The 2nd Secret of Basketball Championships



“Welcome to the hood,” Andrew said, grinning.

“Drew, you sure I’m good here man? Everyone is looking at me.”

“You’re with me. Relax.”

I glanced around, slunk down in his passenger seat. I had just turned 20 years old and suddenly wasn’t sure of my choice to accompany Andrew to his mom’s home in inner city Detroit. At any moment I thought bullets were going to pass through his car and rip through my body.

But there was good news (no, it wasn’t the Kevlar jacket I had on), I had just survived playing in St. Cecilia, one of the most famous basketball gyms and runs in the country. St. Cecilia was a cracker box gym with no space and a raucous, engaging crowd. It was my first time playing there. I was surprised I was even allowed on the court to be honest, because every time I touched the ball, or defended the ball, a certain murmur and electricity went through the stands and opposing players.

“Attack him.”  

“Score on him.”

“Go at him.”

“C’mon, get this dude off the court,” they laughed.

And yet, there was Andrew, playing alongside me, just grinning like a little kid in a candy store.

“Let’s go Huff– you have to earn everything here.”

The 2nd Secret to Winning Basketball Championships.

And this secret came to me decades after realizing and reflecting on the formative years of my college career and how they were about learning how to build relationships inside your tribe or team (even if you have to wear Kevlar from time to time), find your authentic self within your obsession and your tribe, and learn to go through psychological and physical pain or suffering with them to improve your skills.

First of all, it’s a simple idea or personal philosophy to build relationships with people that embrace the struggle to be the best within the same field or obsession as you. I loved the game of basketball, just like Andrew did. I saw Andrew suffering and struggling to be the best everyday. I saw where he came from and how hard it was for him. He didn’t have the resources I had, but yet, we both had our own struggles to get where we were.

Sports offers us an even playing field, where the athlete that can embrace the struggle and the pain, and can build skills for themselves. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are on the court.

Simple right?

Yet, playing at the St. Cecilia with my teammate pushed me out of my comfort zone and brought us closer together.

So focus for a second.  Ask yourself some questions.

  1. Who is in your basketball tribe?

  2. What kind of people do you need in your tribe to be successful with your obsession?

  3. Who will push your kid or program to develop their skills and learn to embrace struggle and create radical self-reliance on the court?


I can’t answer these questions for you, but I can help you ask yourself the right questions.

There won’t be many people willing to suffer with you, sweat with you, shoot with you, rebound with you, play 1 on 1 with you, and push you to be your best.  And maybe you (yeah, you kid) just like the idea of being a college basketball player. Maybe you just like the idea or vision of being on TV, or in the paper, or having success, but don’t actually enjoy the struggle to get there.

That’s okay if you don’t, but go find a struggle you actually enjoy.

The truth is, you have build a tribe around your obsession to win championships.

Your team has to stick together. Your team has to have strong bonds. And that happens on the micro level first. I learned quickly that building a tribe helped me improve at the game of basketball quicker than if I was trying to do it on my own. And so it begins, when you have a tribe around an obsession, you have quicker growth. And when you have quicker growth, you reach your potential and self-actualize your goals faster.

You have success faster and when the team has more success, you get more accolades. A team that acts as a tribe cherishes those moments together.




“Attack them Huff. Attack them every time you get the ball,” Andrew would whisper, as he snatched a rebound out of the air and passed it to me.

Then he would wave his hand, beckoning me forward– beckoning me to face my fears, to grow, and to stop being passive. But we all have to go through our own internal struggles, and to put it simply, I just wanted to fit in (and maybe that was because before I stepped on the court, I gawked and watched NBA great Jalen Rose score 60 points without sweating, only trash talking to everyone that guarded him).

“You’re not in Kansas anymore Huff.”

“No kidding,” I said back, trying to feign a smile, but eventually the game progressed and I started to forget I was a stranger there, what color my skin was, and where I was from. The game doesn’t care what color you are. The ball doesn’t go in the basket because of your religion or race.

Basketball is basketball.

So again, who is in your basketball tribe?


I left St. Cecilia gym feeling grateful, grateful Andrew took me into a place where legends were made and played and developed their basketball skills at a level most players never get to see. He took a chance on me and I appreciated it. But after playing at the St. Cecilia and visiting Andrew in his home, it started to make sense why he had won a state championship in Detroit East Catholic High School.

Andrew wasn’t afraid to be different. He wasn’t afraid to challenge what society had told him he had to be.

He had a community that never let him settle for anything but his best. He had a brother that pushed him and challenged him. That’s what parents and family and tribe is for– to push people to be the best versions of themselves, through struggles and suffering and all the stuff we don’t usually like. See, Andrew Mitchell was overlooked. People said he was too small. Too light. Too fragile. Kent State had been one of his only suitors.

