Q+A: Joe Abunassar

Joe Abunassar has been a prominent basketball trainer over the past 20 years. He has trained many NBA players through his program, Impact Basketball.

While he focuses on his family and business, he is also training for the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. We recently caught up with Joe to talk about his journey to the Ironman competition as well as his life in basketball.

SLAM: So let’s get started off with your Ironman journey. How did you first get started with it?

Joe Abunassar: Well, you know, I’ve always worked out a ton and then when I was at IMG, one of the parents of a player there asked me if I could swim and I said, Absolutely. I grew up swimming. So she says you might like doing this. So, anyways, I’ve always run and worked out and everything so I got a bike and started running and I did a Olympic distance one the first year when I was 30. When you do Ironman stuff or triathlon stuff, you either love it from the beginning or you quit, and I kind of fell in love with it and took it from there and a year later I hired a coach and kind of realized I was pretty good at it and it got fun. So its been something I’ve been doing now for, I guess, I’m 44 so 14 straight years.

SLAM: How do you become an Ironman?

JA: So you start off with shorter triathlons then you become one by finishing one. So, I just had the desire to do the longer distance ones right from the start. I’m usually pretty excited about different challenges so after I did an Olympic distance and then a half Ironman, I said, you know what? I’m ready. I’m ready to see if I could do this and then in 2004 I did my first one and you know, finishing the race would make you technically an Ironman. Luckily for me, I don’t have to be on the course that long because I do pretty well at them. So, some of the people stay out there 16, 17 hours and I’m usually done by 10 so it’s a little bit better and then I started kind of competing with them and putting that goal and everyone in the triathlon world, if you do Ironman, your goal is to get to Hawaii. So that’s kind of the reason. Well, the goal is to finish each race and enjoy it, but that Hawaii thing, if you’re fast enough and you have a chance at it, it’s always stuff you’re shooting for.

SLAM: Have you gone to Hawaii?

JA: I have not. This will be my first year that I made it to Hawaii.


SLAM: Well congrats, that’s awesome. How you would you say what you do now relates to the Ironman competition?

JA: Well, what I do for a living is prepare players, train players to, you know, if you look at Kyle Lowry, who’s playing a lot of minutes, I mean my job is to get him ready to perform at a high level. So it’s all about preparation. It’s all about his basketball skills, his strength, conditioning, his nutrition. So, when you train a basketball player at our company, Impact, in general, we train basketball players. So, we train DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett. We’ve trained Billups his whole career, you know, guys like that. Lowry, Porzingis, Myles Turner, those types of guys and we also train all the way down to kids. So, what we do for a living and what we do at Impact is create the training program that really makes people the best they can be. So, if you relate that to what I do, obviously when you train for an Ironman or train for a triathlon, it’s 100 percent about preparation. So, I have to eat right. I have to train hard. I have to lift waits properly. I have to take care of myself. See the physical therapist to make sure I’m loose and flexible, you know, free of ailments. So, basically, it’s just really the same thing that I expect my guys to do, I do myself. It’s real helpful to me also from a knowledge standpoint, I know what it feels like when your body’s dead. I know what it feels like when your nutrition isn’t good and you just don’t feel good. I know what it feels like when you have an injury and you’re trying to work through it. So, relating that to what we do at Impact and what I do with these NBA guys is a very direct correlation. Not to mention, it kind of, obviously I’ve been doing this for 20 years, so my credibility of a basketball trainer isn’t really in question with we had 12 first round picks alone last year in the draft. So, as I built my business, it was a huge credibility thing for me because guys are understanding that I’m not asking them to do anything in their lives that I don’t do myself. So, it was always a parallel in something that, you know, that the Garnetts and the Billups, you know, Tyronn Lue lived in my house when he came out of Nebraska and him and Al Harrington together lived there and they were my first clients. I mean, they always kind of respected the fact that when they woke up in my house, I was already gone working out. Tayshaun Prince stays with me in the summers in Vegas. When he gets up, I’m out the door early riding. When they see me in the gym, I’ve already put in two or three hours of training in the heat. So, you know, it makes it a little bit easier to listen to me I would think. I would think, okay this guy doesn’t sit on his ass. So that’s really the correlation. It’s all about preparation, training for an Ironman race and executing it and that’s what we do for a living. We train guys. We teach them how to execute it. And then the other side, if you go even further, it’s mentally challenging. So, if you look at what Lowry is doing in the playoffs, clearly he’s had his ups and downs in these playoffs. He’s the same basketball player, yeah after the first two series that ended up going seven games, fatigue sets in. I know how that feels, so I’m able to relate to him and help him, but it also, from the mental side, it’s a huge challenge. So how do you play 82 games, I mean, Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince when they were with Detroit, they played over 100 games six years in a row. I mean that takes a very strong mental approach. It takes a lot of focus and anyone whosever done an Ironman race or long races like that, if you lose your concentration halfway through the race, you’re done. You’re toast. When you train for Ironman on long runs, you kind of train your mind too. You don’t feel good at mile 16. I remember my first Ironman I asked my coach, you know, what do I do if I feel like I can go a little faster at mile 16 of the marathon and he laughed and said you won’t, you know, he’s exactly right. It’s a mental side and it’s a physical side. It’s very similar and I think it’s something we have a lot of experience with from doing it with other pros and for me, doing it with myself.

