Technically, 80-degree weather under a clear blue sky lined with palm trees isn’t a jungle. But when you’re pushing through physical boundaries with the Florida sun beating down on you, sunny Bradenton feels a whole lot closer to the Congo. Even so, the climate isn’t our main concern. For us Slamball rookies, it’s a matter of proving our wares to the vets in the early going, the guys who can legitimately claim to being professional basketball players.
Through the two-and-a-half mile jog, the subsequent leg-busting defensive slide/jump squat circuit, and finale of wind sprints, the rooks and pro’s built the foundation of the future Slamball fraternity yesterday. Granted, many of these guys have made their bones on a court super-juiced with tramps, but they’ve still gotten paid to play. I’d estimate that about 50% of the guys trying out have experience playing pro ball somewhere. It’s kind of surreal to be sitting in a room with this crew, being addressed as another one of the ‘professional’ basketball players.
What do you think it would be like to run through the first day of training camp with an NBA team? My guess is that, save for a few unsavory gentlemen, they would be regular guys long on God-given talent and short on giving-up. Slamball is no different. It’s only natural for these fellas to push themselves, and likewise, to push the newcomers to match their effort. During the rough patch of the mid-day run, some of the most talented guys at camp were the vocal ones to get the rooks moving. Former Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year at USC Anthony White, who got burn in France and Venezuela, helped me pick up the pace. Couldn’t you imagine Gilbert Arenas doing that?
Unfortunately the custom spring-bed Slamball floor wasn’t ready for its much-anticipated debut yesterday. After some serious stretching, we’re getting on the court this morning.