NBA fans see the glamour of being in the league: The pyrotechnic introductions, the stylized press conferences, the red carpet parties.
They don’t see the midnight flights, the cold tub dunks to soothe aching muscles, the brutal lifting sessions in the offseason, and the physical and mental toll of surviving an 82-game regular season.
Rookie Travis Wear of the New York Knicks is experiencing all of it for the first time. After a successful collegiate career at UCLA, the 6’ 10” forward went undrafted before signing with the Knicks. He worked hard to earn that contract, maintaining a religious offseason training schedule with his twin brother (who currently plays in the NBA development league). We spoke with Wear about the physical requirements for surviving the long slog of the season, what it’s like to play one-on-one against a twin who’s just as good as you, and how to defend LeBron James.
What was your training regimen like in order to get into NBA shape?
I probably gained 10 pounds in the offseason. It was a lot of resistance training, a lot of stabilization work. My routine would be to go in every morning and work out from eight to 10 doing resistance stuff, weights, cables, and things like that. I would go in and take an hour lunch break, fuel up, and then go and do a core workout. That was basically my routine Monday through Friday.
You trained with your twin brother David. Do you guys push each other?
Absolutely. We don't talk a whole lot when we are working out just because it does get so competitive. If someone gets negative it starts a fight. Living next to someone and being next someone your whole life you know what buttons to push. He watches me and I watch him and if he does so many reps then I'm trying to hit so many reps; if he's hitting so many shots then I'm trying to hit so many shots. That's every day and every rep. With every single workout we do, it’s instinct at this point, to try and do better than your twin.
I can’t imagine what your one-on-one games are like.
When we were younger we played a ton up until middle school and then it just started getting too competitive; neither one of us wanted to lose. It would just end in a fight or a hard foul and we wouldn't get anywhere.
Physically, what do you have to work on to compete at the professional level?
A lot of core strength, a lot of hip strength, a lot of upper body strength. Everything up at this level is done with so much more force and explosiveness. These guys are so much stronger and more athletic then they were in college.
Playing so many games and traveling so much, how do you let your body recover?
I get in the cold tub and I get with the training staff to take care of the little injuries right away. Even with all the recovery that we do, there are games that you go into and your body just doesn't feel 100 percent, but you have to mentally wrap your head around going out there and playing 100 percent even if your body doesn’t feel great. I think that's something that's been a big adjustment from college. I mean we are 50 games in at this point; that’s almost two college seasons, I think that's something I didn't account for.
Can you describe what it felt like to walk onto the court for the first time back in September?
I was a little shocked; I was just trying to think about walking out on an NBA floor with NBA players and being able to hold my own. I didn't have any expectations, I just wanted to go out there and not make any mistakes.
Of course, in your second game they matched you up against LeBron where you held him to zero points. What was that experience like?
When I was checking in I came in for Melo and he was guarding LeBron. Basically everyone was already matched up and LeBron was the only guy without a defender so I was like, alright I guess I got him. I just tried to not think about who he was. I thought, “this is just a guy wearing a Cavs jersey; don’t let him score and you will be fine.”