The one thing that perplexes me about this generation of players is their lack of competitiveness. Whether its half ass playing pick-up games or two experienced friends teaming up versus the kids in the gym who've never played before, whats the point? How does this make sense? Why is this so common?
I believe the evolution of the NBA we love so much has played a significant role in shifting this competitive culture. For example, when NBA guys are quick to team up with their buddies, young players see that as the "way to play". When they see players sit out of games willingly and uninjured, they think it's cool. Perhaps it's just my old school mentality unwilling to adapt to today's game ORRRR maybe the players today lack the fire we once had that made events like the NBA All-Star game fun to watch.
Regardless of what we believe the root of the issues may be I'm sure we can agree that something is different and hopefully 'competitiveness' is the missing ingredient to this basketball gumbo.
In the midst of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic we know tow things: yes, it was unexpected and yes, we have no idea how to cope BUT it can't stop you from getting better.
Often, players use moments like this as an excuse to chill but why? If anything, this would be a perfect opportunity to improve your weaknesses as all we have is TIME. Once we are clear of this dreadful period in our lives, basketball will resume. Tournaments will proceed. Coaches will recruit. Essentially, life will go on. Do you really want to be the person who neglected a golden opportunity to improve.
Take the time to map of a game plan and execute it week by week. For example: week 1 - ball handling, week 2 - shooting technique, and so on. Sprinkle in some cardio & agility and in 2 months you'll be better than you were when we got blindsided by the virus. Now how does that sound?
Our advice; don't let anything ever stop you from get what you want. Not a unfair coach, a ball hog teammate, a need companion or a pandemic in the form or a virus. Just be safe and do you!
I know the title may seem like an easy choice to some and a head scratcher to others but allow me to be a bit more specific; if you could, would you choose to play professional sports or would you go to college? As much as I believe in higher education I am not of the belief that anyone should pass up on an opportunity to make money using their gifts especially if the goal will remain the same.
Let's look at it differently. If your life long goal was to be a plumber for AJ's plubing comapny (which is the best plumbing company in the world) and you was offered a position to make money working at AJ's plumbing company fresh out of high school, would you take it? Dam straight you would! Sure, the scenarios are fundamentally different but I think you catch my drift. We as a society put too much emphasis on education because we believe it will equate to us becoming financially stable and offer us job security that we may not be able to obtain without it. Well lets be clear, that is far from the truth! In fact there is a significant portion of society that hold a college degree and cannot find work in their field of studies. There is also a high percentage of college grads who have to work in a completely different field than their degree because there were no job opportunities available in their desired industry. I'm sure you know more of these type of people than the alternative.
So I ask again, what would you do if you were given the opportunity? Yes, I understand the responsibility that follows this commitment at a young age including the million dollar contracts, instant fame and exposure, massive expectations and other certain pitfalls can derail even the brighteest and most mature individuals but I believe there are many more positives than negatives if we look at it with a differnt lens. Financial freedom alone would allow you to have access to professionals and classes to deal with these conflicts. Not to mention, with the emergence of online classes degrees can be obtained from the comfort of your home or hotel room on the road. While Harvard and Yale will always be available your talents, competitive advantage or injury free body may not be!
We can go back and forth and I'm sure there are very convincing arguments on both sides but if you ask me I can't see myself turning down the opportunity if (and its a big if) the goal is be a pro regardless. Time waits for no man.
What are your thoughts?
It's been a while since our last blog but WE'RE BACK!
It's 2017 and things have changed a bit since we last shared our thoughts but one thing that will never waver is our passion for helping players reach their goals. With AAU season kicking off and college basketball coming to an end for all the unlucky players who did not make the tournament, this our favorite time of year because we get to start preparing our guys for next season.
I challenge all the players reading this, regardless of skill level, current skill set or any other variant determining basketball status, to TURN UP this off season. Whatever you've been doing over the last few years of the post season, do it 10x better and 5x more often. One thing I make sure to tell all of my wonderful players is "don't be a would've, could've, should've person". Seize the moment and make sure you do whatever it takes to reap the benefits of your hard work ORRRRR watch someone else benefit from your laziness and complaceny. The choice is yours!
