Brandyn Curry and his blog are back. After a successful rookie season playing (and writing) in Holland, where the former Harvard University standout guard was an All-Star, won the Dutch Basketball League championship and was named Finals MVP with Den Bosch, Curry now calls Germany's BEKO BBL home this season with Eisbären Bremerhaven and will continue to share his thoughts on playing professional basketball abroad with his blog.
It's crazy to think that it's already March. These first two of 2016 have really gone by quickly, as we are coming down to the final stretch of the season here in Bremerhaven with 10 weeks and 11 games left in the season.
I'm looking forward to getting back to playing the game I love since we did not have a game last week. One good thing with having no games was that I had time while my girlfriend (Christina), who was visiting me.
In 10 days we went to seven different cities including Bonn, Cologne, Bremen, Hamburg, Den Bosch, Leeuwarden, and of course Bremerhaven. It was amazing! My favorite days were getting to see the love lock bridge and Cathedral in Cologne, then going to see the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial in Hamburg (more about these in next month’s post). Unreal experiences that anyone who visits either of these cities need to experience themselves. The 10 days flew by, but we certainly made the most of it!
Now, we get down to this week's post -- and it is all about idols and the current NBA point guards who are/have influenced my own game.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, during my year off from Harvard I read a book called “Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson that changed everything for me. One of the many lessons I learned from the book was to find out what it is the most successful people in your field of work do and emulate their daily actions. This was also reiterated many times during my sales training while I had to work as a life insurance agent during that same year off. It's a pretty simple concept that I hadn't been using to my advantage: find out who is the best at what you do, learn what they do on a daily basis, and repeat the actions yourself.
As time goes on you will find what works best for you, so it doesn’t have to be exactly the same things each day, but you get the point. Since learning about this, I have taken this approach to make me a better player. I study all the top point guards on all levels to see what is I can learn from them and use on a daily basis to make me a better player. Here are my three favorite players and what I try to emulate about them.
Mike Conley- Memphis Grizzlies # 11
Conley is not as popular in the NBA as other point guards such as Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, or Chris Paul, but he is still one of the best in my opinion. If I had to pick one guard I felt I was most similar to in the NBA it would be Conley. We are both lefties, similar heights and are ambidextrous. If you ever watch Conley play you will notice right away that he loves to use his right hand. Actually, if he doesn’t shoot his jump shot then you would probably think he was a righty because that is how much he uses his right hand. He makes passes with his right hand, prefers to use his right hand around the basket and can even shoot with his right hand. That leads right to the one trait that I take from Conley: To make your weaknesses your strengths.
I like to imagine that the same sequence of events that led to me becoming ambidextrous is also what occurred with him. Here is how it happened: When you’re a lefty, the very beginning stages of playing basketball are really fun. The vast majority of kids growing up are only used to guarding right handed players like themselves. While learning the game we are taught to force the opposing player we are guarding to their weak hand. This means forcing most players to drive to the basket with their left hand, which is harder for right handed players. Now if you do this to a left hand player, then this ends up being a huge advantage obviously since you’re allowing them to use their strong hand. I was able to almost always able to easily get to the basket thanks to this. However, as you get older and develop more, players learn to be able to guard both lefties and righties removing this subtle advantage. After my freshman year at Harvard, everyone has an end of the year meeting with Coach Amaker to discuss the season and things to work on for the following one. One of the main things he said I needed to work on was getting better with using my right hand on the basketball court. He wasn’t the first person to mention this to me but I really took it to heart after that meeting. That summer I was determined to be able to do everything on the basketball court with my right hand just as well as I could with my left. Fast forward six years later and I!m now completely ambidextrous on the basketball court (yes I can even shoot right handed!). Seeing Mike Conley play inspires me to continue to work each day on my right hand. Turn you’re weaknesses into strengths.
