Friday, November 20, 2009

The "Weighting" Game

Hands down the hardest thing about waiting for a job has to be staying in shape. I know people out there will say that they are in shape and that they work a 9-5 job. Let me just tell you now…you may be in shape, but you are not in basketball shape. When I say in basketball shape I am talking about being ready at the drop of a hat to go and replace a player who has been practicing with a team for several months now. Just like teams are practicing everyday to be ready for a 48 minute game, you also have to be ready. The major downfall here is they have a contract, and you don’t. I consider staying in basketball shape to be a job in itself.

A typical day in my life starts early. I usually work out 3-4 times a day. It consists of a plyometric workout, a sprint workout, and lifting. After I refuel with my healthy daily diet of twelve eggs and a huge vat of homemade strawberry banana smoothie I am off to the gym to shoot. (Don’t worry, I only use the egg whites, so my cholesterol is fine. By the way if you are ever in the market for buying eggs in excessive bulk, I recommend Costco. It is quickly becoming my favorite place to shop.) Anyway, I have also been mixing in a soccer workout here or there. Oh and yes I did say soccer. For some odd reason, I have become obsessed with this game. I can’t really pinpoint when it happened. Maybe it was in ‘94 when USA hosted the World Cup. I don’t really know. I never played soccer after 8th grade, and I am sure I am the worst player in history, but that sport is fun to play and is great for my agility. I spend about an hour and a half most mornings showing off my pathetic David Beckham impression all while being laughed at by the occasional housewife walking her dog. I’m sure these women have never touched a soccer ball in their lives, but can tell that I probably shouldn’t have either. Soccer also helps me get my sprint workout out of the way. If I am sprinting to a ball I just kicked I find it more rewarding than sprinting to a pointless line.

Another part of my day is spent at the gym trying to get my muscles bigger. I don’t mean to brag, but I have busted my ass in the gym this off season. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life. I don’t know if any of my readers knew me in high school, but I might have been the skinniest person on the planet. I didn’t know what the term “bench press” meant until I was 19. I always just figured it was some sort of power tool. I was 6’11” my senior year in high school. Here is a fun mathematical equation to solve my weight back then. I don’t care how small you were, just figure out how much you weighed in high school and subtract 5 pounds. That’s what I weighed. I was 17 years old and taller than everyone, everywhere I went. I developed a great way of handling it. I hunched over all the time, making me look even more attractive to all the high school girls. It wasn’t until college that I decided to embrace the height, stand up straight and become the ladies man I am today…PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER…

The tough thing about basketball is unless you are competing against someone else on your playing level, it is hard to get better. No matter how many shots you shoot, and how much footwork you do, it is still not the same without that competition. How do I know if my “slippery eel” (thank you Nick Horvath) will work if I am practicing it against air? I can make a thousand by myself, but once I try it in a game I might have “Molten” written across my forehead…WOOSH!! That is the sound of that joke flying over half of my readers’ heads. Molten is the name of the ball used for international competition…c’mon people keep up. Trying to find that competition is not always easy. Most professional players are already playing somewhere. Colleges no longer have open gyms and are knee deep in their seasons already. I try to meet up with players I went to high school with and get a couple of games in a few times a month. Other than that I head over to a local college on Saturday mornings to play against a group of former professional basketball players who are now successful businessmen and doctors. I don’t know if I should feel confident since I am still trying to play, or diffident since these guys are all wildly successful. Either way the drought of consistent fall basketball puts a guy like me at an instant disadvantage even with all my hard work.

Despite working hard to make sure I am in shape when my agent finally calls me with good news, my timeframe for this waiting game is growing smaller. I am worried all this time and effort might go to waste. I have heard the term transition a lot these past two years, mostly in my cover letters and resumes. I know that this is the hardest transition I will ever have to make. Going from being the star…wait fan favorite…wait contributor…there we go, to being just another blank face in an office somewhere is not appealing to me. I know that it’s a transition that will eventually have to be made. My goal is to postpone it a little longer until I know that I can’t compete at the professional level. Now I know how Brett Favre feels…Oh wait he is getting paid 12 million dollars this year…Never mind. Regardless I will keep pushing through with the hopes that someday in the near future I will be called on to contribute. Until then the “weighting game” continues.


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