Lastly, the reason why we are so relatable to our clients is because we were our clients. We worked hard for everything we achieved and our job is make sure they bypass the obstacles that we faced. We rode the bench, got cut from teams and lost games on bonehead mistakes just let they have. We understand the plight of the overlooked athlete but we are here to share our success stories. We overcame many difficult moments and so can you!
2015 was an amazing year for us basketball heads. The NCAA tournament was electric and the NBA finals was beyond entertaining which led to a classic Finals matchup between King James and Chef Curry.
Fast forward to this season and we have already seen, in my opinion currently the best player in the A, Steph Curry go on a jumpshot tour through the first 20-something games proving that size isn't the only thing feared in basketball. Although I'm a little hesitant to cheer for the Warrios because of my strong 72-10 Bulls ties, I am amazed by what their doing thus far.
All in all, it was a great year to be a hoops fanatic. I can say for sure 2016 will be better but I can say that I'll be watching!
In one of my previous post I mentioned how most of today's generation of players do not fully understand what it takes to maximize their potential....and I stand by my opinion.
For those who have grand ambitions of going pro, taking care of their families and running their own empire the journey starts now, like right now! Most of us are not blessed enough to wake up one day and just be great. In fact, no one really so you have to invest in yourself and by invest I mean TIME IS MONEY! The formula is simple: If you put maximum TIME (and effort) into perfecting your craft, both physically and mentally, that work should lead you to the MONEY....and lots of it.
Think about this: the NBA is a multi-billion dollar business and growing. The league minimum salary for anyone on an NBA roster is around $490,000 annually (yes, even for the 19th man on the bench folding towels between timeouts). Although the odds of making this dream come true are very slim why not put the time in and roll the dice. I'm sure we all have pursued riskier things with a fraction of the monetary benefits. For example, the odds of winning the lotto is 1 in 175 million but the odds of a high school senior player making it to the pros is 3 in every 10,000.
I don't know, maybe I'm just a dreamer but I always envisioned myself playing on the big stage but the money was just the icing on the cake. But if I'm a person who is driven simply by money, $500K for about 6-months work sounds real good to me.
In the end deciding what you want is the really first mission. Doing whatever you have to to get it is the focus.
Westchester, New York native Torey Thomas is more than just a basketball player. He is a brand! After leading Holy Cross to an NCAA appearance in 2007 he has been playing basketball professionally overseas, sharpening his skills and stacking accolades as a premiere point guard. When he's not terrorizing opposing teams Torey manages his foundation, the New York Blaze Athletic Club, which operates out of his hometown White Plains, NY. The opportunity he provides for the youth basketball players of New York are one he is very passionate about and is shows at his annual NY Blaze tournament every summer where dozens of teams come out and showcase the city's best young players. I've known Torey for nearly 10 years and its easy to see why he's the hometown hero. His humbleness, generosity and passion for the game are all examples of why you can't walk the streets of White Plains without seeing someone rocking a GoTorey tee shirt. Here's is a peak into the life or Mr. Thomas; a baller, a philanthropist, a friend and a role model. Enjoy!
Q: What was your motivation to become a professional athlete?
A: My motivation was people doubting me and not believing in my abilities. I remember coaches overlooking me because I was small and saying it was going to be tough to even play division-I. After overcoming that the transition was easy because I've carried myself like a professional since I was 14.
What drives you to be a better player?
I always wanted to be the best. It comes from within. I always want to be on my A-game and the only way you can do that is through constant work.
What are some of the obstacles you faced on your journey to playing professional basketball?
I faced many obstacles. The first was getting an agent I could trust. An agent is very important because they can help open doors for you. Another obstacle was getting in the best situation where where I would play and could play well. You have to be ready for anything that comes your way when your on this journey.
How do you spend your time off the court while your overseas?
I watch a lot of movies. Martin is my favorite TV series. I also read and play video games on my Ipad and like to go out and explore each city.
What is the hardest part about playing basketball in foreign countries?
