What NBA players did this summer (Pt. 2)
October, 16, 2012
By Jared Zwerling | ESPN.com
ESPN.com IllustrationPaul George went to China while Jared Dudley and Marvin Williams journeyed to Europe this summer.After checking in with our first five pro ballers on how they spent their summers in Part 1, we're back with the second installment in the series.
This time, we spoke to six more NBA players and learned about cross-country trips, meeting Mini-Me and Drake, fear of tattoo needles and the value of Bikram yoga.
What was your favorite trip?
Cole Aldrich, Thunder: "I went to Johannesburg, South Africa, for Basketball Without Borders with the NBA. That was an awesome trip and we had so much fun. We went to some of the townships outside the city. The way they live is very different from how we live here in the U.S. Not all of the people there have running water or toilets. They live in shacks. It's a pretty unreal way to live. We saw so much poverty there."
Brian Cook, Wizards: "My summer vacation was kind of a little bit different than everybody else's. I didn't go anywhere special or anything, but what we did do was me and my wife, Victoria, and my three kids, we rented an RV this summer and we drove across America. It was a Discovery 42-footer. I reside in L.A. and we stopped at various sites, like the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Vegas, drove all the way to Central Illinois, where I'm from. That took about four days to get there. Every summer, I throw a basketball camp at the University of Illinois, so we decided to drive out there with the RV. After the camp was over, we stayed there for about a week and a half, spending some time with my family.
"We saw my mother in Lincoln, Ill., where I used to live. I also saw my grandmother, who's 90, and she was able to see my kids. I've got one who's 15, and then I got a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, all boys. Then we drove back. I drove the whole way. We did Colorado, Vegas, we hit up Vail a little bit. I had never been there. It was kind of crazy, man. It took about four days to get back, driving 12 hours a day. Basically we just kind of enjoyed the western United States. I got the idea to do it from earlier in my career. Right when I got drafted to the Lakers, I got an Escalade ESV, and then me and a bunch of my buddies drove out to L.A. to check out everything, to check out Staples Center and just check out the new team I was going to, and then we drove back. That's kind of where I got the idea from. I just wanted to do it again. This time, I didn't do it with my boys, but it was with my family, which was even sweeter."
Jared Dudley, Suns: "I always do a Caribbean-type vacation, so every year I change the destination. This year, I went to Barbados and had a beautiful time with my wife, Christina. It was my first time there, and it has a great combination of water, warm weather, relaxation, pina coladas. But the reason I chose Barbados is because out of all the Caribbean islands, it has the biggest waves and the water is still warm, and you can boogie board, you can surf. The other islands' water is real calm. Barbados has a surf side of the island and a calm side.
"I also try to do an overseas trip every year. This year, I did London before the Olympics and Paris. I had never been. I went to London for about five or six days, and went to Paris for like five or six days. When I went to London, I did all the sightseeing: Buckingham Palace, caught a Jay-Z and Kanye West concert, I went shopping, tried new restaurants, I went to a pub. It's always fun doing that. People are drinking beer early, relaxing. I had some fish and chips. It was cool. People are in their work clothes, hanging out, drinking beer. And then in Paris, we went shopping, more sightseeing, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, new restaurants. We did the tourist stuff. The architecture is crazy in Paris. I really loved it."
Paul George, Pacers: "China. The biggest adventure was interacting and learning their culture."
Amir Johnson, Raptors: "This summer I got to do a lot of traveling. I went to Ensenada and Cabo in Mexico, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Sydney, Australia, and Waikiki, Hawaii. My favorite adventure from the trips was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef [off the coast of Queensland, Australia,] and checking out the Sydney Opera House."
Marvin Williams, Jazz: "I traveled to Barcelona in August with my brothers and a few friends. We had a blast."
What's the craziest thing that happened on your travels?
Aldrich: "I lost my bags on the way back from Africa. I had to get the airline on the phone and make sure I got them back. We went to Dakar, Senegal, to refuel. Then we landed in D.C. and I don't know where my bags ended up going. All I know is they finally showed up at the house and all of my stuff was there."
Cook: "We were going through Texas and I was going a little fast and got pulled over. I would've liked to have offered tickets to him, but I didn't have a contract with the Wizards at that time. But I talked my way out of that ticket, but not by being a basketball player. They just kind of let me go. He was a real nice dude, which I didn't expect being in the middle of Texas. I had to empty out the waste stuff a couple times. That was pretty funny. We stopped at every state line and took pictures of "Welcome to Colorado," "Welcome to Las Vegas" -- all the state signs. So it was a good memorable trip for us."
Dudley: "We took a train from London to Paris and we had six suitcases, and then we had to carry all of them. It was crazy because they didn't have the pushing carts, so we had to carry all of our bags. We were kind of laughing it off. It's definitely different traveling alone than with an NBA team. We realized that when you travel like that, you've got to travel somewhat light or fly everywhere."
George: "I couldn’t believe I got [about] 6 million hits on YouTube for the [180-degree, through-the-legs] dunk I did there."
