All along, Blake Griffin had assured everyone that his body was ready to withstand the rigors of training camp and that he was physically ready for the demands of nine days of workouts on the campus of the University of Hawaii.
On the first day of camp Tuesday, Griffin easily made it through the Clippers’ entire practice, his surgically repaired right big toe was not an issue at all.
“For the past month, I’ve been doing conditioning drills and pretty much full one-on-ones and two-on-two stuff in the training center,” Griffin said after practice at the Stan Sheriff Center. “So, confidence-wise, I feel pretty good as far as my foot goes. To me, it was just about getting this conditioning test done and getting back out here and really starting to jell with all these new guys.”
He had a procedure on May 1 to repair the plantar plate of his toe, which was injured in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.
There were concerns about Griffin being ready for training camp, and even the regular season.
But he handled the drills Clippers coach Doc Rivers put his team through and Griffin was expected to participate in the second practice later Tuesday night, which wasn’t open to the media.
“I did the whole practice today,” Griffin said. “I did the condition test before practice. I still feel good, but it’ll be one of those things you take day by day. Every time I talk to somebody on our training staff, Doc, everybody always reminds me it’s more important to play in November, December, February, January, all that, than it is in October, September.”
Austin Rivers, who just got over having mononucleosis, and Milos Teodosic, who didn’t play for the Serbian National team this summer because of calf issues, also made it through the first practice.
Passing the test
It was an exercise meant for bonding and for making the nine new players on the Clippers and the five holdovers from last year’s team all see and feel the importance of unity.
It was a conditioning drill, but a drill in which everyone had to pass or else deal with the consequences.
“Everybody was really nervous before. It was crazy,” Austin Rivers said. “Everybody was talking like, ‘I’m good, I’m good. I’m going to pass it, I’m going to pass it. I’m not even worried about it.’ You see everybody was nervous because everybody was talking about it. But, everybody got it done. It wasn’t that bad.”
In his previous four years with the Clippers, Doc Rivers never gave the team a conditioning test.
But this is essentially a new team and Rivers wanted to push his players just a little more.
“I just thought it was a good way of getting guys to join in,” Doc Rivers said. “When you have nine new guys.… We set a benchmark for everybody to have to make and if they didn’t make it, they couldn’t practice. So everyone made it. Some just made it, but it didn’t matter. They all made it and that was good. That was key for us.”
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