Breaking Bread with Basketball Minds

This month while I was in China, I had the opportunity to spend some time with great basketball minds over dinner. We talked all things basketball, successful players and winning programs.


Mark Amaral

– Mark spent many years as the Assistant coach at Pepperdine University,  currently an Assistant Coach for Xinjiang Flying Tigers, a CBA team.  If you saw my IG post last week on the Villanova Men’s team, Pivoting, Penetrating & Passing, Mark is the one who showed me that. He said it’s a great reminder to have guards who can play

– On balance and under control. This minimizes turnovers.

– Make plays and use the dribble to create open shots for others or themselves.

– Make open 3’s instead of contested 2’s 

– Put your team into a position to win! 

– He also said, “You are who you can guard!” 

Ian Clark

-He is very humble! Ian played for the Golden State Warriors and won an NBA Championship in 2017. He currently plays Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

Here are my takeaways and his perspectives on the Golden State Warriors:


They had a holistic environment, everywhere you went, it was family. They treated you as a person in the organization, not just an NBA celebrity. They were really interested in your LIFE, your interests, your concerns and your family. They saw us as PEOPLE and NOT just NBA players. 


He was a family guy, very personable. He would always try to reach out to you before practice and ask questions like how our day was going, how is our family was doing, etc. 

-He was SUPER CLEAR with everyone’s role on the team, we played with clarity. 

– He always told the truth, bad or good. He taught us how to play the right way and to focus on what was right and true, instead of our feelings. He preached that “feelings come second.” 

– Coach Kerr EMPOWERED our superstars. Before the coaches could get on us about a mistake, the vets would get on us first, on and off the court. They would make sure we stayed FOCUSED on winning that ‘chip’ 


Consistency. They showed up to practice and play fully engaged EVERYDAY! They had the same routine during practices and games. It was incredible to see. Stretching, extra drill work, lifting, diet, sleep, recovery. They were true Professionals. Everyday was the same for them. It was almost like they had OCD.

– They were contagious as teammates. Always positive & talking to us. Their motor was always up and their spirit made you a better player. 

Kay Felder

Kay had a brief stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers and currently plays for the Flying Tigers too.  He is only 5’10” and has had a successful career, so I asked him: 


– Develop a swag & confidence about you. I grew up with playing against older men. 

– I would watch a lot of film when I was younger on Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, Ty Lawson

– I made sure anywhere I played whether it be AAU, pick up, high school, I always picked up FULL COURT on defense, because I knew I had to excel on both ends. I had to be a “pit bull.” 

– I worked on my handle a lot so I could play make and create. I was always trying to attack on both ends because if you are short, that’s what short people do. 

– I believe in God, so I know he has a plan for me!


– Know the game! When you are doing drills, make sure you know the purpose and WHY you are doing it. When watching film, know WHAT to look for. 

– Have FUN competing and playing with your teammates!

Kay Felder, Ganon Baker & Ian Clark in China

It’s always great to spend time with true professionals whenever you can. I’m sure you have noticed whenever I take a photo with someone, I have a closed FIST.

It lets people know to keep fighting the good fight. The fight against negativity, fear, laziness and mediocrity.

So here are the 5 F.I.S.T Principles I took away from breaking bread with these guys: 

1) Have PASSION for the season & game.

2) You have to have love to COMPETE to improve.

3) To be a PRO, you have to have a high MOTOR daily – practice & games.

4) Love to learn. It’s your oxygen to success.

5) Learn to love and live in the truth. Embrace it, crave it because it leads to wisdom!

Keep Getting After it!

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