Johnson: "Nothing too crazy happened. I did have this crazy driver in the Dominican Republic that didn't speak any English. His driving was out of control. He was speeding and swerving around all of the potholes in the road. I felt like I was on a scary roller-coaster ride. I didn't think I was going to make it."
Williams: "Nothing too crazy. We hung out and tried new foods while we were there the whole time. I saw a soccer game -- probably the most exciting sporting event I've ever been to."
Any fun fan stories from your summer?
Aldrich: "When we were over in Africa, it was really unique to have the people be so appreciative that we were helping them. Working with those kids that were at the camp and what we did just felt great, and they showed so much gratitude."
Cook: "You know what? When I was in California, a few did. Then on my way back when I was in Utah, it was crazy because there were a lot of Jazz fans where we stopped at. I never played for the Jazz, but they knew who I was. It was kind of crazy because I'm talking to people in Utah. One of the people had just shot a 12-point buck. They pulled up to get gas with a 12-point buck stuffed with ice in the back. When I was young, I used to camp a lot because I'm from Central Illinois, where there's really nothing to do out there but shoot basketballs and camp and fish and stuff like that. So I had a good conversation with him and he figured out who I was, and it kind of got around pretty fast. So that was kind of cool."
Dudley: "Definitely. Both London and Paris. That's the power of Twitter, the power of social media where I've got fans everywhere I go. People ask me for pictures. I mean, it's not like I'm LeBron or Michael Jackson, but you recognize that there are NBA fans everywhere, and they want autographs and pictures. I'm very impressed with their knowledge of their game, I'm very impressed with just the basketball lifestyle. It's impressive."
George: "The people in China kept touching me, touching my hair, etc. It was a different fan experience."
Johnson: "I went to Caribana this year in Toronto, which is a huge Caribbean festival that takes place every summer and 1-2 million people go out for it. This year, I had my own float with '1 Love T.O.' and fans came out and got to ride the float with me. It was my first time ever doing something like that with my fans, so that was really cool to me."
Williams: "I ran into a few fans while in Barcelona. It was pretty cool to actually meet fans from other countries."
Did you pick up any new hobbies?
Aldrich: "Nothing new. I spent a lot of time golfing and playing Xbox. Southern Hills in Tulsa is a really nice course. My home course is The Wilds in Prior Lake, Minn."
Cook: "You know what? I got a 2- and a 1-year-old, so the transition over the last two years has been kind of crazy for me. I try to watch their every move. Now's kind of tough now that I'm out here in D.C., and they're out in L.A. in school. And I got a 15-year-old that's in school. Just being around them and being with my kids, I'm figuring out how to raise them the right way and trying to do the right thing. Being with my wife and kids has been a blessing for me this summer. I think for me, and talking to a lot of other guys, I didn't grow up with a father, so I want to be everything my father wasn't."
Dudley: "Besides working out, movies. I love trying new restaurants. My favorite food is Mexican food, and I stay away from that until the offseason. I also love Italian and I try to do organic food to try to stay healthy. Yelp is one of my favorite apps on my new iPhone 5. I ask my Twitter followers every time I'm in a new city. I've always loved to do anything, so traveling is really big for me. But when it comes to hobbies, man, I spend time with my family, eat out, I golfed a little bit this summer in San Diego, where I'm from and where I have my offseason home. But for the most part, man, just relaxed with friends and family."
George: "I'm really into making music with my friends. I got a bunch of studio equipment. I also love fishing and paintballing."
Johnson: "I've been really into building old classic cars lately. I'm working on a '96 [Chevy] Impala right now."
Williams: "I've actually been trying to learn Spanish in my free time. Barcelona inspired me."
Did you try out any new workouts?
Aldrich: "Nothing out of the ordinary. I did a lot of biking, though. We live near two lakes -- Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles -- so it was nice scenery to mountain-bike through. It's a part of Minneapolis called Uptown. It was an awesome area."
Cook: "During the RV trip, every once in a while, I had to stop and work out and do some running. I was able to do some running up some hills in Denver, which was kind of cool to get out there in the middle of nowhere. Also this summer, I did a lot of Bikram yoga. Like the first week was horrible, man. I just couldn't stand the heat. It was one of the hardest things I've done, and I've been running and training for years and years and years. It was kind of cool. I did it for about two or three weeks straight. By the end of the three weeks, I was doing pretty well, man. I heard Kareem Abdul-Jabbar extended his career four or five years with this, so I just thought to try it out this summer."
Dudley: "This summer, I did a lot of hot yoga in San Diego. My brother put me on that. I'm always about taking care of my body, so I did boxing one summer. Hot yoga I really like because you get a good sweat over about an hour, and it makes you more flexible. I can really see that helping me out in the future. I want to get more involved with that."
George: "I tried yoga this summer to add to my flexibility."
Johnson: "Believe it or not, I actually tried dancing this summer. I took dance classes in Studio City in Los Angeles. I tried ballet, hip-hop and salsa, so I could learn to be lighter on my feet."
