This fall marks my 10th year in the strength & conditioning industry. After ten amazing years, I am thrilled to say my passion for basketball performance training burns stronger than ever. I absolutely love what I do for a living and am so thankful to be able to make a living doing it. I cherish the relationships I have built with countless players, coaches, and fellow trainers along the way. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years has in store!
To pay homage to David Letterman and ESPN SportsCenter, below is a list of my Top 10 moments from the past ten years.
#10 “Raymond Felton at the NBPA Top 100 Camp”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/RaymondFelton
In June of 2005, Raymond Felton (Charlotte Bobcats) stopped by the NBPA Top 100 camp to talk to the campers. He had just led the University of North Carolina to the National Championship and had declared for the NBA draft. Prior to speaking to the campers he stood off to the side and casually watched the guards go through a one-on-one drill (OJ Mayo, Wayne Ellington, and Jerryd Bayless were in the group). Raymond was wearing jeans, a fitted hat, an oversized white t-shirt, untied Adidas shell tops, and a huge platinum medallion. He watched as player after player scored effortlessly; with no one showing any pride in playing defense. After about 10 minutes, he stepped in and said “Is anyone here gonna play some D? Do any of you guys have any heart? If you want to play at the next level you have to play D. You have to compete. It ain’t just about scoring fellas.” He then handed me his medallion (not because I am special, I just happened to be standing next to him!) and walked onto the court. Without even lacing up his shoes or tightening up his belt, he grabbed the ball and gave a hard chest pass to the next offensive player in line. “Which one of you mutha (expletive) think they can score on me?” He then proceeded to D up on every single player in line. Not one guy scored. Half of them didn’t even get a shot off. It was an amazing display of competitiveness. Keep in mind this took place before the draft. If he got hurt, it could have cost him millions of dollars, or even worse, ended his career. But he didn’t care. Raymond Felton is true to the game.
#9 “Speaking in Las Vegas at the largest basketball clinic in world”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/VegasClinic
I have been so thankful to speak at Ed Janka’s Nike Championship Basketball Clinics for the past four years. His annual spring clinic in Las Vegas lays claim to being the “largest basketball clinic in the world” with several thousand coaches in attendance. In the spring of 2007, I got a chance to speak in Las Vegas and it was quite a thrill. The workout was very well-received. I got an intense rush from speaking in front of 3,000 coaches and seeing myself live on the jumbo-tron screen! I have such a respect for high school basketball coaches; it always gives me great satisfaction to be able to help teach them about proper training.
#8 “Working the Jamaica Star Search Camp for the first time”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/JamaicaCamp
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, in the summer of 2008, I volunteered to work a basketball camp for underprivileged kids in Jamaica. It was a life changing experience and one I will never forget. I had never seen such poverty in all of my life. There were kids in camp who played with no shoes; in a gym with no air conditioning. Yet, they were unbelievably thankful for the opportunity to just be in the camp. Their energy and enthusiasm was palpable and contagious. I returned home with a new sense of appreciation for how blessed I was. I have pledged to return every year.
#7 “Chat with Kobe”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/KobeAndAlan
In the summer of 2007, I had the opportunity to work the first ever Kobe Bryant Nike Skills Academy at Mater Dei High School in Orange County, CA. The campers included the top 20 high school shooting guards in the country (Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans, and Willie Warren), as well as the top 10 college shooting guards (Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson, James Harden, and Stephen Curry). Kobe arrived early one afternoon and I got a chance to talk with him for about 15 minutes about his off-season training and his approach to his own development. It was such an honor to talk to someone of his caliber; someone who is truly dedicated to being the best player he can be. As we parted ways he said, “Thanks for being here Coach.” He is a true class act.
#6 “Trip to France with Nike USA Team”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/FranceTeam
In the summer of 2005, I got an unbelievable opportunity to travel to France with a Nike USA U-19 team to play a series of games against other countries. This was my first overseas basketball experience and it was phenomenal. The roster included current NBA players Thad Young, Brook and Robin Lopez, Javaris Crittenton, Chase Budinger, and Nick Calathes (who just signed a contract in Greece). It also included current college players Nic Wise (Arizona) and Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech). What made it really special was having two of my good friends, Jeff Rogers (Nike) and David Adkins (former assistant at Montrose, current assistant with the University of Maryland’s women’s program) on the trip as well. Being submerged in a foreign culture was a valuable learning experience.
