The New Season: Rod Benson on the East Coast
September 11, 2007
I stepped off the plane in Newark, New Jersey and headed down to the carousel to get my bag. I spent the next 45 minutes just waiting for my bag to come out. I don't think I've ever waited so long, but it wasn't bad because I got to inspect the scenery. People were talkin with their accents which was pretty sweet. There was actually a driver waiting for me who was holding a sign that said "Benson," which was also pretty sweet. He had an accent too, another thing that was sweet. I think I heard someone use the word "wiseguy" -- again, sweet. I walked over to the towncar and got in. As we headed to the hotel I could see the New York skyline. Sweet. I also saw some really big docks. I've seen enough T.V. to know that you don't want to end up "down by the docks", which I thought was sweet. I finally got to the hotel and went to my room and laid my head down. Right before I went to bed I thought to myself "You're on the east coast. Sweet."

The next day I headed over to the Nets practice facility with a couple other guys who are also up here early to work out. The workout was real tough, but that's just how it goes. Coaches were walking around saying hi to guys and I kind of felt like a no name. Then I hear somebody say "Rod Benson!"

I turn around and one of coaches says "Dont put me in the blog."

I started laughing. Then I started coughing. Then I was damn near choking and my eyes started to water. I guess I was choking on my own spit.

He then said "Wow. I didn't mean to get you all choked up."

I tried to say something, but I just walked away. Great Rod. Somebody knows your name and you really show him your charismatic side. Such a well spoken kid, this guy Rod Benson, right? Wrong. Just a big Chokey McChoklelstein. Congratulations. Welcome to the Nets. Maybe I should try pissing my pants next time. That could make a better first impression.

As the week went on, I got used to the pace and conditioning of the workouts. They don't go long, but the workouts are very intense and tiring. It is pretty tight getting instruction from Bill Cartwright though. It's like Vince Vaughn getting a dodgeball lesson from Patches O'Hoolihan. You can't beat legendary instruction.

I've probably made one solid friend since coming out here. His name is Matt Freije. Matt is cool cause he just keeps it real and we both enjoy a good laugh. He checked out my videos and was obviously very impressed with my cinematography skills. We also go head to head a lot in the workouts. There were a couple plays where we were going at it real hard. On one play I recovered just in time to block Matt's shot. He says to me "Mann you long armed inspector gadget fool."

The next play he up fakes me and scores. I say back to him "You crafty ass white boy coddamn."

It's pretty much the nature of our relationship. We had a free throw competition and we had both made like 15 straight, first person to miss would lose. As my 16th shot rolled around the rim and barely fell in, Matt said "So you're begging now?"

I fired back "No, I'm not your wife."

After the 3rd day, we started playing Ping Pong as part of our post workout ritual. We've gotten some other guys involved now. Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, Matt and I brought ping pong back. There are about 6 guys playing right now. Today I declared myself a second tier ping pong player, because there are a couple guys better than me, but I'm also clearly better than some guys, including Matt. Matt then says "Well if you're second tier, what does that make me?"

"It means you better hope there's a fourth tier or you're in a world of hurt." Almost too easy.

This past weekend I finally escaped the hotel and went to Manhattan. I did a lot of research online to figure out where I could get on a subway and make it out to the city. When I finally figured it out, I caught a shuttle and made my way to the subway.

I don't know what it is about this place, but it's just kind of scary. I feel like New York is just hyped up as such a tough place. Like everybody is out to get me or something. I mean I guess it comes from watching too much T.V., but I don't know. Think about it. This is the only city in the world that needs the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to protect it. If you get past them, you still have to deal with various Heros from Heros, like Hiro. Then they have CSI and NYPD Blue.

My point is that New York is just scary. Way too many factors to worry about. Still, regardless of the reports that April O'Neil delivers on the channel six news about Shredder and The Foot, I felt confident enough to get on the subway train and head out. It was really sweet when I stepped out of the train station and it was underneath Madison Square Garden.

I met up with my boy who lives in a $5,000 a month luxury apartment 20 yards from the garden -- even sweeter. He basically showed me how fun New York really is. This club, that club, limo here, bottle service there, women women women. Pretty much awesome. I know that the chances of a free agent getting signed after camp are very slim, but man, I feel like I need to live here. Like if I get cut maybe I'll just retire for a while and become a New Yorker regardless of how scary it is or ridiculous that sounds. This place is awesome.

I finally settled down a little bit Sunday. Perfect time to watch my fantasy football team get absolutely dominated. I felt like I yielded a pretty solid team for having the last pick in the draft, but if you wanna talk underachievement, talk Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Terry Glenn (coddamit) Braylon Edwards… I could go on. My highest scorer was my kicker Adam Vinatieri. They laughed at me for drafting a kicker in the 7th round. Who's laughing now? The Wyld Stallions, that's who. Yea, we're called the Wyld Stallions. I wish I could go back in time like Bill and Ted and draft Plaxico Burres instead of Terry Glenn.

Well this is a big week ahead for me. A lot more guys are showing up to work out. A lot more ping pong matches are to be played. Manhattan is calling my name, and the Wyld Stallions are looking to bounce back. Today someone else on the staff mentioned my blog. Sweet. All in all, I would say this past week has been just that.

I could write stuff like this all day. Oh wait, I do. Visit and see for yourself.

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The Off Season Part 4
August 23, 2007
My offseason continues to roll on as August passes and September comes in. I arrived in Sacramento 3 weeks ago direct from my NBA Fair extravaganza in North Dakota. Since getting up here, things have really slowed down for me. It seems like everything I do now has a meaning to it. The season is right around the corner, and what I do now will have a direct correlation with the season. I think they call this focus in some places. If so, this is the most focused I've ever been, but that doesn't mean that I can't have different kinds of excitement along the way.

My next door neighbor is Harold Pressley. You may remember him from Villanova back in the days or from the Sacramento Kings in the 90s. He has 3 kids, one of which looks exactly like Kevin Martin. I mean not like a look a like, but the kid looks like a kid would look if Kevin Martin reproduced asexually.

Anyways, these kids provide about 40% of my entertainment throughout the week. Most days, between 3 and 5pm, these kids will walk over and ask me to play baseball with them. I always oblige. They have home plate in the middle of the street, while first, second, and third are all located on Harold's wrap around driveway. Since the kids are different ages, they get different types of pitches. The 7 yr old girl gets underhand, the middle son who's 10 gets slow overhand, while 13 year old Kevin Martin gets fastballs, baby. A homerun is anything over the house into the back yard.

Every day we play this game. Some days I'm just about to take a solid nap after a hard workout, but then these kids come over. They might as well be asking my mom "Can Rod come out and play?". There's even a couple other kids in the neighborhood who get in on the act. And those kids have a 20 year old sister who I just cant get them to introduce me to. Maybe it's the wrong idea to ask my 7 year old baseball teammate to hook me up with his sister. To be honest, I don't even know what she looks like, I just know shes 20 and I'm so bored that I have become an all-star on Matheny Way.

After a few days of baseball, my agent gave me a call. I stepped outside for like 45 seconds to swing my driver. When I stepped back in, I saw the missed call. I check the message on the phone.

"Rod, this is Bill. I'm going to sleep. I just wanted to let you know that we have an Invite to camp. I'm going to sleep though, call me in the morning."

I called him back but it went right to voicemail. I don't think he realized that it was like 7pm west coast time and that he didn't mention the team. Yes, I was hyped, but I had 4 hours to go before I even would begin to feel tired enough to sleep. My mind wandered all over the place. Chicago? Phoenix? Golden State? I had no idea.

First thing the next day, I called him up. "You're going to camp with New Jersey," he said.

