As you know, this past week, we've seen two more UCLA basketball players, LJ and JA, join the ranks of initialed Ben Ball Warriors, the first such players to do so the last few seasons. Of course, this prompts the inevitable discussion about who or what a Ben Ball Warrior truly is.
We've already mentioned how one of the original Ben Ball Warriors, AA, has taken up the mantle of leadership in the post-Melo era in Denver and how he's hitting the gym hard this off-season, despite the NBA lockout. It appears those qualities aren't limited to just one Ben Ball Warrior. DC has been at it hard this off-season:
There are no locks on the gyms Darren Collison is visiting twice a day.
Eight weeks after the 23-year-old completed his second season in the NBA and just a few days before the league's lockout became official, the Indiana Pacers point guard is playing as much basketball as he usually does. Which is to say, a lot.
Let's discuss DC's off-season work ethos more after the jump.
Even though the NBA lockout looms large, DC wasn't going to let that slow down his off-season preparation and training:
"Some guys may be like `We're going to have a lockout so we're just going to chill,"' Collison said. "The problem is where your mindset is. You can't really stop working out. You've got to continue to have the same regimen you had."
Coming off his first full season as a starter in the NBA, his first playoff appearance and Indiana picking up the team option to pay him more than $3.3 million in 2013, too much is going right for Collison to let a lockout bring him down.
You just have to love that Ben Ball Warrior mindset. Guys like DC and AA are the mentally tough, all-effort, never-quit type of players that epitomize tough, in-your-shirt-defense Ben Howland style basketball at UCLA and if Ben wants to turn the program around and return it to the lofty heights when AA, KL, LRMAM, JS, LMR, AA2, RW, etc. were roaming Pauley Pavilion, he'll need to re-commit to those kinds of mentally tough kids, rather than lazy prima donnas like the Belgrade Bricklayer or Jrudas.
Finally, like AA, DC isn't making any excuses and is taking on the challenges of the NBA head on:
Collison helped the Pacers claim the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, earning himself a rematch with NBA MVP Derrick Rose (of the top-seeded Chicago Bulls), whom he faced in the 2008 Final Four.
Collison wouldn't allow a sprained ankle to serve as an excuse - he rolled it stepping on a camera man under the basket in Game 2 - as Indiana pushed the Bulls in Chicago's five-game first-round playoff series victory of which the first four games were decided by an average of five points.
The same holds true for the men's basketball team this year. No excuses, especially not when being led by the two newest initialed Ben Ball Warriors. If any of these current crop of men's basketball players turn out to be anything close to DC, the Bruins will finally have returned.