Well the 2009 Training Camp is in the books and right now, I’m just glad we got through it. It was kind of how we expected coming in here with Alvin Gentry. Obviously, there was a lot of going up and down the court and a lot of working on our conditioning. Everybody went hard the entire time and it was just nice once we got through the two-a-days.
The rookies came along well. Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin are both doing great and you can see from the beginning of camp to the end of camp, they both made improvements. And that’s what it’s really about, making improvements. Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, you should approach training camp as an opportunity to improve and should focus on doing that each and every day.
My favorite moment of camp probably came the night we initiated the rookies. We had a team dinner and Earl dressed up as a giant banana and Taylor a hamburger. I’m not going to lie though, I’m a little bitter because I thought I had it tougher my rookie season. During our dinner at training camp my rookie season, I had to skip around a restaurant filled with people flapping my arms and saying I was pretty. This came after they made me sing in front of the entire restaurant.
The other reason I felt I got it a little tougher was because the night we took Earl and Taylor out, the San Francisco Giants were in town and were also initiating their rookies. They made their guys dress up as women which got more attention and took some of the heat off our rooks. So I think Earl and Taylor got off pretty easy to be honest with you. And while we’re at it, Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic didn’t have it too bad either. Maybe I’m just bitter, but we definitely need to get next year’s class a little better (not as bad as the Giants though).
All that aside, the two rookies have fit in well here early on. Last year, Robin and Goran knew I was the only rookie to have played on the Suns in a while so they came to me a lot during that 2008-09 campaign. I’m seeing the same from this year’s duo, particularly Earl. Earl comes to me a lot and that started back in Summer League. I wasn’t in Las Vegas long, but he asked me a lot of questions about everything from the coaches to the players on the team. I definitely appreciate it and try to offer them as much advice as I can. I mainly just remind them that they’re coming into a team with a lot of talented veterans and because of that, you might have to wait your turn a while. In the meantime, all you can do is work hard and continue getting better.
Training camp pretty much wrapped up with the scrimmage on Saturday which was open to several members of the military. It’s always nice to see all that work coming together and playing in front of a live crowd. It was a good turnout and we’re glad to see so many people came out and supported us during our time in San Diego.
As far as I go, I’m ending this training camp and entering this preseason feeling pretty good. I feel I had a good week here in San Diego and proved a few things. Very important is the fact that my body feels good. I really went at it hard last summer and maybe lost sight of the fact that the NBA season is a long season starting from those exhibition games. Not to say I didn’t work incredibly hard this offseason too, but I think I found a better balance. I made time to get back home and hang out with my family and made sure I found time to relax. I put so much pressure on myself last summer that I never really left Phoenix and spent the entire time working out which might have caught up to me.
Again, I still worked out plenty this summer but I also found time to relax and kept in mind I don’t have to go through two-a-days several times a week to be prepared for the season. I did a better job at picking and choosing when the right times were to get in a lot of work and think I prevented myself from having too crazy a summer.
It’s so weird, I can’t believe training camp is over and we’re really getting ready for our first preseason game, but it’s a good thing. We’re anxious. Grant Hill actually just said to a couple of us while we were working out, “Man, I’m really looking forward to playing someone besides you guys.” I definitely know where he’s coming from. I love these guys but you get tired of seeing the same faces going on the court against you each and every day and night. I’m ready to showcase my game against some different competition and see how I really do.
I’m really looking forward to getting things started. I think this team has something to prove both to this city and to ourselves. We’re obviously not happy with the way the season ended last year and I know if I feel the way I do, that the veterans like Steve Nash and Grant Hill really have to be itching to get back onto the court. Everybody on this team knows we have way too much talent not to make the playoffs.
Steve and Grant feel we’re better than that, and those are two guys who have played on playoff teams year after year and understanding they’re reaching the end of their careers, they definitely don’t want to go through another season like last year’s. The bottom line is, I know if I’m this fired up to get things started, those guys really have to be ready.
Well, guess I should run. Even though I’m just getting back from San Diego, I’ve still got plenty more traveling ahead of me this week. After we host the Belegrade team on Tuesday night, we’re back to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday for our second outdoor contest on Saturday. This time it will be against the Golden State Warriors. Glad I could give you guys the scoop on how training camp went and will be sure to check in again real soon.