For all those kids fresh out of high school, as well as for all those who abandon college early to go to the pros, the NBA is a coldly Darwinian world. Much must be learned on the evolutionary path in order to survive and ultimately prosper. To help today's youth cope with the growing pains, we provide these examples of players at their current stages of development.
Make Your Body Your Temple
That sleek build forged by pickup games won't cut it in the buff NBA. Two words of advice for 19-year-old Clippers rookie DARIUS MILES: personal trainer.
Feed Your Mind
Minutes are often scarce: Pacers forward JONATHAN BENDER got only 5.4 a game as an 18-year-old rookie last season. The bench is a learning tool. (Sit by a smart guy.)
Behold the Grown Man
All manner of rewards come to the player, like sixth-year Timberwolves forward KEVIN GARNETT, 24, who has achieved Da-Manhood.
Get In Touch With Your Superego
You have teammates. Find them. For a fledgling gunner like third-year Warriors guard LARRY HUGHES, 21, the lesson here is not terribly complex: Pass the damn ball.
Put a Leash On Your Ego
Self-confidence is vital. Self-worship is not. The latter induces Kings' third-year playmaker JASON WILLIAMS, 24, to turn a simple dish into an ornate turnover.
Beware Your Alter Ego
At 25, ALLEN IVERSON, the fifth-year Sixers guard, should know that off-court image impacts on-court leadership. Instead, he's given new meaning to the term bad rap.
Tame Your Devil Within
He works hard, plays well, serves the community. Then 26-year-old, sixth-year forward RASHEED WALLACE of the Blazers erupts over a foul call and ruins his rep. Chill.