In my eyes, every championship team I ever played on had players that were developing this obsession and culture within the team. And when that happens, magic happens. So the Kent State University Men’s Basketball tribe formed. This culture was passed down to us, and we passed it down to the next generation of incoming freshman.

And let me brag on Andrew for a second. In my opinion, he was one of Kent State’s greatest competitors and one of the Mid American Conference’s greatest basketball winners. I was lucky to have him as a teammate. He wasn’t the only teammate that pushed me, but he was the first at Kent State. And best of all, no one would tell you that our team would go onto win three MAC championships, three MAC tournament championships, and three NCAA tournament appearances (including our Elite Eight run), and break every Mid-American Conference team record ever made by some of MAC’s NBA greatest players and teams-– from Dan Marjele, Ron Harper, Bonzi Wells, Gary Trent, Wally Szczerbiak, Nate Thurmond and Earl Boykins.

And it all started with our obsession for basketball and building that brotherhood. That’s one of the biggest secrets to winning at anything in my book.

To your continued success,

Trevor Huffman

PS. Need some help with your basketball mind? Join the THBA tribe and start my Elite Mental Training course!

How Getting Cut From a Team Can Change Your Life


It was game point and it was the last scrimmage before cuts were going to be made. I was vying for a spot on the New York Knicks Summer League team. Don Chaney, the head coach, and his minion assistants watched, their clipboards in hand, analyzing and watching and judging every play.

I, on the other hand, was fighting through a screen set by the New York Knick’s number one draft pick; a six-foot-eight-inch, 275-pound monster power forward from Georgetown named Michael Sweetney.

Running into him was like trying to shoulder charge through a cinderblock wall.

I was chasing ex-Notre Dame guard Matthew Carroll, but as I jumped, something happened. My balance felt wrong. My body awkwardly twisted and turned as the crown of halogen stadium lights engulfed the ball. Suddenly, like a sniper gunshot hitting me out of nowhere, an invisible force wrenched my body sideways.

Crackkkk. Pop.

I crumpled to the wooden parquet and pounded my fist into the floor.

No. Please. Not again. This can’t be happening again. It just can’t.

I felt the pain throbbing up my calf, through my tibia and into my kneecap. It was searing hot. A hush fell onto the practice facility. It is that silent hush that every athlete knows– when an injury isn’t looking good.

I shut my eyes to stop the tears from squeezing out. I took some deep breaths and tried to visualize something else– something that made me feel good. A highlight reel came on, and abruptly, the pain was gone. The picture playing was from a few days before, when Charlie started coaching me.

“Hey, take two dribbles, not one, when you use that ball screen.”

It is Charlie Ward’s voice, the Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Florida State national champion quarterback, and current New York Knick starting point guard, standing behind me with his arms crossed.

I am grinning, wondering: why are you, Charlie Ward, an NBA point guard helping me with pick and rolls?


I nod and try to find words, but I’m speechless. Unexpectedly, Charlie grabs the ball from me, shifts his hips and dribbles off the chair. He is coaching me by showing me. He rises up for a 25-foot jumper and the ball swishes through the net.

“See. Two hard dribbles. You have to be a threat to score or you won’t get the spacing to make the flick pass to the big.”

He walks away. I smile again. This is a childhood dream come true.

“Thanks Charlie, I’ll keep that in mind. Hey Charlie, one more question–”

“TREVOR, Trevor… where does it hurt?”

The video reel suddenly stopped. I opened my eyes and the pain was back. There were faces and coaches circled around me. Charlie Ward was gone.

“Can you point to where it hurts?” the trainer asked, hovering over me. I had a sinking feeling that my ankle was broken.

But the real problem wasn’t my ankle, it was the slow realization that my first NBA summer league try-out was in serious jeopardy.

Just a few hours before, I was confident I was making this team. Charlie Ward helped me with pick and rolls. The New York Knick coaching staff was working with me, yelling at me, teaching me, and reaffirming to me keep doing what I was doing. And best of all, these coaches and players like Brendan Malone, Charlie Ward, Frank Williams, or Matthew Carroll, were pushing me to learn and grow as a point guard.

I tried to sit up. “It’s my ankle. I did it again, I think it’s broken,” I told the trainer.

“Let’s get you up and into the training room,” he said.

Some of the players asked if I was okay, then helped me limp with my arm around their shoulders to the Knicks training room. Matthew Carroll patted me on the back.

“Sorry man. Get better.”

It was his foot I landed on. He was one of the players I was competing with for a roster spot, but it wasn’t his fault. The moment replayed in my head. I was right there. I should have just let him shoot.

At the training table, I gingerly took off my shoe and NBA socks. The trainer slid a knife-like scissor device through my ankle tape and as he exposed my ankle, the swelling resembled an oversized grapefruit.

