Last year, Sports Illustrated reporter Chris Ballard and several other media representative spent a few days enduring similar workouts to what the NBA players do while training at IMG Academy.
Ballard included his experiences in his soon-to-be released book, "The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA."
Read an excerpt below:
We begin with basic dribbling and shooting drills on the two NBA-sized courts. As if by way of apology, at least half a dozen times coach Mike Moreau, director of the IMG Academy basketball program and one of our two main instructors (along with Thorpe), tell us, "Don't be insulted by the simplicity of what we're doing." His point is to focus not on what we're doing but how we're doing it. So when we yo-yo the ball back and forth with one hand during a dribbling drill, we're to do it as hard as possible - "HAMMER NAILS!" Moreau shouts, like some crazed foreman - and until we go so fast that we lose the ball. The idea is to simulate a game situation, when a defender is crowding you at full speed. "If you don't lose the ball, you're not going hard enough," Moreau shouts. "MAKE YOURSELF LOSE IT!" It's a totally unnatural sensation, like speeding up a treadmill until you wipe out. It requires a concerted effort, perhaps even more so, I imagine, for NBA players conditioned to feel that losing the ball is a sign of weakness. Once accomplished, however, the drill is quite liberating. Rarely does one get to screw up and be praised by a coach.
And what emphatic praise it is. As head of the Academy, Moreau has the wired intensity required to command a teenager's attention. (He coaches the high school kids at IMG). He often speaks in italics, whether commanding us to hammer those nails or "KILL THE GRASS!" during a ball handling drill. Thin and wiry, with a buzz cut and intense eyes, he moves like a boxer and seems to genuinely delight in our small victories.
Ballard's book will be in stores Nov. 2.