Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lessons From Al Harrington

I once heard a saying that completely changed my work ethic on and off the court: “There comes a time when the winter asks what were you doing all summer.”
This statement hit home as I noticed the difference between myself and the players I looked up to at the time (Michael Jordan NBA, Grant Hill, Kobe Bryant) was that they worked when other people played. I grew up in New Jersey, a place where basketball is almost a religion and because of the fertile coaching ground and great players.
Looking back on my AAU teams it seems like everyone I played with or against is either in the NBA or came close to it. Al Harrington (St. Patrick’s High School, Golden State Warriors), Jason Williams (Duke drafted by Chicago), Dahntay Jones (Duke drafted by Memphis), Rodney White (Charlotte drafted by Denver), Stephon Marbury (Georgia Tech, drafted by Minnesota), Shaheen Holloway (Seton Hall, Overseas) Jerome Holman A.K.A Circus (And1). I could fill this whole page with my list.
Today I want to highlight Al Harrington, current Golden State Warrior. To this day I can say that Harrington is the only person I personally knew that may have out worked me in the off-season. When most teens our age were out trying to get the latest Jordans or clothes to impress the ladies, he was in the gym working on his game like a madman. I remember walking to his house after school to see if he wanted to shoot some hoops and his mother would answer the door and say he already left to the gym.
Harrington possesses a work ethic that is second to none but this is only half of the equation to why he was drafted straight out of high school.

As my 6′6″ high school freshman teammate, Harrington was far from what you see now on TV lighting it up for the Golden State Warriors. His body grew before his mind could catch up and as a result, like most kids who go through a growth spurt, at a young age he was clumsy and uncoordinated. I say this because most people look at NBA players as people that were born great but I tell you from experience most of the players in the NBA had to work very hard to be where they are today.

Harrington’s big break came when an AAU coach, who also served as a personal basketball trainer, took a special interest in him. With his work ethic and a proven NBA trainer providing the instruction, it was a match made in heaven. In three years Harrington went from a kid who could barely dunk to a first round NBA pick of the Indiana Pacers.

I say all this to let you know that although hard work is an essential ingredient to success, but without instruction you are lost. Harrington found out at a young age and now he is living his dream. The last time I spoke to him he was excited about his new sneaker company Protégé. If he applies the same principles that he learned in those off-season workouts to the sneaker business, I know he will be successful.

In the video below I show you one of the drills (Fundamentals of Scoring DVD) every basketball player should incorporate into their off-season program. This weeks drill focuses on your pull-up jump shot.

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