No other position in basketball is as vital to the overall success and well-being of the team than the point guard. The coach on the floor, the leader, the quarterback. The point guard is the focal point of everything positive a team tries to do. If you take a look at the elite teams at the NBA level, each of them have a lead guard who is also elite — Stephen Curry, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving all represent different aspects of elite point guard play. It’s a no-brainer why their respective teams are in the positions they are in to possibly hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy come June. Every guard has their own methods of preparation, their own way to get psyched for a game, whether big or small.
Due to genetics, or lack thereof, I’ve been fortunate to have played the point guard position my whole life. With that being said, I’ve been forced to be a leader on and off the floor for pretty much my entire basketball existence. As a lead guard, many thoughts are constantly bouncing around in my head throughout various stages of the basketball cycle. You think up a million different scenarios that may or may not occur in game.
The key is always preparation.
There have always been a few conversations I needed to have before a game — middle School, high school, college or men’s leagues. I talk to my best friend and fellow hooper, Isiah Barber, have a conversation with my brother, and lastly, I have a conversation with myself. The last one is the most important of the three. I remind myself that no one plays the position better than I do (confidence is key). I keep in mind that my objective is to not only lay it all on the floor, but to win.
Pre-Game thoughts are at times the most important. Every detail must be thought out and thought through, from the music I play to the foods and beverages I consume. Even my outfits heading into the gym are all thought out. I’m BIG on appearance and presentation. Interactions with teammates are also important, setting the mood in the locker room, being in tune with the game-plan, and most importantly being focused. In high school, lay-up lines and pre-game introductions were usually the most grueling. I ease the tension by dancing, rapping to myself, cracking jokes with my teammates — always keeping the mood as light as possible. Basketball is a battle always, but I go into said battle content and full of life.
Pre-Game is my time to let out the fun.
Every shot I put up in warm ups usually correlates to a shot I would attempt in game. Building rhythm is very clutch. Picking out certain faces in the crowd, head nods for acknowledgement. During introductions, I let out a little of my personality based on the handshakes I craft up. Meanwhile, my stomach is doing backflips, while on the exterior I’m trying to remain composed. All the built-up momentum goes through the roof once my name is announced and the ball is in the air for tipoff.