Sitting in the last of a long row of folding metal chairs lining the sideline of the court I studied the footwork of Rudy Gay, Roger Mason and Jared Dudley as they went through their morning court workout with the founder of Impact Basketball, Joe Abunassar.
My eyes red and heavy from lack of sleep the night before did their best to paint mental canvases of the player’s execution on each drill.
In an empty gymnasium just off the Las Vegas strip, on a Wednesday morning in September, I was being shown exactly what the best do to get better and I couldn’t have been happier!
Forty-five minutes into their workout in walked one of the most electrifying point guards in the NBA, John Wall.
The night before as I was shooting around on the court after the games, I dribbled up to John as he walked across the hardwood floor and playfully asked, “You wanna play some 1-on-1?”
With a slight smile he responded, “I’m too tired right now man.”
It made sense. He had just dropped over 40 points in the game some 20 minutes earlier, hitting the hole like the roadrunner.
Now less than 12 hours later he was back in the gym ready to work on his game.
As he walked down to the court he took a seat in the chair directly next to me, kicked off his slides and began putting his shoes on.
We talked briefly about my journey to play Michael Jordan before Rudy, Roger and Jared came over to greet John, having just completed their workout.
Me, Roger, Jared, Rudy and Stephen Jackson
Because John had chosen to sit next to me out of all the empty chairs, I soon found myself next to Roger and Rudy, who had taken seats next to John before he proceeded to begin his workout. Then Jared pulled up a seat at an angle on the other side of me and for the next 30 minutes or so I listened as they talked shoe contracts, music, and what players were leaving to play overseas.
Then in walked Stephen Jackson and as he was giving handshakes to the guys, because I was there with them he reached out to me and said, “What’s up man!”
Wearing my Jordan Six Rings shirt, Jackson noticed and said, “I have the white one, but I haven’t seen the black one. I like that!”
It was all quite surreal to say the least.
I’m Trying To Get A Game of 1-on-1 vs. Michael Jordan
Over my three days at Impact Basketball’s facility I told Chauncey Billups, John Wall, Corey Brewer, Jermaine Taylor, Rudy Gay, Jared Dudley, OJ Mayo, Damon Jones, Kenyon Martin, Corey Maggette, Marreese Speights and Dahntay Jones about my journey to play MJ.
They all for the most part were very supportive wishing me luck on my quest.
While I wasn’t able to get anyone to agree to play me, I did get some encouraging feedback and at one point was shown a move by John Wall. I’d describe it, but Mr. Jordan might be reading! Oh, what the heck…it was his patented spin move!!! How cool is that!?!?
On another occasion as I was shooting one evening, I did a little hesitation dribble towards Chauncey Billups, prompting him to say to me in an encouraging tone, “Oh, that’s what you’ve got for Jordan!” I then ran right next to him on the court, launched a NBA 3 pointer over him, that swished, to which he said, “Nice shot!”
In all, to list every single interaction with a player would take much more than a single blog post and for some reason I’d like to just keep some of them for myself. All I can is, it was an amazing experience for sure!
Impact Competitive League Action
In my time in Vegas I watched eight fairly intense games of NBA basketball. I’ve never been closer to the action, including my days in TV, as I was last week.
With a couple hundred people there to watch daily, I could hear the trash talk, the shoes squeak and all that falls between the two.
It was awesome!
For the fans that did show up, they got an up close and personal look at a group of NBA guys that just love to play ball. Stripped away was all the formality that has become today’s NBA. Left was a group of highly skilled men that love the game and appreciate the fans, even interacting with them at times during the games.
I also saw numerous players sign autographs and stop to take pictures after the games.
Shooting In Front Of NBA Players
Thursday morning as Eric Bledsoe was working out on one end, the other half of the court was open, due to Coby Karl having completed his morning session.
Always equipped with my Jordans, I walked down and asked if they mind if I shoot on the other end until the next workout began.
After getting approval, I proceeded to get some shots in for the next hour and 15 minutes in front of the top trainers and players like Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo.
At first, to be honest, I was a bit nervous. I had just watched Bledsoe make almost every shot he took and now I was shooting with an NBA ball, which is a bit different than what I routinely use, in front of a group of basketball’s best.
The adrenaline was sprinting through my body, but after a few minutes I found my rhythm, took a deep breath and was fine. I honestly don’t know if they watched much of what I did, but I know they heard that net pop, haha! 😉
What I Learned Watching NBA Guys Workout
They are so freaking good! Like in all walks of life, some go harder than others, but the consistency is amazing! The footwork, the elevation, the fluidity and ease at which they move, the conditioning, the explosiveness and their ability to make the majority of their shots was so inspiring! They are so efficient on the basketball court!
There is such a gigantic difference between them and most everyone else that plays basketball and getting to see them workout further proved that and blew my mind.
They made me want to work even harder because I know now how great you can actually be at the game I love so much.
My Impact Family (Thank You!)
Last year I reached out to Impact Basketball and told them about my dream. Matt Hiller who trained me some 11 months ago has been like a brother to me and I can’t say enough good things about him or Tom Carollo who hooked me up with VIP, all access passes to the Impact League event. Great men, no doubt!
Impact Basketball truly is a class act organization and I’m so happy and thankful to have them on my side.
I’d like to thank Impact Basketball creator Joe Abunassar for his hospitality as well. Very much appreciated!
I also want to thank every single person at Impact Basketball for having me and for their kindness. Means the World to me!
More Impact Basketball In My Future
I’m actually looking to possibly make another trip to Vegas next month for some more hoops! I simply can’t get enough! There is talk of perhaps putting on another two week league in late October and that has me already wanting to book some airline tickets!
While those details are being worked out, I will without a doubt make my way back down to Sarasota to work with Matt and Tom very soon.
Life Is Amazing If You Allow It To Be!
I’ve been saying all of 2011 that “Life is Amazing If You Allow It To Be!” This is just another example of that and for it I’m so thankful.
Never be afraid to go after your dreams! Amazing, wonderful things are waiting for you, if you just take a long stride and believe!
me vs. MJ…the now cross country journey continues! As always, thank you for following along!
Full Video Recap of Impact Basketball’s Competitive League Series
**Check Back Thursday For…Me vs. Damon Jones (The Shootout That Almost Was)
For more info on my journey to play Michael Jordan:
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