Williams: "No, I stick to the same program physically every summer. My trainer Jonas Sahratian [from UNC] does a great job of keeping me healthy, and getting my body in shape for the season."
Did you relocate at all over the vacation?
Dudley: "I tried to buy a new home in San Diego, but I got outbid. After watching 30 for 30's 'Broke,' it's smart when you have your price range for your home and you keep it. If someone outbids you, you don't go over your budget. You keep it within your budget. I got a couple of new arcade machines in my [current San Diego] house. I got 'NBA Jam' and 'NFL Blitz.' I found them on Twitter. I just asked someone. Sometimes teammates play, but mostly a lot of my friends who come in town."
George: "I purchased my first home. My favorite amenity is my backyard. I never had a big backyard growing up."
Did you buy a new car?
Cook: "I've always wanted an old-school car, and this summer I picked up a '68 Cadillac DeVille. When I got it, I had to redo all the electrical work and stuff like that, but it's in pretty good condition. I'm in the process of customizing it right now. I've been to Graceland and I've seen Elvis' cars and they're really, really nice, man. I'm trying to get mine customized in that type of condition. The first thing I had to do was get it running the right way. I first have to do all the tune-up stuff that needs to be done. I've got to wait a little bit. I've got to make a little bit of money this year. With a non-guaranteed contract, I've got to make a little bit of money this year. I've got to take care of my family, then try to work on my baby."
George: "I just purchased a Porsche Panamera."
Johnson: "I bought a Mercedes Sprinter van and I bought my boy a Can-Am Spyder motorcycle."
Did you get any new ink?
Cook: "I don't have any tattoos. A couple of years ago my wife tried to take me, man, to get one done by [popular tattoo artist] Kat Von D in L.A., but on the way, I don't know what happened, I told her to pull over. I started throwing up. She's like, 'What's going on?' I was like, 'Take me home.' I think I was just nervous, man. I guess tattoos aren't for me. My wife was pregnant with my first son, so I was going to get his name or something to do with my family or a Bible scripture. Maybe I'll try again sometime soon, but I don't know."
Dudley: "You know what? I don't have any tattoos on my body. I thought about it, but I promised my mom and my family I'd never get a tattoo."
George: "I got two tattoos: one of a lion on one hand, and one of a tiger on the other hand. They are my favorite animals, and they represent who I feel I am on the court. They are silent, but they are beasts."
Johnson: "I got a few new tattoos this summer. I got a collage of the 'Spawn' characters on my calf. I used to like the comic book when I was a kid, so it represents that part of me. I also got the Eye of Horus on my neck, which is the Egyptian symbol for protection and good health."
Williams: "I haven't added any new tattoos, but I'm actually in the process of getting one removed from my hand."
Who was the coolest person you met this summer?
Aldrich: "I met Verne Troyer, who's Mini-Me [in the 'Austin Powers' movies], Quinton Aaron from 'The Blind Side,' Christopher McDonald, who plays Shooter McGavin in 'Happy Gilmore,' and some more great celebrities at The Starkey Hearing Foundation gala in Minneapolis. It was really an amazing event and an amazing organization."
Cook: "I was pretty much with my family this summer, so I don't have anyone. I just tried to have fun with them. You don't have to have a lot of money to have fun. That's what we tried to do this summer, just hang out and enjoy the family."
Dudley: "I had a great conversation with Anthony Robles, who won the  wrestling championship with one leg from Arizona State. He came and spoke to our team, and he was a very impressive person. He only had one leg, beat everyone and showed how strong he was. If he can do that on one leg, we're all 100 percent healthy and we can work a lot harder to get to our goals."
George: "The Game. I played in the Drew League with him. He was super-cool and it was a lot of fun."
Johnson: "The coolest person I met this summer was probably Drake. We knew each other before, but this summer we hung out a little more in Toronto and L.A."
Williams: "Not this summer, but last spring I ran into the rapper Gucci Mane in the mall. Super-cool guy."
Did you get engaged or married?
Aldrich: "I got engaged. I proposed on a boat in northern Wisconsin, on Lake Owen. When we got engaged, we were up at my fiancee's cabin where the lake is. She thought maybe I was going to propose in South Africa, but I surprised her and did it there. We had a whole weekend because her dad hosted a golf tournament to benefit MS [multiple sclerosis] that weekend, so it worked out nicely."
Cook: "My fourth anniversary was July 4th, so I lost my independence on Independence Day, man. It's all a celebration. We go do the fireworks in L.A. This year, we did July 4th at Dodger Stadium and we rented a field box. I had the kids out there. It was pretty cool. They didn't put us on the kiss cam or any of that. We enjoyed ourselves. Afterwards, they had a whole fireworks show where they let people out on the field. We were already on the third-base line, so we had great seats for the fireworks. Then we put the kids to bed, and that was it."
Dudley: "I celebrated my anniversary in Barbados."
George: "I got engaged. Her name is Season 3 and I hope to give her a ring in June."