As I mentioned in my last post, being a manager is not the most glorious job in the world. We don't get to play and we have to do a lot of busy tasks, errands, and laundry and so on but that is not the worst responsibility we have as managers in my opinion. My least favorite part of the job is pre-game shootaround, and it is not even close. The only thing that is close is which I hate more a home game shootaround or an away game shootaround? They both have their fair share of minuses, and I will detail them for you.
First I will take you through the worst part of a home shootaround. We are required to be at the gym 45 minutes before the shootaround begins. I wouldn't mind coming to the gym that early if there was actual stuff to do but we literally have to put five items on the court and shootaround is set up: gum, a few towels, balls, and water. That's it. We get set up in like 30 seconds, then just watch TV till shootaround is ready to begin. At an away shootaround we don't have to set anything up, it is all set up for us, but having to go to shootaround means leaving the hotel bed, and that is something I just hate to do. HATE. TO. DO. Sleeping in comfortable hotel beds as opposed to the broken egg crate mattress I usually sleep on is one of the great parts of travelling, so I cherish every moment I have in a hotel bed (I will dedicate a whole post to hotels later on), and shootaround deprives me of those precious moments.
Now for the similarities between the two. The one part of shootaround I do really enjoy is rebounding for the guys. I will sometimes joke around, sometimes clap, and always get hit by a flying airball at least once (Carter I'm looking at you). We shoot around for about 10 minutes then move into groups: post guys and perimeter guys. I always rebound for the post players, not because I can identify with playing the post, but because I occasionally get called into run the pick and roll. I think I do a pretty good job of emulating a game speed pick and roll, but the coaches don't always feel the same way myself and the players do about my abilities. We also have only 4 true post players on our team so there's so much less chaos, much more relaxed vibe on that end. It's also worth the price of admission just to see the inevitable Andris (Kehris, our walk-on from Latvia) horribly missed reverse layup when we work on post moves.
After we finish the 20 total minutes of shooting, that is when utter boredom sets in. The managers have no role in the shootaround for the last 40 minutes, our presence there is highly questionable, and I look for any alternative activity to sticking around for those last 40 minutes. During the last 40 minutes, the team typically runs our plays 5 on 0, go over the other team's plays, shoot free throws, and other non-live activities. There is nothing exciting to watch because I've seen us run the plays since October and our free throw shooting hasn't exactly been a sight worth seeing this year (no offense guys).
At home during those last 40 minutes, I usually go downstairs to set up game coolers, team meal, or do team laundry. Those activities aren't exactly stimulating, but compared to the alternative they are actually quite exciting. On the road, I get much more adventurous. My first order of business is hitting up press row or scout seating. I always look to see if anyone cool is coming to the game that I might want to talk to later, so that's the first thing I look at. Second, I will usually tell Rob our head manager that I need to use the bathroom and while that is true most of the time, I turn a trip to the bathroom into an aimless wander around the arena. I always poke around underneath looking for any stray T-Shirts, hoping to catch a peak into the locker room, or if I'm lucky running into someone to talk to.
After those two things have been done, we are typically 20 minutes away from finishing and that is when I look to socialize with others. My go to socializing option is our strength coach Curtis Turner. Coach T is the best in the business and not only because he gets our guys jacked up, but he has some penetrating insights into the team and life in general. One of the top people I've met to shoot the shit with, no subject is off limits with Coach T and we cover them all during a standard road shootaround. It can range from whether the sideline reporter for the game is hot to what food we hope is included in pre-game meal. If Coach T is busy, I'll usually talk to Tim Thompson our radio color guy and exchange thoughts on the team or basketball in general. Our radio staff is fantastic. If Tim and Curtis are unavailable, I'll make the reluctant decision to chat with my other managers. The decision isn't reluctant because I dislike my fellow managers, I actually love them, but more because if I'm chatting with them there's a much higher chance of me being asked to do something than if I'm with Coach T or Tim. So I typically try to avoid those interactions in an effort to conserve all of my energy for the game (that's not really the reason at all, but that's what I'm going with).
So to sum it up, I don't enjoy shootaround because it is a lot of time being committed for not a lot of responsibility. Whether it's the 40 minute early arrival time to set up five items or being dragged out of a wonderful dream in a magnificient hotel bed, shootaround just isn't my thing, but if that's the least favorite part of my job, then I have a pretty damn good job.