We’ve all familiar with athletes that are known for their hustle and hard work on the court, field and ice. Names like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky and Jerry Rice immediately come to mind. And there are even coaches who have garnered a reputation for being tireless, men like Bill Belichick and Tom Landry.
Well, it’s time to add another name to the list. In this case, it goes to a man who works behind the scenes and with many of the NBA’s top players, including Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul and LeBron James. His name is Chris Brickley and he is without exaggeration one of the hardest working men – behind the scenes in sports today.
Overnight sensation? Not true, what was the grind from high school ball to ESPN’s “Most Sought -After NBA Trainer?” As a high school player, I was top 100 in the USA, including New Hampshire Player of the Year. My time at Louisville was a great learning experience and thankful for the opportunity to play for a Hall of Fame coach (Rick Pitino). After I graduated from the University of Louisville, the grind become real. It definitely wasn’t always glamorous. My first job was a Graduate Assistant Coach at Ole Miss for $8,000 a year. I actually lived in the locker room for the entire year. The coaching staff and the players were not aware that I was doing that. After that, I was the youngest Division One Assistant Coach in the country at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I made $32,000, and living in northern New Jersey and making $32k is not easy. However, I always found a way to make it work. While I was coaching at FDU, I would drive into the city at night and get in workouts with J.R. Smith. He recommended me to the Knicks organization and I became the Director of Player Development for the Knicks for four seasons. I left the Knicks on great terms because I wanted to chase my dream of running my own training business. Since leaving the Knicks, I have started Black Ops Basketball.
Biggest difference in training someone then and now? Film study has evolved tremendously over the past few years, so I’ve become borderline obsessed with watching game film. That has helped me help the players get better more efficiently.
Time management has got to be crucial. What’s a typical day like in your life?
Every day, I am in the gym with either NBA players, college players or elite high school kids. I don’t take any days off. Every night before I go to sleep, I watch game film on my laptop.
What do you do to escape the deluge of demand upon your time? I go on walks at night in NYC. Some nights I will walk three to four miles by myself listening to music. I also own a clothing brand called Color Blind, so I like to design for that, too. And as you can see, getting tattoos are a therapeutic thing for me. Every tattoo on my body has a significant meaning.
If you could play on any pro basketball team throughout history, which would it be? The 1996-1997 Chicago Bulls. Phil Jackson would have been my coach and MJ, Scottie and Dennis Rodman would have been my teammates. That would have been a cool experience.
How did Color Blind come about? I’ve always loved fashion. I love walking around Soho to shop. It inspires me. I never thought I would own my own clothing line, but I am definitely having a blast doing it.
You have a lot of ink. Can you give us a quick walk-through? Yes, it’s actually very specific. My left forearm represents lots of happy times in my life and learning experiences. My upper arm documents the hardships I’ve gone through in my life.
It’s a very dark theme. My right forearm represents the lifestyle I’ve lived throughout the years. My upper right arm is a “be yourself” theme. I got some personal favorite quotes and characters on there. My right leg is completely done also. It has lots of portraits. Each portrait is of someone who has inspired me during my journey. My right kneecap is a basketball with the words “I Will,” done in my handwriting. Over the top of the words, “Inspire, Motivate, Influence, Encourage.”
It’s crazy to see people on social media take my exact tattoo ideas and placements and get them. I’ve seen that a bunch of times. The person will always shout me out when they do that.
Every tattoo that is on my body is a memory or an inspiration (some great memories, some terrible memories, some of my favorite people in the world, etc)
People ask me if I’ll ever regret getting all these tattoos and my answer is “No”. It’s like a book of my life.
Did you ever think your life would turn out this way? Never. I just worked hard and hoped for the best. I was never money-hungry, I did so many workouts for free to get to where I am. I just kept my head down and worked. Years went by and thanks to the man above, some dope things have came my way.
What’s in the future for Chris? Just to remain true to myself! Stay focused daily on helping my players accomplish their goals. With Color Blind, I want to slowly build it into one of the most prestigious streetwear brands out right now.