“Hmm. I’m gonna touch a few spots. Tell me where it hurts.”

He pressed his index finger into the swollen areas around my ankle and the pain made me wince and flinch at every spot. The trainer shook his head.

“Might be a break, might be a bad sprain. Hard to tell. Can you walk?”

I stepped down to the floor and it felt like someone was stabbing me with a dull #2 pencil between my ankle joint. I tried to take another step.

“Nope? Okay. Lay back down. We’ll take x-rays, but my bet is this a minimum of 4-6 weeks of recovery Trevor.”

He wrapped my ankle in three ice bags and saran wrap and jogged away. A few minutes later he arrived with assistant Coach Malone. Coach Malone walked up to me cautiously and slid his wiry glasses up his thick nose.

“How you feeling?”

“Been better.”

“Think you broke it?”

“Would be the fifth time since I was 16, so probably. I guess my family tree gave me bad ankles,” I said, trying to laugh.

“Well. I see. Trevor, it’s probably not the best time, but do you want the good news or the bad news?

“I’ll take the bad.”

“We have to cut you. With your recovery time, it leaves you with too little a window to get ready for summer league.”

“Well,” I said slowly, taking in the inevitable. I could feel the pain spread from my ankle bones to my chest cavity. “Coach, well, then what was the good news?”

“You had a roster spot if you hadn’t gotten hurt,” he said apologetically. “But get better. Keep working hard. We will have someone drop you for x-rays in Manhattan. Keep your head up.”

He handed me a summer league practice jersey with my name on the back, turned on his heels and walked away. But just like that, I had been cut from the team. This epiphany hit me hard and the sadness crept into my head, washing out any positive thoughts or vision of the future. No one was around. I was alone in a training room wondering what had happened, questioning why it happened to me, and ultimately, what would come next.

3 Empowering After-You-Get-Cut Mindset Questions:


Getting cut can be a powerfully negative experience, but if we really examine failure or adversity, it isn’t really as bad as you think. For one, getting cut is just an unfavorable result, just one small bad moment in time. A tiny negative blip on the journey of your life.  I like to call these negative moments micro failures. And if you pause and reflect with some self-awareness, these micro failures can ignite powerful questions that fuel future growth and success through practicing grit, discipline, and having a personal development blueprint.

Here are three empowering questions that you can ask yourself when you experience the oh-my-life-is-over-why-did-this-happen-to-me-scenarios.

  • Question Number One: How does failure make you feel? This is important because you need to be clear on how you feel about your micro failure. If you don’t care about failing then maybe it’s time to find something else to focus on. A quote that resonated with me is from Abe Lincoln: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.” Here’s a tip. If you truly feel sad, upset, or bitter, it’s time to turn these emotions into personalized, commitment-laced jet fuel.
  • Question Number Two: Am I doing everything I can to create my desired future? Okay, so you are not content with failure! Yes, let’s get after it! Don’t be a victim, be a victor! That’s the grit and passion we are talking about! Okay, I just got hyped with you, but now what?  Now is the time to look yourself in the mirror and get your Elite Mental Game right. Get you or your kid’s game plan in place. Now is the time to look into those motivated, ambitious eyes and ask yourself if you are truly doing everything you can.
  • Question Number Three: What are the 3 small things I can do to invest in myself every day for the next 3 weeks? As a 12-year ex-professional point guard, skills trainer, and coach, I guarantee parents and athletes can always do better. I’ve developed a personal coaching package with Travis Thomas, a performance and leadership specialist, that has worked with NFL, MLB, USA soccer, and elite youth within the prestigious IMG Sports Academy. For a limited time, reserve your one of twelves spots in our Elite Mind Athlete Training course, where Travis will work with parents and athletes to help define and educate you on being an Elite athlete really means.

Being a successful elite athlete requires an education in developing real grit, passion, and meaning.

This is the time to start down your new path with unwavering commitments and start developing your mental game with the help of someone that works with the best athletes on the planet.

From my years in high school to the pros, Travis mentored and helped me navigate the athlete’s world of micro failures, setbacks, and choosing to say yes to practicing grit.

As a kid, every time I experienced a micro failure or setback, I didn’t realize my response was just another opportunity to practice what the world’s leading psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth has recently described as one of the most underlooked indicators of success:


As a personal basketball coach and trainer, I’m watching and analyzing players, making recommendations for coaches on who stays and who goes. As middle schools, high schools or AAU programs like Northern Exposure or Northern Pride Sports Academy make cuts, it’s important to not let a micro failure get you down for too long if you don’t make it.

“Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. ‘I have a feeling tomorrow will be better’ is different from ‘I resolve to make tomorrow better.’ The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.” ~ Angela Duckworth

Angela’s developed a grit scale that figures out why people give up, or move on, or don’t stick with something to succeed. She interviewed and tested cadets at West Point during Beast Barracks (read this Beast Blog!) on their challenging 7-week transition from cadet to soldier.