SLAM: OK, you brought up the mental side of things a lot. How do you teach that? How do you teach them to stay strong mentally during the course of the season?

JA: Well, I think you spend a lot of time with them. I think you put them through a training regimen that would challenge their minds. You hear the whole thing in basketball from coaches down to elementary school coaches will tell kids you play like you practice. Don’t expect to do anything when you play that you don’t do when you practice. And that’s really what we train here at Impact. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve tried to put guys and my staff has tried to put guys at positions that would challenge them mentally in the training so when they get to the games, they’re used to it. I will say that no different than Ironman and you can ask any triathlete thats done long distance events is that you learn in your first couple. You know what I mean? You don’t just come out knowing it all at the beginning. Everyone who’s done an Ironman that’s good at them has had a bad race. You know, where your nutrition wasn’t right and you just had to stop running at mile 10 and those types of things. So, I think that from a basketball perspective, you’ve gotta play through stuff. There are certain things that you have to go through as a player to get through where you need to go. Emmanuel Mudiay is a client of ours and he had his ups and downs as a rookie and in Denver. One of the things I talked to him a lot about was, and actually Chauncey Billups talked to him as well, he said look at the stuff you’re going through now is why you’re going to be good in five years. So, Chauncey went through it and he got traded six times early in his career. When he got to Detroit and he finally settled in, that experience really benefitted him. That’s what he told Emmanuel. So we tell guys you gotta go through some stuff. You gotta fail a little bit. DeMarcus cousins is here now already doing two-a-days and getting his body in shape and getting ready to go because he’s already gone through a couple seasons where he has had some injuries that might be able to be taken care of if he did a lot more earlier in the summer. So here he is doing it. But again, we can tell them and they listen but sometimes you gotta be able to experience stuff to do it. No different when I can tell someone who’s doing an Ironman, they ask for advice, I say you just gotta do a couple to figure it out. You gotta train. You gotta prepare, but also you have to do a couple. So that’s it. We try to put them in tough situations and then we coach them through those ups and downs and just keep them going and then you hope that the experience of the failure for them or just not getting where they needed to go will help them in the future.

SLAM: So pretty much it’s a lot of leading by example, would you say?

