45 Minutes North and 25 Minutes South

In Discipline, Pro & College Basketball, Stories, Work On Your Game [The Book]
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A couple years after college.

I had to get a regular job again, which meant my plans had failed somewhere along the way.

After coming home from playing in Mexico, I was nearly in the same place I’d been in before I had ever signed a single professional playing contract: jobless, few resources (money / connections), and living in my parents’ home. I had an agent in Mexico, but he was giving me more excuses and stories than useful information, telling me nothing that I wanted to hear.

I managed to land an interview at a gym called Philadelphia Sports Clubs in Society Hill, neighborhood in between downtown Philly, Old City and South Street. Though I’d just bought it two years earlier, I didn’t wear my graduation-gift suit to the interview; I wore khakis and a white t-shirt on the train to the gym, then changed into a button-up shirt I’d folded into a backpack while standing a block away from the gym (seriously).

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My interview was with the sales manager Gary. Gary asked about my background, then wondered aloud how I would feel working at PSC, since I’d be wearing the same clothes at the job that I’d worn to the interview, and not any basketball gear.

I answered that question smoothly enough, and was hired for the job within a week.

I worked at PSC for almost a year.

The location I worked at didn’t have a basketball court, but the company had multiple locations, all of which I could use for free as a company employee.

PSC’s High Point location, located in Chalfont, PA — a town that I had never even heard of, despite being from Philly — had two full-size indoor courts that I would be happy to use. Chalfont opened at 5:30 AM, and was 45 minutes to the north of my City Line Avenue apartment, though (I’d finally moved out shortly after starting at PSC). And I had to be at work in Society Hill (25 minutes south of my apartment) by 8 AM every day.

I had to do some reverse math.

  1. To get to Society Hill (my job location) by 8 (7:45 for me — to be early is to be on-time), I had to start the hour-long drive from High Point (basketball court gym) by 6:45.
  2. I wouldn’t have time to stop at home, which meant I had to shower at High Point — I’d give myself 15 minutes for that….
  3. Which meant I had to be done my workout and off the basketball court by 6:30 AM.
  4. So I had an hour to work on my game: 5:30-6:30 AM.
  5. High Point was 45 minutes away from my apartment, even with no traffic. So…
  6. I had to leave my place by 4:45 AM, with everything — workout gear, work clothes (business casual attire), lunch, snacks — packed.
  7. I’d be waking up at 4 AM every day to make this schedule work.

[This is where my early-rising habit began, one that I maintain today even though my current gym is downstairs from me, and open 24 hours a day. I like the mental edge I feel I’m getting by being the first one in the gym.]

Working on my game one day at High Point, a shirt White guy who worked there — he sold memberships at High Point, the same job I did at Society Hill — approached me on the court. He’d been watching me through the glass from the floor above the court, and the front desk people had told him that I was also a company employee. He told me that High Point had two men’s basketball leagues starting soon; would I be interested in playing?

Of course I was.

The games were at night; 6, 7, and 8 PM. Several facts resulted from this.

  1. After discovering the High Point location, I didn’t get 8 hours of nightly sleep the whole time I worked at PSC, and almost got fired twice for falling asleep on the job.
  2. I scored my any-league-career-high of 60 points one game in the High Point “B” league.
  3. An older guy named Howard played with me on one team. After our first game, Howard told me that I needed to connect with his friend Jay. Jay was Jay Jameson, a point guard-turned-trainer from nearby Landsdale; Jay had walked on at Temple University and played under John Chaney. Jay sometimes played in the same High Point League as Howard and me. Howard described Jay as “a guaranteed forty points” for every game Jay played in. Howard was not exaggerating. Jay was six feet, thin and White; people like me — 6’4”, athletic and Black — underestimate people like Jay on sight. Jay was, and still is, the best shooter I’ve ever played with or against. Jay was my team’s point guard when I played in the $1 Million Basketball Tournament in 2015.
  4. I finally decided that my time was more valuable than my money (at least in part): I purchased a membership at the (much closer to me) Aquatic Fitness Center In Bala Cynwyd, PA. AFC was literally a 5- minute drive from my apartment.
  5. It was at AFC that I recorded the first of the workout videos that would make my name ring on YouTube and throughout the worldwide basketball community.

Not that I was content with any of this.

We were still nearly ten years away from there being a such thing as a “YouTuber,” and I still worked full time at PSC. This wasn’t the life I wanted.

After 9 months working at PSC, I left that job, had moved to South Florida, and came up with the most ambitious plan I could think of to get my playing career back on track.

How did all of this turn into what I do now? I explain that — and share a whole lot more — in my upcoming book Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life. Preorder it here, and get all the free bonuses I’m giving away here.

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