Last week, the 2013 NBA rookies descended upon Florham Park, N.J., to attend the NBA's Rookie Transition Program. The players learned what to expect in the NBA on and off the court, and how to balance those pressures and demands.
While the league's SVP of Player Development, Greg Taylor, assessed the players during the classroom-like workshops, several of them stood out for their leadership ability. One was Knicks rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
"He's a fantastic young man. The Knicks are lucky to have him," Taylor said. "I actually knew Tim when he played for the University of Michigan. I think he's just an incredible leader. He's been one of the more vocal players in the large group asking really thoughtful and compelling questions. He has a wonderful personality and obviously he's a top-flight talent."
On Friday, the final day of the program, Hardaway Jr. caught up with ESPNNewYork.com to share some of his insights into his transition process, his goals for his rookie season and how he plans to take in New York City:
First of all, how is your left wrist feeling, which you hurt in Las Vegas?
"Everything is going really well. I can't wait to get back on the court with my teammates."
How's your experience been at the Rookie Transition Program?
"It's going really well. A lot of the guys that retired, a lot of the veterans, guys that played in the '60s and '70s, wished they had this type of opportunity. So now they're teaching us about what they did when they were in the league, and trying to make our transition more successful."
What's been the most interesting seminar?
"We just had a lot of different former and present NBA players talking to us. For instance, Jarrett Jack, Keyon Dooling, Jerry Stackhouse, Bruce Bowen, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. Everybody was just talking to us about just the way of the life of an NBA professional -- not only on the court, but off the court."
Do you have some ideas for developing the business side of your player profile?
"Yeah, I have some ideas, but I'm not for sure now. I'm just trying to focus on basketball for now in this first year. I know those situations will come later down the road while I'm in my career."
What players do you admire for their off-the-court branding?
"You've got LeBron James. He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of business and stuff off the court. Also, Magic Johnson. He's a part owner of the L.A. Dodgers, [used to own many] Starbucks in California. I think that you just have to look at those guys and realize what they did to be successful -- and it wasn't only on the court, but it was off-the-court stuff. I think that's what the RTP program is teaching us to do right now."
Anything you worry about looking ahead to your rookie season?
"I just want to see how an 82-game season is like. It's very different from college obviously. I just want to see how my adversity reacts to when I hit that rookie wall. A lot of the guys touched on that [during the program]. They really just showed us how to be mature about the situation, and you always have another game around the corner, so always hold your head high."
Have you had a chance to take in New York City?
"I haven't really had an opportunity yet. I haven't really settled in New York as of now, but once I settle in, I really want to see the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building. I just want to check out a lot of venues and spots. I'm really looking forward to that."
"I think it's great. It's great for the franchise, adds some more pieces to the puzzle in order for us to be successful. We just have to have the right mentality and the right attitude going into the season of trying to win games and trying to get to where we want to get to -- and that's to try to get to the Finals just like everyone else."
Have you spoken with Mike Woodson about your role yet?
"It's too soon to tell. I'm looking forward to having that conversation with him. We'll just see what happens. I'm up for anything. I'm just ready to help the team out in any way I can."
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.