Stephen Curry- Golden State Warriors #30
There is perhaps no athlete on this planet more famous and popular than Stephen Curry is right now. He has completely taken the basketball world by storm and even if you’re not a basketball fan I'm sure you’ve heard about him unless you have been living under a rock these past few years. Arguably the best shooter ever to play the game, he is setting ridiculous three point records on his way to what looks like a second Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and second straight NBA Title with the Warriors. When I watch Steph plays what amazes me most about him is just how easy he makes everything look. Whether it’s a deep three pointer over two defenders or a high arching floaters above a 7’0 center, he makes he seems like it's no big deal at all. He has become an inspiration to basketball players everywhere because he is not a “freak” athlete like a Michael Jordan or LeBron James but is still dominating the game. Being fortunate enough to know Steph personally, reading a dozen articles about him, and having the same basketball trainer he had while growing up, I have come to the realization that he has been mastering his craft since he was a child. This is the most important aspect of Steph I try to emulate.
What most people never realize when watching any professional athlete is just how much work goes into preparing for the performance before the lights come in. Likewise, people don’t understand that it has been years and years of nonstop work that is all coming together for Steph as he is now the most unstoppable player in the NBA. Even though he is blessed to be the son of a great NBA shooter himself in Dell Curry, Steph’s relentless work ethic is well documented. While growing up he spent countless hours with his dad perfecting his shot. My trainer always tells me how he would never stop until he mastered every drill that he threw at him. I learned from a YouTube documentary that while participating at a basketball camp in high school, with other elite players, he would work out early in the morning before the camp even started while everyone else was just waking up. When making the transition to the NBA his ball handling skills was not one of his main strengths. Now, he has become one of the best ball handlers all through repetition. Being able to see Steph’s growth as a player through my own eyes these past several years has only given me more confidence to continue to work every single day at mastering my craft. Time is your best friend when you do the work.
Kyrie Irving- Cleveland Cavaliers #2
Kyrie Irving might just be my favorite point guard to watch play. It’s a very close race between him and Steph. Irving is an absolute wizard with the basketball in his hands. Even though Steph is undoubtedly the best point guard in the league, I think Irving has the best ball handling skills and can score in the paint better than any other point guard. Kyrie plays with no fear. He attacks centers and power forwards like they are not seven inches taller or 60 pounds heavier then him. Unfortunately, this has fearlessness had some consequences as you will be hard pressed to find an area of the body Irving has not had an injury in. This does not deter Kyrie from being in attack mode on the court at all times though. He says he can’t change that part of his game because that is the only way he knows how to play. This fearlessness is what I’m trying to put more of into my own game.
Similar to Steph, Kyrie has put in tremendous amount of work into his game since he was young. If you watch his high school highlights and compare them to his highlights now, you will see that he has been doing some of the same moves since then. Of course as he has gotten older he has improved his game. My favorite YouTube basketball videos are the “Kyrie Irving CRAZY Finishes Compilations”.
I love watching these before workouts and games. Being better at making shots around the basket is one area of my game I’m really working hard to improve on and these videos have been a great tool. I highly recommend it to all guards or just to anyone who loves watching the game. Kyrie’s combination of fearlessness and creativity with the basketball is a true form of art. Watching him play inspires me to play more without to thinking, to let the game come to me as a lot of wise players like to say. You can’t be successful at this game or in anything in life for that matter if you go around worrying about if every move you make is going to work. I’ve suffered from doing that before. You just have to play without thinking and that’s when I've found i'm at my best. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Be fearless.
Having idols and mentors to learn from is a key component to being successful. If you haven’t already I strongly encourage you to find people who are the best at what you’re trying to be and learn everything you can about what they do each day. Everyone knows the saying it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master any skill.
Never too late to get started.
* Brandyn's Bonus Points: Just like the extra shot a basketball player gets, when he's fouled during a made shot, I'd like to periodically give you some insights into professional basketball players' "inside knowledge," and make you more knowledgeable about the game.
Here's this month's Bonus Point: Did you realize that while most NBA teams play multiple games each week, with certain hours per day of practice, international teams (such as here in Europe) generally play only 1 games per week, and generally practice more then double the practice hours compared to NBA teams. This makes for a different playing experience, because as players know all too well, practices when you have a long time before the next game are MUCH harder intensity then the practices that are closer to game day!
Articles and News Stories featuring Our Team.