Want to know your how much grit you have? Click here for the GRIT test.

Grit is defined by Merriam-Webster as the firmness of mind or spirit, the unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.

Yesterday, at the Northern Exposure boys try-outs I saw young boys compete with passion, yet inevitably, some of these players will get cut and they will be forced to ask themselves questions and this is happening all across the country as basketball season starts.

Players getting cut is happening all across the country as basketball season starts.

Getting cut, in a way, is the start of that discussion, not the end of your goals and dreams.

My sports advice on getting cut comes from a place of empathy– don’t let the obstacle stop you from growth. 

Being cut is an obstacle. For parents. For athletes. For anyone getting hit in the side of the head with failure. It’s as simple as that, but the way isn’t to turn around and quit. The way is to climb, go around, adapt, and commit to a super-charged plan so you can jump right over it.

I mentioned my colleague Travis who worked for IMG Academy as a performance and leadership specialist and is now the current author of Getting Unstuck: Live Yes And.  But I wanted to officially introduce him now and give athletes a chance to start the discussion on developing an elite athlete mind.

What does that even mean? Watch his video below.

Who is Travis Thomas?

From Travis:

We have all heard that sports is “mental.” We use the word when it comes to describing those players that are clutch performers, avoid distractions, embrace pressure, and know how to overcome adversity. But how do you teach these mental skills?

Travis Thomas has been teaching these mental and leadership skills to youth, college, and professional athletes for years. Now you have the opportunity to work with Travis on a one-to-one basis. In these sessions, Travis will help you and your child understand the tools for developing a high-performance mindset, on and off the court.

As a result, your child will learn:

* Playing with Purpose and Motivation

* Ideas for Being Able to Perform in the Zone

* Tuning Out Distractions

* Embracing Pressure

* Developing Grit Through Learning to Say Yes




Make your mind Elite. Travis has worked with the best in the field and I’ve always been a huge fan of investing time, energy, and money into the areas that give you the most meaning. This is one of those times to say yes.

If you aren’t interested, remember to keep asking those questions, find your grit, and stay inspired.


Trevor Huffman


An excerpt from Angela Duckworth’s Grit:“Indeed, over the past forty years, study after carefully designed study has found that the children of psychologically wise parents fare better than children raised in any other kind of household.

“… about ten thousand American teenagers completed questionnaires about their parents’ behavior. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, social class, or parents’ marital status, teens with warm, respectful, and demanding parents earned higher grades in school, were more self-reliant, suffered from less anxiety and depression, and were less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.”

Hey gritty parents, listen up! Travis Thomas and our Elite Mind Athlete Training will get you and your athlete get on track for winning the mental game that most athletes fail to master.  Whether it is creating a plan for the big picture or analyzing the small picture to begin a more respectful, supportive conversation for their athletic passions AND have high, demanding standards… Elite Mind Athlete Training will help!

Life After Pro Sports: Athletes on Commitments versus Goals

My phone was vibrating as the electricity shocked me. I dropped the neon green Ryobi power drill on the floor with a loud thud. I hadn’t mastered this yet, I thought. Add another one to the list.

0e954424b676bbf2d2e1a18d40d85755Thankfully, my friend Charlie was calling, interrupting me from the flow of 110 volts of electricity flowing through my body. 

“Charlie!” I answered, shaking my free hand.

“Hey Huff, are you gonna be late to our workout today or what?”

“Yeah, so what if I am?” I retorted sarcastically. “What do you want? I’m trying to work here!”

“No seriously, you gonna be late or not?”

(I am blushing as I write this).

I paused before answering. I had a list of excuses and reasons for being late already rolling through my head… I  have to drive 40 minutes to get to the gym… and I have to make sure I’m done getting all the new wall outlet covers on… and lastly, now that I’m not a pro basketball player, who cares if I work out.

Well, besides Charlie that is.

But my excuses weighed on my conscious. I knew that traitorous voice as a pro basketball player. It’s that internal voice spouting off every reason to procrastinate and giving you every excuse to not stay committed. Every athlete hears what the War of Art  author Stephen Pressfield calls RESISTANCE. This foot-dragging voice fears becoming the highest version of itself. It manipulates you. It cheats you. It dupes you into believing it is actually you making the decision to delay commitment, discipline, and your goals from happening.

“Well, Charlie, that’s a good question– a fair question. My being tardy isn’t something I have put a lot of thought into lately. Plus, since I give you all my workout knowledge for free and that’s priceless… I can be a little late right?” I joked.

“Yeah, about that,” he chuckled. “Can you be on time today? I have a family, a schedule to stick too. Can you make a commitment to be there and ready to go at 5:00 p.m?”

