Savage: Bass Looks to Improve Physically and Mentally

By Dan Savage
May 24, 2011

Three days.

That’s all the free time Brandon Bass has given himself thus far this offseason. Just three days. An immensely short window of time, considering that’s just an extended weekend for the rest of working world.

While most players no longer in the hunt for a title are enjoying vacations and resting up from a physically and mentally taxing NBA season, Bass is already engaged in a vigorous offseason training program as he attempts to improve himself this summer both on the court and off it.

After taking three fun-packed family days with stops at two of Orlando’s finest attractions – Disney and Universal – Bass headed back into the Magic’s training facility at the state-of-the-art Amway Center to begin preparing for the 2011-12 campaign.

“I just started back working because I figured whoever is going to win the championship is still playing,” he explained. “I just want to get myself that much better and I figure they’re playing, so I should be working and getting better.”

From an on-the-court standpoint, Bass has clearly mapped out a number of areas where he would like to improve.

On Tuesday, he spent much of the day with Magic Scouting Information Manager Charles Klask working on expanding his range so he can create more space for All-Star center Dwight Howard on the floor.

While that range will not extend to the three-point line, it does include long jumpers from both the top of the key and the baseline as well as being more decisive when he recognizes the opportunity to drive on opponents.

“No matter what personnel we have here, our whole system is around Dwight and having the floor spread,” Bass said. “So I just want to be able to do those things and be effective whether I am shooting a long two or a pullup or being decisive on a drive. I’m just trying to absorb more knowledge about the game and life itself.”

In addition to developing those on-the-court attributes, Bass is also attempting to increase his mental toughness.

“I want to be strong mentally, because the majority of this game is mental,” he said. “There are guys in this league with not as much talent, but they’re so strong mentally that they overachieve. So that’s what I want to be able to do.”

Whether he’s aware of it or not, in some ways, Bass is already about as mentally tough as a human being can get. He achieved one his childhood dreams even after his mother passed away when he was only 10 years old from a heart attack.

Despite not having a solid relationship with his father and living in a packed house only under his aunt’s supervision in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bass was able to beat overwhelming odds and reach the NBA.

Still, he believes there are many areas where he can improve his mental fortitude.

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“I just feel a lot of things I lack or I just don’t have because my mom passed at an early age and my father wasn’t close,” he explained. “I had to learn a lot of things myself. And if you’ve never went through something, you can’t really teach yourself, so I have been just kind of learning on the go.”

Bass admits without his father or mother during many of his developmental years, he’s often had to learn simply from his own mistakes. It’s a process that he’s now attempting to rectify.

“From now on instead of learning from mistakes I want to be able to know about a bunch of different things before I jump into them,” he added.

In order to complete that process, Bass is starting to read more as well as seek knowledge from a wide array of people. Without parental figures, mentors have often been scarce in his life.

“I really don’t have too many people that are close to me that are older than me that have experienced things that I can talk to personally,” he explained. “So now I have just been reading different things and trying to seek knowledge from different people and seek mental strength and toughness, so I can prepare myself to handle anything that presents itself at any given time.”

One of the mental hurdles Bass is attempting to get over right now is the Magic’s First Round loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Still a big believer that Orlando was the better team in the series, the 6-foot-8 power forward is attempting to find ways to alleviate the mental strife that defeat has caused him.

“It really bothers me,” he said. “I can’t live free. I can’t relax knowing that I could have done more.”

That’s why he’s hitting the gym so hard right now.

“I feel like it’s important for me right now, while the best of the best are still playing, that I’m working, because I want to be that much better,” he added. “So that next year, I can be at where they are this year. I don’t think it’s cool for me to just sit back and watch them playing. By going through this experience, they’re going to be that much better and I want to be that much better too. So I am working.”

All of this goes back to one lofty expectation he’s set for himself.

“My goal is to be the best, the best I can possibly be,” Bass said. “When I am finished playing, I want to be able to say to myself, ‘You did everything you could possibly do to be the best player you could possibly be.’ That’s what gives me the energy to come and workout and that’s what motivates me; just to be the best.”

With the obstacles Bass has already overcome in his life, being the best he can be is certainly well within his reach.

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