New Jersey. Sweet. Immediately I had a pretty good list of what the situation is in Jersey:

1. I might have more connection to this team than any other team in the league. My connections include:

a. I was roommates with Jameel Pugh last year who supposedly was the first to ever do a through the legs dunk off two feet, and from whom Vince Carter then took it and made it even better.

b. My brother tells me that he is friends with Richard Jefferson. I guess Rich (Can I call you Rich, Rich?) frequents the L.A. Fitness that little Benson works at.

c. Last year Hassan Adams was on the team. Hassan and I use to party at the U of A.

d. Actually the biggest connection of all... I have a relative on the team. A cousin. Second cousins I believe, but I don't exactly have a family tree handy to figure it out. I know this may seem a bit shocking, but it's true. I am related to Jason Kidd. It has never been publicized for a variety of reasons, but If I was to get signed by some chance, it would be tight to play with someone of the same blood line. The problem with this is that I'm pretty sure he has no idea of our relation. It will be truly funny how this all comes about. Do I walk up to him and be like "Yo, oh sweet you're at camp too? That's tight man. By the way, you're my cousin. So, what's for lunch?"

What could be even more funny is if he decides to ask me how we are related. I don't have a good answer for that. I know my grandfather's last name is Kidd. After that, I didn't really ask my mother about the details. We both felt that it was important, especially since I went to Cal also, that I had my own identity and to not allow the media to publish this fact when I signed my letter of intent.

2. Could I be Mikki Moore part DOS!? Who knows? I do know that if I grew my hair out a little bit and got some tattoos, there would a lot of confused people in the New Jersey area.

3. Roster space? I looked online and pretty much saw that 16 of the 13 guys on the current roster are posts.

4. East Coast? Could be interesting. Rod Benson on the east would produce a whole different level of fun. I just don't know if I could hail a cab.

With a camp invite under my belt, my focus and work ethic have reached a new level. There is one big knock on Rod Benson: he's just too skinny. This off season I decided to do something about that. Granted, it's only been 2.5 weeks since I started my weight training, but I've already put on 6 lbs. of muscle. I was 219, now I'm 225. By the time camp starts in October, I could be up around 235.

How am I doing it? Well, it starts off with a personal trainer who works me to death. I realized that serious weight lifting requires killing yourself, or coming close, then living through it somehow and getting stronger as a result. If you've ever seen Dragon Ball Z, you know that Saiyan's are the same way. I'm just trying to become a super saiyan.

Besides just lifting, I make these shakes and have one after every meal. I went to the Max Muscle store and asked the guy what I should take. He pointed to this big ass tub of nonsense. I said to him "Umm do you have something smaller? I'm only here for a month and a half"

He said "If you're doing it right, this thing well be gone in 3 weeks."

Before I left the store, I asked him if I should take it with milk. He replied "Not unless you wanna fart all day long."

So after 2.5 weeks of water based shakes, I would say that he has been right about damn near everything we discussed. I can honestly say that this coddamn tub has about 3 shakes worth of stuff left. I can't believe how much I've consumed. One thing he was wrong about was the amount of gas these things give you. Mann sometimes I lie in bed and think "Is an NBA contract really worth having to smell your own gas all day?"

I mean, you know how you can always stand your own gas, no matter what? You know, sometimes you relish that smell. You want more of that smell. My gas right now is so terrible, that I gag sometimes. Even when it's just me in the house, I'll go outside on the street when I have to fart, then I'll run around a little bit so it doesn't linger with me, then I'll come back in the house, just so I don't have to smell it.

At the end of the day, it will all be worth it. The boring afternoons and stinky nights. The near death experiences that have consumed my weight training days. When I get to camp and I'm bigger, stronger, and faster than I was before, hopefully there will be no more questions. It will come down to 3 things in my mind:

Do he have the skill?
I think so

Do he have the desire?
Hell yes I do (Napoleon Dynamite)

Do he have the size and athleticism?
Always been athletic. Size? Improving every day baby! If they dont care about me stinking up practice, then we're good!

Well this will probably best my last off season post. Hopefully next time I write about hoops I'll be a 235lb monster! For now, I gotta go, the Pressley kids are knocking on the door. Keep it hot!

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The Offseason Part 3: NBA Fair
August 3, 2007
I'm currently awaiting a phone call from my agent alerting me of who I will go to training camp with (provided that anybody out there wants me). While in wait mode, I got a phone call from the media relations guy (Mike, if that's not your title, my bad) from the NBDL Dakota Wizards, Mike. Mike informed my that the NBA would contact me soon about an appearance they hoped I would do. A few days later I was on the phone with an NBA representative who informed me that the NBA has something called the NBA Fair. The NBA Fair is an NBA attraction that travels to state fairs all over the country. Specifically, the NBA Fair travels to fairs that are outside of traditional NBA Markets.

The NBA agreed to pay me to go to the NBA Fair at North Dakota's state fair in Minot, ND, to sign autographs and play games with the kids. I would be obligated to appear for an hour each day for two days. I figured it would be cool, plus there was money involved, duh.

When I stepped off the plane in North Dakota, there was a local sports reporter there who was ready to interview me. You can watch that here:

I hadnt been back in Dakota for more than a couple of hours, when my old assistant coach told me to first meet him at some hotel bar where it was ladies night. When I got there, I instantly remembered one thing I loved about North Dakota. Ladies night meant that drinks were $1.30. One dollar and thirty cents? For anything? Gotta love that cost of living.

We eventually left the hotel bar and went to another bar that I had never been to before. I remember thinking that if I had to come back and play for the Wizards again, that these new bars could be my part of my solid rotation. It was right then that a woman gave this guy next to me the eye. It wasn't the usual eye, it was more of a dirty dancing type thing that he fully comprehended, while I was still left wondering. Next thing I know, these two go at it. It was probably the most hilarious dancing scene I have ever seen. Why? First of all, neither of them could all. Picture Napoleon Dynamite rocking out, alone, in his room, to his D-Kwon's Dance Grooves tape. It was like this guy and this girl at the bar figured out how to be equally, yet choreographically, ridiculous. I think of Sean Williams Scott in American Wedding. I think of Ben Stiller in Starsky and Hutch. Heck, I even think of the Ben Stiller vs Owen Wilson in Zoolander. Combine all of that in your mind and it becomes the dance-a-palooza that I saw these two strangers engage in that night. Just to clarify, this was not a dance bar by any means.

I decided that I needed to get a picture of the dance-a-thon that was taking place before my eyes. I was wondering how to pull it off without disrupting the magic that had now become a series of lap dances on the bar stool in front of me. See, even though they were in the heat of the dance, more people were still staring at me, the 6' 10" black guy who was there outside of basketball season and not the riverdance bandits. I made my mind up to just go for it. I snapped this photo off real quick:

As it turns out, right after the flash of my camera phone went off, she unwrapped her legs from around him, and he backed up off her, and it was done, just like I feared. The photo still captures everything I wanted it to. Besides the fact that her legs are propped up like a wheelbarrow, notice his men's softball league jersey, and her jacket that he, in the madness called Dance, has tied around his forehead like a bandana. Classic. I love all of it.

The next day, Mike and I drove out to Minot which is about an hour and a half away. After checking into our hotel, we headed down to the state fair. As we pulled up to the NBA Fair booth, I was getting kind of hyped. Last week Kris Humphries was here -- a real NBA player. This week? NBDL Champion of the World, and Memhpis Grizzlies (summer league of course) player, Rod Benson.

The booth was pretty big. I wouldn't even call it a booth, really. It had a full NBA sized half court set up on sport court. There were 3 baskets: a 10 foot rim, a 9 footer to the right of the main one, and an 8 footer on the left. To the right of the court was a tent set up with NBA Live 07 on ps3, among other cool NBA stuff that kids would periodically check out.

I sat down on one of the chairs under the pop-up tarp that had all the prizes for participants in the booth. I hadn't been sitting down for more than 5 minutes when I was approached by about 5-7 different people who were on a scavenger hunt at the fair. They had their lists, which I could easily read when they approached me. Number 2 on the list was "Get the autograph of an NBA player". Of course they proceeded to ask me to sign the sheet because I was the NBA player. I wanted to say "Umm, I am an NBDL World Champion and a Memphis Summer League starter, but alas, I am no NBA player". I decided that if I didn't sign the papers, nobody else really could in the whole state. Since I was the closest they were gonna get, I shut my mouth and signed the papers, but it still felt like I was forging my own signature or something.

