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News » An eye-opening 60 minutes

An eye-opening 60 minutes

An eye-opening 60 minutes
Jeff Green refuses to come clean about the laundry list of injuries he's racked up this season.

And you know what, after getting a small taste of what he and his Thunder teammates go through, I can't name all the places I hurt either.

Green got his bumps and bruises from 60 games. I got mine from 60 minutes.

The Thunder held a media practice Tuesday afternoon, inviting 14 print, radio and television reporters to its north Oklahoma City practice facility to give us a first-hand account of what it's like to prepare for an NBA game.

This assignment would be much easier if my head didn't ache or my shoulders weren't sore or I could think of anything other than how my legs feel like spaghetti.

But it could be worse.

I could have broken my right wrist like Thunder sideline reporter Brent Weber did after darting to the lane for a layup. Or completely embarrassed myself as Thunder Web site reporter Chris Silva did when he tripped over, uh, the halfcourt line during down-and-back sprints.

Good thing the Thunder forced those waivers on us beforehand so the organization can't be held accountable for our athletically challenged efforts.

After getting dressed in team-provided grey and blue Thunder shirts and shorts just after 1 p.m., Dwight Daub, the Thunder's director of athletic performance, kicked off the session with some advanced calisthenics. With the resistance of a set of elastic bands called the Core X System, we worked muscles we never knew existed. We squatted and skipped, turned and twisted.

My shoulders became heavy. My day almost ended before it began.

Finally, Brooks rolled out the balls. He split us into two groups and put us through a layup drill he calls the "Daily Dozen." The Thunder's objective in this drill is to make six variations of a layup in an attempt to improve close-range accuracy and keep fans from screeches of, "How could he miss that?"

Brooks then penalized the entire group when three media members arrived late. The punishment: two down-and-back sprints that led to an unnecessary race among out-of-shape reporters and resulted in Silva's mighty spill.

Each assistant coach then instructed offensive and defensive drills.

Ron Adams taught us how to close out and contest shots and how to help and keep a tight "shell" around the lane when playing team defense. Ralph Lewis put us through defensive slides. Mark Bryant conducted a 30-second shooting drill that had us rotating from the baseline to the elbow and firing up air-balls by the time the shot clock expired. Brian Keefe led a pass-and-cut drill designed to end in a layup, but it produced Weber's broken wrist instead.

We went through another passing and cutting exercise in which the ball had to be swung 50 times and is intended to help limit turnovers. We split into three teams and played a four-on-four scrimmage. And we wrapped up with a free-throw shooting contest before a brief film session of recent Thunder games showed us how the techniques are really done.

The team fed us the same nutritious-type meals available to the players after practice. On this day, it was salad, fish, beef, brown rice and green beans.

We dined with the coaching staff, staying far away from chatter about X's and O's and coming as close to locker room talk as you can get.

I know I'll feel awful this morning. But it was all an eye-opening experience, teaching us that NBA coaches don't just roll out the ball and let players' God-given abilities take over. The Thunder practices everything we see on game night, whether properly executed or not.

Now if they'll only give me some time on the massage table at this morning's shootaround.

Wizards AT Thunder

→Time: 7 p.m.

→Arena: Ford Center.

→TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Ch. 37).

→Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM, Sirius 125

→Live blog:

Three things to know

→Washington is in last place in the Eastern Conference at 14-46.

→The Wizards won the first meeting, 104-95, on Dec. 27 in Washington.

→Thunder forwards Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are out with injuries. Washington's Caron Butler is probable with a hamstring injury.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 6, 2009


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