Doing a project like “The Wake Up Call” meant a lot to me. The very essence of it really spoke to me because it’s about what I do-- mentor athletes.
I’ve coached kids in the high school ranks, the college ranks, and professional. I’ve been a private trainer to a wide range of athletes—from professional athletes to little kids to college athletes and to international ones.
I’ve been mentoring people who skateboard, wakeboard, play tennis and other sports that have nothing to do with basketball.
So, “The Wake Up Call” is an opportunity to introduce a guy that I personally know, Matt Barnes, who I’ve mentored and who has mentored me, taking the role of mentor for some young guys, some rookies.
Everyone wants to see Kevin Durant, LeBron James, or somebody like that in a content piece like this so it will go viral. But the KD’s, LeBron’s, and Steph Curry’s aren’t necessarily the people that have the pulse of the team. The guys that have the pulse of the team are the sixth, seventh, eighth, sometimes the tenth man on the bench.
Those are the guys who make sure the stars are free to express themselves and show the younger players what it takes to be a pro.
Matt Barnes encompasses any and every aspect of the NBA and being a professional basketball player. There is nothing that Matt Barnes hasn’t experienced; there’s nothing I haven’t experienced; there’s nothing that Earl Watson (who is also involved in the project) hasn’t experienced.
It’s a real, raw, unfiltered perspective about these guys and what they go through that nobody knows.
Nobody’s going to know that they were in between workouts for the Hawks or the Lakers, or why some players are on the court and some players aren’t. That’s just the game of basketball; some of the professional aspects of the NBA. You never know who you are going to see, you never know who’s watching, you never know when you’re going to get a message from someone you’re going to be able to use.
If I’m not mistaken, everything he said to those guys in “The Wake Up Call” came true or they experienced it not too long after production.
I loved the project, and it means a great deal to me. I hope that we can make 30 of these; I hope the next 30 years of the draft they come out. I took it very seriously, Matt did, the kids did, and I’m excited about it coming out.
As for my role in it—man, I did a bit of everything. I was an executive producer. I helped drive the questions and helped the guys present themselves correctly on film. I helped keep them from being nervous as much as possible.
I let them know this is Officialize. This isn’t ESPN, this is a true athlete first platform. We are here for the athletes, and we are here to be the athlete’s voice. I took this project very personal.
We were not trying to film Good Will Hunting but of course we wanted the piece to be up to industry standards. We are trying to film athletes in their natural environment, and that’s what we got. That’s what it’s going to be in the future.
I had fun just being a part of it. I was in the piece; I didn’t really want to be in the piece, but Matt and Earl wanted me to be in it. It felt important for me to be in it, so I jumped in. I can say with great pride that my heart and blood and soul is in “The Wake Up Call.
Man, being on set was crazy. You can’t really teach athletes how to talk to athletes. As a company, we pride ourselves on being this first-person account, this raw and unfiltered account of what an athlete says. But when you add that to production; well, sometimes production doesn’t understand that.
Some guys are visual and try to get real artsy. They’re trying to set up different shots and make sure it's up to studio quality, but at the end of the day, life isn’t up to studio quality.
Life is raw sometimes. Sometimes it’s black and white. Sometimes life isn’t even in English depending on where you're at.
Obviously, we don’t want to do this thing on VHS recorders and be dated. We want it to look good, but it was important to mesh the different aspects of life and maintain the authenticity of the piece.
So-- why should people watch “The Wake Up Call?”
If you liked the Kirk Cousins Wake Up Call, there’s no reason to think you will not like the Matt Barnes/NBA version. It’s about mentoring; it’s about life at the end of the day.
We’ve all seen those videos of athletes, rookies going doing those instructional videos. But while they are great at developing aspects of the game for professional athletes, they ignore the need for the development of the young man away from the game.
That’s what “The Wake Up Call” is about. It’s about being a professional basketball player now, in 2018. It’s about taking those two verticals, life in the game and away from it, and developing them at the same time.
Everyone needs a wake up call-- the college student who hasn’t entered the real world yet, the high school student entering college, the college guy going into the pros, the college guy who thought he was going to go to the pros and did not, or the college guy who thought he was going to go to the pros and went to the G-league-- there’s a wake up call for everybody in life.
“The Wake Up Call” is an outlet for all involved, almost therapy, A true mentors job is to share information not hoard it.