Posts Tagged ‘Tim Grover’

Famed trainer’s take: NBA combine assesses prospects too narrowly

As NBA scouts, coaches, general managers and other staffers descended on Chicago for the league’s annual Draft Combine, the process of poking, prodding, measuring and timing the nation’s top pro prospects began in earnest.

But at least one authority on what it takes to excel as an NBA player remained unconvinced the participating teams would learn much of anything.

Tim Grover, famed trainer of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and other NBA notables, offered a contrarian view on his blog at Grover contends that the NBA scouting staffs fall in lockstep in how they assess players at the combine, more because they can than because it yields empirical evidence for who can play and who cannot.

This might be met with equal skepticism from NBA personnel departments, who wouldn’t miss this annual roundup in Chicago and risk putting themselves at a disadvantage relative to the other 29 teams. But they’re kidding themselves if they think the numbers generated at the combine will make or break a player’s career or their team’s draft success. Grover writes in part:

This is for all the guys who firmly believe that their entire lives would have been completely different—wealthier, happier, sexier—if only they had been given the rare and awesome ability to jump.

Let me make you feel better: I don’t test my players’ vertical jump. I’ll test it if someone asks me to, if a player or team really wants to know, but to me, it’s a shallow prediction of what an individual can actually accomplish as a competitive athlete, a measure of talent, not skill. Talent and skill aren’t the same thing; the world is full of talented people who have never achieved anything.

When I started working with Michael Jordan in 1989, his vertical jump was 38 inches. By today’s standards, that might not even get you drafted in the top ten; Andrew Wiggins reportedly had a 44” vertical jump before he was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Eventually we got MJ up to 42”—and then 48”—using the training program which later became my book “JUMP ATTACK.” But we weren’t specifically training for vertical jump; we trained for overall explosiveness and skill, and the vertical increase was just a by-product of the training.

It’s just a number. You know those people in school who always got good grades but were complete dunces in real life? Same principle here: If you train for a one-dimensional test, you’ll be a one-dimensional athlete. The truth is, the ability to jump straight up into the air one time in a completely controlled situation doesn’t indicate what you can do during a game.

Can you do it with two guys in your face and another waiting to clock you when you come down? With the game on the line and lights in your eyes? Falling backwards? What about the second or third jump? That’s what I want to see. Game results, not test results. MJ and Kobe scored more than 30,000 points in their careers; I’m not a stat guy but I’m pretty sure most of those points didn’t come from dunks.

I’m not just picking on testing vertical jump here. Draft Combines are supposedly designed to measure athletic ability, but cones don’t weigh 400 pounds and move at lightning speed. Everyone gets excited about a guy who runs a fast 40. But how often do you have a game situation where you’re running 40 yards in a straight line unopposed? It’s a test of speed and acceleration: that’s talent. I want to see skill.

Show me you can explode for five yards, stop, cut, avoid the defense, change direction, and keep going…while maintaining that speed. Ask Jerry Rice: you don’t get to be the best by sprinting alone down an open field.

The NBA Draft Combine includes a 185-pound bench press test. What are we proving there, how hard you can fire a chest pass? If you’re an NBA player on your back in the middle of a game pushing something away, you either need a referee or an ambulance. I want to see overall strength in competition, not while you’re lying on a bench. Kevin Durant couldn’t do one rep at his pre-draft Combine. Looks like things worked out well for him.

Look, there’s always going to be someone who jumps higher or runs faster than you. But if you’re a golfer who only works on your drive, now you’re Happy Gilmore. You can do one thing. If you can only dominate the vertical jump competition or the bench press, congratulations, now you’re a great vertical jumper or bench presser. It doesn’t make you a skilled and competitive athlete.

Bulls’ Silver Lining? Rose’s Knee Injury Could Have Been Much Worse

VIDEO: Derrick Rose faces another potentially long road back from a severe knee injury

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — There is a silver lining in an otherwise doomsday scenario for Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls and their die-hard fans: It could have been worse!

It seems preposterous to frame Rose’s latest injury setback in that context. But on the eve and morning of his surgery, which has to be performed before there can any long-term prognosis for his recovery time, Rose’s teammates, the organization and especially the fans need something to positive to cling to.

Sure, it’s flimsy. But with the surgery happening sometime today in Chicago and no one sure what the aftermath of the procedure will bring, positive thoughts are needed.

And it’s true, it could have been worse. He could have suffered another torn ACL as opposed to the torn medial meniscus ligament in his right knee that was torn in Friday’s loss to Portland. All indications are that the recovery from this current injury requires less time than the entire 2012-13 season Rose had to miss while recovering from a torn left ACL.

