Summer School: DaJuan

With camp around the corner, Summers brings his training to a head

DaJuan Summers has been busy working on his ballhandling during practice sessions this summer.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
We’re getting close now – less than two weeks to go until training camp starts. I’m back in town after spending time here and my home in Baltimore over the last month. When I’m in Baltimore, I’ve continued to work out with my trainer, Kyle Jacoby, my trainer from high school. My focus has been doing the same things I’ve done all summer, just at a higher level, more conditioning, trying to get ready for camp and the preseason and the regular season. Being in shape is going to be a major part of the team’s success – we want to run and play faster.

There’s a fine line between being in shape and being fatigued. I read on that Tracy McGrady said he was surprised that Arnie Kander’s workouts didn’t push him as hard as he was used to pushing himself in the summer and Arnie said he didn’t want him to come to camp in top condition – that’s what camp was for, to get in top condition.

It’s funny, he said the same thing just yesterday during our workout to one of our guys. They felt like they were tired – Arnie said “You’re right where you need to be.” You want to be in your best shape when you’re in camp. You’ve got to break your body down in time to build it back up. Right now, I’m in the breakdown stage. We’re going to ease up a little bit next week and hit it hard again going into camp so I have time to recover.

Somebody mentioned to me after watching me work out this week that it looks like I’ve improved my ballhandling over the summer. Yeah, definitely. I’ve always been an inside-out player and more so a scorer, but going to the next level, being able to create plays is big and the only way you can create plays is if you have good ballhandling skills. It’s just that simple. Being able to control the ball and change speeds with it, go fast with it and then slow and control it at the same time is important.

So I’ve spent a lot of time this summer on ballhandling. Both hands. I want it to be identical so you can’t tell which hand is dominant. It’s good that people see the difference, but I have so much more I want to do and get better with it.

We have a lot of talented players on the roster this year. Coach Kuester hasn’t said much about it, but just as a competitor, as a businessman – because this is our business, our job – we understand the importance of performing well in camp. I think it goes without saying that if you perform well in camp, it’s going to determine the pecking order. But things change throughout the season, as we learned last year. Injuries and stuff happen. That’s how Jonas got into the lineup last year and he took advantage of it. It’s just a part of the business. You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time when your number is called.

Even yesterday, when we were playing three on three after our workout, you’re aware that Joe Dumars and Coach Kuester are looking out their windows – you can’t miss them. It’s good, because you’ve got to remember that when you’re playing in a real game, there are a million eyes on you but you’ve still got to focus. That’s just another part of the business – how it’s different from recreation.

It’s funny, because at the beginning we were kind of BSing, not going as hard as we should have, but as the games wore on guys got more competitive. If you get scored on, guys don’t like it. It’s all just in fun and it’s everybody getting better and knowing we’re all a part of the same team. We want to beat the opponent. In practice, we’re competing against one another but we have bigger goals – winning games.

Outside of basketball, I’ve just been spending time with my family. My son, DaJuan Jr., is 16 months old now. It’s a joy seeing him every day, running around. He started walking when he was 10 months and he’s running now. He was tall at birth – about 23 or 24 inches and 7 pounds 11 ounces. He has a little bush on his head now so he looks even taller. That’s my guy. I love him.

His mother and I have been together since high school and they’re here with me now. He didn’t come to any games last year when he was just a baby, but now that he’s toddler age, he’s going to be at the games this year. Hopefully, my role changes a lot because I don’t want him to see me riding the bench. That’s a part of my motivation, too. He won’t remember, but I will.

A lot of you probably know I’m a big movie buff. My three favorite movies of the summer were “Takers,” a good bank heist movie with TIP, Chris Brown and Idris Elba from “The Wire”; “Inception,” the Leonardo DiCaprio movie – really deep, one of those movies that you could watch three times and see something different every time; and “Salt” with Angelina Jolie – you should check that one out. This Friday, I’m going to see “The Town,” the new Ben Affleck movie.

A lot of movies and shows are starting to be shot in Detroit because of Michigan’s tax credit for films. One of my favorite TV shows is the HBO series, “Hung.” It’s pretty cool when they show the opening. You can see Pontiac, Eight Mile – he walks from downtown out to the suburbs. It’s an interesting concept for the show. Once the season starts, I’ll be watching lots of movies on my laptop when we’re on the road.

I watch on my laptop when we’re on the road. Summer’s over now, so the fall movies will be coming out soon and I’ll check them out.