Fall 2016: Trevor Huffman Traverse City Basketball Training-Camps-Workouts

In the Life and Minds of Pro Athletes

I heard it in his voice this time. He meant business. Charlie was a close friend of mine, a financial advisor that had just become a father for the first time, and I knew driving 40 minutes to work out with him wasn’t a valid excuse for my tardiness. 

Instantly, his question got me thinking about goals versus commitments and how it related to my life before and after basketball.  I knew too many people that couldn’t transfer commitment to their lives and got stuck in their own self-made hamster wheels.

I didn’t want RESISTANCE to win. I didn’t want to look back a year from now and regret not committing to something that I knew was good for me. I didn’t want the internal traitor to spread into other areas of my life.

Another dream gone.

Another goal missed.

“I know, you are right Charlie. I was never late to practices or my own commitments with basketball, why am I late to our workouts now?”

I paused and thought about my current workout goals.

I had none. At least no concrete ones that I had written down on paper.

“Well, it is a long drive,” I said. “And I am doing things for work that sometimes push me back. Errands. Workers. Getting electrocuted, you know, the perfect day–“

“So what! Can’t you just drop it? Can’t you just make a commitment to the workouts and not be late?”

I waited before I answered. I knew this conversation wasn’t like most of our conversations.

“Yes.” I said, pausing. “I can commit to that.”

As I said it, I knew I was in trouble. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I knew the difference between committing to something and just saying, “my goal is…”

Goals aren’t enough.


Committing to something is serious to me. Plus, I was busy with my new life after basketball. Trying to become a businessman. Trying to sail the Caribbean. Learning to write. Building an inspirational website. Taking Spanish classes. Training other friends. Teaching and running my basketball academies.

I thought back to my youth. I had written down Titanic-sized goals, but my commitments were even bigger. My commitments to basketball and training were probably viewed as insane to people on the outside looking in, but not sticking to my commitment to touch a basketball twice a day felt like I was deserting my team when they needed me most.

And who cared really cared if I didn’t touch a basketball twice day, every day?

No one but me. And I cared more than anything.

Touching that basketball was my daily commitment to help me reach my goals of being a freshman on varsity, to becoming First-Team All-State, to playing Division One basketball in college, and eventually becoming an NBA or European professional player.

I knew beating the RESISTANCE inside me took:


Rain or shine. Hurt or healthy. Sad or mad. Traveling or at home, I touched that ball.

But now what? What happens after careers end or new transitions begin? How do you wield the power of personal commitment in your daily life?

For example, you could say, “I want to be a millionaire.”

Well then, okay, what are the daily commitments you’ll make every day to ensure that happens?

You could say, “I want to have a forty-inch vertical.”

What are the daily commitments to weight lifting, jumping, and plyometric training you will do every day?

You could say, “I have the goal to be a straight-A student.”

Yeah, I know this one. You get home and your homework isn’t done and you procrastinate. You play video games. You call your friends. Commitments don’t procrastinate. Commitments don’t wait. Commitments don’t whine.

They just get it done.


Committing to an ambitious goal calls for you to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I got you today commitment.”

That’s how you build trust with yourself.

That’s how you become All-State.

That’s how you play college basketball.

That’s how you become a straight-A student or a millionaire, by caring enough to stick to the small details of doing the work.

So maybe I need to replicate what I did as a seventh grader when I wrote my goals and commitments on notecards and stuck it on my ceiling, my bathroom mirror and my school folders.

These notecards read:

“Play professional basketball.”

“Touch a basketball twice a day, every day.”

I knew if I could commit to just touching a ball twice a day, I would start shooting, dribbling, and playing. I knew I would start sweating and want to improve once I acted upon just touching a ball.

The commitments adapted as I got older– to wake up and practice before school started… to lift weights like a mad man… to play 1 on 1 with older kids or do dribble drills at lunch time… or to challenge my own friends to play me in 2 on 1.

I learned and replicated how Pistol Pete Maravich carried and dribbled his basketball with him everywhere. But I stayed true to my commitment to not only touching a basketball twice a day but to doing more than I thought I was capable of.

Yeah, unfortunately, people stared at me when I wore Strength Shoes to school.

“You are crazy, kid,” they’d say.


But guess what– I was committed too.


365 days straight.

Like Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

There is no trying to do a commitment. There is only doing or not doing. In a book Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, two Stanford professors (Ryan Babineaux, John Krumboltz) taught a class on committing to doing, failing, and doing it again. They said,  “Happy and successful people tend to spend less time planning and more time acting. They get out into the world, try new things, and make mistakes, and in doing so, they benefit from unexpected experiences and opportunities.”

There is a difference between setting a goal and actually committing to it day after day. You will be acting on commitments and possibly making mistakes, but moving forward, growing, and experiencing the world rather than thinking about it.

