Distraction is a dirty word in NBA circles.
The act of balancing massive talent with massive egos is tough enough for a team trying to reach the mountaintop, but when you add youth, money and access to the equation, off-court distractions can sink a ship just as quickly defensive breakdowns and offensive disarray on the court.
Al-Farouq Aminu has become rather adept at avoiding distractions. Born and raised in Atlanta, the 6-9 small forward began his NBA career in Los Angeles (drafted No. 8 by the Clippers in 2010) and is currently playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. That means Aminu–who left Wake Forest after his sophomore season–has lived and played in three of America’s most notorious party towns, but has maintained focus enough to carve himself a spot in the league as a valued slasher, defender and rebounder.
“I just don’t party like that,” is all Aminu offers when asked how he keeps from being a cautionary tale.
Having a live-in girlfriend who can cook surely helps, as well as parents he doesn’t want to let down and an older brother who has been there, done that as a college and pro ballplayer. (Alade Aminu played at Georgia Tech and currently plays in Turkey.)
Another reason for Al-Farouq’s success is his ability to stick to a routine. Pro athletes are mostly creatures of habit, and while Aminu says he’s not superstitious, he does have a regimen he sticks to. Here, he takes you through his routine for a 7:00 p.m. home game:
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I wake up around seven, but I’ll snooze until like 7:30. Then it’s brush my teeth, wash my face and out of the house around 8 a.m. to get the arena. The team provides breakfast for us; I usually eat eggs and oatmeal, maybe some hash browns depending on how hungry I am.
We do player development, which for me is pretty much getting shots up, catching the ball near the basket … just whatever I need to work on individually. Then we’re on the court for shootaround at 8:50. After shootaround, I get in the ice tub and try to rejuvenate my legs a little bit. Then I take a shower and come home around 11:30 a.m.
When I get home I’ll watch a little TV and then eat lunch. My girlfriend can really cook. She mixes it up: Pasta, rice, she makes pretty healthy stuff. Eating healthy is important. You can feel it when you don’t eat right; you feel real sluggish before the game. Your body is your business at this level, and whatever you put into it is what you’re gonna get out of it.
After lunch I’ll take a nap until 4 p.m., wake up, get dressed–I usually like button-ups and some jeans–and head to the arena for the game.
I like to get there super-early so I can do everything I gotta do individually to get ready. I’m usually not that hungry before a game, but we have some food in the family room and in the media room, so I might have a protein bar. Of course, you gotta drink water too. After that it’s nothing too interesting, just getting focused for the game.
After the game I get back in the ice tub. Especially after a loss, I like to spend a lot of time in there to relax. I’m never in a good mood after a loss, and I don’t like to bring that home. Even after a win I’ll take my time in the tub and come out kind of late.
There’s a couple of restaurants around our place we like to go to, but a lot of times stuff isn’t open that late, so we’ll have dinner at home.
On the road, things are pretty much the same. One difference is that you’re getting room service instead of eating at home. On the plane I’ll watch a movie or just go to sleep.
I don’t stay up too late after a game. If I can’t go to sleep, I’ll play video games or watch some TV; watch my shows or watch NBA highlights. If we finish early enough, we might go to the movies; sometimes you can catch a 10 o’clock show.
What do you think?
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