My day yesterday was super frickin' cool. So we got to TC a little after 1, pulled into the TC garage where the players park (saw a black Range Rover with an Oregon license plate KLOVE?), and made our way through the place. We met with the head trainer of 14 years, Greg. The first place we saw was the player's lounge. This area had a full kitchen with a private chef who made team meals postgame/practice and giant cooler full of juice and gatorade. There were a bunch of comfy chairs, a big flatscreen TV, XBox, PS3, and it was really sweet. Then we cut through the shower area which was a nice shower area. From there we went to the training room. I know somebody asked about the new cryochamber big metal liquid nitrogen dealie. And yeah. We got one. Basically you sit in it, and it raises up so your head sticks out the top. Then it gets super super cold (- 238F or -150C), and you sit in it for 2-3 minutes. The theory behind it is that the cold causes vasoconstriction which brings venous blood back to the heart/guts to obtain nutrients. When you get out, your blood vessels go back to their normal radius, and nutrient rich blood is pumped through the body. Greg said that some players really like it and use it a lot, others don't. We couldn't ask about individual player's status/issues. The few specific questions that were asked were about past things, and he answered using knowledge open to the media. He didn't even say who gets their ankles taped, just that about half of them do. They have 3 treatment tables, a bunch of gatorade chewables/granola bar looking things in the training room as well. Greg said that most treatments they like to do are hands on and active. Didn't see any electric stim, ultrasound, or light therapy machines, but I was kind of in awe of the entire experience and not being too snoopy. There is a separate room for the team doctor with X-Ray. We didn't go in there. Terry Porter nonchalantly walked through without saying anything to us.
Next we went to the locker room. There was another huge gatorade cooler. Greg said that we have one of the smallest locker rooms and training rooms in the NBA, but that will change next year with the new building on Block E. They're making a practice facility with big locker rooms, training room, and court. Probably more Mayoish stuff in another part of the building as well. Anyways, back to the locker room. We had specific instructions to not touch anything. KLove had an iPad in his locker. I think Chase had the most shoes of anybody on the team. In his locker there was a pile of shoes about 3 feet high. Not exaggerating.
After we left the locker room we began a trek to the weightroom and practice court. It's a long ways away. Probably like 1 block away and then down 3 flights of steps. We enter the weight room and you probably can guess who was on the practice court balling. Lindsay Friggin Whalen! She looked a little confused to see a group of people intrude on her workout with two guys whom I didn't recognize. The weightroom was the same one that they show in the all the Timberwolves.com videos. It wasn't mind blowingly nice, but it was definitely a quality workout area.
We headed back upstairs and took a picture of our group at center court. Then we sat down for the Q&A session. I don't remember everything and none of these are direct quotes.
Q: Last year was a pretty bad year injury wise, did you guys change anything this season?
A: The Wolves brought in a new PT who worked with either Arizona or Arizona State (I don't remember which one), and the strength and conditioning coach from Washington. Greg said he'd like to think the changes are helping, but luck is always a factor.
Q: Do you have a lot of pressure on you from media, players, and coaches?
A: There is pressure, but you get used to it. The key is communication. During season Greg has written and verbal contact with coaches every day to update them on guy's conditions. He has written communication with the GM every day as well. Different coaches and GM's all put different levels of pressure on you. As long as you are open and communicate what you know, what you're doing, and the reason that you're doing it, everybody is pretty understanding. Problems occur when coaches and GM's hear about issues that have been occurring for a while that they were unaware of.
In the offseason they give injured players rehabs to take to wherever they travel, and they generally check in with injured players and their doctors once a week. Healthy players are pretty free to do their own thing. The previous GM made them check the status of healthy players every week. The players didn't like being bothered in the offseason and the staff didn't like doing work to check on healthy guys.
Q: Something about KLove's hand injury last year
A: KLove had the same hand injury twice last year. He didn't talk about knuckle push ups, and I didn't ask. He said that the Wolves sent Love to see their hand specialist, and Love's agent pushed for Love to see the hand specialist in NY. This is pretty commonplace for the NBA.
Q: Do you get consulted for player personnel decisions?
A: Yes. Sometimes before signings and sometimes after signings. Some teams are not completely open about injury histories. Predraft the medical staff sees almost every prospect and is able to examine them. The exception is international players. International players are a shot in the dark. They show up, and you start trying to learn as much as you can about them.
Q: So then did they talk to you about Brandon Roy last year?
A: Yes, I can't say anything about it, but we all know how it turned out.
Q: Do you talk to other training staffs about what works for them?
A: Greg said he has some people who he knows very well and trusts. He doesn't open talk to other team's staffs about injuries, just the people who he knows and trusts. (This came off kinda like, "I have friends on other staffs who I'll talk to if I'm curious about an injury or what they did in this situation that worked well, but I don't openly discuss these situations with everybody.)
We left and went to a few bars, then came back for the game. We waited in the tunnel and high 5'd guys as they ran out. Pek and Budinger came out a little later. Both signed my hat!!!!!!!! We went out to find our seats and wow! We were 113 row E. So off center, but not corner, and 5 rows back from the VIP section. At halftime we went back to the tunnel to wait for the players again. Ronny stopped and had a 2-3 minutes conversation with a baby, not the woman holding the baby, just the baby. He started jogging by us and I yelled, "RONNY! TRIPLE DOUBLE! YES!!!!" and he stopped, turned, and stared right at me. Initially I was scared, but then he smiled and pointed at me and jogged onto the court. We saw Cordarrelle Patterson of the Vikings sitting front row courtside. As we were leaving we ran into him and shook his hand. His watch looks like it's worth $100,000+.
So that's pretty much it. The game has been recapped elsewhere. I'd like to thank Greg and the TWolves for the great opportunity!