New Threads, New Habits
By John Schuhmann
TARRYTOWN, NY, Aug. 14 -- At the draft, they give you a hat and a generic '06 jersey to hold as you pose for photos. In summer league, you wear practice jerseys. Some guys get to wear the full uniform as they pose for some post-press-conference shots in their new home, but for many, the Rookie Photo Shoot is their first chance to don an NBA uniform.
That's a pretty significant moment for guys who have spent most of their lives dreaming of the chance to hoop professionally. So much so that some couldn't wait until the day arrived.
"I actually put it on last night," the Sixers' Bobby Jones reflected. "It felt awesome to finally wear the jersey and the complete set. I took a picture of it on my phone and I'm probably going to put it on MySpace pretty soon."
The Rookie Shoot is also a chance to get together with 33 other members of the class of 2006 to talk about your summer vacations, your new cars (a Range Rover Sport in the case of Allan Ray - "Supercharged") and the upcoming season. They will reconvene in September for the Rookie Transition Program and nine of them will be invited to Las Vegas for the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge in February, but days like this do not come around often.
"We probably won't have many more times where we'll all be together in the same place," Jones said, "so you don't want to take that for granted. You just want to have fun and get to know everybody better."
And there was plenty of time to do that. The shoot lasted seven hours, including a 60-minute lunch break presented by T- Mobile (burgers, dogs and some deeeelicious cookies). The practice home of the Knicks and Liberty housed more than 15 different photo shoots, along with a few autograph stations and a three-TV setup to play NBA Live '07.
(Check out our feature on last year's shoot for more details about what goes down. This year was strikingly similar, including a new uniform.)
The players were divided into three groups, and did three station cycles, each taking two hours to go through. It's a long day full of smiles, poses and no-look passes to production assistants, and that can wear on you after a while.
"You get tired of posing," Maurice Ager told us, "but once you see the pictures and show them to your friends and family, you'll feel like it's worth it."
So it's like your wedding, except you're not paying the photographer ... or the DJ - who spun the latest hits and some ol' school favorites all day ... until he was replaced by Tyrus Thomas, who displayed his scratching skills as the session started to break up. (And a special thanks to Jordan Farmar, who assured the author that enjoying Ne-Yo's "Sexy Love" should not be considered a guilty pleasure.)
And although the day is long, repetitive and repetitive ... and repetitive, it probably beats working in an office or sitting through a summer session of microeconomics or something like that.
"There could definitely be worse situations than this," Jones acknowledged.
The Belly-Off Club
The question is: What do you need to do differently to endure the longer schedule?
The answer is remarkably similar no matter who you talk to. It's about discipline ...
"You just gotta be smart," Ager said. "You have to pick and choose your spots when you want to do things as far as having fun and going out."
Sleep is the key for both Rajon Rondo and Renaldo Balkman, while others realized that they need to make some changes in their diet.
"I need to make sure to eat more healthy," LaMarcus Aldridge remarked. "I just eat too many burgers. I gotta stop eating the burgers and eat more balanced meals."
Fellow lottery pick Randy Foye agreed.
"I can't eat some of the stuff that I eat now or that I ate in college, because it will hurt me," he said.
And what would that stuff be? (WARNING: SUPER EXCLUSIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS)
"Apple pies from McDonald's."
We prefer Frosty's from Wendy's but Solomon Jones also mentioned the golden arches (not to be confused with McDowell's gold arcs) when asked about the changes he must undergo now that he's playing for pay.
"You got to change your whole lifestyle," Jones told us. "You have to be more disciplined about everything."
In the interest of keeping this feature from being completely fluff, here are a few tidbits on a couple of rookies that have been ailing.
J.J. Redick wasn't exactly doing cartwheels and backflips with his bad back, but he told us that he'll be ready for training camp in October.
Josh Boone has begun his rehab after undergoing left shoulder surgery (three small scars to prove it), but he's not doing any weight-bearing work as of yet, strictly motion exercises.
Speaking of scars (enough of the news, back to the fluff), during some downtime we chatted with NBA TV's Rick Kamla and Minnesota's Craig Smith, who sports a scar under his right eye. Smith said that he got it when he tripped and fell face first into a glass table as a one-year old. It took 10 stitches to sew him up and he must have been one tough little dude, because he didn't cry.
By the way, Craig Smith is now one tough big dude.