JA: Oh I think that’s exactly what is for me. I think that that’s a huge thing. I think that’s something that means a lot to me saying, OK, you know, anybody that’s ever been to the gym that has a trainer who doesn’t eat right and doesn’t really work out at all has a really hard time getting motivated. Even at Equinox or 24-Hour Fitness or wherever they train. It’s not only leading by example but learning by example too. Like I said, when I talk to someone about nutrition, it’s like I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to have no energy and to really feel sluggish and my legs are heavy and when I talk to them about recovering better, i know what it feels like after a 20 mile run to not take my time to stretch and do an ice bath and I feel like crap. Whereas, if I would have done it, you know, I would have been fresh. So when I tell them that, I think it means a little more.

SLAM: OK, so how tough was it for you starting out with the Ironman? Were you able to finish your first ever Ironman?

JA: I did. I had a really good coach and I had a really good time. My first race was Ironman Florida 2004. I actually did a 10:20, which is a very good time in general. Out of 2,500 people, that probably put me in the top 150. So, that was my first one and again, my knowledge of training and listening to my coach helped me out. A normal person that’s never gone through that kind of stuff, they don’t get it. Like when you have to eat every 20 minutes, you have to eat every 20 minutes. That’s what you gotta do. You can’t eat every 40 and hope you’re going to wing it. So I followed a plan to a T and I did pretty well. The races are awesome. No matter how many you do, when you get to mile 25, no matter how much you suffered or hurt the whole time, it’s an incredible feeling, but to me, what makes it really great is the training. I love the training. We talk to guys here all the time at Impact kind of one of our trademarks is that you have to love the grind. In order to be great, you have to love the grind, which is the grind is getting up early in the morning. The grind is training when you don’t feel like training. It’s getting extra shots up when you don’t feel like getting extra shots up. If you don’t love that process, then you’re really going to have a hard time being very good. So, You know, that’s just something that we believe in too and I think it’s very similar in the triathlon stuff is that if you don’t love the training, you’re in trouble because when you have a Sunday morning where you have to start at 6 and you don’t finish ’til 3 or 4, you better love training or you’re going to be a miserable person. So that’s very similar to how we talk to our guys here. If you look at all our media stuff, if you look at our website, like our hashtag type stuff is all love the grind and honestly, I think that’s the case in every business. If you’re a salesman, and I speak to some business sales people at conferences, I do some keynote speaking; it’s like look, that’s the key. Do you love the training? Can you grind it out? Do you love grinding it out? If you don’t, then your success feeling is gonna be pretty low. So, it’s a cool thing to be able to have suffered through some stuff and then be able to look at a guy and obviously I’ve been training basketball players for 20 years, so I know what works for Garnett. I know what works for Billups, so when I have a Lowry and a Cousins, I can really base my program and how I’m dealing with them off of what did and didn’t work for other guys.

SLAM: I had a friend tell me once that his football coach in high school would always tell him to find the one thing you hate and then do it. So if you hate running, do it. It’ll all help you in the end. How is your relationship with all of the players that you train? Are there times when you’re training with them that they they’re mad at you at times?

JA: Honestly, the relationship between the players and me is the absolute most important thing that we could have because everybody whose played sports knows that if you don’t like your coach, you’re not going to listen to anything they say no matter what they’re saying. Look, to this day, Al Harrington and I are best friends. He’s my son’s godfather. We do a lot of stuff together. We do a lot of business together. Billups we talk to all the time. I talk to Tyronn Lue right after all the Cavs games, you know. So the relationship that I build with these players is the most important thing I could have and, I guess, as an athlete I know that too cause I’m not going to listen to someone I don’t like. So it’s a thing that people say why do so many pros, why do so many people come to Impact? They love being here. They feel good about being here. Another thing too is I think that is important is that when an Ironman race starts, the announcer Mike Reilly, who does all the races and is kind of a famous figure on the Ironman circuit, when you’re in the water and you’re treading water and you’re waiting for the cannon to go off or you’re getting ready to go from the side, depending on what race it is, the one thing he always says is, “The only thing you can control out there today is your attitude.” And I took that from Ironman and we’ve used that a little bit here and to say, you can’t control how many minutes you’re going to get. You can’t control how many shots go in, I mean you can, you can improve, but you can always control your reaction or your attitude toward that so it’s something that we’ve built a very positive, and this is something I believe in personally with or without Ironman, but we’ve built a very positive environment around our players to where we train players in a positive manner. So you ask about my relationship, yeah we have some times where they’re like, man I don’t want to do that. And I look at them and say, okay if you don’t want to be great, that’s absolutely fine with me. I’ve got a gym here with 160 banners on the walls or 200 banners on the walls of guys I’ve trained. I’ve flown the private planes with the guys and all that; I’m not looking for that. I’m trying to make you great. That’s really where our relationship goes with our players is that we’re just trying to make you great and that’s why we’re pushing you to do these things.

