By the lofty standards of NBA stardom, Corperryale L’Adorable Harris – a.k.a. Manny Harris of the Cleveland Cavaliers – has been slumming it. As an undrafted rookie backup on the worst team in the League last season, he wasn’t exactly living out the dream according to the script we all drew up in the ninth grade. And yet at the same time, Harris is living a damn good life.
The 6-5 shooting guard earned upwards of $750,000 in his first year out of college, and how many of your rec-league buddies dropped 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 23, or averaged 20 points in back-to-back games against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat in January?
From his hometown of Detroit, I talked to Harris last week about training during the NBA lockout, additions to his game, and what it’s like to be a self-made pro.
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Dime: Where have you been this summer?
Manny Harris: I’ve been a couple of places. I started out in Vegas, then I went to Philly for a couple of months. I just got back to Detroit about a month ago. All of those places I’ve just been working out, really.
Dime: Between those three cities, who have you been working out with?
MH: There were a lot of guys in Vegas at Impact Basketball. Chris Douglas-Roberts was in Philly with his personal trainer. In Detroit I’m working out with Ben Gordon. Guarding guys like BG and CDR every day have definitely helped my game. And Ben is teaching me so many different things on the court and off the court.
Dime: Have you been playing in any of the charity and exhibition games?
MH: Nah, I’ve just been playing at a couple of open gyms and getting my workouts in.
Dime: What facets of your game are you looking to improve?
MH: Ball-handling, mid-range … a little bit of everything. I’ve got a year under my belt now, so I can kind of see what I need to work on and where I can be good in the League. Having that year under my belt gives me a lot to base my game off of.
Dime: Like what?
MH: Just, like, my aggressiveness and my defense. Being aggressive on the offensive end, I want to continue that going into next year. Just being an all-around player – rebounds, assists, everything.
Dime: If this lockout had happened when you were a rookie, especially an undrafted rookie like you were, what would you be doing right now?
MH: I mean, I probably wouldn’t have gone overseas. I’m a person that likes to take chances, so I think I’d stay here, workout with some of the best trainers and try to get better. Then whenever the lockout ended, go out there and prove myself to NBA teams.
Dime: Was your rookie year what you expected?
MH: Not as far as the wins and losses, but as far as getting some experience and just playing, it was what I expected. The low point was definitely the 26-game losing streak. But honestly, throughout the losing our coaching staff and the players stayed positive and had great hard-working attitudes.
Dime: Did you get any rookie hazing from the guys?
MH: (Laughs) They tried, but they said we were lucky because other rookies got it way worse. I didn’t really get any hazing done to me, though.