The other, and perhaps more important, silver lining for the Bulls is that coach Tom Thibodeau, center Joakim Noah, and forwards Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng and the rest of the crew know what it’s like to work with Rose in street clothes. It doesn’t translate into a championship, as we saw last season. But they won’t be folding up their uniforms and giving up on their season just because Rose could be done.

The options for Rose, (thoroughly presented by our very own Steve Aschburner over the weekend) in terms of the surgical choices, have already been laid out.

Noted sports trainer Tim Grover, who has worked with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and others, provided a glimpse of the different approaches on Twitter shortly after the results of Rose’s MRI exam were released by the Bulls Saturday afternoon:

Repair the meniscus and you rehab it and the recovery time is anywhere from four to six months, which all but ends yet another season for Rose. If the meniscus cannot be repaired and has to be removed, the rehab and recovery process is sped up considerably. But the long-term outlook doesn’t look good, as arthritis and other issues could arise later because of the removal of the cartilage that serves as the cushion in the knee.

For a player Rose’s age, even after two severe knee injuries, the longevity of his career has to be of the utmost importance of all involved. Doesn’t it?

It makes little sense at this point to compare Rose’s situation to those of guys like Metta World Peace, who came back 12 days after surgery to repair a torn meniscus last season, or even Russell Westbrook, who was not coming back from a torn ACL in his other knee when he returned this season from surgery to repair his torn meniscus.

Rose is dealing with something that physically and psychologically only he can struggle to comprehend. He already dealt with a season full of second-guessing when he decided to use the entire 2012-13 season to recover from his ACL injury, a decision I supported wholeheartedly then and in hindsight. He’s saddled with the added pressure of being the hometown hero, the rising star who was supposed to lift the Bulls back to championship heights for the first time since the Jordan years.

All of that is in jeopardy now, of course, since we don’t know what type of player Rose will be in the wake of this second knee surgery.

But at least there is a chance he comes back and plays at a level commensurate with his talent and potential. Had this latest injury been more severe … well, thank goodness for silver linings.

*** Stay tuned to and NBA TV for updates on Rose today ***

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 113) Featuring Tim Grover and Dr. Thomas Best

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The end of one season parts the waters for the beginning of a new one every year this time in the NBA.

For some, the end can’t get here fast enough, while others will fight until the very end to be a part of the new season. For Kobe Bryant, his bittersweet ending to his 17th NBA season comes with loads of uncertainty.

Will the Los Angeles Lakers’ icon return to form after tearing his Achilles April12? Will he ever be the same? Is it reasonable for anyone to expect him to?

Instead of just asking the questions we sought out the experts for answers on Episode 113 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring legendary trainer Tim Grover, the man who has helped the likes of Kobe, Dwyane Wade and Michael Jordan before them, set the standard as the ultimate competitors in their field. We also picked the brain of Dr. Thomas Best, the Director of Sports Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, for some history and cold hard facts about what Kobe is facing from medical standpoint.

Grover’s already mapping out an extensive plan for Kobe to get back sooner rather than later and you can identify some of his strategies in his new book, “Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable,” which highlights the training methods the greats have used to separate themselves from the pack.

We’ve also discuss our picks for MVP (LeBron James) and several other awards, debate whether or not Kevin Durant should have chased a fourth scoring title instead of handing this year’s trophy to Carmelo Anthony and handed out a little internal hardware of our own with the crowning of the regular season winner of Braggin’ Rights (and believe it or not, the rookie did it)!

Check out all of that and so much more on Episode 113 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Tim Grover and Dr. Thomas Best.


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

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Want To Be ‘Relentless’ Like Mike, Kobe? Trainer Grover Tells How


Tim Grover got a lot busier and way more popular in the instant it took Kobe Bryant to crash to the floor for the final time Friday night at Staples Center. In that moment, Grover went from being known as the sports trainer to some of the world’s and the NBA’s most elite athletes – clients that include Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Gilbert Arenas, Charles Barkley and the first and most famous, Michael Jordan – to someone with rare insight into the rehabilitation facing the Lakers’ superstar as he struggles back from season-ending and career-threatening surgery on his left Achilles tendon.

In what now seems a bit of timing both fortuitous and unfortunate, Grover laid out the “blueprint” for that rehab in a book released Tuesday. Sharing insights gleaned from more than 20 years inside some of the most exclusive and intense gyms and weight rooms, he wrote “Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable” (Scribner, 2013). In it, Grover examines the mind-and-body commitment his clients put into their sports excellence. He lays out his three categories of competitors – “coolers, closers and cleaners” – and writes about the attributes that differentiate them.

