You’ve heard the story by now. Six months ago, Kelly Olynyk, Colton Iverson, and Phil Pressey were walking college campuses and playing against a lot of guys whose basketball careers ended before final exams. Now, they’re wearing “Boston” on their chests, and starting to play against bigger, faster, stronger competition.
It’s an adjustment. One that many guys in the Orlando Summer League won’t get a chance to, or be able to make.
But for these rookies, there’s another, immediate adjustment to make that, in may ways, is as important to being a pro as adjusting to the speed of the game.
How do you manage all this time you suddenly have?
“Me and Kelly were just talking about that,” said Pressey this morning. ”We don’t have study hall no more. We don’t have to go to class no more. It’s a whole different lifestyle. You work out. you go play a game and you have like four or five hours to yourself just to chill.”
It’s been said that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so if those four or five hours are spent the wrong way, there’s a legitimate chance a burgeoning career can quickly go to hell.
Kevin Garnett liked to call it “honing my craft.” That honing doesn’t just happen in the weight room, on the practice floor, and on game nights. It’s a 24-hour-a-day process. That’s something Garnett taught Jared Sullinger last season, and something Sullinger will pass on to the new crop of rookies.
“It was real valuable to my development,” Sullinger said earlier this week. ”Kevin’s been in this league since the Jordan era, he’s played everywhere you can go. He’s telling me things like how to approach the ref, or how to approach your body, and when to go and know when to stop. Have a daily routine. Stretching. Kevin gave me all that advice to be a pro’s pro and be able to play that long.”
Life in the NBA is full of landmines. With so many trappings for the very young, newly rich NBA player, maturity is as important a natural talent to possess as a quick first step.
“I think, hopefully, it gives me a lot of time to focus on my game and my development,” said Olynyk, displaying what appears to be a very high level of that maturity. ”Whether it be developing my body or developing my mind, (or) developing my game physically on the court.”
This is their first taste of a pro’s life, and there’s even an adjustment to be made within the adjustment. Some of these games are early, which is very unusual, and is obviously messing with them a little bit.
“We came here to win games, and that’s what we’re going to try and do every night. Or every morning, or afternoon. Depending on when we play,” said Olynyk. ”So a lot of time right now is dedicated to resting, hydrating, getting good food in you, and then getting a good sleep at night because these 11 o’clock games come early.”
But these are still kids. And they’re still only a few months from walking across quads to play basketball. For them, the extra hours to focus solely on every aspect of the sport is very welcome.
“It’s nice,” said Iverson. ”I mean, you don’t have any class to worry about like when you’re going to college. You get done with practice then you have to go to class and then go to games. Right now its focused on basketball. Everything’s basketball. You watch film, just thinking about the game, thinking about the next play, and it makes it a lot easier.”
For these guys, there’s no more skipping any classes to get any extra work in before a big game. That is (if you believe him), unless you’re Kelly Olynyk.
“I’ll tell you what, I never skipped a class in college.”
“I don’t know if I believe him on that,” scoffed Iverson.
Did you skip any, Colton?
“Uhhhh… no comment.”
It doesn’t matter now. These guys can now spend every waking moment geared solely towards bettering their NBA careers, even if some of that involves not actually thinking about basketball.
“Maybe I can pick up a hobby here or there,” said Olynyk.
“My hobby is fishing,” said Pressey. ”I’m going to have to find some up in Boston.”
Finding productive ways to spend all this new time on their hands. Welcome to just one part of life as a rookie in the NBA.