As I thought about my goals (and commitment blunders) as a 37-year old man, I heard something on the other end of the line. Charlie was still waiting.

“Oh, hey man, you there? Sorry. I was thinking about something.”

“Yeah, no crap,” he laughed. “So, see you at five?”

Before answering, I reflected on my life. My happiest and most joyful moments come when I’m around people I enjoy. When I’m part of a team. When I’m helping others succeed at something. When I’m sweating and pushing myself, trying to be the best version of myself. 

So why wouldn’t I commit to something that brings me joy and happiness? If commitments are what help me reach my goals and my goals are in line with my values and vision of what and who I want to become, why would I not commit?

If commitments are the life force of professional point guards, millionaires, maestros or savants and success stories, if commitments to never skip your workouts, to save and invest 10% of every payday, to be on time for practice, for workouts, for meetings, for appointments, for work, for anything and everything in life that gives you meaning…

Why let RESISTANCE win by not acting upon new commitments?

An epiphany hit me: if I can’t commit to being on time for something that gives me meaning, what does that say about me?

“Charlie,” I said.


“I’ll be ready to go at five– on the dot.”

Stay inspired. — Trevor Huffman

PS. One of my favorite quotes that will inspire us onwards to hunting our new dreams. Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

My Best Sports Blog – September 2016: Courage and Beating Lebron James




Beating Lebron- My Best Sports Blog for 2016



When the King, Lebron James rips through and drives left, there is one thing that every basketball player should have: courage.

And so it begins. My professional basketball career was a dream that I worked hard to achieve and playing Lebron James was proof of my courage paying off. Because getting paid to do what you love doesn’t happen overnight.

Not for me, not for Lebron, not for anyone.

So ask this: What does the basketball world need from you? What can you give it? How do you get there? What do you need to really make dreams come true?


Here’s a quote I love from Jeff Goins: “Successful people and organizations don’t succeed in spite of failure. They succeed because of it. … The world can be cruel. It’s nobody’s responsibility to make your dream come true.

Let me repeat that. It’s not my responsibility, or anyone else’s responsibility to make your dream come true. By taking responsibility, you will attract people that will give you help along the way.

My off-season basketball training workouts and having the courage to completely give myself to a basketball workout plan, to fail against better players, essentially allowed me to succeed by learning new skills and adapting my game by attracting coaches, trainers, and peers that wanted the same thing.

Oops, I forgot, Lebron is going by me!

“Help, help–” I yell.

Nene Hilario steps over to slow him down and I slip in front of Romeo Travis for the dump down pass.

Lebron is already anticipating this, slows his attack, keeps his head up and glides a ball into the spot where I was moving out of– an overhead pass that flips out of his hand like a pebble from a trebuchet.

The ball slams into the pulled back bleachers.

Basketball Theory 101 (with Lebron James):

Rule 1: Move to open spot for Lebron James, or in the line of sight with the driver, and give him a target.

Rule 2: If you don’t do Rule 1, tell Lebron, “My Bad.”

Not that I’m complaining at this point, it’s our ball and our defense is holding on for stops. I love playing help-side, watching the ball and man move, being ready to drop down for an easy steal or deflection to help my teammate that is beat off the dribble.

My coach in high school, Dennis Starkey (Michigan Hall of Famer) used to call these championship plays.

“Just because your beat, doesn’t mean your out of the play,” Coach Starkey would yell.


My Best Sports Blog – September 2016


Since high school, I was never ranked, never recruited, and no one thought I could play division one basketball. To get better, I knew I needed to find players that were better or higher ranked than me.  I went to Flint, Michigan. I went to Detroit. I went to Grand Rapids. I found talented players and competed against them.

As I got to the pros, I was competing against players like Lebron James, or Nene Hilario or Stephon Marbury, or Amare Stoudamire, or Jason Kidd, or Leandro Barbosa, or Penny Hardaway, or Shawn Marion, and suddenly, I realized how important my basketball workouts are.

Well planned basketball workouts prepare you for the season. They prepare you to become a hard worker, a better athlete, and a better person and player on and off the court. I am always teaching players at my basketball academies that it’s okay to compete like hell and lose.

We all have bad moments, bad workouts, or get nervous, or choke, or lose big games.

But real competitors just keep coming at you. They keep moving forward with courage, stick to their basketball workout plan and don’t quit.

Playing against Lebron James makes you realize how important your basketball workouts are, how focused and purposeful you have to be in your training to have any success.

Suddenly, D2 passes me the ball and I dribble it up into a drag screen with Nene. He slides to the hoop effortlessly, sucking in the help side like a vacuum. I kick it for a three in the corner.

We are winning three points to one.

