Thanksgiving has passed and there is still no NBA season, which means professional basketball players are in search of ways to keep their skills sharp. Some have turned to less-productive methods like dunking on 25-foot hoops while others have officially begun weighing their options for playing overseas. Oklahoma City Thunder center Byron Mullens has one of the more unique practice routines you will hear about. Actually, it’s the setting — at Ross Correctional Institute in Ohio — that makes it unusual.
Mullens grew up in Ohio and was the product of a tough upbringing. He had his own apartment by the time he was in high school and had to work two jobs and go to school in order to get by. Rather than playing basketball at nearby public courts while he was in school, Mullens and his friend used to go to the local juvenile detention center and play pickup games with troubled teens. Now, he plays against prison inmates at Ross.
The 7-foot Mullens said the prisoners bring an “under-the-radar” level of competition and, despite their constant shouting at him to dunk the ball, he uses the games as an opportunity to work on his perimeter game. The prisoners have yet to defeat Mullens in a game, but 31-year-old inmate Ryan Janes seems to embrace the challenge.