When traveling on the road with the Orlando Magic, forward Tobias Harris always has a good book with him to read, as he says the text helps to increase his focus level before games better than listening to music.
So maybe you can’t picture 6'9", 225-pound Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris curled up on a hotel bed with a good book—and he wouldn’t want you to. But rest assured, Harris has a book with him whenever he travels. Harris would rather skip listening to music and instead focus on text, whether on a plane or before a game.
“It increases my focus level,” Harris tells SI.com. “I read a lot before a game.”
For Harris, he drifts toward inspirational writing. Recently he found himself engrossed in “Never Eat Alone,” more of a business book about relationships and networking, but he’s also spent time digesting “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” by Og Mandino.
“That was a good book,” Harris says. “That was about preparing for each and every day. A buddy of mine told me about how Matthew McConaughey used it for inspiration to be where he is now.”
And Harris keeps the Bible close by too, keeping words near him, he says, that keep his mind going.
[daily_cut.NBA]Books play a central theme in the way Harris travels, resting his body while engaging his mind. Along with books, Harris watches plenty of film the day of a game. But as far as getting out and about, that isn’t Harris’ style.
“I’m getting up on my rest,” he says. “I’m not really a big walk-around-the-city type of guy. I’m a hotel type of guy. We are just there to play a basketball game and that is where my focus is at most of the time.”
When Harris lands in a new city—his favorites are warm-weather locations or any chance to return home to New York and see family—the third-year player hits the hotel weight room for a little jog to keep his legs moving. Then, expect plenty of resting and recovery.
But every good recovery includes a top-flight meal. Harris is a “big-time” Yelp app user, even if he’s “definitely not that guy to make the reviews.” He’s searching for healthy restaurants, reading the ratings and trying to find the best places quickly. When he finds something he likes, though, expect him to make a return trip.
“I’m definitely going to hit it back up the next time,” he says. “If you get something good, you gotta keep it going.”
When it comes to packing, again Harris clamors for warm weather, knowing he’s likely going to forget an essential in cold-weather climates. “Living here in Florida, I’m not used to the snow and stuff like that,” he says. Of course, the six- or seven-game West Coast trips are the toughest to pack for. As for gear, there’s not much a NBA player needs on the court. As a Nike athlete, Harris fluctuates between the LeBron Soldiers and the brand-new Kobe X for his footwear.
For everything else in his bag, though, he’s “pretty basic with that type of stuff.” Just don’t forget a good book.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.