Offseason Workouts

While the college kids are preparing for the NBA Draft, us older guys are out trying to take the free agent route.  So a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from my agent.  He said that it was time for me to start making NBA related moves, the first of which was a free agent camp in Milwaukee.  It’s always nice to say that you’re going to Milwaukee for mini-camp, rather than saying: “yea, I’m just kinda hanging out until I hear something.”  People think you’re wasting your life away when you don’t have actual dates and teams.  It’s also nice to get that Per Diem for everyday that you workout.  I didn’t exactly make the big bucks this past year, so every dollar counts.  My agent called me the “dumbest Berkeley kid ever” for not telling him that I only had $8 to my name (I needed him to book a shuttle for me from the airport to the hotel when I landed in Milwaukee).  That’s how it goes sometimes. 

So I arrive at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee and the first thing I have to do is use the bathroom, but I refuse.  I know that we have physicals in 10 minutes and if they weigh me, then that extra 2 lbs could come in handy.  221 looks better than 219 any day of the week, so I hold it.  Turns out that there is no weigh in, just the typical physical. 

I did feel lied to a little bit because the doctor said to me: “I do my physical a little differently.  I only check the things that are sports related.”  That got me excited, because I thought to myself: “Yes, he won’t have to grab my balls and make me cough, because that’s definitely NOT sports related.”  Then he says “Pull down your pants, turn your head to the left, and cough.  I need to check your testis.”   

After the physical, there was a meeting.  I got to see who all was there at the mini-camp.  I recognized Aaron Miles, Omar Cook, James Thomas, Lionel Chalmers, Matt Haryasz, Renaldo Major, and some others.  These things are like NCAA tournament memory lane.  Everyone talks about their games against rivals and whatnot.   

Matt Haryasz (I pronounce it Hairyass) had plenty to say about the Cal – Stanford rivalry, but I mean they DID beat us 6 of 8 times, so he can pretty much say whatever he wants.  One thing we could all agree on was that was hot and that “BOOM Got Them DOS!” was even hotter.  Matt couldn’t stop laughing at Luke Jackson’s cameo.   

The camp itself went pretty well.  I got a lot of feedback about my game, and good mentorship from some of the older guys.  My agent informed me that the Warriors wanted me to attend their free agent workouts as well.  So right after my 3 days in Milwaukee were up, I headed back to the Bay Area for a 2 day camp with Golden State.   

This time the list of participants included my ex teammate Joe Shipp, and former UCLA stars Toby Bailey, and Jelani McCoy.  Yep, you read that right… TOBY BAILEY and JELANI MCCOY.  Toby Bailey was the man back in the day.  I told him that I used to watch him when I was in 4th grade.  He said: “You gonna act like I’m an old man?”  I said: “Hey, it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel.”  He then replied: “So you’re saying I look old then?”

I wasn’t exactly saying that he looks old.  I guess in a way, it’s very weird competing for a spot with a guy who’s name hasn’t rung a bell since the 1995 NCAA Championship.  I guess in a way, he IS old.  I mean, let’s really think about it.  He got to UCLA in 1994.  In 1994 I was 9 years old.  I got to thinking…who exactly was Rod Benson when Toby Bailey was at UCLA? 

In 1994 I… 

Loved Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Doug, GUTS, Family Double Dare, Family Matters, Step by Sep, Fresh Prince, and of course, with moms permission, In Living Color. 

Was the Boys and Girls club champion in many events, including: paper airplanes, foosball, prisonball, and air hockey. 

Won the Ada Harris Elementary School Olympic day blue ribbon (first place) in 100 yd. dash, 4×100 relay, and standing broad jump. 

Was ridiculously hyped that Rice Crispy Treats started being sold by Kellogs, making my recess snack complete 

Finally got a big enough shoe size to fit into these hand me down Nike Air Flights that had always been too big. 

Was playing POGS for keeps on a regular basis, and winning. 

Played soccer, and was absolutely terrible.  I played the least minutes and led the league in fouls.   

Was discovering my talents as a natural born video gamer on my Super Nintendo.  Super Mario All-Stars and Ken Griffey Junior presents Major League Baseball were awesome. 

Was not a Ken Griffey fan, but instead a Frank Thomas fan, who was collecting Frank cards with a passion.   

Watched Toby Bailey on his way towards becoming the 4th leading scorer in UCLA history.  That’s how old school Toby Bailey is.

Back to the workout, it was very weird asking Toby Bailey to come off the ball screen and look for me on the pop.  But we got it done. It was pretty cool when he was watching “BOOM Got Them DOS!” in the locker room.  He couldn’t contain himself when I said “I’m like K.G. except I ain’t worth a dollar.” 

Before we started the workout, I heard one of the 2 greatest things I’ve ever heard.  Don Nelson made it a point to say that on the Warriors, the posts don’t post on the block, they post on the elbow or not at all.  They set ball screens and run the floor.  GREAT news.  That’s like telling a fat girl that there is a free buffet all night!   

After the workouts, I heard second of the two the greatest things I’ve ever heard.  Don Nelson walks up to me (already awesome because I’m pretty much starstruck by a man with so much basketball clout) and says: “Rod, I really enjoyed watching you play.  You’re in pretty good shape, huh?”  I didn’t really know how to respond.  It was like those T.V. shows where a hot girl approaches the guy who has been eyeing her but is clearly not on her level, then the guy stumbles over his words and looks stupid.  I said back: “I mean, umm yea, I could be better.”  Then Don Nelson replies: “Well, you’re in better shape than these guys.  You run the floor really well.”  I stood there kind of awkwardly as he walked away.  I was so giddy that I couldn’t really put myself together — I might as well have just been propositioned by Jessica Biel. 

I can pretty much end it there, and I will.  I’ve got some more workouts and whatnot leading up to the summer league.  I’ll keep you posted 

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