Landry Fields surprised everyone in the NBA this past season by starting nearly every game for the Knicks as a second-round draft pick. He came off the bench only once. But this summer, the Knicks shooting guard has no surprises to report just yet. He's putting his frequent flyer miles on hold a bit and he doesn't have any plans to play overseas. In fact, he's pretty much content with staying close to his childhood home in Long Beach, California, during the offseason.
These days, Fields is playing pick-up games and working out with a personal trainer in Los Angeles. He's preparing as if there's no lockout and there's going to be a season come October. Over the weekend, I was able to sneak in some time with the 23-year-old and speak with him about his summer schedule, endorsement opportunities and even planking. Read on. You might catch a surprise here and there.
Zwerling: What attracts you to endorsement opportunities? Is it a personality match, is it the product, a little bit both? And anything you're exploring off the court this summer?
Fields: It's kind of both. I never want to support a product that I wouldn't say would help my own image. It's also a financial reasoning; how much I can get out of it. But at the end of the day, when I do these appearances or certain events it's always humbling. I always give it my all. I don't just go there and be like, "I'm not glad I'm here; just look at me." I try and go out there and really give them their money's worth. It's basically personality and the product I'm trying to support. There is a big deal I'm working on, but I can't talk about it right now.
JZ: Young players, like yourself, are always asked which players they look up to, but are there any guys you look up to for what they've done beyond the game of basketball in their retirement?
LF: I mean, there's a lot. I couldn't say there's necessarily one person that I'm just like, "Wow, this is the guy." I mean, there's a ton of guys that do stuff after their playing days who really are doing well for themselves -- not just based on what they did in basketball games. I'm sure over time, I'll get to that and then take it from there.
JZ: What have been some of your favorite appearances so far this summer? Anything that was really fun or inspirational for you?
LF: I was in New York and I did an appearance at a Foot Locker for these three kids who won some sweepstakes to win a bunch of prizes from Foot Locker. It was just to kind of go in there and make a child's day. It was well worth it. There's also been silly ones where I went to a golfing tournament, which was weird because I'm not into golf and it was hot [laughs]. But I was thinking I could do something different outside of basketball. It was a lot of fun.
JZ: How's it back in Los Angeles? I know you're training out there. What kinds of things are you working on?
LF: My whole focus of this offseason is just having a mentality that you have to survive in the NBA. You look at other guys and how successful they are. It's a business; you can be here one day and gone the next. I'm just going out there, understanding my abilities and what I'm capable of, and executing everything to take that confidence into next season.
JZ: Based on your success with the Knicks, what was the reception like when you first went back home to California? Is the Long Beach paparazzi after you more?
LF: Nah, it's more so everybody I kind of grew up with, everybody I went to middle school and high school with, have all pretty much embraced me since I've been back. In terms of the general public, I'm not very well-recognized out here as I would be in New York.
JZ: Any vacations planned? Are you an adventurer traveler who enjoys doing some crazy stuff?
LF: No, not really. To me, I have the most fun just hanging out with my friends. It's a great job to have because you get to work out for a few hours a day and then kind of just chill. I mean, you can do whatever you want around. I don't really like venturing out too far. I don't know, maybe I'll do it one day, but right now I'm just enjoying the process with all my friends.
JZ: By the way, what do you think of this whole craze of planking? Dwight Howard's getting really into it. In fact, he did it on the wing of his airplane.
LF: [laughs] I don't even understand it. It's not even funny to me for some reason. I did it on a chopper blade [laughs], just kidding.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Fields, where he shares exclusively with me how he prepared for the lockout working with a prominent financial adviser to the pros.
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