Rod Benson’s Pacers Training Camp Diary

Rod Benson has the same dream as every basketball player: to make the NBA. He has played in Summer League and attended multiple training camps in the association, but thus far has only played professionally in the D-League (where he was an All-Star in 2007) and overseas.

He has become somewhat of an star in the basketball blogosphere, however. He writes his own blog Too Much Rod Benson, has contributed to Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie and even wrote a feature article for SLAM magazine.

This summer, he went through training camp (and went to China) with the Pacers. He reportedly played pretty well but didn’t make the cut. He also was barred from blogging while he was employed by the team. They understandably didn’t want him talking publicly about things that were going on behind the scenes.

But fortunately, he did record his time with the Pacers. And now he is posting his training camp diary on his blog.

Here is a good passage from Rod Benson’s second entry. We pick up on the day he found out he would not be going to camp with the Suns and instead had to fly from Phoenix to San Francisco to Minnesota to Indianapolis in one day in order to take his physical and try to achieve his dream of playing in the league.

I took my seat on the Northwest Airlines flight, once again realizing that forgot to do my coddamn frequent flier miles. It would be ok if I could just go right to sleep on the plane. Of course that didn’t happen.

The guy next to me proceeded to tell me all about how we were on the “safest airplane in the sky.” He told me all about what made this plane better and safer, including its ability to fly on only one engine. Obviously, when we was told about how safe this plane was, that some person never told him about the rules of Jinx and “knock on wood.” I was just picturing some fool on the deck of the Titanic, boasting about how safe that boat was, also ignoring the possibility of Jinx. I didn’t sleep a wink after that.

Tired, I deplaned and boarded my next flight in Minneapolis. Once again, I didn’t sleep a wink. This was due to the ridiculously small size of the plane, and the flight attendant who managed to run his cart right into my left knee like it was a Pinata, eagerly expecting assorted Jolly Rancher flavors to come bursting out. I was too tired to get agitated.

There was no rest when I arrived in Indianapolis. I was picked up and wooshed to various doctors offices and clinics around town. The standard physical doesn’t take much time or effort, but the NBA requires an EKG and a stress test. Basically, I had to run on a treadmill at an increasing rate of speed for 15 minutes nonstop until my heart rate reached a certain BPM. Keep in mind that I had to do this without any sleep for over 24 hours, and that I was still in the same v-neck t-shirt, Cal shorts, and Vans that I had been wearing during my half-walk to the Arena in Phoenix the day before. I pretty sure I looked like a MESS for the entire ordeal.

Sweaty, tired, smelly, and exhausted, I was finally taken Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indy. It was now about 4PM locally – my 28th straight hour awake. I shook the hands of a ton of people I didn’t know, and who I’m sure judged me to be the black version of The Scarecrow from “The Wizard of Oz.” I can’t blame them. I looked about as depleted as the water hole from Madagascar 2.

Finally, after signing a few papers, I was taken to the Embassy Suites in downtown Indianapolis, and layed my head down. The longest day of my life was officially over.

He says he will be putting up one entry a week, so we’ll check back shortly. Until then, enjoy this video of Rod Benson dunking on some 7’3″ guy over in Korea, where he is now playing.

May the Boom Tho be with you.

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