Social media has blown up over the last couple days with videos of some of the best players in the league playing pickup ball together.
A collection of players consisting of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, and role players like Lance Thomas and Dahntay Jones, has basketball fans wondering, who is bringing these dudes together?
The guy bringing them together is former Louisville walk-on Chris Brickley. But how did he get to this point?
Chris Brickley’s has forged valuable connections at each stop on his basketball journey.
As a top-100 high school recruit, Brickley chose to go to Northeastern where he would meet legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino’s son Richard.
Richard Pitino convinced Brickley to transfer to Louisville and learn from the senior Pitino. At that point Brickley knew he wasn’t going to make the NBA, but he had an unquenchable thirst for basketball and who better to learn from than Rick Pitino?
Playing for Coach Pitino was amazing. He taught me how to be a man and how to handle adversity. He taught me what real work ethic was. But coaching with Coach Pitino was a bigtime learning experience. 6am staff meetings. 3 hour film sessions. Most importantly he taught me LOYALTY. #TheGreatestToEverDoIt
After graduating from Louisville, Brickley got a job at Ole Miss and then landed an assistant gig at Fairleigh Dickinson in New Jersey.
While at Fairleigh Dickinson, Brickley became the youngest assistant coach in the country, but he also reconnected with former Louisville teammate Chris Smith, brother of JR Smith.
Brickley began working out with the Smiths and making connections within the Knicks organization. The Knicks noticed Brickley’s work ethic and dedication to the players he was training and hired him.
While with the Knicks, Brickley would work closely with Carmelo Anthony. As Brickley told Business Insider, he gained the trust of Anthony by being straight up with him.
Brickley said of giving Melo honest criticism:
“I wasn’t sure how he’d handle it, but after games I’d be like, ‘Dude you can play harder than that!’ I gave him constructive criticism … He ended up respecting me because of that.”
In a field where many trainers and coaches just tell players what they want to hear, Brickley isn’t going to sugarcoat anything, but he is also wildly dedicated to the players he trains.
That dedication allowed Brickley to leave the Knicks and do his own thing as an independent trainer, working with players across the league.
When former second overall draft pick D’Angelo Russell was traded to the Nets earlier this summer from the Lakers, Russell contacted Brickley as soon as he landed in his new city.
Brickley posted a video of Russell doing drills with the caption “2:09 AM. Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.”
Brickley literally got out of bed to go workout with Russell. It’s this dedication that has players around the league clamoring to work with the former Louisville walk-on.
But it’s not just the work in the gym that has NBA players interested in Brickley, he’s also a relentless student of the game.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Enes Kanter told Business Insider about Brickley’s appetite for the film room:
“He texts me in the middle of the day, like, ‘Hey man, who you wanna play like? Who was your favorite player growing up?’ And I’ll say like, Hakeem Olajuwon. And so he goes on YouTube and watches his workouts, his games, how he does it. Then we come the next day and we do the workout.”
That’s the kind of personal dedication and connection Brickley has for the players he works out with.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a multiple-time All Star like Melo or a young upstart like D’Angelo Russell, Chris Brickley wants to get the best out of his players.
We’ll be watching his players this season to see if Brickley’s help is paying off.