Dorell Wright spent the past 11 seasons in the NBA (he is playing in China this season). He was drafted by Miami and played for Golden State, Philadelphia, and Portland as well. He knows his way around the Association.
His younger brother Delon Wright is entering his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors.
Dorrell penned an open letter to his brother for the Players’ Tribune offering advice on navigating the NBA, on and off the court — the stuff they’re not going to cover in the rookie symposium.
First, run away from the card games on the team plane. Don’t play. Don’t sit down at that table. And if you do play, put a limit on your buy-in. Pick a number, and if you lose it, get up. Guys will talk trash and try to keep you in….
Second, get ready to hear lots of trash talk from the fans. Some places are worse than others. Golden State is going to be live this year because they’re the defending champs. I love playing there. Madison Square Garden is always crazy. And in Philly, there’s this guy behind the Sixers bench who writes down all your stats on a dry-erase board if you’re struggling. He’s hilarious, so don’t take that too personally. When I was traded to Philly in 2012, he was the first guy I asked about. I wanted to make sure he was still a season-ticket holder.
Dorell was clearly having fun with this, but as the letter went on the advice got more serious.
What they don’t tell you is that it’s not just the availability of money that adds temptation, but time. You have all this free time to buy, buy, buy. Really, free time is the root of the trouble you can find as a pro. That’s the hardest thing about the adjustment you’re about to make. When I was at prep school before jumping to the NBA, I had a strict schedule. Be at school at 7:30. Breakfast. Assembly. Class all day, then basketball. Afterwards, it was study hall and maybe one more chance to sneak in some gym time. Most of your days in college were basically planned for you, too.
In the NBA, on non-game days, you’re there at 8 a.m. to get your extra work in and then practice with the team. That takes maybe four hours, tops. Now you’ve got the rest of the day to yourself. You’ll need to learn how to manage your time.
That is sage advice. These are young men with money, time, and people hanging out on the periphery not looking out for their best interests. It’s easy to lose track of the fact this is a job — one you can lose quickly if you don’t respect it.
Go read the entire piece, it’s worth the effort.