As I’m running back on defense, an epiphany hits me, Nene Hilario is basically the Brazilian dude Blanca from the video game Street Fighter. He is flying around, rotating, blocking shots, doubling Lebron on the post, and making guys miss shots.


I love the way Nene plays and holds himself: his huge white grin, his bad English, and his positive energy. I’m realizing everything is happening faster than normal due to Lebron and Nene being on the court. Every decision is a half second faster. Every loose ball is in danger. Every offensive rebound is a possible tip dunk.

With these guys on the court, no one is safe.


Lebron sprints past me dribbling the ball. It’s remarkable. He is so damn fast, I honestly think he can beat Usain Bolt. But Nene keeps finding ways to get in front of him. As Nene sucks up another rebound like a gargantuan troll and whips an overhead pass out to my younger brother, something bad happens.

Unfortunately for D2, it’s slightly behind him.

D2 glances up and does something no one should ever do.

He steps in front of an oncoming Lebron James and waits.

Now, maybe this was from his years and years of playing me in one on one and learning in the fiery forges of failure how to give up your body for the success of your team.

Goodbye, young brother. Oh, how I’ll miss you.



Courage in Sports: The How of Courage in your Basketball Training

Hearing Lebron hit my brother was probably much like the sound a pancake makes when it’s dropped from a skyscraper. As Lebron is dragging him between his legs trying to slow down, my brother crumples and falls limp onto the ground.

I admire that about my brother. I admire his ability to put his body on the line to win. It’s what makes athletics and competing fun. Not everyone is born for this. We practice this quality of courage, day after day, and when we are sore, beat up, and broken down, we decide to get up and put our body on the line again.

Real athletes don’t realize how hard it is for normal people to do this, how much courage it takes to eat right, recover right, and find a way to train or practice again the next day. The beauty of sports is the mental game it takes to be successful.

If you aren’t having success with basketball, maybe you are approaching it the wrong way.

“The more we focus on solving other people’s problems, the more successful we will be.” ~ Chris Guillebeau

Maybe a question you can ask is: How can I make others look brilliant on and off the court like Lebron James?

I look over as Lebron tries to peel my younger brother up.

“You good?” Lebron asks. “C’mon man, get up.”

D2 shuts his eyes for a moment and then opens them again.

“I’m good–I’m good… they called a foul right?”

Lebron grins and we all start chuckling.

Nene is shaking his head, saying something in Portuguese and then we inbound the ball and are off and running again. It’s fun to run the point against Lebron. I try to attack with him on the strong side because Lebron helping from the weak side makes any pass a possible turnover.





Nene Hilario isn’t picking and popping or shooting threes. He is rim running and rim dunking. Running a pick and roll with Nene Hilario is like throwing a basketball into orbit and watching it get sucked into a black hole.

Which is so damn fun.

I mean, it makes me feel like a real life John Stockton. I mean every pass I can get within his vicinity is caught. Then after he catches it, he spins or bull charges his way to the rim and dunks or finishes or steamrolls every man, woman, and child in his path.

Nothing makes it out of Blanca’s electric slide, not even Lebron James.




We start building a lead. D2 is playing solid defense but hasn’t shot yet. I keep yelling at him to be a threat on offense (side note, if you can’t be a threat on offense, you are being selfish, it just makes it harder for the other four guys to do their thing).

The first game goes to us. The second game goes to us. The third. The fourth. The fifth. And fuming, focused Lebron hasn’t left the court. He keeps putting new teams together that may fit well with him.

Until game six starts. We are getting tired and Lebron is still flying up and down the court like a hyper gargantuan albatross. The momentum is changing and we can’t keep up. The King flies in from the weak side and dunks it with two hands and Nene, our defensive stalwart, puts his head down.

No wide white toothed smile this time.

No Blanca electric slide.

Our defensive lanes are opening up and they start rattling off easy point after easy point. That momentum that had been ours is now gone. I try to double Lebron in the post on game point and he spins by me on the baseline, bumping me off like a monster truck in the bumper car ride at the fair.

Earlier that week, I had just gotten up 275 pounds on the bench press, something I had been focusing on in my Tim Grover sports performance workouts.

I grab his arm as he takes off and he just takes me with him.

And one dunk to end the game.

The game is over and Lebron beats his chest to an imaginary crowd. He loves winning. He is a competitor. He keeps coming at you. Win or lose. And even better, he wants to win every moment of every game.

Lebron’s body, power, and athleticism are something out of a sci-fi movie. He is like playing NBA2k with the turbo button.

I feel honored to have played with him.

“Good game Bron,” I hear my brother say. Lebron daps him with a big fist pound.

“You all right?”

“Yeah, you rung my bell, but I’m fine.”

I dap a few of the players.

I dap Lebron.

I walk off the court and dap my teammates. I am already analyzing what we could have done differently. Maybe we should have forced him middle on the double? Maybe we should have fouled them in their open court situations to stop their transition?

