“My responsibility is to make everybody around me a better version of themselves, and as long as I’m doing that, I’m happy.” — Coach Mike G
Mike Guevara, the New Orleans Pelicans performance coach last season and longtime confidante/trainer to Jrue Holiday, took the time to speak to Preston Ellis and myself yesterday. You can listen to our conversation in its entirety at the link below, but I want to highlight several newsworthy items.
If you’re already a follower of his Instagram account (@mrdoitmoving), then you’re well aware of the fact that the Holiday brothers, Anthony Davis, Frank Jackson and Stanley Johnson are in the beginning stages of their offseason workouts in California together.
To the vast majority, Davis’ inclusion stands out because a certain trade request still looms over the city of New Orleans. According to Mike G, Davis asked Holiday if he could partake in the workouts due to their friendship and mutual respect for one another.
“AD reached out to Jrue to work out with him this summer specifically because he respects Jrue,” said Guevara. “Jrue has physical capabilities that he feels no one on earth has, and he’s like, ‘Mike G, I want that. I want what Jrue has.’ So, he puts that competitive banter and competitive aspect of everything that he does into each and every drill that we do in a training session against Jrue. He’s just trying to make sure that he’s keeping up with Jrue. If Jrue’s lifting this much, ‘Mike G., I want to try it.’ I’m like, ‘AD, I don’t know about that. Jrue’s a strong dude.’ He’s like, ‘nah, I want to try it.’ And we love that. What’s wrong with an individual trying to get better by pushing themselves next to one of the most physically impressive athletes in the NBA, in my humble opinion — obviously I’m biased, but I think a lot of people would agree. Most importantly, they are friends, they are close, and they both respect each other. So everyone needs to understand that it has nothing to do with AD’s situation or AD’s situation with the Pelicans. It has everything to do with two guys working out with each other, making each other better, pushing each other each and every day.”
As for the million dollar question, sorry, there’s been no talk of AD’s future because Mike G does not permit it, nor has Davis volunteered any information.
“No, sir,” said Guevara. “That type of conversation is not allowed in my training sessions because a) I don’t think he wants to talk about it and b) that’s not our focus. We want to keep the energy positive — not saying that it’s negative, but you know, we want to make sure that it’s high. Our focus is the next rep, jumping higher, being explosive, being stable, whatever it is that the goal of the training session requires. So, no, we don’t really talk about that type of stuff. And he definitely doesn’t bring it up.”
The workouts themselves are grueling, and for the time being, they do not involve the use of a basketball. The purpose of this is to reestablish good motor movement, flexibility and mobility that sometimes can get lost due to the rigors of an 82-game season.
“We have two-a-days, meaning we practice or train twice per day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday,” said Guevara. “We’ll wake up. We’ll start at 9 — that’s for the most part our weight lifting session. So we’re doing heavy strength training, pretty much what you see through my Instagram videos. A lot of weights. A lot of movements. And then we’ll break for about an hour and a half or two. Then we’ll go do more movement stuff. I like to get the guys out of their shoes, and let their toes and their feet get used to being open and not confined in a tight basketball shoe.”
After about a period of four or five weeks, the plan is to start introducing basketball-related activities to the second afternoon session. Mike Penberthy, one of the Pelicans coaching assistants, will join in and handle all of the on-court curriculum.
If you may recall, Jrue Holiday underwent a season-ending abdominal procedure in late March. Mike G is extremely mindful of this fact, but he’s excited by the progress Holiday has shown because he’s on pace to begin next season on a higher baseline from a strength and performance standpoint.
“Jrue surpassed his timeline in which he started to get bored with his rehab and recovery because a lot of the stuff that he was doing was essentially easy for him,” said Guevara. “With that in mind, we were like, ‘Look man, let’s take our time because we’re not going to the playoffs. Let’s try to take one day at a time. I understand that it’s not very exciting work, if you will, but take your time. Use time. Use every bit of time that you can so that this thing never rears its ugly head at us ever again. And that’s exactly what he’s done. I think he was able to have a good month before the offseason training. We haven’t had any hiccups in our work this summer. He works with his sports medicine guy out here by the name of Dr. Craig Sanchez, who has been seeing him three to four times a week, making sure that he’s staying on top of all the rehab/recovery type of stuff. No issues whatsoever, even to the point to where he’s physically starting to develop replica to what he was last year towards the end of the summer in terms of strength. So, he’s already showing us signs of strength and performance already two months ahead of schedule as compared to last year.”
A stronger, more able-bodied Holiday is a frighteningly good development for an organization that has recently been riding a tidal wave of positive emotion. In addition, you’ll be happy to learn that Holiday is ready to be the face of the franchise.
“In terms of his role in embracing of being the face of the franchise and those types of phrases, I think he embraces it,” said Guevara. “I think that he is very excited to be that guy. He’s a quiet leader. But he’s a leader nonetheless and guys respect him. When he does talk and speaks up, people listen. If the keys to the car are being handed to him, I think he’s ready to take the car for a spin and be the leader of the franchise, doing what he has to do to put us on the next level. I’m excited to watch that aspect of him flourish. I know that he’s going to be nothing but phenomenal, as he is with everything he does. If that’s the situation he’s put in, I think we all have something to be excited about.”
One person who will seemingly follow Jrue to the ends of the earth, Frank Jackson is showing his mettle. Mike G is trying to break him, but Frank’s not having it.
“With me, he just started at the beginning of last week,” said Guevara. “So we’re in week two, half way thru. You know, I’m just breaking him down. I told him, ‘This is calculated chaos. You are not going to feel good and it is by design. I need you to really buckle down and mentally push through these sessions because I’m trying to question your reality right now.’ And he’s fine. That’s why he’s such a great competitor is because he’s so mentally tough. I think that it’s going to be another special few months coming up when we start in October. He’s all about working hard, he’s all about...again, another person who mirrors Jrue and does everything exactly how Jrue does. And Jrue is a great example to follow so expect big things from Frankie Flash.”
Of course, you best believe we asked Mike G about the result of the 2019 Draft Lottery. He stated that he was paying close attention and admitted to being consumed by utter excitement when the Pelicans landed the first overall pick. The possibility of working with Zion Williamson sounds great and Mike G gave us his first impression of an 18-year-old who reportedly weighs close to 285 pounds.
“In regards to his large body type, I don’t know,” said Guevara. “I think it’s a question that needs to be answered once he goes through assessments, once he goes through people poking and prodding him, making sure that he’s safe to move in these angles and directions and what types of loads. There’s so much work to do before you even train him that I wouldn’t even know how to answer that question. But if we’re talking in generalities in terms of large human beings, yes, you always want to give the athlete what they need and not what they don’t need.”
We can’t thank Coach Mike G enough for this great insight. We hope you enjoy!