I headed to the tent in the back where some of the emcees for the event were resting and drinking water, waiting for their turn to get on the mic. We all introduced ourselves. The guy who would be on the court with me during my hour was named Ryan. Ryan informed me that he had read my blog beforehand and since I was "cool", he would spice up our Q and A session a little bit and have some fun with it. I had no objections. I mean, my blog preceded me, gotta live up to the hype!

So, my hour of appearance time came and went. It didn't matter to me. I was having too much fun. I got on the mic and was cracking jokes, playing shooting competitions with the kids, and answering off the wall questions. Ryan and I even spent 20 minutes, aloud, in front of the whole booth, recounting our favorite scenes from the movie "Love Actually". 3 hours later I was still going strong, having fun, keeping the kids hyped up as best I could. I think in a way, I got more respect from the other guys for just having fun and kicking it with them, regardless of time, than anything else.

I was dragged away from the booth by Mike, who reminded me that it was about that time for the Big and Rich concert. Yep, I said it, the Big and Rich concert featuring Cowboy Troy. Big and Rich, for those who don't know, are a big time country music act. Mike informed me that the song I had come to love entitled "I Play Chicken with the Train", was performed by Cowboy Troy himself. Never heard of it? I guess you haven't lived in North Dakota. Let me fill you in on some of the best lyrics of all time:

I play chicken with the train play chicken with the train train, uh huh huh uh huh huh,
You know that I play chicken with the train play chicken with the train train uh huh huh uh huh huh yea,

Who? The big black neck commin' through to you boy you done fell and bumped you head uh huh,
That's what they said,
People say it's impossible, not probable, too radical,
But I already been on the CMA's,
Hell Tim McGraw said he liked the change,
That he likes the way my Hick-hop sounds and the way the crowd screams when I stomp the ground,
Now, big and black, clickty clack and I make the train jump the track like that

I love this song, albeit that it is country music, because there are times when I, being big and black, go clickity clack, and make train jump off the track. You don't like it? Well then boy you done fell and bumped yo head!

Mike and I used our free tickets (they cost $60 normally, for country? really?) and heard Cowboy Troy's legendary track as we walked through the front doors. I've never been to a country concert before, so it was a hell of a scene. For one, everybody had on the "bundle" as I call it. The bundle looks something like this:

Cowboy hat, tucked in button down shirt, usually flannel, and boots. When I saw Cowboy Troy on stage, I knew he was still true to his black man roots, because his bundle was a little bit baggier than the rest. I bet his was designed by Sean John or Roca Wear. Mike kept telling people that Troy was my brother. Some people actually believed it. How could you really believe that? Do you see what this guy is wearing? Baggy or not, I am definitely bundle-less.

Big and Rich took the stage next. I must say that it was pretty electric, even though I'm not a country fan. The people seemed to love it. Country is the rap of the midwest, I determined. Ryan from the NBA Fair caught up with us, and we headed over to beer table at the far end of the concert. We pretty much enjoyed the rest of the concert from the beer tables.

We had been at the beer area for over an hour when Big and Rich played the song I heard more than any other song while I was in North Dakota last season. The song is called "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy". I have been known to sing my own, remixed, version of the song in which I say "Save a life, ride Rod Benson." I don't even think that makes any sense, but I'm no cowboy, therefore horses are irrelevant to me. I don't think I'd ever heard 10,000 people sing a country song together at one time, until that very moment when John RIch (I don't know how I know his first name) got up on stage and began his PETA friendly song.

I left Minot and the NBA Fair on Sunday and headed back to sacramento. I was forced to check the Taylor Made Driver a golf pro sold me for $50. Luckily it didn't break and it actually made it out here. I hope the NBA calls me with some other app

I'm currently in Sacramento right now, working out on a daily basis at Basketball Town. This past week I have played against such competition as Matt Barnes, Ricky Davis, Justin WIlliams, Quincy Douby, Bobby Jackson, and Mike WIlks. If there's any place to get better it's here. If there's any time to get better (cliche, so what) it's now. Hopefully my next "The Offseason" post will include my invitation to training camp.

More, always, at the new Check me out!

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The Offseason Part 2: Memphis
July 24, 2007
Wow, has it really been a month since I last posted something? I swear I've nearly had my life threatened by people waiting for me to post my new blog. Well, there have been a couple of reasons for my delay. For starters, my hard drive crashed on my macbook, putting me out of commission for a few weeks. Then there was this little matter of playing in the NBA Vegas Summer League. So, I guess I'll just pick up where I ended the last post...

After working out for Golden State, I had a couple days off before traveling out to Memphis for their mini-camp. This camp was unique from the others for two reasons: it was after the draft, and it was directly before summer league. This meant that first round pick Michael Conley Jr. was there as well as Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Tarence Kinsey, and Alexander Johnson -- guys who are actually getting paid.

I got in the day before the camp started and was the last person to fill out paper work and get a physical. As I have stated many times before, I hate doing the "grab my balls" test, so I was pretty happy to see that guys were getting their physicals done in the open area of the trainer’s room, eliminating the possibility of such a check. As it turns out, those guys were returning players so they didn't need to get re-checked. I was promptly walked to the back room where the doctor, while doing the balls test, began to tell me why they do the test. He told me the story about how Lance Armstrong, while doing this very test, was found to have testicular cancer. Because of that, it's becoming a much more widely used test, even on younger athletes like myself. He told me that I could even give myself the test. To quote him: "nobody knows your balls like you." It was then that I realized he had been talking for like a minute and a half telling me all these stories, and his fingers were still on my balls! We both must have lost track of time.

We got to work on the court for the next two days. It was actually a lot of fun for me to go head to head with all these guys who had much bigger names than me, even though Rudy Gay dunked on me so viciously that I considered retirement. Still, I had my fair share of nice plays offensively and defensively. Like Golden State, after the first day, Tony Barone approached me and congratulated me on my performance on that day. Its small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but guys like me never forget comments like those. I can pretty much remember every nice thing a coach I respected ever said to me. It dates back to the 5 and 6 year old division of the Boys and Girls club basketball league. "Rod, you're doing a great job of being tall," my coach said after my first couple of plays. Then 5 minutes later it was: "A basketball is not for kicking." I haven't kicked a ball since.

The second day of practice was considerably tougher mainly because it included our 4th practice in 2 days. Roger Powell, David Bluthenthal, and I won the shooting competition, earning "respect" as coach Iavaroni put it. I was also upgraded to the first team for the day. which I took as a good sign.

After the second practice, I was so tired I could hardly walk, but I still took a little time to check out the surrounding area, which I concluded was pretty tight. I could definitely have a lot of fun in Memphis. They say Austin is the live music capitol of the world, but Memphis has to be right at #2 if that's the case. Every single place has live music, and a couple places have dueling pianos inside -- I love dueling piano bars.

Now it was time to head to Vegas. We had practice the day we arrived, which sucked because my body was so tired. But since everyone was tired, it was just something I had to deal with.

We practiced in the same spot where the 2007 NBA Dunk contestants practiced (I think). I came to this conclusion because Dwight Howard's stickers were up on the baskets there around 12 feet. I can barely touch the bottom of the lowest sticker, let alone slap it up there and catch an alley-oop. Props to Dwight Howard.

The first day of summer league was pretty much amazing. I got the starting job, which I didn't quite expect. I got to go up against 2 NBA post players in Wang Zhi Zhi and Yi Jianlian. I got to see Rudy Gay completely humiliate Yi in the open court (I felt better about Rudy dunking on me -- I guess he is Rudy Gay). I got to wear a jersey that had an NBA team name on the front and my name on the back. I know it's just summer league, but you can’t beat that. I mean, I'm not that guy who is used to this kind of thing. I'm the guy who was pretty much starstruck by Tim Cowlishaw when he walked by me in Dallas a year ago, and mesmerized by David Aldridge who was watching a couple of our games. I got a fast break layup and one of the first things I thought was "I wonder if David Aldridge saw that?"