Maybe, at this young age, Lebron is already starting to understand and analyze winning, how to train, workout, and compete. Lebron is an old basketball soul in one of the world’s most athletic bodies ever created.

I realize I’m staring directly at him and shake my head.

Man, he is so friggin’ good.

“Good work fellas, come back again,” Lebron says.

“Thanks for having us,” I say.

King James flashes his smile and walks back onto the court. “Who’s on next?” he yells.

I will never play against Lebron James again, but I know beating him felt good. I jog over to my younger brother.

“You okay?”

“I’m good.”

“You have fun?”

D2, my younger brother, the first player I ever trained and coached, grins as sweat drips down his forehead.

“Of course.”

“Well, why didn’t you shoot?”

“We were winning– and like you always said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Touche D2. Touche.

It takes courage to know what your team needs to win. It takes courage to show up day after day. It takes courage to fail, pivot your strategy, and keep moving forward. But day after day, your courage strengthens, your resolve strengthens, and ultimately, so does your game.







Trevor Huffman Basketball: 2016 Sports Blog

The plane door closes and I’m off again. I move to my window seat. 32D. A fat man in a suit with chubby fingers texts a client and I slide past him. I’m flying to a new country. My wanderlust has struck again. It is the Caribbean this time. Costa Rica. I want to invest in real estate. After 20 years of serious f’ing basketball, serious f’ing training, I’m trying to start the next stage of my life.

I have these ideas that start to take form and I must figure them out. I figure the Caribbean is as good a place as any to start, but really, what am I doing?

I must deliberately practice exploring things I’m interested in. I have the rumblings of new dreams and I don’t always know what and how to start.

See, with basketball, I knew what to do day in and day out. I knew what my basketball workouts should look like, feel like, and what the point of it all was. I can look at a player  and usually in 15 minutes of training or competition, I can tell you what they are missing to be successful at the next level.


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What’s after basketball?


I analyzed basketball my whole life. Movement. Basketball workouts. Skill training. How to play better. Anything and everything basketball.

And now basketball is over.

But is it? The journey taught me something and like a great mystery, I want to uncover it, sniff out the truth. I want to do something that I’m equally passionate about, much like I felt when I was playing professional basketball. I don’t want to sell stuff I’m not passionate about. I don’t want to get fat and sit on a phone talking to buyers and sellers.

That’s why I built this site. I figured having cool pictures, pro athletes, and honest sports conversations would bring the bazillions of people that want to find out what you do after you play professional basketball for 12 years in Europe, the NBA (hey, a month counts right?), and beyond.

Truthfully, maybe you will find my journey around Europe, traveling, sailing around the Caribbean, training hungry basketball players or any of the dreams that I continue to go after post basketball, interesting.

Or maybe I’ll learn something from you, just like you learned something from me.

Please stay tuned!



Life After Basketball: 2016 Best Athlete -Sports Blog

Give me the key.

I don’t have it. There are days when I want my own space, but then again, where is that space supposed to be. I have lived from a backpack for so long it almost feels suffocating to be stationary for too long. My meditation practice doesn’t always help, and I lose sight of my practices, internal and external with the onslaught of new events, booze, and sleeping in.

I feel guilt for not knowing at times and remind myself that my path is one of creation. Could I get a job? Yes. I could. I could work for someone else and make money, but what is the point of that– I am surviving without mindless jobs.

Having a stable location would possibly help me find out if getting a 9-5 job would help me understand that the key is inside me, but I believe the real issue is existing between non-purpose and true purpose.

The key is probably so simple. It is probably just sitting there invisible right in front of me, with every breath of gratitude and awareness, yet I am programmed and conditioned to not turn it.



Life After Basketball? More of the stuff that my basketball path taught me.


The illusion of money and happiness and suffering spin me around and I prefer to feel happiness and gratitude, so why is it that I feel suffering or pain or sadness every morning before the day starts and I can begin anew?

Basketball has created a path for me. It has cleared away fiscal debt and years of success and identity, but now as I look behind me I see a forest I already walked through and in front of me, I see a desert I don’t know in which direction to walk.

A mirage shakes in the distance and my legs stumble. I go back to doing things that make me recognize my old self. A coaching lesson here. A basketball tip here. I smile and think of my old self and feel brave and stupid for trying to move on from something I was.

But the work became heavy. It became hard on my body. My ankles cracked and swelled every morning. I had won everything I wanted to win.

What else is there? Money? The challenge of being a basketball player?

The betrayal of one professional European club lead to the idea of retirement and logically it made sense. One day I want to run with my kids, I want to climb mountains, I want to let go.

Letting go isn’t easy, starting over isn’t easy, but I know it starts with having the key and turning it as often as you can.