The black Chevy Tahoe slows to a gentle stop. You open the front door on the passenger's side and hear Radiohead's "There, There" spilling out of the speakers, filling the cabin.
J.J. Redick shifts the SUV out of park, merges into traffic and offers his guest an apology.
"Normally my car is pristine," Redick says. "But it's my locker right now."
Two large cardboard boxes sit in the cargo area, and those boxes contain all the equipment that once filled his Amway Center stall. White-and-blue Nike high-tops jut out of one box. T-shirts and basketballs fill the other.
This is the adjustment that Redick and other NBA players have made since franchise owners imposed a lockout at 12:01 a.m. on July 1. With league practice facilities closed and a communications blackout now in effect for team staff members, the players now must take total responsibility for their offseason training routines.
The lockout couldn't have started at a more problematic time for Redick. In late May, he underwent surgery to repair two painful abdominal-muscle tears, and although the procedure went well, he needs to rehabilitate the area and the surrounding muscles.
To understand how he's dealing with the lockout, the Orlando Sentinel asked Redick for permission to shadow him during a recent weekday. He agreed.
Something became obvious shortly after Redick met a reporter and a photojournalist at 8:15 in the morning: The labor dispute tests Redick’s planning ability almost as much as his rehabilitation regimen challenges his physical toughness.
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"Somebody tweeted me that the lockout is a subsidy for the oil industry," Redick says, chuckling because it was a witty tweet. Redick also shakes his head because the oil industry indeed is profiting slightly off of his additional commuting.
With his car stereo tuned to SiriusXM's Alt Nation station — churning out songs from such bands as Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and MGMT — he'll spend almost 80 minutes today crisscrossing Orange and Seminole counties on his way to and from five different appointments.
It starts with a drive to Rollins College in Winter Park to work on his shooting.
He grabs his sneakers and a ball from the back of his SUV and he walks briskly into the Harold and Ted Alfond Sports Center, the site of the school's two primary gyms.
He takes a few steps onto the main basketball court and sees volleyball nets set up from one end of the floor to the other.
Gotta go instead upstairs to McKean Gymnasium, where Rollins' intramural teams play.
Volleyball nets run lengthwise down the center of the court.
"So we've got to shoot on the side goals," Redick says.
Brock Blanchard, a former Rollins forward and a current graduate assistant coach for the men's team, walks into the gym. Redick has hired Blanchard to rebound and pass the ball — basically doing the work that Magic assistant coach Bob Beyer and Magic assistant video coordinator Adam Glessner do simultaneously with Redick during the offseason.
Redick and Blanchard spend an hour on the court together. Redick begins the workout with spot shooting, and then shoots off of simulated screens. Sweat progressively soaks more and more of his light gray T-shirt.
Redick has worked out at close to full speed for almost three weeks now and doesn't feel any pain in his repaired abdominal muscles. Redick's a bit rusty with his shot, though at one point, he makes 10 of 14 corner 3-pointers. Still, he frustrates himself when he misses some shots, punctuating some misses by yelling "C'mon on, ball!" or "Aarrggh!"
He and Blanchard barely ever banter.
"He's just a consummate professional," Blanchard says.
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The Strokes' "Under Cover of Darkness" plays as Redick pulls his SUV out of the Rollins parking lot and answers questions about how the lockout has affected him.
Redick, who is just 12 months removed from signing a deal worth about $20 million over three years, stops far short of complaining about the situation — even though he would not be paid his salary of almost $7 million if the entire 2011-12 must be canceled. He understands that the U.S. economy is sputtering and that millions of people are out of work.
What concerns him most now is not being able to speak with the Magic's athletic trainer, Keon Weise, and the team's strength and conditioning coach, Joe Rogowski. No NBA employee is permitted to speak with a player or a player's agent during the lockout, even if it's just via text message.
"It's disappointing, man," Redick says. "The last three years, they've been very helpful and instrumental in me improving every summer."
Redick would prefer to work with them as he recovers from surgery.
Instead, he assembled his own support team for these next few months: Blanchard for hoops, fitness specialist Jeremiah Marks for core exercises, strength trainer John Dickson for weightlifting, chiropractor Lawrence Teixeira for active release therapy. Redick also has regular physical therapy sessions at Florida Hospital's outpost at RDV Sportsplex and doesPilates workouts.
Redick said he spends "a few thousand dollars" a month on co-pays at doctors' offices and for his specialists' time.
He would usually condense almost all of his summertime workouts into a three-hour span at Amway Center, from 9 a.m. to noon. Now, however, he has less free time to spend with family.
He takes I-4 westbound on his route from Rollins to meet Marks at Gym Rat Boxing at 10 a.m. near downtown Orlando. The route takes him past Amway Center.
Redick finds that he's so busy thinking about maintaining his schedule and running a charity golf tournament that he rarely, if ever, lets himself react as the arena fades in his rearview mirror.
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Working with Marks, Dickson and Teixeira often leaves Redick sore.
All three specialists focus intently on stretching Redick's core — something Redick didn't do often before he suffered the muscle tears in mid-March.
Surrounding muscles tightened after the injury, and the stretches and therapy routines occasionally leave Redick's face bright red.
"He's made tons of improvements from when he had his surgery until now," Marks says. "When he first had his surgery, he was almost in a hunched-over position. Now he's elongating those muscles and getting them stretched out."
On this day, Redick has about 20 minutes to wolf down a pork rice bowl and drink a large cup of ice water at a Chipotle near downtown Orlando.
He has to hurry because he has a 1 p.m. physical therapy appointment in a public section of RDV Sportsplex, which still houses the Magic's business offices.
As he drives past Amway Center again, he's asked how long he thinks the lockout will last.
"I'm hopeful that we'll have a season, but I truly believe we'll only play games if there's compromise on the owners' part," he says.
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Redick drives directly from physical therapy to Dickson's gym along North Mills Avenue in Orlando.
He's dreading this because Dickson, a muscular man in his early 50s, doesn't take it easy on his clients.
But the 50-minute session goes well. It ends with 10 "burpees," an exercise in which he begins by standing up. He drops into a squat and then goes onto the floor chest-first, does a push-up, jumps to his feet with his hands overhead and repeats the entire process again.
Redick huffs and puffs.
After some stretches, he and Dickson shake hands.
Now it's off to Altamonte Springs for Redick's meeting with Teixeira.
For 20 minutes, Teixeira stretches Redick for active release therapy, which is designed in part to treat the scar tissue and adhesions that have built up in his body. At one point, Teixeira asks Redick to rest on his right side; Teixeira then appears to pull on Redick's left hip as he pulls down on Redick's left leg.
But when he stands back up again, he feels great.
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It's about 4:45 in the afternoon when Redick finishes his workday.
"I feel like I'm getting close to normal speed," he says.
He should be completely healed by September.
That's usually the time when most Magic players return from their hometowns and start to gather at Amway Center for workouts.
The lockout probably will be in full force this time.
Redick will reassess his workout plan then. He might go to Duke, his college alma mater, to train.
He will have logged hundreds of miles crisscrossing Central Florida on his way from one appointment to the next.
By then, it might be time for a temporary change of routine.
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