We had a couple practices between game one and game two. The noteworthy thing from the two days didn't happen during the practice itself, but afterwards. See, we had this kid assisting us with water and towels and whatever else we needed. After the second practice, we were walking to the car. It was a record for the hottest day in Vegas that day. I think it was 120 degrees. It basically felt like it does when you put your face under water while in a Jacuzzi. Anyways, somebody decides to pay this kid $100 to sprint as fast as he can, in this heat, to the other side of the football field, touch the goal post, and back. It was probably 220 yards total, but the kid did it. I was pretty sure that he would die of heat exhaustion, but his will to live and spend that $100 must have kept him going.

The second game was against Detroit. The first thing to note about this game was that I had 12 points, not 10 like the stat sheet said. I don't know where my two points went, but I will be searching feverishly until I find out. Although we lost the game, I thought we played well, we just didn’t shoot well as a team. It was on this day that my love affair with Mike Conley Jr. began. Running the pick and roll with this guy is like a dream. No matter where I was on the court, he could find me. I bet that Mike Conley could find Osama Bin Laden...if he was open.

The third game was special for a few reasons. For one, I got to go head to head with my former teammate Darius Rice. Last time I saw him was the night of his 52 point performance. The second reason was that Coach David Joeger ran the head coaching duties for the game. Lastly, because I played well and the team won big. Coach actually took me out early to preserve my legs for the next game, acknowledging the fact that we had the game in the bag and that he thought I played well.

Game 4 was offensively the opposite of game 3, for both the team and myself. There was still something cool about the game however. First of all, Chris Kaman was on the Clippers summer league roster. I thought it was pretty awesome that I got to go head to head with one of the best centers in the game today. It was even better when it turned out that he was one of those guys who runs his mouth. It really got me fired up to guard him. He only hit me for 2 points all game (yea, only 2) and I thought I did a good job of frustrating him. At the end of the day, we still lost the game though and he did still have 19 and 11. But I feel like as far as my post defense learning curve goes, that was a big boost.

Game 5 concluded 14 days straight of practice or games (we actually did have one day off in the middle) and the 3rd game in 3 days. I felt exhausted pretty much the whole game. I would call that game my worst all around because I did nothing well and I felt terrible the whole time.

After the game, all the fans wanted us to give them our gear. I threw one guy a shoe and the other shoe went to a kid. Then I gave my shooting shirt to the same kid who sprinted the football field. The people didn’t stop asking me for gear though. I was shoeless and shirtless and they still wouldn't be satisfied until I was completely naked and they had my socks. I guess they assume that we are NBA guys so we can buy it all again. They don't know that I can't.

Well, my future is still up in the air for right now. Who knows where I'll be in the coming months? My boy Roger Powell just signed to go to Italy, a smart choice, the rational choice, but it is hard to be rational in a situation like mine. Chance it and stay here, knowing that getting cut is another D-League ticket? Go overseas and make money and never have $8 in my wallet again? I guess only time will tell, but I'll tell you this, if I have a legitimate shot, I'm goin for it, because I know what I can do.

Check out what was left out of this blog post, and more craziness at

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The Offseason as a Free Agent: Milwaukee and Golden State.
June 25, 2007
After the D-League championship, I went back to Southern California. With the exception of a couple of absolutely dominating performances with my little brother at the YMCA and 24 Hour Fitness, I took about 3 weeks off. These days were filled with a lot of relaxing, partying, Guitar Hero, and of course, Madden. I also made my second YouTube music video (it’s not real music, heck, it’s hardly even considered video) called “BOOM Got Them DOS!”

The reality of the situation, as it is for many players in the off-season, was that I had to get back at it at some point. You can’t take too much time off before you start to lose the skills that took you all year to get control of. So I came back up to the Bay Area and got to work. With the help of my former teammate Richard Midgely, I was able to get some great open gym runs at CAL. Leon Powe came back, and Ayinde Ubaka made some calls to get some other local talent together. Our open gym soon became comparable to real game situations.

Anyways, while the college kids are preparing for the NBA Draft, us older guys are out trying to take the free agent route. So a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from my agent. He said that it was time for me to start making NBA related moves, the first of which was a free agent camp in Milwaukee. It’s always nice to say that you’re going to Milwaukee for mini-camp, rather than saying: “yea, I’m just kinda hanging out until I hear something.” People think you’re wasting your life away when you don’t have actual dates and teams. It’s also nice to get that Per Diem for everyday that you workout. I didn’t exactly make the big bucks this past year, so every dollar counts. My agent called me the “dumbest Berkeley kid ever” for not telling him that I only had $8 to my name (I needed him to book a shuttle for me from the airport to the hotel when I landed in Milwaukee). That’s how it goes sometimes.

So I arrive at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee and the first thing I have to do is use the bathroom, but I refuse. I know that we have physicals in 10 minutes and if they weigh me, then that extra 2 lbs could come in handy. 221 looks better than 219 any day of the week, so I hold it. Turns out that there is no weigh-in, just the typical physical.

I did feel lied to a little bit because the doctor said to me: “I do my physical a little differently. I only check the things that are sports related.” That got me excited, because I thought to myself: “Yes, he won’t have to grab my balls and make me cough, because that’s definitely NOT sports related.” Then he says “Pull down your pants, turn your head to the left, and cough. I need to check your testis.”

After the physical, there was a meeting. I got to see who all was there at the mini-camp. I recognized Aaron Miles, Omar Cook, James Thomas, Lionel Chalmers, Matt Haryasz, Renaldo Major, and some others. These things are like NCAA tournament memory lane. Everyone talks about their games against rivals and whatnot.

Matt Haryasz (I pronounce it Hairyass) had plenty to say about the Cal – Stanford rivalry, but I mean they DID beat us 6 of 8 times, so he can pretty much say whatever he wants. One thing we could all agree on was that was hot and that “BOOM Got Them DOS!” was even hotter. Matt couldn’t stop laughing at Luke Jackson’s cameo.

The camp itself went pretty well. I got a lot of feedback about my game, and good mentorship from some of the older guys. My agent informed me that the Warriors wanted me to attend their free agent workouts as well. So right after my three days in Milwaukee were up, I headed back to the Bay Area for a two day camp with Golden State.

This time the list of participants included my ex-teammate Joe Shipp, and former UCLA stars Toby Bailey, and Jelani McCoy. Yep, you read that right… TOBY BAILEY and JELANI MCCOY. Toby Bailey was the man back in the day. I told him that I used to watch him when I was in 4th grade. He said: “You gonna act like I’m an old man?” I said: “Hey, it’s not how you look, its how you feel.” He then replied: “So you’re saying I look old then?”

I wasn’t exactly saying that he looks old. I guess in a way, it’s very weird competing for a spot with a guy who’s name hasn’t rung a bell since the 1995 NCAA Championship. I guess in a way, he IS old. I mean, let’s really think about it. He got to UCLA in 1994. In 1994 I was 9 years old. I got to thinking…who exactly was Rod Benson when Toby Bailey was at UCLA?

In 1994 I…
Loved Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Doug, GUTS, Family Double Dare, Family Matters, Step by Sep, Fresh Prince, and of course, with mom’s permission, In Living Color.

Was the Boys and Girls club champion in many events, including: paper airplanes, foosball, prisonball, and air hockey.

Won the Ada Harris Elementary School Olympic day blue ribbon (first place) in 100 yd. dash, 4x100 relay, and standing broad jump.

Was ridiculously hyped that Rice Crispy Treats started being sold by Kellogs, making my recess snack complete.

Finally got a big enough shoe size to fit into these hand me down Nike Air Flights that had always been too big.

Was playing POGS for keeps on a regular basis, and winning.

Played soccer, and was absolutely terrible. I played the least minutes and led the league in fouls.

Was discovering my talents as a natural born video gamer on my Super Nintendo. Super Mario All-Stars and Ken Griffey Junior presents Major League Baseball were awesome.

Was not a Ken Griffey fan, but instead a Frank Thomas fan, who was collecting Frank cards with a passion.

Watched Toby Bailey on his way towards becoming the 4th leading scorer in UCLA history. That’s how old school Toby Bailey is.

