say I’m a lot more confident than I was before I went in there. That’s one thing that I’ve noticed in the continuation of me getting better and things I’ve done in the league and transferring it over to the court again is the importance of confidence.
You’ve got to believe in yourself if you want to go out there and perform.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION
When I haven’t been working out this summer, I’ve been trying to keep up my charity work as best I can.
A few weeks ago, I went back down to Dallas to hold my week-long kids camp there. This is the second year in a row that I’ve partnered with Higher Goals to put it on, and it turned out great yet again.
We scaled it down to about 60 kids this year, all ages 8-14, and we made sure the kids we had in there really had a high basketball IQ and wanted to learn. So we didn’t have any disciplinary problems at all this year, which is a great experience for a guy like myself who puts on a lot of camps. The young men came to play, and we had some good games out there.
We even had some young ladies who also came to play. A girls AAU team from West Dallas came in and competed against the boys of the groups and put up a great fight. I wish I could have recorded that and put that on Instagram.
Just as important about these camps to me as the competition is teaching about life skills, something I always try to incorporate. This year I had some of my friends come in to talk to the campers about that type of things. Among those I asked to come help me out were Terrell Owens and Marquis Daniels.
Terrell came in and talked about life skills and paying attention to the counselors and what they’re teaching you, and how you can carry these things over to life outside of sports. He also made it a point to talk about how important it is to understand that everybody is not going to make it to the professional sport they want to, so to always have a backup plan.
I really appreciate Terrell coming out and doing that. I know he’s pretty busy, like myself, so we don’t get to talk as much. But anytime we have an event we make sure we reach out to one another and see if the other one can come. It’s always great to see him and it was a great surprise to the kids to see him.
Then Marquis came and basically harped on the same subjects as Terrell, so I have to thank both of those guys for coming and showing their support.
So for those kids also getting hands-on in the action with those types of athletes, I think it’s really important. Kids need a variety of people to tell them right from wrong. You know they get it from their parents, but to have it from those outside influences who have also been through the same stuff, it’s great for them to have those opportunities. The message has to go through and I’m pretty sure it did, and overall, the kids had a great time, so it was another successful camp this year.
I also recently went back to Winston-Salem and collaborated with Ish Smith to hold the Legends Basketball Classic.
We had a bunch of current and former Wake Forest players come in and play against some other former NCAA players that I had relationships with through basketball. I think we put on a great show. I had Stephen Livens, who helps out with my foundation, reach out to the guys, and whoever could make it they would respond back and let us know.
We had a great group of guys come and show their support. For our Wake Forest team we had myself and Ish, Randolph Childress, Al-Farouq Aminu, Taron Downey, Steve Lepore, Richard Joyce, Justin Gray. On the opposite team we had Clifford Crawford, Trevor Booker, Chris Oliver and just a bunch of other guys. So it was a great competition. Not to brag, but we actually won the game on a buzzer beater by myself. That was pretty cool, to even show the people back at home in my hometown that I still had a little left in the tank.
Other than those events, I’ve just been so focused this offseason. When I was in Las Vegas, I just went out there to focus. I went down to the casinos two times and I didn’t win, so that was that. Other than that, it’s been about focusing and putting in the work. When I go home to Dallas, I spend time with my kids and my family. Then I go back to North Carolina to check on my grandma and my family there, and go right back to work, hoping that this focus and this hard work is going to pay off.
As always, I ‘d like to end my blog by just thanking my fans for the support. I’m always thankful for that.
Starting with the Summer League experience, you can look forward to me going out there and being the old me. I’m looking to just be aggressive on the defensive end, rebound the ball, and of course trying to score as many points as I can when I get that opportunity.
But most of all, I’m just going out there to have a good time and to show these players and these teams that I’ve still got it. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.