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Draymond Green encourages players to rise and grind

‘Grind Week’ brings Warriors forward, others together for workouts and high-level pickup games

OAKLAND, California — Wearing a black “Grind Week” T-shirt and NBA All-Star Weekend practice shorts, Draymond Green shot a 3-pointer over Robert Covington on Tuesday afternoon. As Green confidently backpedaled to defense, Covington looked at him and smiled. Meanwhile, fellow NBA player Aaron Gordon was playing aggressively on offense on the next court in another pickup game as rapper Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” blared in the background.

With training camp just weeks away, several NBA players are taking part in a challenging yet fun “Grind Week” hosted by Green.

“These are bonds you can build long past basketball. I’m just trying to show some of the young guys the way,” Green said.

The Green-hosted “Grind Week,” run by All-In-One Management and its founder Jacquail “Juice” Jacox, is being held through Thursday in Soldiers Town Gym. Green, the Golden State Warriors forward, began hosting the event last year. He said he used to attend a similar camp early in his career that was hosted by former NBA guard Mo Williams in Dallas.

Each daily session begins at 9 a.m. PST with an hour of private weightlifting. Next is a 90-minute workout led by pro basketball trainer Travis Walton in the gym in the Jack London Square neighborhood. Private high-level pickup basketball takes place for 75 minutes afterward. There is also light shooting available in the evening. The players have lunch and dinner together and have breakfast delivered to their hotel rooms. Green plans on hosting the camp again next offseason.

“Mo Williams was a solid dude who always looked out for the young guys,” Green said. “When I went down there with Travis, we both said it was dope and something we wanted to do one day. … We started doing it last year. You get NBA guys, overseas guys, high-level college guys together.

“It is important for us to build together. So many times, people want us to separate. It is important for us to do this together.”

Jacox said, “We wanted to bring in a bunch of young guys that need veteran mentoring and have a championship pedigree into our environment. This is a very high level.”

Current and free-agent NBA players taking part include Green, Gordon, Covington, Denzel Valentine, Brandon Rush, Beno Udrih, Noah Vonleh, Ian Clark, Mario Chalmers, Scotty Hopson and Isaiah Taylor. Former NBA big man Drew Gordon, Aaron Gordon’s brother, is also participating.

Green said one key benefit of “Grind Week” is to bring NBA players together to compete in high-level pickup games that can be hard to find in the offseason. The three-time NBA champion’s hope is that the competition, work and fellowship was worth the effort to attend for all the players. Green also hopes that one day another player will take the torch from him.

“Draymond is a champion,” Aaron Gordon said. “He’s been around championship culture. I wanted to see what it was like to be around somebody that has rings. It’s high-level basketball here. A lot of pros are here.”

Covington said, “I needed some good runs and to have a good time. This is what this is about. I am glad I came out.”

Green talked about several other topics on and off the court:

  • On his recent altercation with Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson at a Los Angeles party: “I don’t feel the need to respond or go into detail on that. That ain’t for me to do.”
  • On LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers: “That is great. He was able to make a decision he wanted to make regardless of whatever anyone thought. To see someone make that kind of decision is always exciting to see.”
  • On whether the Warriors are worried about the Lakers: “Teams worry about us. We don’t worry about nobody. We are the champs. Why do we have to worry about anybody? They have to worry about us. They say we are ruining the league. I love it!”
  • On fellow All-Star DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Warriors as a free agent: “We are excited as hell to have ‘Cuz’ here. ‘Cuz’ is a top-five talent in this league with something to prove.”
  • On how good the Warriors can be with Cousins: “We can be as close to unstoppable as you can be.”
  • On whether he is well-rested: “This is about the time I get back to using the basketball and get back to moving around a lot. The time off was really much needed, but now it’s time to get back out there about six weeks from training camp. It’s time to rev it up a bit.”
  • On what he is working on in the offseason: “My body, most importantly. I am just continuing to get my body into shape to withstand the long season and long playoff run. I also want to continue to improve on my jump shot.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.