"Every year we try to have a topic, and there's three this year: Self-motivation, hard work and dedication," the former Purdue forward and current Sacramento King said Thursday morning. "That's what we're trying to instill every day in these kids, because if you have those things, the sky's the limit. Nobody can tell you you can't or you're not allowed to do anything."
Landry himself would know, undoubtedly drawing on personal experience.
When he was a high school senior at Vincent High School in Milwaukee, he wasn't the best player on his excellent high school team, more like fourth or fifth best. When he arrived for a two-year stint at Vincennes University, a junior college in Southern Indiana, the light was only then beginning to come on. Even when he arrived at Purdue after being considered one of the top JUCO players nationally, he was still awed by the expectations Gene Keady had for him right away, seemingly unaware of his own ability.
That player is now be entering his eighth season as a productive NBA player.
"It's definitely all surreal and it feels like I'm living a dream, the success that I've had. It's a message I'm definitely going to tell the kids here: 'Dream big,'" Landry said. "I had dreams but to be honest with you, I didn't dream big enough. ... I never thought I'd be here, never thought I'd have the success I've had. That's a message I want to get across to the kids, that when you dream, dream big."
Landry's career has taught him to be flexible, beginning on draft night, 2007, when the Seattle SuperSonics took him with the first pick of the second round then immediately traded him to the Houston Rockets. Two-and-a-half seasons with the Rockets gave way to a stint with the Kings, then the New Orleans Hornets, then the Golden State Warriors, then Sacramento again.
This season - Landry's first back with the Kings after he signed a reported four-year, $27-million contract last summer - was a wash, as a hip injury cost the forward the first few months of the season, then a medial meniscus tear in his right knee ended it altogether after he made just 18 appearances. Landry says he's "75-percent" recovered from the knee injury.
Sitting out reminded Landry of his Purdue career, when he tore up his knee at the end of the 2004-05 season, then chose to redshirt the following season due to the aftermath of the injury.
"Sitting out here at Purdue definitely prepared me for the injury I had (now)," Landry said. "I knew how to adapt to and cope with the situation. Experience is the best teacher. Nobody can really teach you how to go through a whole season basically without playing. It's very frustrating and at times you feel like giving up. You might get depressed. It was something I wasn't used to before Purdue. I'd never been hurt before. I didn't know how to adjust, but I found a way. And it definitely helped me last year in Sacramento, being patient and knowing there's a brighter day ahead."
It's just one way in which Landry, 30, believes he's now a wiser player than he might have been a few years ago.
"When you're 21, 22, 23 years old, you approach the game every night like, 'Wow, I'm playing against Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James, or this guy or that guy,'" Landry said. "Your approach is unprofessional. But then it comes to the point where your idols become your rivals and you don't approach the game as much as a sport or a game, but as a job. You know you have to go out there and perform at the highest level, so you get your sleep at night, eat the right things and just be mentally prepared for the games. That's where I am right now in my career."
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