Summer School: Kim English on Rookie Orientation

NBA Rookie Orientation a chance for young Pistons to bond

It’s good to be back in the gym after spending some time away last week for the NBA’s Rookie Orientation program. But it was a good experience at orientation, too, especially because I got to spend time with my teammates – Kyle, Khris and Andre. It was good for us to spend time together. We learned a lot.

I feel blessed to have had three other guys with me. Some teams only have one rookie – we had three others there, plus we also have Slava, our big guy from Europe, who I’ve yet to meet. We learned together. I talked to Kyle a lot about having a year under his belt of being a pro.

We learned from listening to former pros like Kareem, Spencer Haywood, Dennis Scott, Allan Houston, Avery Johnson. Chris Herren was a tremendous speaker. I’ve seen the “30 for 30” show about him, but it doesn’t do it justice. When you can really watch him and really hear him, the way he delivers his speeches, he’s an incredible speaker. Even if you have no drug problem to speak of, it’s just still great to hear his story.

We met with a lot of financial guys who explained to us the different programs the NBA has for us to succeed. Jameer Nelson and Mario Chalmers came to speak and it was good to hear from current and former players.

We heard a lot of numbers. What we learned is to just be smart, accept help, be selective of your help. I’m so worried about basketball. I’m not infatuated with the NBA life because of the lifestyle; I’m infatuated because my job is to play basketball and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I listen to all that stuff and take heed and respect what people say, but I pray that I just always have this hunger and drive that I have now throughout my career. I pray every morning that I have this same hunger.

We had to stay inside the hotel for the duration of the orientation. Friday was a half-day, then full days Saturday and Sunday and then we had the rookie photo shoot on Monday. It was in New Jersey, Florham Park. That’s where the New York Jets have their practice facility. Our days were really structured. Breakfast at 8 o’clock, meetings from 8:45 to 9 o’clock at night every day.

There was no basketball court for us. We’d been going pretty hard here, so it’s kind of good sometimes to get away a bit. But I still went to the hotel gym and ran on the treadmill every night to keep my wind and have my legs under me. I did pushups, situps and ran on the treadmill every night. John Jenkins from Atlanta, a Vanderbilt kid, was down there with me.

I played a little ping pong with Jared Sullinger, Jae Crowder and Draymond Green while Andre and Khris were playing video games. Every player was playing for their own teams, so Andre played Kendall Marshall and it was Detroit-Phoenix. He played Jae Crowder and it was Detroit-Dallas. I don’t play video games, but it was fun to watch them. I had a good little run on the ping pong table. I beat Draymond twice, beat Sully twice and beat Jae Crowder twice. I played a little bit in prep school – I played a lot of ping pong in prep school.

We had to take a survey and we couldn’t vote for ourselves or our teammates in any category. That was hard for me to do that because I have the utmost confidence in myself and my teammates. It was a nice survey – I was listed in quite a few categories when the results were in – but it means nothing. It’s all speculation. Everyone has a record of zero. We have zero clout. We have to build that throughout our careers. I feel we all understand that – at least I hope we all did.

I’ve been working with Arnie Kander and the coaches for about a month now. My body is changing. Arnie is really good, really meticulous in his approach. He is really preparing our bodies for the long run. Everyone is going to be fresh for the first 20 games, but when we get to games 71, 74, 76, that’s when Arnie wants us to be strong and effective. He’s really smart in the way he has us train and it’s been going well.

I’m gaining weight. I was 192 on draft night and I’m 200 now. I feel it. It feels good.

I’ve worked with every coach on the staff except for coach Roy (Rogers) and coach (Brian) Hill. I’m doing things that are a lot different than I’ve done before, but these are truly the best basketball people in the world. NBA coaches, they’re the best. That’s all they have to do. They don’t have to worry about alumni, they don’t have to worry about recruiting, they don’t have to worry about checking on classes. All they have to worry about is basketball, and in Dee (Brown) and Roy’s case, having played in the league, it takes it to another level.

Coach (Charles) Klask is really good at breaking down film and translating it to the court and coach (Steve) Hetzel is really good at looking at the small things. We’ve been working on getting my release quicker, so I run with two heavy balls and as the pass is coming I have to throw the balls down and catch and shoot – that’s working on my movements. I love working with coach Frank and his energy. And I’m going to work with coach (John) Loyer, who is really good working with the guards, it seems like. He’s energetic. These guys love it.

It’s great for me because it’s truly an environment where it’s basketball, basketball, basketball and that’s OK. It’s OK to focus solely on basketball now – not school, not anything else.

I’m not rushing anything. I’m taking every day in stride. I’m excited for tomorrow to get back in here and work with Arnie on the court. I’m excited for September for us to start playing pickup. I’m excited for all the guys to start rolling in and excited to meet Tayshaun and Slava and Jonas. I’m really excited for training camp, excited to learn, excited to get better, excited to get ready for the season and try to help this team in any way I can.