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Shattered Dreams: My D-League Tryout

This is why bloggers shouldn’t be allowed to try out for the D-League.

I made it less than 30 minutes into my tryout before I pulled up limping and had to call it a day; it was barely enough time to work up a sweat.

Even though the tryout didn’t go as planned, it was a great experience as the coaching staff for the Idaho Stampede did a great job of making me feel welcome. Even as I was hobbled on the sidelines, the coaching staff made their way over to check on my status and crack some jokes to lift my spirits.

Before the tryouts began I had the pleasure of chatting with assistant coach Randy Livingston. After playing 10 years in the NBA, he decided to hang up his jersey for the final time after last season and has moved a couple seats down the bench as an assistant coach this season.

Livingston talked with me about his playing career in the NBA, why he decided to pursue a career coaching and why he chose the D-League over the NCAA:

I also had the pleasure of recording an interview with Bryan Gates. Unless you’re a basketball enthusiast, you probably don’t know his name which is a shame because his team enjoyed an 18 game win streak last season and he has been named Coach of the Year in the D-League the past two seasons. Coach Gates has a vast amount of basketball knowledge and it was a pleasure taking part in – perhaps observe would be a more accurate assessment – one of his tryouts. When’s some NBA team going to give him a call up?

I talked with Coach Gates about what the D-League means to him, why he’s holding tryouts in Toronto and a couple of other topics:

Things were going smoothly and I was having a blast until disaster struck:

To prove that I actually suited up for this tryout, I’ve included 10-minutes worth of shell drills the coaching staff ran the players through. If you’re a young player trying to learn something new, these drills are a great things to incorporate into your training.

A big thank you goes out to the Idaho Stampede for letting me live out a dream. Growing up I always dreamed about playing out for a professional basketball team, but being vertically challenged and having the speed of a turtle I never thought I’d even have the opportunity to tryout. Thanks to the great coaching staff on the Stampede I had a blast trying out for the D-League despite my limited time on the hardwood.

I also want to thank Jay Watt for being the man behind the camera today. He volunteered his day to drive into the city with me and sit on the sidelines recording what went down while I had fun taking parts in drills and scrimmages.

For those of you concerned with how my leg is doing, my foot is now a nice shade of royal blue but I’m now able to walk with only a mild Snoop Dogg strut. With some more icing each night after work and proper stretching I’m hoping to run in the Toronto Zoo 5 km race next weekend.

Ryan McNeill
Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.
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  • RockKing

    Bummer Ryan! But hey, at least now you can say you tried. And, it gave you a great post with some great interviews (even if they are tough to hear over the chatter, bouncing balls, and squeaking shoes). Great post all around!

  • thatguysweets

    Great post Ryan, I was there as well and was somewhat envious you were putting it down for the bloggers. I have a pic of you sitting with the big boys, http://allballsdontbounce.blogspot.com/2008/10/nba-dream-starts-here.html.

    Hope you’re feeling better.

  • Brian

    What kind of guys were there at the try-out? Any local players?

  • Ryan McNeill

    Thanks Rock! I still have a bitter taste in my mouth because of how things turned out but it was a great experience. I just wish I could have stayed healthy.

    TGS – Phantom injury? I wish! I’ve been hobbling around work all week and my ankle is really swollen still. I’ll be sure to reach out for a game of hoops at some point.

    Brian – I didn’t spend too much time getting to know the players. Instead I focused on the drills and talking with the coaching staff. Sorry.

  • Hoops Addict » Blog Archive » Buzzer Beaters - 10/11

    […] I also want to thank All Balls Don’t Bounce for posting a picture of me during my D-League tryout Rest assured that once I’m back to full strength I’m taking him up on his offer to a […]

  • Chris Clarke

    Ryan! I just got around to reading this and checking your videos out, and I must say you deserve a ton of credit for even showing up to try out against some of these guys. Credit to you for the effort buddy!

    And a calf contusion is not good news. I had a deep thigh contusion in high school almost 10 years ago that STILL gives me trouble today when I run for extended periods of time. Seriously dude, I hope you healed up and didn’t run that 5K!

    Hopefully you will be back next year for these tryouts! Peace

  • Ryan McNeill

    Thanks, Chris! I’m learning that a calf contusion isn’t a “basketball boo-boo” like I had originally thought. I was off work this week with an air cast as the thing isn’t healing up. I went in for an ultrasound this week and they confirmed my achilles and calf muscle are attached but there’s way too much inflammation in my leg. Now I have to head in for an MRI to get a closer look.

  • Terrance Harvey

    What kind of drills did the coaches made the players that were trying out do! Did the players in the tryouts play 5 on 5 games after they did the shell drills?