When I arrived Thursday evening at the Pelicans season ticket holder boot camp:
Where are the basketballs? Aren’t we shooting hoops?
When I left about an hour later I thought:
Thank goodness there were no basketballs.
Carlos Daniel, the director of athletic performance for the Pelicans, gave about 50 fans a glimpse into the training regimen of today’s NBA player, which is much more than dunks and jump shots. Advocate columnist Ted Lewis thought it would be a good idea for me to join in.
I’ll tell ya, basketball is much easier from the stands and press row.
Who knew so much cardio work went into the fast break?
Try a variation of burpees — complete one pushup, rise to your feet, hands above your head, then back down to the floor for two pushups — all the way to eight.
Daniel said this was a favorite workout of Pelicans forward Luke Babbitt, standing nearby. Babbitt’s body language told a different story.
Or squat then explode into a shoulder press using a stretch band. Or another stretch band, this time around the ankles, strengthening lateral movement with wide steps forward and backward, then sideways. And a bicep curl, shoulder press drill which also activated your obliques.
Don’t forget about the drill for fast feet which made me think I was back at football camp at Sarah Reed High, and a variety of abdominal crunches that made me regret my iced honey bun lunch.
We completed each station twice.
Daniel said the Pelicans aim for two to three workouts like this a week, although the difference is basketballs are usually incorporated into their routines, and with weights.
“For us, it’s something that’s almost a requirement to do every day,” said Pelicans guard Eric Davis. “And it does help in different ways, whether it’s in a game or in practice.”
No wonder center Anthony Davis has transformed from a talented yet thin rookie to one of the NBA’s future stars, ranking third in the league in scoring (24.5 points) heading into Friday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Clippers while averaging 36.1 minutes a game, eighth-most in the NBA.
“Are they lasting? Do they look dog-tired at the end of it?” Daniel said. “That’s where you can see the benefits of a good strength and conditioning program.”
While Davis’ progression is a crowning achievement for Daniel and the Pelicans coaching staff, he also points to players like Babbitt, a fourth-year pro, as an example of why conditioning is important. Babbitt’s opportunities on the court are far shorter than that of Davis, so workouts keep his body chiseled, his mind sharp for his next extended playing time.
And of course, workouts are a setting for players to recover from injuries. Guard Eric Gordon has dealt with a variety of ailments during his career, which may be why Daniel let him decide which ab workout to utilize at his station. Gordon has certainly had time to master them.
Not sure I’ll be around that long.
Next time, Ted is going to have to take this assignment himself. I’m tired of the skinny guy always logging the first-person stories.