SLAM: What all do you incorporate into your training with the players from Ironman?

JA: There’s really not a lot of examples. When you’re in Ironman you swim, bike and run. For example, I’m in great shape, but if I tried to play basketball for two hours, I’d be sore as hell. It’s a whole different muscle group. The one thing is this, I do believe that in the NBA and most levels of basketball that guys or girls are not fit enough because the power of being fit, the cardiovascular capacity. So if you’re a basketball player and you’re a great shooter, obviously when fatigue sets in, you’re not going to be a great shooter anymore. What we do from a basketball company, we do their strength and conditioning, their basketball skills, their physical therapy. So we combine everything together with their nutrition. So kind of our business model or what we are at Impact, we’re the one stop shop to make you a better basketball player and what we understand is that all those different elements, the nutrition, the lifting, the stretching, the therapy, you can’t be great without those things. So we really understand how to combine all that together and put it into a program to where guys are getting better, staying healthy, the whole thing. Whereas other people, you might know basketball. You might know strength. We do it all. From an Ironman perspective, it’s a correlation of if you can be in the best shape ever for a race, and if you’re nutrition’s off or you’re dehydrated, you’re done. I just raced Ironman Texas and it was 92 and humid until there was like a hail storm at mile 20 of the run, which is one of the most bizarre days in Ironman history and the way the weather changed and the course was flooded, but at the same time, I had a really good swim and a really good bike and the heat got to me toward the end and obviously there’s not a lot I could have done because I’m training in LA right now, which is where I trained for that race in L.A., which is 65 and cool. So, when I go to Hawaii, I have to deal with the heat, which I’m in Vegas all summer so I’ll be able to deal with the heat in Hawaii. Those are the kind of things that we transfer over but there’s not really a lot of things in the training actually. Like I said, I’m a basketball coach by trade. I started coaching in college. I was a manager for Knight and then I coached four years in college so I came into this whole training business from the basketball side, not from the training side. We’re coaches is what we are. So we understand the game how to simulate the movements of basketball. Get guys stronger and get them going in the better way.

SLAM: So we’ll jump into a little bit more about basketball. When did you find a love for the game?

