Culture Shock For Los Angeles Clippers?
This week has been a salve for starving basketball fans as Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball in Las Vegas offers up the Competitive Training Series, which has sometimes been referred to as a league. A bit less than a league, but far more than pick-up basketball, the Competitive Training Series combines organized games between dozens of NBA stars with a very effective training program designed by Coach Abunassar and his staff.
Among the dozens of players taking part in the unofficial league is Los Angeles Clippers point guard Mo Williams, who says he is there preparing to lead his team to the playoffs.
“Absolutely. That’s our goal, our number ONE goal, to get to the playoffs,” Williams tells HOOPSWORLD. “With me, having a lot of playoff experience, that helps me when we’re there to help these young guys because it’s going to be a culture shock for them. They don’t know it yet, but the playoffs are a whole different ball game. It’s intense, you’ve got to be locked in, you’ve got to be ready. I think everything we’re doing now is getting us ready for that.”
Impact Basketball’s CTS is one of the most competitive lockout training programs we’ve seen to date, and Williams is highly complimentary of Abunassar’s program.
“The summer’s been great. Obviously, we got a little extended vacation, but we’re taking advantage of it here in Vegas. Joe has done a great thing. I call him Commissioner Joe. He’s done a good job and he’s running a good show. Guys are going to continue to come in and make this thing better and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Prior to attending Abunassar’s camp, Williams joined with All-Star forward Blake Griffin to prepare four-day mini-camps for his teammates in LA. He may be a relative newcomer to the team, but he already sees something special coming together.
“I think the key thing is that we know that as a team we have a chance. We have guys that really like each other, guys who like playing with each other, and when you have all those ingredients you have to take advantage of all of them. In Blake we have a superstar, and not just a superstar but a leader, too. When I have somebody else who can lead this team with me, that makes my life a whole lot easier. I can help him in a whole lot of ways and vice versa.”
First and foremost, Williams is the consummate teammate. Everywhere he’s played he’s quickly become a glue guy, seeing his teammates as brothers, and working hard to make them better as part of his process.
“That’s just me, my personality. It’s not something that I go out of my way to do, it’s just me. I think helping others is the best thing. I’m not self-centered, I’m not about myself. I can succeed and excel by helping others. I feel like if I help others and better them, that will better me, too. That goes with basketball. As a team, if you better your teammates you’re going to better yourself. I’m a point guard; I’m judged off wins. I just try to go places and help my team win. At the end of the day, I’m going into my ninth year. Stats are nothing to me. It’s all about bettering myself, bettering my team, and getting wins.”
It helps to have a superstar cornerstone who completely buys in to the team message. Williams had that in Cleveland, and he has it now in LA with Blake Griffin.
“That’s the key. I had it with LeBron (James). It’s easy to get guys to come to the gym when your best player’s in the gym and working harder than anybody else. It’s easy.”
For now, it’s just about staying ready. The lockout could end at any time, and players can’t afford to be playing catch-up from a conditioning point of view when that time comes.
“That’s why we’re here in Vegas now. You never know – it could be next week or it could be October 10th, it could be November 1st, November 15th, December 10th – I can go on and on. You’ve got to be ready because you might not have much notice when it’s time to report and we’ve got to be prepared.”
With leadership like Mo Williams and Blake Griffin on board, the Clippers look prepared to do great things in the very near future . . .whenever that future finally gets underway.