He even explains why, in his opinion, Miami’s LeBron James isn’t yet on the “cleaner” level with Bryant and Wade among today’s greatest players.

Mostly, Grover wanted potential readers to understand that the lessons in his book can be adapted to life’s other pursuits beyond athletics. “This is the mentality, this is what goes through their heads, this is what I’ve learned to push their buttons,” Grover said. “It’s not about the physical, it’s about the mental.”

With the 2013 NBA playoffs fast-approaching, with Bryant’s rehab soon to begin, talked with Grover about his book and the qualities that separate sports 1 percent from the rest: You’re known for how hard you get players to work – in some cases, how hard they push to get you to push them – but you and I spoke recently about the need for NBA players to get their rest. Whether that means fewer minutes, skipped games, lighter or cancelled practices or more sleep away from the gym, there’s a tendency for more coaches to ease their guys into the playoffs. What do you make of the trend of sitting out games?

Tim Grover: Look at MJ’s championship seasons – the least amount of games that he played in any one of those years was [78]. Out of the six championships, four of them were 82 games, one was 80 and one was [78]. Jordan was known for his extreme work ethic and competitive fires, to the point that “Relentless” could have been the title of his memoirs. When you look at that level of drive and current players who flirt with it, can you get a sense of whose teams is going to win a championship?

TG: Each round of the playoffs takes on its own personality. There’s enough pressure on an individual, but once the pressure mounts, the question is how each individual is going to handle it. So someone like Kobe revved it up even well before the playoffs. Because, this year, he needed to?

TG: You saw it the last few games. You put Bryant in the same category as Jordan and Wade and a few others: “Cleaners.” Explain the differences, though, between a “closer” and a “cleaner.” In sports, we think of a closer as someone great at what he does: the pitcher who gets the ball to lock down victories, the coach who tranforms a solid team into a champion, and so on. How does someone do better than that to become a “cleaner?”

TG: A closer comes in and does it one time. A cleaner comes in and repeats it numerous times. What I’m trying to say is, hey, there’s another level above a closer. That’s a person who comes in – like a Michael Jordan, like a Larry Bird – and repeats what he does, under different conditions, different pressures, and the results end up being the same. It’s extremely rare. But the way they think and the way they apply themselves can be applied to anybody and to everything. You aren’t going to play basketball like Kobe Bryant, like Chris Paul or Bird did, but you can still have the same mentality they had. (more…)

Kobe’s Trainer: Rehab? Return? Retire? Key Is Staying ‘Relentless’

Tim Grover was asking the same big question Saturday that so many others were, the great unknown hanging over fans of the Los Angeles Lakers and NBA followers in general: Will Kobe Bryant play again?

“It will be his decision whether he wants to come back from this or not,” said Grover, Bryant’s personal trainer who has worked with some of the NBA’s most elite athletes. “Nobody else is going to make it for him. And if he decides to, I’m ready.”

Grover counts Bryant as a friend and an active client on a long list of NBA stars stretching back through Dwyane Wade, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and the one who opened the door for him, Michael Jordan. Knowing the Lakers star as he does – and from their contact overnight, in the aftermath of Bryant’s stunning, apparent-Achilles tendon tear Friday against Golden State – Grover has more answers to a lot of little questions than most of us.

But answering that big one? Too soon, he said.

“Until he has a procedure,” the trainer said, “and I become more educated on what’s going to get done, and we put the team together by talking to doctors and other individuals, I can’t make that assessment. It’s unfair.

“The reason I’m not in L.A. now is there’s nothing I can do. It’s not like I can go sprinkle some dust on it and all of a sudden do a ‘Mr. Miyagi’ and he’s back playing again. It makes no sense for me to get on a plane yet. Once the MRI [result] comes out, he’ll share the details. The Lakers’ training staff will get on it, the doctors will get on it, Kobe and I will talk and we’ll figure out a plan of action.”

At which point, Grover, CEO of Attack Athletics in Chicago, will be spending a lot more time in the 714 area code than in the 312.

Grover was watching the Warriors-Lakers game on TV when he saw Bryant go down Friday. “I saw the play and I saw what he grabbed for, and the first thing in my mind was, ‘It looks like an Achilles,’ ” he said. “There is no miracle cure for that one. You’ve got to sit down and go through the process. It changes everything. Out with the old script, in with the new. My hands-on stuff doesn’t really start until the immobilizers are off the foot.”

None of the many NBA players with whom he’s worked faced rehab from Achilles surgery, Grover said. However, he has been consulting on Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang‘s protracted comeback in China from a second Achilles tear; the 2004 gold medalist missed the 2008 Games, then blew out the same tendon in London last summer.

