Brian Bowen II with the Pacers and the Mad Ants
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My New Normal: Home Workouts, Netflix, and Mom's Cooking

Two-Way Player Brian Bowen II Discusses Being Back Home with the NBA on Hiatus

Brian Bowen II was splitting his time between the NBA and the G League this season, as a player on a two-way contract does. He's appeared in 29 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging 16.6 points and 7.8 rebounds and five games with the Pacers, scoring four points in a total of 29 minutes. Bowen, 21, grew up in Saginaw, Mich. and finished his high school career with La Lumiere in LaPorte. Now the NBA season is on hold he's back in Saginaw, living with his parents.


BY BRIAN BOWEN II (as told to Mark Montieth)

I was in Fort Wayne with the Mad Ants when the season was called off. I had to stay there for a few days in my apartment to await word on what to do next, and then drove to Indianapolis because the gym was going to be open for the players. That only lasted for one day, though, so I drove home after that.

I've tried to stay inside as much as I can, obviously. I'm trying not to take any risks. I've just tried to stay moving, inside and outside the house, but you feel kind of trapped in a sense. It's really tight. It's good to have that family time, though; you miss out on a lot of that during the season. It's been three years since I lived with my parents, so It brings back a lot of memories, for sure. You're rebooting everything back up; it's something you have to go back and get used to. It's good to be back. Occasionally they treat me like I'm still a teenager, but I've enjoyed it so far.

My nickname at home is Tugs. When I was a baby, the doctor said I was really tugging on his hair. He said I was like a tugboat. He shortened that to Tugs and it just stuck. My family is big on nicknames. A lot of my teammates use it, too.

It's kind of tough, filling the time. I'm on my phone a lot more than I want to be. My screen time is ridiculous. I've had as much as 10-12 hours in one day. That was crazy. I've been watching a lot of television, too. Things like Ozark on Netflix and How to Get Away with Murder. And Tiger King, too. That was different. I had to watch that. But other than that, it's video games or playing card games with the family. During the season I don't play video games very much, but now it's getting ridiculous.

One thing I've really liked is being able to eat Mom's cooking. I love it. Spaghetti, salmon, chicken...it all depends on the day. I always have a good breakfast, too.

I've been able to keep in touch with the guys on both of my teams. We have two separate group chats going with texts. I probably talk more with my Pacers teammates than the Mad Ants, but there's a lot of communication going on. It's a different time for all of us. We're not used to having this much time off.

We don't have a basketball goal in the driveway; after I left home there was no need to have one. But after a couple of weeks here I found a gym I can get into. I go down there three or four nights a week. It's a really small gym, part of a local church. It's got a cement floor, which is even worse than a tile floor like a lot of church gyms have.

It's just me and my dad, or maybe my little cousins. I can't do much in there but get some shots up, but any little thing I can do is really helpful right now. I do a lot of ballhandling drills first, either stationary or up and down the court a little bit. I'm working on mid-range stuff and finishing, too. I don't want to overdo it on a cement floor, though, because it gets a little slippery. But it's better than having nothing.

I've also turned my dad's garage into a mini weight room. He already had some dumbbells and a treadmill. I just utilize them the best I can. Our strength and conditioning coach, Shawn Windle, gives us a plan for every week that includes different things we can do without weights, if necessary. I brought in resistance bands for strength conditioning, too.

I've definitely lost some conditioning. There's no kind of conditioning like game conditioning; you can only maintain so much when you have limited resources. But I try to make the most of what I've got.

The thing I miss most is just playing the game. You don't realize how much you love the game until it's taken away from you. Playing the game, and then the relationships with my teammates. Just being around those guys. It's different being face to face and texting. That love for the game really comes out at a time like this.

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