Fremantle forward Hayden Crozier says his experience of hanging out with some of the NBA’s biggest stars wasn’t just about having a good time.
Crozier and teammate Lachie Neale ensured their post-season trip to America was a memorable one, with the pair meeting the likes of star Warriors guard Steph Curry and Oklahoma City scoring machine Kevin Durant, before having lunch with cult hero Jeremy Lin.
Crozier even received an on-air shoutout from NBA great Shaquille O’Neal, who compared the young Dockers goalsneak to Clippers forward Blake Griffin during a half-time show.
“He reminds me of my good friend Hayden from the Fremantle Dockers Aussie football rules, he’s playing tough,” O’Neal said on TV while Crozier was watching on in the studio.
Crozier said rubbing shoulders with the NBA’s biggest names gave him valuable lessons about how sport stars should deal with the intense spotlight they get put under.
“It looked like we were just getting photos with them and all that kind of stock-standard stuff,” Crozier said on Monday.
“But the best thing about that trip … was just being able to learn what they do day to day – how they prepare.
“Guys like Steph Curry, KD – they’ve won the last two MVPs. They’re at the top of their sport.
“They get pumped up so much, and obviously they’re well known world wide.
“But just dealing with them one on one, they’re normal blokes, and they just love to get away from their sport.
“They love to just chat, and they were happy to come and help us out and give us some tips.”
While Crozier had plenty of stars to look up to in the US, it’s a star closer to home that he wants to model his development on – Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe.
Crozier managed just 11 games last season, but the 21-year-old hopes to add some significant weight to his 185cm frame in order to nail down a permanent spot in the team.
“It’s well documented I came in fairly skinny – a little pasty kid from Victoria,” Crozier said.
“Seeing a guy like Nat Fyfe – the amount of size he’s put on in a couple of years without losing any running ability, it’s something to look up to.
“I’m just trying to work hard in the gym and get my body right.”