Grover’s experience with Liu’s re-injury and with others who have endured such tear puts him at odds with critics and other speculators on social media that Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni or Bryant himself pushed too hard, through too many minutes, in their team’s desperation to chase a Western Conference playoff berth.

“The one thing about an Achilles, it can happen any time, under any stress movement,” Grover said. “You could walk off a sidewalk and pop your Achilles. It’s just one of those injuries. People get hurt. I can’t blame anyone for this. I don’t think it had anything to do with the minutes he was playing. It’s a freakish injury that just happened.”

The process of rehab for a 35-year-old athlete – Bryant will hit that mark Aug. 23, with months of grueling, repetitive work still to come – is different from a 25 year old, Grover acknowledged. The good news, though, is that techniques and know-how have advanced over the last decade or more. Bryant isn’t necessarily any worse off, then, than if he had done this in 2003.

“Somebody said, ‘Oh, Isiah [Thomas] had to retire when he tore his Achilles at 33,’ but that was, what, 20 years ago?” Grover said of the Detroit Pistons’ Hall of Famer, whose career ended after 13 seasons in 1994. “We have a lot more resources available to us now. Things have changed so much.”

That accounts for the physical side of Bryant’s latest challenge, anyway. The psychological side – whether he wants to come back, how hungry he stays through the grind and how hard he works – is something Grover feels they already have tucked in their back pockets. Bryant and he have done this sort of work before.

In fact, it’s the subject of Grover’s book, coincidentally ready for release Tuesday. In “Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable” (Scribner, 2013), the trainer shares tales from his 20-plus years of experience and lays out his system for categorizing different types of competitors (“coolers, closers and cleaners” in his terms). The book is intended not just for sports audiences but for real-world applications in business and in personal pursuits.

Like Jordan and Wade, Bryant is cranked hard to 11, a “cleaner” of the highest order. In one passage, he offers some insight into Bryant’s will:

Kobe is the same [as Jordan]; he’s insatiable in his desire to work. Some days we’ll go back to the gym twice a day and once more at night, trying different things, working on certain issues, always looking for that extra edge. At his level of excellence, there’s no room for error and no one — no one — in the game today works harder or invest more in his body and surrounds himself with the right people to keep it in peak condition.

But it’s still not easy, and Kobe makes that decision, every day, to do the work. Again: the most talented guy working harder than anyone else.

“I just wrote the blueprint for it,” Grover said. “And I know he’s going to follow it because … that’s him. I’m not trying to get publicity for the book but at age 34, it’s going to be more of a mental battle than it will be a physical battle.

“You take Derrick Rose for an example,” he said, mentioning the Chicago Bulls’ star who has yet to return from anterior cruciate ligament surgery on his left knee last May. “Doctors have cleared him to play, he’s practicing and they say he’s doing real well in practice. But it’s still that mental barrier that he hasn’t been able to go through yet.”

As for Bryant, he and Grover were in touch within hours of the mishap. How did he seem mentally?

“It’s crazy. Most people, when they have an injury like this, they don’t treat the media like he did,” Grover said. “He went in and talked to everybody, ‘Hey, this is what happened.’ He made his little rant on Facebook. Listen, so far, I think he’s in the right frame of mind. I really do.”

Spurs Emerge As Suitor For Butler

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The San Antonio Spurs have emerged as a strong suitor for free agent forward Caron Butler, according to a source.

Butler, the Mavericks’ forward who is coming off a knee injury suffered on New Year’s Day that caused him to miss the rest of last season, is one of the most sought-after small forwards in free agency. He is currently being pursued by the Heat, Bulls, Spurs, Clippers, Nets, Pistons and Bucks, according to the source. The Sacramento Kings were also initially interested in Butler, but have fallen off the hunt in the last couple of days. Butler, who works out in Chicago in the offseason with trainer Tim Grover, is expected to meet with the Bulls sometime in the next few days before making a decision on where he wants to go.

Butler could still re-sign with Dallas, but the Mavericks apparently have concerns about their status as a luxury tax payer going forward. With several other free agents to also decide on, including center Tyson Chandler and guards J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, the Mavs won’t be able to keep all of them.

San Antonio could be looking for a replacement for veteran Richard Jefferson, who has struggled in his first two seasons there after being acquired in the summer of 2009. Butler would be a perfect fit in the no-nonsense Spurs’ locker room, and with Tim Duncan entering the last year of his contract, and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on the backside of their careers, San Antonio is preparing to transition quickly from the post-Duncan era with a new core group including guard Gary Neal, center Tiago Splitter, forward/center DeJuan Blair and rookie forward Kawhi Leonard, acquired in a Draft night trade with Indiana for guard George Hill.