The Celtics must win tonight if they hope to keep their season going. But as Boston watches with bated breath, there's one man who is stuck between both teams.
“This series is really tough for me because I know that one guy is ultimately going to move on which is great but I also know one guy is going to get knocked out, which is terrible. For me, I’m just sitting there. Not cheering.”
Drew Hanlen of St. Louis is a premiere trainer for NBA players. Two of his highest profile clients- Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid, are battling it out in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“It was funny, I was sitting next to Brandy courtside the other day and all my friends were watching me on TV and they’re like, you look miserable. I’m like I can’t cheer too hard either way because the other guy will get mad.”
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Brandy Cole-Barnes is Tatum’s mother. She’s seen Hanlen enhance her son’s game year after year, and says they have a great relationship, like brothers.
“We joke all the time…I think Jayson would have made it regardless but Drew definitely enhanced a lot of his skills and does a lot for his confidence. And they’ve been working together since Jayson was probably in the eighth grade,” she explained.
It’s time spent on the court without fanfare that Hanlen coined the “unseen hours” where minor adjustments pay major dividends.
“I think he’s grown in not just a scoring realm but also being more versatile as a player. Whether that’s a passer, that’s a facilitator or whether that’s a defender on the defensive end,” Hanlen said.
“Drew just has a high attention to detail. It’s the little things down to your elbows and your wrists & how high you are in the pocket and just the little things.”
The little things result in all-star game and regular season MVP awards for players like Tatum and Embiid.
“After games I’m breaking down film for Joel, telling him the adjustments he needs to make to be more successful. I’m breaking down film for Jayson, telling him the adjustments he needs to make to be more successful. So for me, I’m just cheering on both guys.”
And both guys do the work off the court to become legends of the league on it.
“The people that crave, crave improvement & the instruction and then they put in the work to follow and back that up, those are the people that truly reach their potential & have great things happen for their careers.”