NEW YORK — Chris Brickley, who teamed up with J.R. Smith's younger brother, Chris, at Louisville in 2010, and has since worked out several NBA and former top college stars, was hired by the New York Knicks on Tuesday as an entry-level trainer. He officially starts on Thursday and will be with the team during the week and attend all home games.
According to Brickley, he will be assisting with "a little bit of everything," including workouts, practices and some game-day preparation.
"I am excited about the opportunity to work for such an outstanding organization," he told Bleacher Report. "I will work tirelessly to do my part in helping the Knicks have a successful season."
After J.R. Smith recommended Brickley for the job this summer, according to the trainer, the 27-year-old Manchester, N.H. native went in for an interview earlier this month to show the staff his on-court work. But it wasn't until Louisville coach Rick Pitino placed a phone call to the Knicks that Brickley was able to seal the deal. Pitino gave his blessing to Knicks assistant general manager Allan Houston.
"You knew Chris Brickley wanted to be a coach. He was a basketball junkie and wanted to learn the game," Pitino said of his former walk-on. "If you believe in someone, I knew he could do a really good job. I'm not one that makes phone calls and recommends people that I don't think would impact the franchise."
On Tuesday, Chris Bernard, the Knicks' vice president of player development, offered Brickley the job.
Previously, Brickley was a two-time New Hampshire All-State First Team selection and a 2005 McDonald's All-American nominee during high school. After graduating from Louisville, he held assistant and player development coaching roles at Ole Miss, Fairleigh Dickinson and most recently at Pace. He got his first big shot training NBA and premier college players when he was connected to mega-agent Andy Miller.
This summer in New York City, Brickley has been spending a lot of time training his former teammate Chris Smith, focusing on his dribbling and explosiveness so he could regain his confidence. Last October, Smith had left patella tendon surgery, and he didn't start scrimmaging again until earlier this summer.
"He has helped my game with excelling my ball-handling, which was the weakest part of my game," Smith said.
In NYC, Brickley makes use of the full-court gym at The Aldyn, a waterfront luxury apartment complex on the west side of Manhattan where Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Alex Rodriguez reside. He also utilizes the Gauchos Gym in the Bronx, home to the legendary AAU team that once featured Knicks point guards Mark Jackson and Stephon Marbury. In fact, the court's design is based on the old Madison Square Garden, complete with the Knicks logo on the hardwood.
Since 2010, Brickley has worked with NBA players J.R. Smith, Matt Bonner and JaVale McGee; former Louisville teammates Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels, Peyton Siva and Terrence Williams; overseas players Andre Barrett and Allan Ray; and Isaiah Briscoe, one of the top high school players in the class of 2015.
Brickley's specialty with guards and forwards is dynamic and high-intensity on-court routines that mimic game simulation. They are designed to improve a player's ball control, instincts, precision and quick reaction time when moving and jumping. With bigs, he focuses on footwork, explosiveness and playing above the rim.
"I've had success with my drill repetitions with many professionals, and I look forward to doing the same for the Knicks," he said.