Back to the workout, it was very weird asking Toby Bailey to come off the ball screen and look for me on the pop. But we got it done. It was pretty cool when he was watching “BOOM Got Them DOS!” in the locker room. He couldn’t contain himself when I said “I’m like K.G. except I ain’t worth a dollar.”

Before we started the workout, I heard one of the 2 greatest things I’ve ever heard. Don Nelson made it a point to say that on the Warriors, the posts don’t post on the block, they post on the elbow or not at all. They set ball screens and run the floor. GREAT news. That’s like telling a fat girl that there is a free buffet all night!

After the workouts, I heard second of the two the greatest things I’ve ever heard. Don Nelson walks up to me (already awesome because I’m pretty much star struck by a man with so much basketball clout) and says: “Rod, I really enjoyed watching you play. You’re in pretty good shape, huh?” I didn’t really know how to respond. It was like those T.V. shows where a hot girl approaches the guy who has been eyeing her, but is clearly not on her level, then the guy stumbles over his words and looks stupid. I said back: “I mean, umm yea, I could be better.” Then Don Nelson replies: “Well, you’re in better shape than these guys. You run the floor really well.” I stood there kind of awkwardly as he walked away. I was so giddy that I couldn’t really put myself together -- I might as well have just been propositioned by Jessica Biel.

I can pretty much end it there, and I will. I’ve got some more workouts and whatnot leading up to the summer league. I’ll keep you posted. Remember to check out and “BOOM Got Them DOS!” on youtube.

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If You Aint First, You're Last!
May 8, 2007
As the #1 seed for the NBDL playoffs, we played 2 games in the last 2 weeks. That meant that we had a lot of time to prepare, but also a lot of time to relax and take in our last days in North Dakota. I actually hated it because my social crutch, also known as XBOX 360, decided to die on me. No Madden, no Guitar Hero, nothing. These were dark times for me. I had never been outside since I had been in Dakota. I had never watched daytime T.V. What the hell was I gonna do now between the hours of 12-8pm now? Well Let’s see... On Friday the 20th, the night before our Eastern Conference Final game, there was a Three 6 Mafia concert. I went with Darius Rice. I must say that the music was great, but it was probably the least fun I’ve ever had at a concert. Why? Well, for starters, there were no black people. Not that I need black people around to feel comfortable, but thousands of white kids screaming “I gotta stay fly-y-y-y-y-y-y-y” has a strange way of making me feel out of place. I mean Three 6 has a real interactive show. They have the crowd sing a lot of their hooks. These kids looked so awkward that I became embarrassed to be there. It was like going to a water park and everyone there is wearing business suits and you’re in swim trunks -- you look right but you feel so wrong.

The game the next day was, at the time, the most fun I had playing this whole season. We had some rowdy fans and good competition. We were down by 12 in the 3rd, but turned in up and got the win.

After the game, we had 8 days before the next game. No xbox and 8 free days left me with quite a bit of free time. I think everyone can understand how boring it can be out there sometimes. I was watching so much day time T.V. it was unbelievable. I was watching Comedy Central and a comedian said “I had to drive through North Dakota and the place was closed. The whole place was closed. I said ‘Let me in, I gotta pee.’ They said I had to buy somethin. I only had 10 bucks... so I bought like 200 acres.” Classic. Guy was funny. I changed channels and American Gladiator was on. American Gladiator, yes! That was the second sweetest show ever made...right after GUTS (Nickelodeon’s kid version of Gladiator which is kind of better), which also came on. As a kid, there was nothing better than hearing Mike O’Malley say that I would one day have a chance to take home a “glowing piece of the radical rock, The Agro Crag!”

Luckily a friend of mine came to visit, so I wasn’t quite so bored. However, I still had to search for things to do. Like on Tuesday, I bought a grill just so I could BBQ, just so I could have an excuse to drink at 3pm, just so I could have an excuse to go to our bar at 8pm. Sweet day huh? I had to get creative without my Madden.

Another day I spent mostly napping so I was very awake late at night. We ended up going to Wal-Mart at 3am (completely sober) with no intention of buying anything. Wal-Mart supercenters are just so coddamn big. There’s plenty to do in there without needing to buy anything. Well after an hour and a half in the store, I finally got back home at 5am. I did end up buying one thing that night... a paintball gun that was on sale for $18.

The paintball gun would come in handy the next day as my friend and I found ourselves drinking wine and shooting paintballs at my Guitar Hero II box. This literally continued for hours until it was time to head out to the bar.
I tell you what, Sunday night couldnt come fast enough. Game time was finally upon us. If nothing else, we had an excuse to leave the house. In all seriousness, this was probably the biggest game I’ve been a part of in a long time. You only get so many chances to win a championship. The game was intense the whole way. We were up, we were down, we battled and battled. It was funny because half way through the 4th quarter, Pooh Jeter got hot. He made some big shots and started to get real emotional. He starts yelling out: “Put me in your blog! Put this in your blog!” I laughed but it kind of bothered me because it looked like we were going to lose. With a few seconds left, Pooh got fouled and had a chance to put his team up 3 and essentially close us out. As the second free throw went in, he repeated the whole “Put this in your blog!” thing. We are friends, but at that moment I wanted to throw his little ass in a coddamn trash compactor I was so mad. Well, as it turns out, my man Darius Rice hit a 3 to send to game to overtime. Guy has 10 threes already and they leave him open with the clock running down. In overtime, after I scored to put us up by 6, then blocked Pooh’s layup on the other end, he was complaining to the refs about a foul call he wanted. I walk right up to him and say “THIS is going on the coddamn blog!” He was so angry, he started yelling out any and everything about the blog, but it didnt matter. We won the championship. We did the chicken noodle soup dance at half court in celebration. We, the Dakota Wizards, cut down the nets, not the Colorado 14ers. Pooh, if you’re reading this.... HHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHA. You’re my man, but hey, you’re in the blog like you asked! So, how was it after the game? DId you sit there in your locker room and hear our celebration? Did you see me chicken noodle soup with the trophy in my hand? No? Could you hear our fans rejoice as we cut down the nets? It was pretty awesome son. It was like we went to the same party, but I left with your girl and took her back to your house where you had to listen to us all night. You did play hard though, that was good. No ifs ands or buts, Pooh you had GUTS! See you at summer league.

When the team finally got into the locker room ten minutes later, the champagne flew wildly. It was a pretty unique experience being drenched with champagne. Haha I wanted to drink it not pour it on Corey’s head. Oh well.

That was it. We came in, we won, we left. I’m already back in LA right now. It was an interesting experience living there and playing with these guys for such a long time. Before I conclude all writings regarding the D-League, I must address each of them one last time...

Chris: The only guy whose hair could look like Ben Wallace one day and Bernie Mac the next. Unstoppable crossover too.

Corey: His nickname is “Homicide”, but he knows I’ll only ever refer to him as “Spermicide”. He can penetrate any defense in the world.

Mo: Napoleon complex and a bum ankle that never stopped him from trying to out-rebound me. Lucky bastard did in the championship too.

Renaldo: WHY IS THE RUSSIAN HERE? I guess you learned the European style of defense.

Kevin Lyde: You were never, ever, bringing sexy back when you took your shirt off. Haha.

Quemont: Silent but deadly.

Dontell: I never kept the kitchen as clean as he wanted.

Jerome: He takes this “I can do everything” thing way too far. I got an email that said “Ask JB if he can s*ck himself.” He refused to answer at first, but finally he said “Yes, of course I can, but I wont.” Crazy.

Darius: Since neither of us approved of the No-Homo thing, we started making every statement sexual until people just stopped expected anything else from us. Yo, Darius, of course you had 52 in the championship...your balls always find a way to the hole my man. If you ever come out here to Cali, Ive got plenty of balls ready to be smacked by a fat head on a long shaft...I think they call it golf where you’re from.. yea, golf.

Coach: Thanks again for not cutting me when I sucked...or should I thank whoever made the league rules hard to cut me?

