Trainer’s ‘Idan­ics’ a self­ish slam dunk

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Lau­rence Broad­hurst

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


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