Dime Q&A: Manny Harris Talks Cavs, Wolverines & Underdog Status

By the lofty standards of NBA stardom, Corperryale L’Adorable Harris – a.k.a. Manny Harris of the Cleveland Cavaliers – has been slumming it. As an undrafted rookie backup on the worst team in the League last season, he wasn’t exactly living out the dream according to the script we all drew up in the ninth grade. And yet at the same time, Harris is living a damn good life.

The 6-5 shooting guard earned upwards of $750,000 in his first year out of college, and how many of your rec-league buddies dropped 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 23, or averaged 20 points in back-to-back games against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat in January?

From his hometown of Detroit, I talked to Harris last week about training during the NBA lockout, additions to his game, and what it’s like to be a self-made pro.

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Dime: Where have you been this summer?
Manny Harris: I’ve been a couple of places. I started out in Vegas, then I went to Philly for a couple of months. I just got back to Detroit about a month ago. All of those places I’ve just been working out, really.

Dime: Between those three cities, who have you been working out with?
MH: There were a lot of guys in Vegas at Impact Basketball. Chris Douglas-Roberts was in Philly with his personal trainer. In Detroit I’m working out with Ben Gordon. Guarding guys like BG and CDR every day have definitely helped my game. And Ben is teaching me so many different things on the court and off the court.

Dime: Have you been playing in any of the charity and exhibition games?
MH: Nah, I’ve just been playing at a couple of open gyms and getting my workouts in.

Dime: What facets of your game are you looking to improve?
MH: Ball-handling, mid-range … a little bit of everything. I’ve got a year under my belt now, so I can kind of see what I need to work on and where I can be good in the League. Having that year under my belt gives me a lot to base my game off of.

Dime: Like what?
MH: Just, like, my aggressiveness and my defense. Being aggressive on the offensive end, I want to continue that going into next year. Just being an all-around player – rebounds, assists, everything.

Dime: If this lockout had happened when you were a rookie, especially an undrafted rookie like you were, what would you be doing right now?
MH: I mean, I probably wouldn’t have gone overseas. I’m a person that likes to take chances, so I think I’d stay here, workout with some of the best trainers and try to get better. Then whenever the lockout ended, go out there and prove myself to NBA teams.

Dime: Was your rookie year what you expected?
MH: Not as far as the wins and losses, but as far as getting some experience and just playing, it was what I expected. The low point was definitely the 26-game losing streak. But honestly, throughout the losing our coaching staff and the players stayed positive and had great hard-working attitudes.

Dime: Did you get any rookie hazing from the guys?
MH: (Laughs) They tried, but they said we were lucky because other rookies got it way worse. I didn’t really get any hazing done to me, though.

Dime: Was there a moment when you felt like you really “got it” and belonged?
MH: I mean, I’m a confident person, so from the start I always felt like I belonged – like I got the picture. The more I played, the more comfortable I got. So I can’t say there was one particular game where I felt it, it was just getting experience over the course of the season.

Dime: What was the biggest adjustment from college to the pros?
MH: Honestly, the thing that was most different for me was off the court – having so much free time. Everything in college is structured. When you go to the NBA, you have way more free time than you think, so time management and what you do off the court is a big thing.

Dime: What do you get into in your free time?
MH: Nothing really. I’m a real laid-back person, so mostly I just chill with my family, with my brothers. I don’t do too much.

Dime: When you got that first NBA paycheck, how did you celebrate?
MH: I didn’t celebrate off the first one. I waited a couple, then I went shopping (laughs).

Dime: How have you been keeping up with the lockout and the negotiations?
MH: My agent keeps me posted on that. He updates me just about every day. I look at it on ESPN sometimes, but I really get a better feel for it through my agent.

Dime: When the NBA does resume, what kind of goals have you set for your second year?
MH: I want to go to the Rookie/Sophomore Game … really I just want to contribute. Go out there and win games, be a part of a winning team, and see major improvements from my rookie year to my sophomore year.

Dime: Any predictions for the Michigan Wolverines?
MH: They’re gonna be pretty good. I went up there a few times and talked to some players. They’ve got a good team. Coach Beilen, with his system, they’re always gonna be a team you’ve gotta look out for.

Dime: Out of you and Denard Robinson, who’s the better athlete?
MH: (Laughs) Well, it’s two different sports, but I’ll say in a race he will probably beat me by a long shot – with his shoes untied. But that’s my homie; he’s a great guy.

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