Trainer’s ‘Idanics’ a selfish slam dunk
THIS may well be the most selfimportant book ever written. There’s no question it’s interesting, but the unrestrained arrogance of the author smothers every page. The genesis of the book is this: Idan Ravin trains superstar basketball players. His claim to fame is his work with the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony. (At the end of the book he lists the names of his NBA clients, a stunning 55.) Ravin also works with WNBA players and prominent men’s college players. From childhood, Ravin has been crazy about basketball, and as a Washington, D.C. high schooler, he starred on his varsity high school basketball team. On that team was established a pattern that continues to this day: Ravin’s extreme determination, unorthodox training, and unusual passion for the game (and arrogance) led to clashes with coaches. To his chagrin, he was not recruited by major basketball college programs, and gave up his dream of becoming a professional player shortly thereafter. Shifting gears to academics, he took a law degree on the West Coast and began a law career. This bored him to tears, so he began to do volunteer athletic training, offering his unorthodox methods to college and pro basketball teams, specializing in getting top male college players ready for showcase workouts leading up to the NBA draft. It worked. He was soon working with some mid-level NBA players; when those players improved dramatically both in fitness and skill, Carmelo and the others started to come calling. Ravin ditched his law career and become a self-employed trainer to the stars. There are many eccentricities to his training sessions, and Ravin crows about these throughout the book. In fact, the book is really about how those unorthodox techniques constitute a kind of philosophy that encapsulates all the lessons Ravin learned over the years from his own crushing frustrations and eventual successes. To illustrate: instead of the usual exhausting gym hour, he writes of taking Carmelo and Chris Paul on a non-strenuous bike ride through the parks and streets of New York City. The point: to connect them to the everyday person, to remind them of their childhood. Ravin is so convinced that he has crafted a full-life philosophy that he gives it a label. Without a whisper of irony (or humility), he names it after himself, calling it “Idanics.” He presents a bunch of interesting, sometimes colourful anecdotes about his sessions with Durant, Kobe and LeBron, detailing how those sessions display the features of Idanics. While Phil Jackson’s books are somewhat similar, the man who has a hand in no less than 13 NBA championships comes off as humble compared to Ravin’s brazen boastings. Those who know something of the current NBA will enjoy the tales of these familiar superstar players. More often than not, the players come off as real human beings with unearthly talent, skill and competitiveness. But The Hoops Whisperer is not about basketball’s and its superstars. It’s about Idan Ravin. Laurence Broadhurst teaches in the departments of religion & culture and classics at the University of Winnipeg.
The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Heads of Basketball’s Best