The hardest part is being away from home for 9-10 months out the year. Adjusting to the language barrier and cultural differences can be difficult at first too. The first time I came to Europe was the toughest for me. I landed in Hungary for only 2 days before I went to Turkey and adjusting to the language and driving was hard.
How did the stigma of the NYC guard affect you as a player?
The perception that NYC guards can't shoot is a big one! But I worked tremendously on my shot and I am now a respected shooter. To become a better shooter I had to change a few mechanics while shooting over 500 shots a day..consistently.
Who is the best player you ever played with? Against?
When I was 16 I played at Rucker Park with Steve Francis, who was in the NBA at the time, and he was the best player. It was an amazing experience and my first time first playing out there. The best player I played against was Scottie Pippen in the 2007 Swedish league. It was an unbelievable experience.
Who were your mentors and role models when you were coming up?
I looked up to Rashemel Jones, Sharon Sinvilcin, Early Johnson and teammates Kyle Jones, Larry Warren and Kareem Washington. These are all guys I watched when I was headed to high school.
If you could play for any coach and with any player in the NBA, who would they be?
I would want to play for Doc Rivers because he seems to be a players' coach. I would want to play with LeBron James simply because he's the best all-around player in the league today.
Name your all-time starting 5 of the NBA?
My starting 5 would be Isaiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Bill Russell.
What are the best basketball shoes you ever played in?
Ironically my favorite sneakers are the 1996 Grant Hill's by Fila.
Switching gears, what's your greatest basketball accomplishment?
Winning the Patriot League Championship in 2007 was my greatest accomplishment because I always wanted to go to the NCAA Championship. By winning that championship we were rewarded the automatic bid.
What does basketball mean to you?
Basketball means everything to me! Its life, love and compassion. I believe it parallels how I live my life everyday.
If you could have any profession besides basketball, what would it be?
If I wasn't hooping I would want to be a Lawyer or Sports Psychologist.
Can you explain your non-profit organization, the New York Blaze, and its purpose?
NY Blaze is a basketball program for youths, ages 6-19, who aspire to play basketball and learn life skills. Our motto is "Life Skills Through Sports". The organization is open to any athlete who wants to be part of a family oriented atmosphere.
We thank Torey for his willingness to participate and wish him the best this season and those to come. To follow Torey's journey and success, visit his site at www.gotorey.com. And for more information of his foundation go to www.newyorkblaze.com.
In lieu of the upcoming NBA season I wanted to share which players I would pay to be on my roster. I'm sure my choices will raise some (a lot of) eyebrows but its my team so deal with it! If you think you can do better, feel free to play GM for your own team and let's compare the results. Make sure you leave a comment or post your team on our Facebook page.
PG - Chris Paul You always need a great floor general. I have a great amount of respect for CP3 and how he carries himself on and off the court. This little guy is a beast and will keep my other weapons in check, no hesitation.
SG - LeBron James Of course I'm taking the King. Easily the best player in the association today, he can do it all! Although he fills up the stat sheet every night I'll make sure I have back ups just in case he's in one of his "passive/aggressive" moods.
SF - Carmelo Anthony He's the NBA's best scorer and probably the hardest guy to guard at multiple positions. If I need a definite bucket, I'm going to him. He's shown he can play along other stars in the Olympics so I'm not worried about his "so-called" selfishness.
PF - Anthony Davis My young stud. He can easily play 4 positions and play them really well. Plus I wouldn't have to worry about him slowing down our fast break like most big men because he runs the floor like a wing guard, finishing on or around defenders with ease.
C - Tim Duncan He would be my savvy vet, my coach on the floor. Timmy would keep the other players, and their egos, in line while giving me consistent numbers night in, night out without fail. And if need be I could also switch him out the starting lineup to rest him without resistance.
PG - Stephen Curry With so many great PG's in the league he wasn't a shoe in but with his lights out shooting ability and creativity with the ball, he will definitely be a big spark for us off the pine.
