So you are a famously hard working gym rat, coming into your own in the NBA, getting more responsibility following the departure of the team's marquee player, and are a restricted free agent set to make at least $6 mil/yr in your new contract. So what do you do in your off-season?
The Denver Post has another nice article about our own Arron Afflalo. Someone in AA's situation, take me for example, might be tempted to put up one's feet and enjoy the downtime, realize that things are going pretty well and relax, a lot. But not AA. That same work ethic that made him legendary and beloved at U.C.L.A., and then earned him respect from his NBA teammates and fans in Detroit and now Denver apparently doesn't take vacations.
...the Nuggets guard confessed, "I really like to turn it up for the offseason."
When not working at his current summer youth camp near downtown Denver, Afflalo is putting in 5 to 6 hour workouts, five days a week. That's a lot of gym time.
Asked where Afflalo's work ethic ranks among players he has seen, [AA's agent Sam] Goldfeder said: "At the very top. You have your hard workers, guys like Blake Griffin . But Arron is in that class, without a doubt. He works out like an animal."
Afflalo's work ethic and team-first attitude have been big hits here in Denver with his head coach George Karl, with the media, and especially with the fans, all of whom were burned out by the me-first attitude of Carmelo Anthony. Anthony led the league in scoring and is a fixture on BSPN highlights, but the Nuggets were never seen as a legitimate threat to contend for a conference championship, being too one-dimensional and lacking the gritty defense and ball-sharing play seen in more well rounded and more successful teams. Afflalo is now part of a core of young players that lacks a high-profile superstar, but actually makes up a far better team, as evidenced by their 18-7 record following the high-profile Anthony's high-profile departure to high-profile New York. Signing Afflalo will be a priority for the Nuggets if they want to mantain that core and improve as a team. And judging from players in similar circumstances of late, AA is probably looking at a contract worth around 8 million a year, give or take a couple.
Hard work pays off. Literally. But for AA, the hard work is far from over.
There's a lot of responsibility on the players themselves, or at least I look at it from my career — it's my responsibility to be better than I was the year before. I think that's a really important message. I would hope that all my teammates feel the same way.
Yet another U.C.L.A. Bruin who gets it. As one of the original Ben Ball Warriors, AA's skills, dedication, and work ethic have been sorely missed in Westwood. But it's great to see him reaping the rewards of his attributes.