I stepped off the plane in Newark, New Jersey and headed down to the carousel to get my bag. I spent the next 45 minutes just waiting for my bag to come out. I don’t think I’ve ever waited so long, but it wasn’t bad because I got to inspect the scenery. People were talkin with their accents which was pretty sweet. There was actually a driver waiting for me who was holding a sign that said “Benson” which was also pretty sweet. He had an accent too, another thing that was sweet. I think I heard someone use the word “wiseguy” — again, sweet. I walked over to the towncar and got in. As we headed to the hotel I could see the New York skyline. Sweet. I also saw some really big docks. I’ve seen enough T.V. to know that you don’t want to end up “down by the docks”, which I thought was sweet. I finally got to the hotel and went to my room and laid my head down. Right before I went to bed I thought to myself “You’re on the east coast. Sweet.”
The next day I headed over to the Nets practice facility with a couple other guys who are also up here early to work out. The workout was real tough, but that’s just how it goes. Coaches were walking around saying hi to guys and I kind of felt like a no name. Then I hear somebody say “Rod Benson!”
I turn around and one of coaches says “Dont put me in the blog.”
I started laughing. Then I started coughing. Then I was damn near choking and my eyes started to water. I guess I was choking on my own spit.
He then said “Wow. I didn’t mean to get you all choked up.”
I tried to say something, but I just walked away. Great Rod. Somebody knows your name and you really show him your charismatic side. Such a well spoken kid, this guy Rod Benson, right? Wrong. Just a big Chokey McChoklelstein. Congratulations. Welcome to the Nets. Maybe I should try pissing my pants next time. That could make a better first impression.
As the week went on, I got used to the pace and conditioning of the workouts. They don’t go long, but the workouts are very intense and tiring. It is pretty tight getting instruction from Bill Cartwright though. It’s like Vince Vaughn getting a dodgeball lesson from Patches O’Hoolihan. You can’t beat legendary instruction.
I’ve probably made one solid friend since coming out here. His name is Matt Freije. Matt is cool cause he just keeps it real and we both enjoy a good laugh. He checked out my videos and was obviously very impressed with my cinematography skills. We also go head to head a lot in the workouts. There were a couple plays where we were going at it real hard. On one play I recovered just in time to block Matt’s shot. He say’s to me “Mann you long armed inspector gadget fool.”
The next play he up fakes me and scores. I say back to him “You crafty ass white boy coddamn.”
It’s pretty much the nature of our relationship. We had a free throw competition and we had both made like 15 straight, first person to miss would lose. As my 16th shot rolled around the rim and barely fell in, Matt said “So you’re begging now?”
I fired back “No, I’m not your wife.”
After the 3rd day, we started playing Ping Pong as part of our post workout ritual. We’ve gotten some other guys involved now. Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, Matt and I brought ping pong back. There are about 6 guys playing right now. Today I declared myself a second tier ping pong player, because there are a couple guys better than me, but I’m also clearly better than some guys, including Matt. Matt then says “Well if you’re second tier, what does that make me?”
“It means you better hope there’s a fourth tier or you’re in a world of hurt.” Almost too easy.
This past weekend I finally escaped the hotel and went to Manhattan. I did a lot of research online to figure out where I could get on a subway and make it out to the city. When I finally figured it out, I caught a shuttle and made my way to the subway.
I don’t know what it is about this place, but it’s just kind of scary. I feel like New York is just hyped up as such a tough place. Like everybody is out to get me or something. I mean I guess it comes from watching too much T.V., but I don’t know. Think about it. This is the only city in the world that needs the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to protect it. If you get past them, you still have to deal with various Heros from Heros, like Hiro. Then they have CSI and NYPD Blue.
My point is that New York is just scary. Way too many factors to worry about. Still, regardless of the reports that April O’Neil delivers on the channel six news about Shredder and The Foot, I felt confident enough to get on the subway train and head out. It was really sweet when I stepped out of the train station and it was underneath Madison Square Garden.
I met up with my boy who lives in a $5,000 a month luxury apartment 20 yards from the garden — even sweeter. He basically showed me how fun New York really is. This club, that club, limo here, bottle service there, women women women. Pretty much awesome. I know that the chances of a free agent getting signed after camp are very slim, but man I feel like I need to live here. Like if I get cut maybe I’ll just retire for a while and become a New Yorker regardless of how scary it is or ridiculous that sounds. This place is awesome.
I finally settled down a little bit Sunday. Perfect time to watch my fantasy football team get absolutely dominated. I felt like I yielded a pretty solid team for having the last pick in the draft, but if you wanna talk underachievement, talk Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Terry Glenn (coddamit) Braylon Edwards.. I could go on. My highest scorer was my kicker Adam Vinatieri. They laughed at me for drafting a kicker in the 7th round. Who’s laughing now? The Wyld Stallions, that’s who. Yea, we’re called the Wyld Stallions. I wish I could go back in time like Bill and Ted and draft Plaxico Burres instead of Terry Glenn.
Well this is a big week ahead for me. A lot more guys are showing up to work out. A lot more ping pong matches are to be played. Manhattan is calling my name, and the Wyld Stallions are looking to bounce back. Today someone else on the staff mentioned my blog. Sweet. All in all, I would say this past week has been just that.