JA: I’ll tell you, when I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to coach college basketball and I don’t know why. I read a book called Season on the Brink on Coach Knight by John Feinstein and I was hit by the effect that Coach Knight had on those players’ lives. I was very taken by the book. I think, oh I’m going to coach college basketball. I played high school basketball, but I wasn’t great. I was a better lacrosse player. But anyways, I worked Five Star camp out in New York and also in Pennsylvania, which is a famous camp. Mr. Garfinkel actually just passed away a week or two ago who founded the camp. So, I did all that so I could get recommended to be a student manager for Coach Knight at Indiana in my preparation of coaching. Long story short, I got to Indiana. I was a manager there four years. I loved it. We were a great team. I studied how to be a coach. I went in and I got a job. I was the youngest Division I coach in the country at 1993 at Wyoming. I wasn’t the head coach, assistant coach. So I coached for four years at Wyoming and then I loved basketball. I loved affecting young guys’ lives. The head coach got fired after four years so we all go with him of course and before I was heading to another job, I was asked to workout some guys for an agent, some pro guys. And I’ve always had a background in strength, conditioning and nutrition. I’ve always been fit. I had my certifications from National Strength and Conditioning Associations, so I became the guy who could go in and do the basketball and do the strength and conditioning, which is very rare. Luckily for me, the first guys that he sent me to were Kevin Garnett and Joe Smith and Chauncey Billups and even Tyronn Lue was one of my first guys, Al Harrington. So I kind of got thrown a bone by those guys, but I immediately struck a great relationship with them and started training with them and that time I decided I don’t really want to go back into coaching cause I never loved the recruiting side of it and I didn’t like the fact that I’d be living in different places my whole life, just the nature of the business. So anyways, I started training guys and I built a business to the point where in 2001, where it was going somewhere that I needed a home base for it so I opened the basketball segment of IMG academy in Florida. Before I got there, there was no basketball, so in 2001 of January, we opened that. That went very well and it was then at IMG that I learned the business of what I was doing and not so much how to train players but how to run the business side. And then I opened up Impact in 2006. So I’ve been in basketball everyday really since I was 18-years-old. I mean, even in college I spent everyday and all day in the locker room, you know, on the court practice, breaking down film and the whole thing. So, that’s really what is was and it just kept growing and now we’ve managed to take the business to where we don’t just train pros. You know, we have academies. We have boarding schools. We have summer programs. We train foreign teams. We’ll have two or three teams from China in the summer. We’ve already had some Philippine teams in. So, we took that same concept I used for Garnett and Billups and those early guys and expanded to a full staff and business and facility.

SLAM: How were you able to expand that much?

JA: Well, we did it slowly and I don’t want to say we were smart about it but we never took large investments and we just built it day by day and we have a niche now for 20 years we’ve been churning out the best basketball players in the world. But, we’ll also take a kid who’s a sophomore in high school and wants to make the varsity and make sure he makes the varsity by getting him better. So, we’ve actually just 18 months ago we released a coaching certification, which is online. It’s a full curriculum for coaches to become certified in the way we train players. So, basically, it has everything from when to lift weights to when to do drill work to how to schedule it. How to put your calendar together, you know, what is too much? What you should be doing in March because you know a lot of high schools don’t have strength coaches or trainers. So, we’re doing very well with that. So, really it’s just, we just grew it. I mean, it became a word of mouth thing and now we’ll have another 6-10 first round draft picks and we have players from all over the world coming in all the time. This week alone, we have 15-17 countries represented of different guys that are here training with us. Over the summer, it gets even bigger. We have youth camp for kids that come from all over the world. We have groups from China, groups from Turkey. American players, they’re coming in. We have the elite in the world who are going to be top five draft picks and like I said, we have a kid trying to make his freshman team and they’re all doing the same thing basically. So I guess the answer to your question is we really stayed a lot of times, it’s more of a lesson I guess in business, we stayed focused on what we do well and we have a really nice niche in the market.

SLAM: I gotta ask real quick, were you at Indiana during the infamous chair throw?

JA: No, I was after that. I was ’89-’93. I think that was ’86 or something like that. I think actually the chair throw was in chronicles in that book I read, Season on the Brink. So, when I was at Indiana and obviously Coach Knight is a huge part in my basketball development being there for four years. Obviously I don’t get a job at 21 as a division one assistant without Coach Knight. It just doesn’t happen. We were great. We were No. 1 in the country my whole junior year. We went to the Final Four. We went to the Final Eight. That was back when we had Calbert Cheaney and Alan Henderson and Damon Bailey and those guys. My freshmen year, we were okay because all those guys were young and then we were in the top 5 or 7 consistently the next three years. No chair, no chair. Everyone wants to know about the chair.

SLAM: Do you take any of Bob Knight’s coaching ideals with you while you’re training the athletes?

