Tim Grover. Trained Michael Jordan. Owns A.T.T.A.C.K. Athletics, one of the most respected training facilities in the sport of basketball. Built Jermaine O’Neal’s body back to functionality in time for the playoffs last season (aka worked a minor miracle). Oversees workouts for Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, among many other successful (and some not so successful) NBA players. And recently, Grover added Boston Celtics draft pick JaJuan Johnson to his clientele.
Johnson worked out with Grover during the draft process, and would likely return in the event of an NBA lockout. Built like the world’s tallest drinking straw, the former Purdue Boilermaker knows at least one directive for his workouts. He will work on shooting, of course, and probably a host of other basketball skills. But the development most highly correlated to his impact next season should be adding strength.
“I’m definitely hoping to put on some weight,” he told ESPN. “I know it’ll happen. I’ll definitely put the time in in the weight room, and eat, and all of that. So, it’s not a huge concern to me, but I know it’ll happen.”
When asked how much weight he wanted to gain, the 220-pound Johnson said, “As much as possible.” But if Johnson can just gain as many pounds this summer as Glen Davis gained in the middle of last season, that should be enough. Zing.
If July 1 passes without a labor agreement, the NBA will quite literally lock players out of their teams’ facilities (think Coach Carter without the studying). According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics are approaching the potential lockout with the right mentality. Rajon Rondo will likely coordinate some workouts, and Ray Allen has already mentioned UConn as a location where the team can meet for the NBA version of captain’s practices.
Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett remember the last NBA lockout well, so they should be well prepared.
“Last time, it sent a lot of guys into retirement,” Allen told the Boston Globe earlier in June. “A lot of guys were taken by storm whether they were out of shape or somewhere where they weren’t ready to get to training camp. So you have to stay locked in.”
The team will try to stay connected and together as much as possible, but players will still need to fend for themselves more often than usual. Which is why Johnson’s decision to train with Tim Grover should please Celtics fans. For Johnson and fellow rookie E’Twaun Moore (and perhaps Gilbert Brown, an undrafted rookie from Pittsburgh who the Celtics are interested in), development before their first season could prove the difference between earning a spot in Boston’s rotation and taking frequent bus trips to Maine. In Moore’s case, this summer’s workouts could even determine whether he makes the team.
As a first-round draft choice, Johnson automatically has a roster spot. But by working out with Grover, he should maximize his chances to crack Boston’s rotation. Of course, Grover does not have a 100% success rate—his client list includes Steven Hunter (who?), and Antoine Walker (he actually worked out?), among other busts, has-beens and never was’es. Nonetheless, Grover has a sterling reputation of contributing to athletic success. With a lockout likely in the forecast and many players’ summer plans changing accordingly, JaJuan Johnson is following a time-tested map.