My Summer Grind

Some guys may not like to practice, especially this early in the offseason.

Most guys like to reflect on the season they had, go on vacation for a while, chill, and watch the playoffs. The summer heat is draining before you even get into the gym, there are no fans cheering, no dunk gifs and no glory.

But they probably haven’t had their offseason taken away repeatedly by injuries and been forced to the sidelines. If you don’t like doing shooting drills, try spending a summer doing balance drills.

I love the offseason grind. I love the process and live for being in the gym. I love pushing myself every day to improve my game. I love when it’s uncomfortable, when you’ve been grinding and working hard on something for a couple weeks and you finally start to see some improvement.

So on a perfect, 85-degree day in Brooklyn, when the beach – or the AC – is calling, there’s nowhere else I would rather be than sprinting in the gym, lifting weights or competing against Isaiah, KJ and Archie in shooting drills.

I know what you’re probably thinking … “Caris, wouldn’t you rather be relaxing somewhere? Wouldn’t you rather be home? On the beach? On vacation?”

Not a chance.

I haven’t had a true offseason since my freshman year at Michigan because I’ve had to spend part of – or all of – my last few offseasons rehabbing.

Last summer I missed my first real chance to work full-time with NBA coaches and practice with NBA players. They build you up physically and get you ready for your rookie season, you play in summer league, you learn new systems and your team’s philosophy; it’s a big offseason for a young player’s development.

I still worked with our trainers and coaches, but my summer was different. Instead of traveling to Vegas with the rest of the team for summer league, I stayed back in Brooklyn to do rehab with our trainers. Basically I was working to just get back to the point where I was physically, before I could even think about improving my game.

This summer is completely different. It’s a true offseason – a big opportunity. I have no restrictions in the weight room or on the court, which means I can do everything in my power to become a better overall player.

The bottom line is that I can use every day to get better – and I will.

I’m not the only one either. You may not be in the gym with us, but if you drive by HSS Training Center, the lights are on and I can guarantee someone is in there putting in work.

You probably expect to see a Brooklyn guy – and new dad – like Isaiah – congrats, Brother – in the gym, or a Yonkers guy like Sean Kilpatrick, but everyone is dropping in. Name any player on the roster and I’ve seen him in the gym. No one is slacking off, guys are here pushing each other like it’s the middle of the season, building that rhythm on the floor, making sure we’re all playing Brooklyn Nets basketball and growing together.

And if the vets on this team are sacrificing their vacation or time at home to grind in the gym, that sends a message to everyone else. The season ends; the work doesn’t.

We know we’re a better team than what we showed last season and we see what we’re building here in Brooklyn. The team that finished the year – that gritty group that played together and played hard – is the type of team we think we can be next season.

“The bottom line is that I can use every day to get better – and I will.”

Watching the playoffs is all the motivation we need right now. That’s where we want to be and it doesn’t happen overnight, but that’s why we put in the work every day.

I’m extremely grateful to be able to wake up every morning, put both feet on the ground and go train. I wake up sore, but it’s a different kind than it’s been the last few summers. It’s the feeling of putting in a hard workout the day before and I see the progress: day by day, week by week and month by month. We’ve got five months of this, plus summer league. When it’s all said and done and we’re back at Barclays Center next season, I want to look in the mirror and see a faster, stronger Caris LeVert.

So bring on the long, hot days in the gym; the drills, sprints, lifts and shots. Give me basketballs, icebags, repetition and time with my brothers. To the guys that don’t like training, enjoy the beach; you know where I’ll be.

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