LAKE CHARLES, LA (SportsRadio 610)- When Fred VanVleet’s teammates walked into their Toyota Center locker room on Monday they found a gift bag waiting for them at their locker. It contained headphones, Crocs, Smartgoggles, a deck of cards from Tiffany and Co. along with other items NBA players enjoy, but more importantly it contained a book that has a message VanVleet wanted to get across.
“I really want them to read the book,” VanVleet said Wednesday after the Rockets second training camp practice. “I know you got to sprinkle some candy in there, so they’ll take the medicine, but the other stuff was just a welcome gift to just bring us together a little bit.”
Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great, by Joshua Medcalf is the 130-page book VanVleet hopes his teammates will read and learn from.
“The book, more so than anything, is just (about) falling in love with the process of becoming great, and the process of that, and the steps that it takes. It’s not just a straight path to climb out of where we’ve been here, and you're gonna have to be in tune and locked in to the days when it’s tough.
“It's easy to be excited and energetic on the first day of training camp, but it's going to be those days in the middle of the season where things are hard and adversity hits and you got to just be able to push through and come together as a team.”
VanVleet isn’t the Rockets’ most veteran player, but he is their most accomplished. He was a key member of the Raptors 2019 championship team, and the only current Rocket to have appeared in an All-Star Game.
“Fred has been great from day one, not only on the court, but off the court,” Rockets head coach Ime Udoka said. “He's seen quite a few guys out in California and in the Bahamas, and so he's been a great mentor to all these guys already.”
The 29-year old got his first taste of NBA basketball in 2016 as an undrafted free agent with Toronto, a team that was coming off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, led by All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
“Two incredible guys to learn from on and off the court,” VanVleet recalled. “Learning habits, tricks of the trade, little secrets, things that you can do to get ahead, and ultimately the work ethic and professionalism. That’s two things that I was able to take from them.”
Surrounded by a bunch of guys just trying to find their way in the league, VanVleet wants to mentor his new Rockets teammates the same way Lowry and DeRozan mentored him.
“I remember Kyle told me my rookie year, somebody so him and somebody told them, you gotta learn it, get it, and pass it down. That’s what it’s about, so everything that I’ve learned and experienced in my seven years so far I’m going to share with this group, and they take the good and hopefully they throw the bad out.”