TUALATIN, Ore. — After a day like this, a day of running and sweating — and well, that’s about all the weary mind of Wesley Matthews could recall when put on the spot Friday to detail the Trail Blazers’ fourth day of training camp — a man just needs his rest.
Matthews, before taking care of his media obligations, warned a reporter, “I gotta lean,” before crashing to the padded standard of a practice facility goal post.
Little 3-year-old Brielle Price may be cute and huggable but she even needs to understand that her daddy, Ronnie Price, may not have the legs for a piggyback ride anytime soon.
And rookie Damian Lillard will likely notice his brand new NBA 2K13 once he unwinds at home but just like last time, choose a nice ice bath over video games.
Two-a-days. They can be basketball’s version of boot camp and tax the body and mind, especially for a team like the Blazers.
“This is definitely the hardest camp I’ve ever been in since I’ve been in the NBA,” said Matthews, a veteran entering his fourth NBA season. “They’re grueling.”
Throughout the NBA, teams are concluding the first week of training camps.
The Blazers started camp on Tuesday with two sessions a day and continued the trend through Thursday.
On Friday, the team practiced through one three-hour workout, a precisely segmented session that concluded with a 40-minute controlled scrimmage near the end. But like other days, conditioning also played a major factor.
“It’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing, because you have to wake yourself every morning and convince yourself to go in and work hard,” Price said. “Then come back in the afternoon, and it’s a mental battle again. It’s more of a mind over matter thing. Once you get through this part of the season, it really prepares you for the first game of the season and for the first month of the season, for sure.”
However, veteran rosters like the Blazers’ season-opening opponent, the Lakers with their point guard pushing 40 and the face of the franchise already 16 years and several knee replacements into his career, are not drained nearly as much as the guys in Tualatin.
You don’t make Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant run suicides.
You do, however, push and extend your roster full of young players and spend time teaching when you’re Terry Stotts.
“It’s different in many ways,” Stotts said when comparing a veteran team’s camp versus that of a youthful team. “What you want your training camp to be is productive. It’s not productive to run an older team more than they need to be run. It’s productive to spend a lot of time on the court with a young team that you have to teach a lot. So, the important thing (is) that you’re getting done what you want to get done with your team, whether it’s old or young. That your time is being used productively.”
As a 22-year-old rookie, Lillard has reached back to his only frame of reference to describe this week’s two-a-days.
“It reminds me of college a little bit,” Lillard said. “Same thing, without the homework.”
Lillard has started his camp days early at 7:45 in the morning, arriving at the practice facility shortly after for breakfast then getting in an individual workout with assistant coach David Vanterpool.
After a brief rest, he follows up with circuit weight training for 15 minutes then back on the court for the start of 10 a.m. practice. By Friday afternoon, with so many hours logged on the court, Lillard’s body appeared to call for a timeout.
After practice, he walked gingerly like that of an older man wearing slippers on linoleum — but breathe, Blazer fans. Lillard’s not injured. He is just a survivor of two-a-days.
“It’s just a long training camp that we’ve been going through,” Lillard said. “So my body’s kinda sore.”