JA: Well, of course. What Coach Knight really focuses on is fundamental skills. It’s interesting because I speaking on the championship production at the Nike Clinic on the circuit and Coach Knight does as well. So I get to see him now, which is cool. It’s funny, he always asks me what am I doing there and I say I’m speaking. He’ll just say, “What are you speaking about?” So it’s always a little bit of a jab at me like you’re still a manager to me. I mean, Coach Knight was very focused. What made Indiana so great and what made Coach Knight so great is that attention to detail and I think that’s something we of course take to all of our players. In terms of the basketball skills and everything, it’s not that complicated. There’s shooting, dribbling, all that stuff so of course a lot of the stuff I learned from Coach Knight. Even from a basketball methodology from spacing to, you know, the correct way you run stuff and all the stuff is definitely something that I always will take with me. But, honestly, the way Coach Knight ran the program with the details is the way I try to run my company. So I learned a lot from him for sure.

SLAM: What would you say is the most gratifying part of your job?

JA: Well I’ll tell you this, when you sit there and you watch Game 7 of Toronto and Miami and then Kyle Lowry has two off games and you tune in for Game 3 after talking to him and being with him all last summer and being with him really for nine years and you watch him do what he did the other night, that’s pretty gratifying. To be able to physically and mentally play at that level knowing that it’s been a battle for him for nine years to get himself to that level. When I flew to Detroit that February 10 for Chauncey Billups’ jersey retirement, it’s an interesting story because I’m all over the place and Chauncey had called me a couple days before and I’m from Detroit, so when he was in Detroit with Tayshaun I was there a lot with my family, my mom and dad were there and everything. So, I never minded going. He said to me two days before, I’ll see you Wednesday and it was Monday and I had not planned to go and his quote was, “I don’t even want to hear it that you’re not going.” And it meant a lot to me. Me and Chauncey, we have been through some battles together. Through injuries and I flew around with him to Orlando and Denver and Toronto and Boston and all the different places he’s been and we stayed in apartments together and I stayed in his house so those are the kinds of things that makes me really really pleased of what I do for a living and for someone to say to me, when his jersey is getting retired, thanks for being here, you had a big part in this. That’s what you do it for. Everybody’s gotta make money and all that stuff but I gotta tell you, to have a kid come to our camp in the summer for three weeks and email us and say he made his high school team, that’s good stuff. It’s something we don’t realize how important sports experiences are in young people’s lives and basketball has been my life since, shoot, since I was 18 so 26 years. It’s just been what I’ve done and I’ve had great people through it and created lifelong friendships and that type of thing. The gratifying part is sitting back watching someone get what they wanted to get based on my ability to help them and stay focused with it.

SLAM: So how do you have time for all of this?

JA: Well the Ironman shit ain’t easy. That’s the part you gotta give my wife and kids credit for excusing me from family events sometimes. It’s not easy. I’m not really the one to sit around much. Someone will ask me, have you seen that show? I haven’t turned the TV on other than to look at a game, in years. I wouldn’t even know what those shows are. I’m not stupid. I know what some shows are but you just have to prioritize what you’re doing. I’ll tell you what and going back to the Ironman stuff, if you interview 200 guys who have qualified for Hawaii this year, they’re not going to have stories all that different than mine. I mean, they got families, they’ve got kids because that’s who likes doing Ironmans is someone who has that sort of crazy drive in them. People say to me all the time, “Why do you do that?” Well I love it. So, that’s the way I approach my business and you couldn’t run a business that I run or do an Ironman without having the similar characteristics. If I fly somewhere, and I land at 9 at night and I have an 8-mile run on the schedule, I’ll go run. If I can’t go outside, I’ll find a treadmill. I’ll find a 24-hour gym or go to a hotel. Obviously most hotels, I would stay in would have it, but I’ll schedule my flights around my workouts because I’m not going to miss them. My wife thinks I’m a little nuts and will tell me, “Oh just do it tomorrow.” And you can’t and that’s my philosophy with players. You can’t be great unless you got your plan. You got your plan and you stick to your plan and you adjust your plan, but you never let up. In basketball, there’s something when the guys get drafted, or when a team is looking to trade for a guy, they’ll always ask me, “What’s his motor like? How’s his motor?” and basically that means his motor is how hard he plays. Is he lazy? Does he go hard all the time? The greatest compliment you can give a guy is to say, “Hey, he’s got an amazing motor, an unbelievable motor.” I can’t ask a guy to have a big motor when I don’t have a big motor, when I’m tired or how I don’t want to go here or there. Sometimes I’ll wake up in LA, I’ll be at my gym in Vegas by 9 a.m. I’ll work all day and I’ll be back in LA by 6 o’clock in the evening. And working all night to do this or that or get a run in or swim or whatever. I’ve been eating dinner every night around 10.