Although my time in the D-League is done, it wont stop me from blogging as usual. You can see what I cut out of this article, plus many others at

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We Got it Done
April 19, 2007
You’ve seen it a hundred times. There is a team who wins a championship. They head back to the locker room jubilant as the camera crews follow them in. The lockers are already covered with plastic and the hats and t-shirts are already coming out of their boxes. All of a sudden, someone pops open a bottle of champagne and the madness begins. That’s what it’s all about. Champions.

Well, as the new D-League regular season champions, we had a very similar celebration. We walked back up to the second floor of the Austin convention center. We made our way into the locker room and said a few “no-homo” jokes. There was no plastic to cover the lockers, and there were no t-shirts and hats. There was no champagne either. There were 13 guys -- 10 players, 2 coaches, 1 trainer -- and a bottle of cheap vodka. “Pour me a shot into this Gatorade bottle.” Thus the celebration began. Each of us toasted our Gatorade “Rain” - Vodka mix. The strain of a long season showed on pretty much everyone’s faces. As for me, it was kind of funny, yet fitting. This was the exact place I had started the season back in November: in Austin, as a Toro, under the late Dennis Johnson, playing the small forward position, starting out the season 0-12, not knowing a thing about pro basketball. Now I’ve got my drink, toasting the best record in the League for the Wizards, playing the post, living in North Dakota. Funny how that works. There was actually a pretty tight celebration when we got back to Bismarck. Some of our greatest fans were waiting for us at the airport, which was awesome. That is why when we win the whole thing; I will feel much more rewarded, because the fans will be there to take it in with us.

What was a bit ridiculous about the whole 3 day affair in Austin was that I had to get drug tested again. I was drug tested on the first day of the season and the last day, and I must say that you never really get used to having another grown man watch you pull down your pants and piss in front of him into a cup. I mean, I guess this is how it has to be because of people who try to fake the tests. I honestly had no idea what a “Wizzonator” was until I had an NBDL drug test. A “Wizzonator” is a fake penis that I guess you somehow fill with someone else’s piss and it does the pissing for you during the test. I can only imagine how ridiculous Ontario Smith felt being caught using a coddamn Wizzonator. He must have used the white one instead of the black model. Either way, because of past cheaters, now the guy who does the testing has to watch you pull down your pants while you sum up the energy to piss for him. I swear I had to go real bad before I went in there, but the pressure got to me. I mean, it’s not just the pressure to go, but I mean, another man is about to stare at your penis for hella long... it’s not very comfortable.

What was worse for me was, there was another guy in there who was talking with the tester right before I had to go. He says to his buddy: “Last week I had to test Amare Stoudemire and Tim Duncan, now I’m here with these guys.” Hmm, really? Great. Now I have to measure up to the big boys. I have gotten good reviews in the past...I mean, I am Rod Benson and know... TOO MUCH... but this is about a lot more now, now I’m going one on one with big Timmy. I feel like the guy is staring right through me. He is just sizing me up thinking to himself: “Yea, this guy isn’t NBA Caliber...I wouldn’t give him a call-up based off this,” or he’s saying “Wow, get this guy a 10 day right now.” Either way, it’s bad. I mean he probably isn’t thinking that, but the fact that he could be thinking that is really bothering me. You don’t just name drop the last two guys you saw naked then close me into the coddamn bathroom stall. Now I realize that I’ve been there, with my pants down, for about 4 minutes while he keeps flushing the toilet thinking it will make me go faster, when the truth is I’m not even focused on the task at hand. It took basically everything I had to just focus and get out of there.

See, that whole story needs one big “No Homo” at the end of it. Why? Because I don’t even feel comfortable thinking sentences that may be “homo” if said out loud anymore. It has definitely gotten worse since my last post about it. My teammate Darius has had just about enough of this “No Homo” madness. I think he’s not the only one. The fact is, it’s just too deep -- no homo.

I got a ton of emails about some crazy no homo things you guys have going on. There were some creative ways to try to break the cycle too, but I must say that those methods don’t fly here. Someone suggested to me to just “say something so blatantly homo that everyone will know that you’re not playing that game.”

Well I would have tried that, but my boy Jerome Beasley beat me to it. I don’t know what he originally said, but some guys on the team called him out “Hey, you better say ‘no homo’!” Jerome says, “I don’t play that no homo garbage. I have kids, everybody knows where I stand. I’ll say whatever I want.” Someone tries to bait him: “No, you won’t just say anything. I bet you won’t.” Before he can even finish the word “won’t”, Jerome says, aloud for everyone to hear, “D*ck is nice.” My eyes light up. No way did he just say that. This “No Homo” thing is way too big right now (no homo) to say a statement like that. Everyone in the room erupts. People are literally running in and out (no homo) of the locker room looking for someone to tell. I’m just in shock, I can’t move. It was the same shock I felt when Boise State ran the Statue of Liberty play to win the game. It’s like how do I react to this? On one hand, I do find it extremely funny, but on the other, this has to stop somewhere...why not here? Well my laughter took over eventually, like everyone else. It’s just a shame because I don’t know if it will ever really stop. “Q, show me what you got. Make it hard.” Yea, somebody said that yesterday and I texted it to the whole team. The context? Bowling. Does it matter? No. No homo came 3 seconds too late. I’ve been told that you can’t use the following words:

in, out
up, down

That is the current list of words that are not approved. It’s absurd. I want out so bad, but I can’t escape. Today, I tried the JB method. Someone said “Hey that was really weak.” I responded with “Well, I didn’t want it to be HARD!” A couple guys stared at me. “Are you waiting for me to say no homo? Well it aint comin! I just pulled out.... (4 second pause) of the no homo game.” Right there were 4 infractions. 1. it. 2. HARD. 3. comin! 4. pulled out. I must say that this seemed to work. Not that they didn’t think I broke the rules, but that it was just too much to handle. Too much to make fun of me for in a short time. That lasted until I got in the Van and said “I like this place better” as I sat down. How is that even against the rules? Beats me (no homo). I hope when the season is over, that I can go back to just talking....who knows...

Even more Rod Benson at

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Why you lost your tournament pool
April 3, 2007
You filled out a bracket, didn’t you? You, like the college basketball slave most people are, filled out a bracket. Heck, you probably filled out 5 brackets. You asked your basketball buddies to help you if you had no idea what you were doing. You entered your local office pool, or your family pool, or the ESPN pool for a million dollars, or whatever. Whatever the reason, or no matter how many pools you entered, or how much you know about basketball, I can pretty much guarantee you this: chances are, the more you know, the worse you did. Think I’m crazy? You shouldn’t. I didn’t even look twice at a bracket. I stayed away from all pools. It’s funny, because I play ball everyone wants me in their pool. “Bet I can beat Rod Benson.” Chances are if I was in your pool you would have beaten me, simply because I know more about college basketball than you. Heck, I was there just last year. That means I would make rational choices for my picks and throw in a couple unlikely, but highly educated upsets. All of which means nothing in the end.

The biggest bracket site I know of would be Facebook is a social networking website the started with elite colleges, like UC Berkeley, and has no ballooned to include J.C.’s, High Schools, and Corporations. The good thing about Facebook is that it details which networks perform the best, which friends perform the best, and so on. After taking a look at the numbers, I had no choice but to conclude certain things about who wins pools.

I don’t exactly know how Facebook comes up with their score system, but the top score in the country was a 177 by some kid named Jacob Dodson. The next two were 175 by Kelly Doolan at UWM and Katie Hollander at Missouri St. Actually 7 of the top 10 were women. Now is it crazy to think that women know more about college basketball than men? No. But If you had to bet on which gender would score higher, you would guess men. The highest score at UC Berkeley belongs to Annette Konoske-Graf. Since she is in my network, I can see her page. Her “status” reads: “Annette is surprised by her own bracket.” Why should she be surprised? Probably because she doesnt really know a damn thing about who Lee Humphrey is, or how many assists Darren Collison averages, or how Brandan Wright’s wingspan can cause problems for opposing power forwards. See, she, like many other people I know who have done well in pools, might have some crazy way of filling it out. “I have a cat named statie so I’m going to pick Ohio State because they remind me of my cat.” “I think Greg Oden looks too old and I like Noah’s hair so I’ll pick them.” The list goes on. An hour before the championship, the Berkeley leader was Sarah Branon. If Ohio State had won, she would have been the Berkeley winner. On her page it said that she used an ouija board to pick her winners. I sent her a message, because no way did she actually use an ouija board. Well she wrote be back with “I actually didn’t use an Ouija board...I actually do kind of follow basketball.”