SG - DeWayne Wade I know, I know, questionable pick. But Flash is hands down my favorite player in the NBA today. He probably doesn't deserve to be on the team based on his recent injuries and depleting stats but he's a proven winner and I'm a loyal dude so he would get heavy minutes from me.
SF - Kevin Durant KD is a beast. Its not a fluke he's been the scoring champ the last 4 out of 5 years. I'm a little concerned about him deferring to other players so he would probably perform better off the bench where he could be the go-to guy.
PF - Kevin Love This guy can stretch any defense to the 3 point line. He's a matchup nightmare for any 3, 4 or 5 and eats the glass the too. Not too many players can get you 20 & 20 so how could you not love him.
C - Joakim Noah With true Centers becoming extinct, like most teams I'll use an undersized big man to do my dirty work. One thing for certain, he wont care about his touches or how many minutes he logged. Joakim is definitely a team player and is not afraid to hit someone with a flying elbow at any given moment.
Kyrie Irving Although he didn't make the final roster I'd have his number on speed dial just in case. Kyrie is one of the best in the game but seems to get injured more than my grandmother.
Marc Gasol I love awkward players, especially ones that can actually play. He's definitely the better Gasol but may move a little to slow for my uptempo offense.
Paul George PG13 has shown signs of being the next best thing but disappears way too many times for my liking. He's another versatile player that can do more than just score the ball.
Serge Ibaka I'm a fan of his game. He's a damn good defender and is getting better at shooting the mid range jumper. I just don't like him more than any other player on my roster.
Nate Robinson As I said I'm a loyal guy..but for good reason. Nasty Nate may have a size issue but he plays with more passion and intensity than almost everyone in the league. Not to mention, he has proven to be able to handle his own regardless.
So there you have it. That's my crew. I know some of you are asking how? why? and WTH? but I'm confident with my picks. Now it's your turn. Let me see your team or take your best shot at the team I created. Let the games begin!
would've dunked it". I used to be one of those players playing for a coach who recited never ending quotes and as corny as it may have sounded back then as I got older the more it begin to make sense. In fact, one famous phrase that would stick with me, "What you put into it is what you get out of it", impacted the way I approached sports, business and life in general, to this day. I was always accustomed to hard work. I believed it was part of who I was and what I wanted to be.
Unlike players of my era and those before me, our youth athletes these days are very privileged...and naive. Basketball is a billion dollar industry and it seems like these players are just itching to get a piece of pot. They watch the NBA and see players like Derrick Rose and Lebron James run circles around defenders and soar to the basket like they're sitting on a rocket and believe it'll just kick in for them the same way one day. What they don't see is the hard work and sacrifice it takes to make it there. The things that go on behind the scenes when the arenas are empty. The countless hours these players spend perfecting their craft. I've been blessed to have worked with 100's of eager athletes over the last 10 years and before I begin working with a new client I always ask what are their basketball goals? And what are they willing to do to make it happen? As you could imagine many of them express a great interest in playing basketball at a higher level, most would like to have their name announced on the biggest stage...and I encourage it. Unfortunately the problem with some, if not all, of these kids is they have NO IDEA what it takes to actually get there.
About 95% of the younger players I work with basketball year round, from Fall leagues into the school season then AAU. They are very active but outside of their organized practices or workouts the development stops. Of that 95% only 10% may continue to workout on their own time, without a coach's instruction, building habits within the skills we worked on before. There's nothing wrong with dreaming big, even if its too big. But what are you doing to turn these dreams into reality. Many of our young athletes are distracted, lost or possibly both. As a player I believed in one theory, I have to work harder than my competition. I knew if I did this two things would happen: 1. I would develop better skills and 2. I would be prepared to apply these skills when it counted. As a coach I like to share my experiences with my players, not to just reinforce my beliefs but also as proof of the results of hard work and dedication. Most of us are not gifted with height and God given abilities but that's not to say that we can not develop the skills and pray for the height. I take responsibility for making sure the players I can reach have a firm understanding of what it takes to become the player they dream of. Many will get it, some will not, but at least they will know.
So ask yourself these 3 questions: What do you want? How bad do you want it? And are you doing everything possible to get it? Your answers will determine your success.