In college basketball, most road trips last a few days, or maybe a week or so if you're dealing with a long preconference tournament. So while top-level basketball players are used to AAU tours and the like, they're not always familiar with a long jaunt from hotel to hotel, all the while preparing endlessly for opponents and exhausting all possible pay-movie options on hotel televisions. It can be a grueling, mentally taxing experience.
On Sunday, the Lakers completed a 12-day, six-game road trip through the Midwest and Northeast, their first lengthy sojourn of the season. (It was technically seven games, but the first one against the Clippers hardly counts).
As noted by Phil Jackson before Sunday's win in Toronto, the Lakers' two rookies had some trouble adjusting to life on the road. From Kevin Ding at The Orange County Register:
I guess that should make me sympathetic to the Lakers' rookies, Derrick Caracter(notes) and Devin Ebanks(notes), when Phil Jackson was riffing Saturday about their confusion on this long trip. Jackson told stories about how Caracter ordered a $45 pitcher of orange juice for himself the other day and how Ebanks has eaten nothing but cheesesteaks for the past four days.
Perhaps Phil is exaggerating here; I don't fully understand how the Zen Master works, but open mockery could feasibly be a motivational tactic. I hope to death he's not, though, because this may be my favorite random story of the season so far.
Let's start with Caracter's juice, which apparently came in a giant tub if it costs $45. What could possibly have made it cost so much? Was it squeezed right in front of him to ensure maximum freshness? Did they mix in juice from a filet mignon to class things up a bit?
Then there's Ebanks' cheesesteak addiction, which must have reached a head in the run-up to Friday's game in Philadelphia. Do you think Ebanks went to Geno's or Pat's? Maybe he ate both back-to-back and then decided which was better!
These tales of lunacy make you wonder what happens near the end of the Spurs' rodeo trip or the Bulls' circus trip. It's easy to imagine Derrick Rose(notes) carrying an entire suitcase full of Pixie Stix from hotel to hotel, or Matt Bonner(notes) bringing his own meats and cheeses everywhere because he doesn't trust hotel room-service sandwiches.
Please, beat writers, bring us more stories of road-trip insanity. May we continue to find joy in these athletes' daily drudgery.
- Phil Jackson