That’s interesting to note. She does actually kind of follow basketball. Well those kind-of’s have a lot more success than the people who really do know. Take the DraftExpress pool on Facebook. The highest score was a 166, followed by a 158, 153, and 139. My boy Mike Schmidt scored a measly 123. He writes scouting articles on the NCAA almost on a daily basis, yet an ouija board crushed him. In fact, if I had to pick who would be most likely to win, it would be someone out of this pool or a similar one, because they are paid to follow the NCAA and determine who’s the best. Their median score is 128. Note that you can only see the score for the top 20 of any group, meaning that the median score of 128 is only for the top 20 of the group.. a more realistic median would be around 104 for the entire group of 64. 64 experts can only balance out at 104. How do they compare to average Joes? Well...

It would seem that the less educated you are, in general, the better chances you have to do well. The corporate networks (those networks containing people who are currently employed by a major company, a.k.a. highly educated people) scored the worst. Wells Fargo network led all corporations with a 98.364 score followed by Walt Disney company with 97.78. University of Florida, of course, led all colleges with 127.231 followed by some Junior College that’s nearby with 124.777 but they are outliers because of course they would pick UF to win it. The next highest college is at 110, so I will say that they are truly the best college. But then there are the high school kids. 10 different high schools averaged 113 or better.

So the most educated score the lowest, the experts get 104, the best college kids get 110, and the high school kids make a killing with 22 averaging higher than 110. Why do these kids do so well? Simple, because they don’t know a damn thing about college basketball. They make their decisions based on nothing more than what Jay Bilas and Andy Katz say mixed in with a little Ouija board. Those Wells Fargo execs obviously based their predictions on previous tourneys that they had watched. The tried to be smarter about it and really research. The experts? Too informed to be good. Their better judgment would never have had Winthrop in the sweet 16 or Wisconsin out before the elite 8. I guess that’s just how it goes. As for me? I enjoyed the tourney more than ever, because I was bracket free.

Even more Rod Benson

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D -League-ing it one day at a time
April 3, 2007
I haven’t written a thing in 3 weeks. Why? Well I’ll say it has 30% to do with the fact that I play Madden during my usual blog time, but also because I was in the middle of a very productive month on the court. Since I’ve sucked the last few games, I guess I can get back to my old bloggin’ ways.

It’s been a long few weeks but there havent been a lot of developments on and off the court. This month saw such events as my 27 point 14 rebound game, but also such events as my 2 point 3 rebound game where I was ejected with two techs. Yea, me, Rod Benson ejected with two techs. People who know me know that it takes quite a lot to get me mad. Many people dont even know what an angry, frustrated, kick-me-out-of-the-game-before-I-lose-my-mind Rod Benson looks’s an example:

Yep, definitely got a Tech here. It would be easy to blame the refs, but it’s not really their fault, I get frustrated when I play badly. It’s even worse when I’ve been playing so well all month. Although I must say that one game I got hammered in the back and that set me off, and I apologized to the ref who I went off on later, only to have another ref talk to me on a plane flight and tell me that I just tripped over someones foot. C’mon now? Word? I’m just that clumsy that I throw myself over other peoples feet? Gotta be kiddin me. I actually heard one player on the other team say about that ref: “I just want to be him up!” All that aside, it’s almost playoff time, so all the games will be crazy.

Off the court has been a little more interesting. Well, for starters, there has been this thing that has taken over our team socially. It’s called “No Homo”. No homo basically means “I’m not gay”. Now, we are by no means homophobic, but I swear if you say anything remotely gay, you better say “no homo” afterwards or somebody will call you on it. What I used to do, back home in California, was say “That’s what she said” after such comments. Not anymore. My first week here I was hearing people toss out this “No Homo” thing left and right. Now it has gotten so bad that you can’t say anything without hearing “no homo.” Basically if you talk about anything without making it clear what that thing is, you’re probably in a world of hurt. Let’s say your legs hurt so bad you can hardly walk. Don’t you dare say “Dang, I’m hurtin so bad I can hardly walk.” Ok for example, one of my teammates was putting on his deoderant -- couldn’t be a less “homo” thing, right -- and I guess he had applied quite a bit of it already. Well someone asks him “Why do you put so much on?” He replies, “I don’t know, I just keep rubbing it til the white shows up.” Oh my Lord did he get an ear full for not saying “no homo” after. It’s gotten so bad that we can be in the huddle now. Coach will say “Why can’t we get any balls inside?” I swear guys will look at each other like “He better say no homo.” It’s crazy because we play a sport. A sport that involves balls, no less. You can’t say anything sports related at all. “Dang I only got 2 balls tonight.” Nope, can’t say that. So now we are wrapped up in this “no homo” mess and we can’t get out. I, personally, and pushing for a return to “That’s what she said.” That way we can all enjoy our gross sports statements.

We did have one guy who never bought into the “no homo” nonsense. We picked up a 6’11” Brazilian kid named Morro [editor's note: Leonardo di Pacce dos Santos]. Morro speaks almost zero english. He has since been released and signed by the Tulsa 66ers, but it was real interesting while he was here. All he knows is cuss words. To me this is hilarious because it makes his points a lot more emphasized that they need to be. For example, he hardly got any playing time because the communication barrier was too strong. As a result he was always angry about his playing situation. We were roomates in the hotel when we went to Austin. Out of the blue he says to me: “My agent is motherf*#ker. Coach is motherf*#ker.” I start to laugh and I ask him why. He says “No money, no play? Both motherf*#ker.” HAHA. I speak real broken, simple english to him and I say “It no that bad. Be good. Patient Morro.” Morro then grabs my laptop and goes to I had never heard of brazilbasket but I can only assume it’s run by the same people as eurobasket, the largest international basketball website. The writing is in all portugese so I can’t understand any of it. He points to the very front page. “MORRO: 0, 0, 0, 0... blah blah blah portugese nonsense.” I ask him what that means in the best way I can. He says “Morro no play. Brazilbasket say Morro no play, Morro no good.” I say “Noooooo. No say that.” He replies “Yes! Nene? NBA. Vinicius? NBA. Barboza? NBA. Morro? The laugh at Morro!” I couldn’t help but laugh too. I mean that was hella funny. In the end, he switched teams and it worked out just fine for the guy.

Taking Morro’s place on our roster is a guy by the name of Jerome Beasely. Jerome used to play for the Wizards, right before I got here. I specifically remember him posterizing Brad Buckman while I was still in Austin. Well he’s back. I had no idea this guy was such a character. He might even be more of a character than me. The thing about Jerome is that he is all about wordplay. Like today he says “You’re tired because you just need to be home, in your sanctuary.” He takes pleasure from throwing out words like sanctuary. Jerome also thinks he can do everything. Like Renaldo is watching a Jet Li movie. There are obviously many Jet Li moves that get OOhh’s and AAaah’s from a normal audience. Jerome? He says “Those are basic moves really. He isn’t doing anything really advanced. Although later in the movie he will do some more uncommon moves that I will be able to complete soon.” Huh? What? Did you just call Jet Li’s upside down Chinese flying movie bicycle kick a common move? I could only imagine his 6’10” 270 lb. self trying to do a round house kick against Jet Li. But Jerome says he is a first degree blackbelt and that one day he will reach the 8th degree. It was when he said that that people started to look at him crazy. Actually, I guess it was just me, because everyone else says “That’s just J.B.” Well I didn’t know all that. Someone said to him “You are just a man of many talents, huh?” He replied “Yea, well actually there are only two or three things I can’t do.” I said “Hold up, hold up. You mean like two or three out of all the things in the world that can be done? Like everything, only 2 or 3 can’t be completed by J.B.?” “That’s exactly right, I can do about everything in the world except 2-3 things,” he replies. This really bothers me for some reason. Not in an angry way, but like a O.K. he can’t be serious kind of way. So I sit back and make a list of things I KNOW he can’t do. I text it to him:

Things u probly cant do

1. Tight rope walk
2. Hit a Barry Zito curve
3. Surf a wave
4. Recite Pi to 50 places
5. Define Hypotenuse
6. Compete in the worlds strongest man
7. Start a fire in the woods w/o matches or lighter

I tried to incorporate things from all areas of life, just to shut him down. To my surprise I got this back:

I can do all of them.