#5 “Audition for Montrose”
This season will mark my 7th year as the head strength & conditioning coach for the Montrose Christian basketball program. When I moved back to the DC area in 1999, I made it my goal to work with the area’s top high school basketball program, which in my opinion, was Montrose Christian. For nearly three years I sent letters and left voice messages for Coach Stu Vetter; all of which went unreturned and unanswered. Then finally in the spring of 2003 I caught a break. I called the Montrose Basketball office, and to my surprise, got to speak with Coach Vetter’s lead assistant, David Adkins (who has since become a close friend). I introduced myself and told him how bad I wanted to be a part of their program. Always one to meet new people and learn new things, DA invited me over to his office to talk shop. Since he was responsible for the Montrose off-season conditioning program, he was very interested in hearing how I might be of service. He told me he would bring Linas Kleiza (former NBA player for the Denver Nuggets, currently under contract with Olympiakos in Greece) over to my gym to workout. He said, “If Linas likes your workout… you’re in. If he doesn’t, I never knew you.” So in all reality this was my “audition” to accomplish my goal and be a part of the Montrose program. I took Linas through an hour long workout and blasted him pretty hard. I felt like it went well, but got very little feedback from him or Coach Adkins. They left and told me they would be in touch. As I was later told, when Linas got in the car, he told Coach Adkins “That was the best workout I have ever had… when can I do it again?” The rest is history!
#4 “KD’s draft night”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/KDandAlan
I met Kevin Durant out in Portland in 2004 at the Les Schwab Invitational. I was introduced to him and his family by Jeff Rogers (my good friend at Nike). Kevin was a junior at Oak Hill at the time, but still a native of the DC area. After a great conversation, I convinced him and his family that KD should work with me the following off-season. They were guarded and hesitant, but said they would consider it. I stayed persistent and kept in touch and finally got my shot later that spring (2005). Similar to my audition for Montrose, I had an audition with KD. I was told I could work him out one Saturday at the old Run N’ Shoot in Suitland, MD. If we clicked, we were good to go. If we didn’t, I was out. We hit it off right away and KD was sold on how badly he needed to be on a progressive strength training program (he weighed 180 pounds at the time). We worked out religiously for several weeks and then KD made the decision to transfer to Montrose for his senior year. Let’s fast forward through an All-American season at Montrose and a College Player of the Year season at Texas, to the 2007 NBA draft. It was astounding to watch KD be selected as the 2nd overall pick and go on stage and shake David Stern’s hand. I was so happy for him and his family and so proud to see his hard work pay off. He deserved it. Despite being one of the NBA’s brightest rising stars, KD has remained grounded and humble and continues to have a tremendous work ethic and unparalleled love for the game. While I don’t work with KD anymore, I am very thankful to call him a lifelong friend.
#3 “Oak Hill vs. Montrose”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/OakHillvsMontrose
I have told this story countless times at camps and clinics, but it still gives me goose bumps every time I think about it. In early March 2006, I sat on the bench in coat and tie at Coolidge high school in Washington DC and bared witness to one of the greatest high school basketball games ever played. Montrose Christian, led by Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Greivis Vasquez (University of Maryland), collided with the nation’s #1 ranked team, Oak Hill (40-0, had a 56 game win streak), who was led by Michael Beasley (Miami Heat) and Tywon Lawson (Denver Nuggets). In front of a standing room only crowd of several thousand people, Montrose fought back from being down 16 in the middle of the third quarter to hit a shot at the buzzer to steal the victory. It was simply amazing.
#2 “Meeting Coach K”
I have long been an admirer of Coach K and his relentless commitment to excellence. I have read all of his books several times over and apply many of his philosophies on teamwork, accountability, etc. to my own work and life. At the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, SC in December of 2006, I finally got a chance to meet him in person. It was surreal. The following day I sent him a letter thanking him for his time, and more importantly, thanking him for all of his contributions to the game of basketball. To my surprise, several weeks later, I received a hand written note from him! The face of college basketball, a Hall of Fame coach, and one of the busiest men on the planet took the time to send me a hand written note saying he enjoyed our conversation as well and wished me success in the future. I was awestruck. From then on, I made a solemn pledge to myself to always return calls, emails, and letters – no exceptions. I figured if Coach K can find the time to hand write me a letter, I sure as hell can do the same thing when people contact me. I am pleased to say I have had a few conversations with Coach K since that initial meeting and it has been an honor every time.
#1 “Meeting MJ”
See the picture: http://tinyurl.com/JordanClassic
In the spring of 2005, I got the opportunity to work my first Jordan Brand All American Classic up in New York. Being one of the millions of kids who grew up idolizing Michael “Air” Jordan; being a part of his event was super special and a dream come true. On the night of the game, he walked into a secured room to talk to the players and coaches. I was about 2 feet away from him when he entered and my heart literally skipped a beat. He had an aura about him that was hard to describe. After his pep talk, he shook each of our hands and thanked us being a part of his event. To go from idolizing someone to shaking their hand was very bizarre!
Well, that’s it. Those are the moments and experiences that made my Top 10. And while those stuck out for obvious reasons, I am just as thankful for the thousands and thousands of other amazing experiences I have had on my journey. It has been an awesome ride so far!
Next I will post my annual Montrose preview and give some insight to our roster and schedule. We have a lot of new faces on this year’s team and several big time games; so please check back. Then the following two week’s posts will be dedicated to starting the season on the right foot; a must read for all high school coaches and players.
Please stay tuned to www.StrongerTeam.com or email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com for updates.
Work hard. Have fun.