SLAM: So what’s a day like at the Impact Basketball training camp? Let’s say for DeMarcus. What’s a day like for him?

JA: So he’ll come in the morning and get some therapy treatment for 30 minutes or whatever he needs. So he’ll come in at 9:30. At 10 o’clock, we’ll have a 60-90 minute basketball workout. His is a little tweaked right now because he’s coming off some Achilles treatment. There’s nothing wrong with him. But in a general day, we go from say 10-11 or 11:30 training on the court. He would then go lift weights for maybe 45 minutes. He’s a big dude so his program is pretty quick. We have to circuit him through. He’ll take a break eat lunch. He has a chef so we coordinate all of his meals with what he’s eating based on what he did in the morning. How many calories he needs, the whole thing. He’ll then come back and play five-on-five in the afternoon. Right now, there’s not enough guys here to play cause it’s early in the summer. So he’ll come back for a second workout and with him because it’s so early in the summer, he doesn’t really need to be ready ’til July because he’s going to play for Team USA. We’re doing a lot of pool work. A lot of non-weight bearing stuff just to get his fitness level up. For other guys, that second session is going to be more shooting, more basketball stuff. If it’s a post man, we’re going to work on his hook that day. So, the afternoon session really changes depending on who the player is and stuff. And then DeMarcus will eat or whatever and then we just moved a trainer into his house so he’ll do another 30-40 minutes of cardio in the evening. Again, he’s in the early part of the summer so he’s trying to get his body in shape. We’re not worried about basketball right now. For a draft guy, we need to work on his shot or that type of thing or a different type of player, we would do a really heavy basketball emphasis in the afternoon. Like wouldn’t do all the pool work and all that stuff. He’d come back and he’d do a second session very skill oriented. Everyone goes here twice a day. On Wednesdays and Saturdays is only half a day and those are recovery days in the afternoon. So we have our therapists and everyone coming in whether it’s massage therapy or stretching or ice baths or that type of thing. So that’s pretty much what the days look like here.

Here are what some of the NBA players, who Abunassar has trained, have to say about him:

“Ever since I have known Joe, his passion for training himself has always been an inspiration to me and motivated me to push myself everyday.” – Al Harrington – 17-year NBA veteran and one of Abunassar’s first clients


“We always knew that when we showed up to workout in the morning, Joe had already ridden his bike 60 miles, run 10 or swam forever.” – Tyronn Lue, one of Abunassar’s first clients and current head coach of the Cavaliers


“When I stay with Joe in the summers in Vegas, every morning he’s up an out to train bright and early. Never misses. The Ironman stuff is tough and his commitment to it makes it a lot easier to follow his direction in my training program.” – Tayshaun Prince, 16-year NBA veteran


“I always called Joe, ‘Computer Chip,’ because it seemed he just plugged and got recharged every minute of the day. He never wore down and his commitment to his training for Ironman and his nutrition were the reason why.” Chauncey Billups – NBA Finals MVP and future Hall of Famer


“The stuff Joe does is crazy and it takes commitment. So when he talks to me about focus and commitment, I know he lives it.” – Kyle O’Quinn, Knicks