There was a glow in DeAndre Jordan’s eyes when the Clippers center began talking about Kevin Garnett’s presence at the Clippers’ training camp for the second straight day at UC Irvine.
There was excitement in Jordan’s voice when he talked about collecting information during his drills with Garnett.
Jordan began by saying how “amazing” it has been to have Garnett, who retired after 21 NBA seasons, around to share his wisdom with the Clippers.
“He’s so passionate about this game,” Jordan said Friday. “He just retired last week and he’s in the gym helping us out. A lot of guys would be hanging out and relaxing, but he’s got a full-blown sweat before practice — whether he goes lifting [weights] with us or shooting after [practice] with us. You’ve really got to take that and bottle it up as much as possible. I’m going to do just that.”
Jordan said he “idolized” Garnett growing up and as a young player in the NBA.
“His energy rubs off on a lot of people. We’re really fortunate to have him,” Jordan said.
The credibility Garnett brings with him is why the Clippers listen, Coach Doc Rivers said.
“He’s a great teacher,” said Rivers, who coached Garnett on the Boston Celtics’ 2008 NBA championship team, “and he’s picking his spots when to do it and when not to do it.”
No timetable has been set for how long Garnett will stick around the Clippers.
“I hope he’s here permanent,” Jordan said, twice. “I’m going to do whatever I can do to make that happen.”
The Clippers aren’t only team hoping to learn from Garnett. This week Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue said he would hold a coaching spot open for Garnett if he wanted to join the team.
Rivers doesn’t see full-time coaching in Garnett’s future, but he hopes the future Hall of Famer will continue in his instructional role with the Clippers.
“He’s going to be around enough,” Rivers said. “He is official — as far as I’m concerned.”
Even before Garnett arrived Thursday, Rivers said the team noticed that Jordan had been “intense every day” in practice.
A lot of that has to do with Jordan helping Team USA win the gold medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Jordan cited learning from U.S. coaches Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Thibodeau and Jim Boeheim as the reason for his intense mind-set coming into camp.
“When you’ve got guys like that that just want to help you as much as possible, your game only excels,” Jordan said.
When asked where his gold medal was, Jordan said it was at the team’s hotel.
“I had to have it for training camp, so it’s in my backpack still in my room, hopefully being safe,” he said, smiling. “But, no, I’m getting a case made for it and putting it up in [my] house somewhere.”
Rivers is in his fourth training camp with the Clippers, and so far this one stands out.
“This is the best-conditioned team coming to camp that we’ve had,” he said. “There have been very few breaks [in practice] and there’s nobody tired. I don’t know if it’s been surprising, but it’s been really nice.”
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner