Joe Abunassar Rumors
The fog rolls off the hills in California’s San Fernando Valley, creating a soupy chill on the sprawling campus of Chaminade College Preparatory School in West Hills. It’s late May, and Mudiay sits against a wall outside the gym, legs splayed, head buried in an iPhone. He shuttles between Chaminade and Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village, running through basketball drills with noted trainer Joe Abunassar at Chaminade and strength training at PSP. Abunassar says the injured ankle has healed—Mudiay gets therapy on it three days a week as a precaution—and his drills are aimed at maximizing the player’s superior size. Pick-and-rolls. Dribble handoffs. Post moves. In fewer than three months Mudiay has packed on 11 pounds of muscle, and his single-leg explosion has improved by 31%. “When he gets past a defender, his body becomes an asset,” says Abunassar. “Look at Chris Paul. He gets a defender on his butt, and he can steer him. He shortens the distance to the basket. Emmanuel has that potential.”
Mudiay, who can speak French, understands how to adjust to new cultures. He went from being born in the Congo to living in the states for high school and then heading to China to play professionally. Even though he sprained his ankle there and missed most of the season—he’s been healed for a few months—he stuck out his contract and put in the rehab and shooting work. “One of my clients is Yi Jianlian, and he played with Emmanuel in China,” Joe Abunassar said. “The first thing he said to me about Emmanuel was, ‘He’s a good kid and a hard worker and a really good player.'”
Mudiay has been likened to John Wall. Abunassar had a more specific comparison: the size and point guard skills similar to Chauncey Billups, with the athleticism and scoring mentality of Baron Davis. “He’s a big guard, great vision, athletic,” an East general manager said. “I think he’s going to be a really special player.”
Whether in shape or out of it, we do know that Joe Abunassar is going to hold a one-week boot camp at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, Nevada next week, and that should help some veterans get themselves back into playing shape.
Abunassar’s goal is to help players improve in all areas, from their on-court performance to their strength and conditioning, even their nutrition. “It actually created a little niche for me because I was one of the few basketball guys that knew about the strength, the conditioning, and kind of created this whole program to grow it this way,” Abunassar said.
Billups chose Colorado instead. Abunassar hooked up with Billups in earnest through a connection of relationships with Billups’ agent, Andy Miller, and current Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, who was a basketball manger with Abunassar years earlier at Indiana under head coach Bob Knight. “It used to be me and the ball,” Abunassar said of his dream of working with players. “And now we have about 30 people, from strength coaches to trainers to physical therapists, rebounders, ball feeders, defenders, and I have five or six really good skill coaches here. It’s grown a lot. In (the past) five years, we’ve grown a lot.”