Jay Hernandez is the head coach of the Greensboro Swarm of the G League and an assistant coach and director of player development for the Charlotte Hornets. He will be writing a diary on HoopsHype about this quite strange G League season the next few weeks.
The time has finally arrived. The NBA G league bubble is officially going to happen in Orlando, Florida. We will be staying at Coronado Springs in Walt Disney World and get to play at least 15 games. Due to the times that we are in, the health and safety of everyone entering the bubble is paramount.
All of the Greensboro Swarm staff and players going to Orlando must first come to Charlotte and quarantine for seven days. Everyone gets tested daily, be isolated in their rooms and finding ways to pass the time. After the seventh day, we’re off to Orlando where we will have to quarantine for four more days. As the head coach of the team, it is my responsibility to make sure that I am collaborating with the staff to ensure the players are staying as active as possible.
With the help of the Hornets staff, we were able to put together binders with key defensive and offensive terminology, along with sets, a motivational section and an area where they can take notes and draw plays on blank diagrams. Our mantra is the “Fighter Mentality” so we got rubber bracelets made with that saying on it. Everyone also got a book from a former professional Muay Thai Champion, called Chap Up by Chris Romulo. The book reinforced to our players that no matter the circumstances you always have a choice. You can stay down or continue to fight and change the narrative.
Everything about this past year has been a fight – from social justice, Covid, not being able to do what we love or being able to see loved ones and more. We want our players to know that getting to this point hasn’t been easy and to appreciate this opportunity the G league has presented and that the Hornets have invested in. The quote that we have been saying is, “appreciation for what you have will make you fight harder to keep it”.
Working, engaging and teaching virtually has been a challenge. We are doing everything from small group sessions, to team film sessions, scout breakdowns for Hornets games so they can see the adjustments/plays in real time, to whiteboard sessions as well as having guest speakers. I have relied heavily on my coaches, Norman Richardson and Evan Harville to make sure all sessions are informative, engaging and on track with our standards. Our speakers have ranged from Sports Psychologist (Jo Perry) to a former NBA player (Raja Bell), a former fighter/entrepreneur (Romulo), a world-renowned rapper (J Cole) and a current NFL player (Jordan Reed). Each person brought their own version of what the Fighter Mentality means to them and gave great examples as to how to be positive, mentally tough and what tools they utilized to be the best versions of themselves.
J Cole had a great description about how he won’t let anyone negative take real estate in his mind. The words we hear from the outside and comments on social media enter your mind and can eventually shake your beliefs. That was an incredible and current look at what can negatively affect one’s performance that has nothing to do with their opponent.
Last but not least our team got to hear from Coach James Borrego about how important and valuable the Swarm is and that everyone in the Hornets organization will be watching. This made a profound impression on everyone.
J Cole had a great description about how he won’t let anyone negative take real estate in his mind
We have set up designated times for in-room workouts where some days it’s strength-based and some days it’s mobility based as well as ball handling workouts (there have been a few noise complaints). Most importantly the players and staff are engaging with one another and learning about their lives through an ice breaker we have been doing called Two Truths and a Lie. This is where you tell two things about who you are that are truthful and one thing that is a lie and the group tries to guess which one is the lie. We all had fun and learned a lot from the two truths that were told connecting all of us more.
We have finally gotten out of quarantine and the time to get on the court has finally come. It feels like we are all going to get the best present possible. That present is the ability to play basketball and coach it. I have been really impressed with how our group has interacted over Zooms, asked questions and stayed mentally sharp. We did everything we could to get to this point and now it’s time to lace up and get prepared over the next 11 days for our first game. No matter what happens we will all have a bond over a shared, unique experience that allowed us to do what we loved. None of us are taking this for granted and plan on making the most of our time here together.
I will follow back up at the mid-point of the season to let you know how things have been going.