What? Who are you guy? You can’t possible believe that! So I see him a few minutes later and I say to him “There’s no way you can tightrope walk.” He says “It’s all about balance and focus.” I say “And you can do the strongman competition?” “All you said was can I compete, yea I can compete.” Interesting. I let it go for a while because I realize that he is not all about believing that he can do these things, but that he is about saying the right things to where you can’t prove him wrong. I later say “You can’t swim the english channel.” He says “If you give me enough time.” See all he is looking for in a verbal out. I get it. But I did get him to admit that he couldn’t say Pi to 50 places, but even that was a struggle: “SO what is Pi, to 50 places?” “Well you need to give me the time to think about it,” he says. I say “If you know it you know it, only geniuses can do something like that. I only know to four places.” He, of course, replies “Well you do know what classifies a genius right? See they say we only use 10% of our brain, so if you use 11% you’re a genius.” I guess he wins again, for now. But I would appreciate if you could suggest things that Beasley can’t do in the comments section. I actually think he would get a kick out of saying how he could do them. He actually is enjoying me writing this right now.

Even more Rod Benson

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Another Week in the D-League
March 6, 2007
I’m in Las Vegas. I’m warming up in a gym that’s bigger than any I’m used to playing in. There are more college coaches in the stands than I’ve ever seen before in one room. I see Roy Williams in his Kansas blue and red. I see Jim Boeheim and Gary Williams. My team, not known for having any talent (actually, probably not known at all), has come this far only through heart, will, and hard work. Our coach calls us into one last huddle before the game. He says “I guess there’s some kid on the other team who got top 30 at ABCD camp. Doesn’t matter, play your game.” I walk out onto the court and match up with the guy who’s closest to my height – I’ve got the 6’8” kid with the braids. First play down the court he gets the ball on the wing, drives right past me, and makes a tough lay-up in traffic. That was the first of his 30 points which included 14 spectacular dunks (only 8 counted because we kept fouling the alley-oop passer). That kid, I would come to find out months later, was Carmelo Anthony. The final score was 98-55 – them. That was the most embarrassing loss I had endured – until we played the Colorado 14ers last Monday night.

As soon as I checked into the game, it seemed we were down 30. 3 balls were raining from the sky at a frantic pace. The fans were in full trash talk mode the whole time. At halftime one of the fans says “Hey Benson! Yea I bought you a beer.” I look over and he has a beer in his hand, and one sitting next to him untouched. That A-hole. I managed a smile (you can never let the fans know they’re getting to you, obviously). When we came back out for second half warm-ups it was still sitting there. It sat there the whole game. This guy, drunk as he was, managed to not drink the beer. I think he knew that I continued to glance over every now and then and see it there. They say that in pro basketball everybody makes a run. Our “run” never got us closer than 16, so when the final buzzer rang and the score was 119-94, I looked over. The guy was gone. The beer was not. What poise and self-control it took this guy to execute such a good insult. I think our whole team could have used one at that point. First place team? Really? No we weren't, not that night.

The next day when we got back to “The Biz” as I’m calling it now, one of my closer friends on the team, Curtis Stinson, was released. I guess that’s how it goes. A few of us went to our local watering hole called “Bucks” to show him one last good time. We stayed at Buck’s until closing time (not without dancing for 2 hours straight first) then headed back to the apartments to play monopoly until 3 am. Bright idea I know. Well, we had to get up at 6am for a flight to Sioux Falls, but my retarded self forgot to pack the night before. So I had to pack in the morning running on empty – an event I don’t even really remember. The whole pack job is a complete blur in my mind. When we got to the airport I noticed that everyone else had big bags with them. I had two backpacks -- hmm first sign that I didn’t do it right. I say to Kevin Lyde: “Hey, Kevin, how many days is this trip?” “Four,” he replies. Oh snap there couldn’t be FOUR DAYS WORTH of essentials in my backpack, no way. I open up my bag and look inside. Ok, there’s one collard shirt, one pair of jeans, a pair of sweats and a jacket. NO WAY I didn’t pack ANYTHING else. No Underwear. No Socks. No toothpaste. No deodorant. No Phone charger. Obviously it was the best packing job of all time. If it weren’t for the fact that our flight was cancelled due to a big time blizzard, I would have ended up in Tulsa smelling like burnt hair and Tabasco. Lucky for me our trip was cut short and I was able to return to The Biz for a fresh set of clothes.

Our next game (after the Sioux Falls loss) was against Mateen Cleaves and the Bakersfield Jam. As you recall from the last time we played him, he talks a lot of nonsense. Since the last game, I’ve come to understand that he does this to get himself going a little bit. He text’d Kevin Lyde with “Tell the kids daddy’s coming home,” and “Now that I got my game right I’m goin for 30 on yall.” Well I guess that just doesn’t always work out. In the middle of our 20 point drubbing of the Jam, Mateen was shooting free throws. I swear we have some of the funniest fans in the league (maybe the cold air makes the brain wittier) because one of them says to Mateen: “Mateen, isn’t there an age limit in the D-League? Does David Stern know about this?!” I was on the bench with 4 fouls at the time so I was just dying laughing. Mateen turned towards our crowd and said something back that nobody could make out. The fan continued. “Does Tom Izzo know you’re here? Is he disappointed in you?” Mann our fans are great, huh?

After the game, Mateen, 7 of our guys, and I went to this bar I had never been to called “Sidelines”. It was there that I realized that he’s a pretty cool guy. For one, his chain is the brightest, shiniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. The diamonds, platinum, and gold were wayyy too big time for a random bar in a random place as far as he’s concerned. Second, he was part of the funniest event of the whole night. So there’s this girl at the bar. She’s 6’3”, 275-300 lbs. I kid you not this is her size. As soon as I walk in, Corey Williams says to me “Hey Rod, ask her to give you the hug.” She then says “Oh you want the hug?” I look at her from head to toe then I look at Corey the same way you would look at Steve Irwin if he asked you if you wanted to hunt crocodiles. I say to Corey: “THE hug doesn’t sound good. If it was A hug that’s one thing, but THE hug sounds like it’s a little too much.” Right then she just grabs me and picks me up about 5 feet in the air in the middle of the bar. My body is so long that I swear my limbs must have knocked over a couple drinks and smacked someone in the face. I don’t get embarrassed easily, but right then I was about as flush as a black guy could be. She finally set me down and I went about my business as if nothing happened. I guess nobody else in the place seemed to care, maybe this was her gimmick and she was the main attraction at the bar. Anyways, she did the exact same thing to Matteen. This guy, no joke, screams out like a 13-year-old girl at a scary movie. He bobbled his drink and everything he was so scared. It was funny because she got him from behind. It wasn’t long before she had picked up everyone. Yes, everyone, including 285 lb. center Kevin Lyde who was helpless to fight back. The only surprise was Darius Rice. This kid is lighter than me, yet, when she tried to pick him up, he locked his legs in some weird sumo stance, and picked HER up. They were almost wrestling it looked so awkward. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful evening aside from officially meeting one of the cooler guys in the league, Mateen Cleaves. I take back what I said about his head being big, with a hat on it looks proportional.

We play Idaho on Wednesday, and then go to Little Rock, Arkansas Friday. I hope you know that I’ve already bought new travel sized toothpaste and deodorant and put it in my travel bag. Basically I’ve already packed, so now I can concentrate on trying to get my 4th double double in 5 games. Wish me luck and check me out on

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