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Jrue Holiday staying ready with Mike G off the court, assisting New Orleans hospitals by providing meals to workers during coronavirus outbreak

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Without access to a public gym or the Pelicans practice facility, performance coach Mike Guevara has gotten creative in training his two exclusive clients: Jrue Holiday and Darius Miller

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 2 Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images

During this unprecedented play stoppage and without any definitive timetable, many NBA athletes may find themselves asking, “How do I stay sharp and continue to work on my game?”

We know what gym rats Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram prefer to do with their free time in New Orleans. Lonzo famously came out to the court in Sacramento moments after the Pelicans-Kings matchup was cancelled to work on his shot, and he and BI continued working on their games well into the week before the NBA ultimately took the next step to protect their athletes.

Now without their refuge for growth and development, players have become dependent upon what tools they have at home and the advice of team personnel and personal performance coaches.

“He’s not getting up shots,” Mike Guevara said of Jrue Holiday. “There’s nowhere to do it. The facilities are closed. If you don’t have a court or hoop in the backyard, you’re not shooting.”

Holiday’s longtime friend and personal trainer of Do It Moving Human Performance, Mike G is a former Pelicans’ consultant, but he’s maintained relationships across the team. If you may recall, he supervised a number of offseason workouts this past summer at Holiday’s residence in California, involving many of the Pelicans’ rollovers including spurts of Frank Jackson, Jahlil Okafor, Anthony Davis in addition to Holiday’s brothers, Stanley Johnson and even Rajon Rondo during Mamba Academy scrimmages.

“I’m only working with two families out of respect for others and their families,” Coach told us on our recent podcast. “Jrue and his family and Darius Miller and his family.”

“I’m still working with Jrue on a daily basis, obviously in the comfort of his own home. We’ll go outside a lot on the football field. He’s a big fan of playing catch with the football. So, I try to get creative and keep the mind stimulated.”

It’s been a challenge keeping one of the game’s most active athletes stimulated. Not only is Jrue Holiday a fearless two-way player and two-time defensive teamer, the Pelicans longest incumbent starter is 13th in the NBA in minutes played over the past three seasons and 38th among active players in total minutes played.

So, how does one continue to challenge one of the NBA’s most tenacious athletes without the benefit of weights? Once you tired of Jerry Rice and Walter Payton hill sprints, what’s next?

“We’ve been working with blood flow restriction above the high point of the thigh, towards your groin. You pump them up to the point that you’re blocking arterial return. You’re trapping blood in the muscle. Then you just do your basic, fundamental exercises, making it more intense and creating the hormonal effect of lifting weights.”

Staying in peak physical condition is one element of Holiday’s training, but cleaning up typical soreness that comes with a grueling season and rebuilding the structure of the body is paramount to Guevara’s plan to reinforce Jrue.

“The goal is to have him in a physical state where he’s fully recovered and pain free,” Mike G said on our podcast. “The rigors of the season create pain in the body when you play as many minutes as he does and as hard as he does. Get the inflammation out of the body and also get him back to where he was when he was asked to play 35-38 minutes a game. So, we create a similar environment to a game. It won’t be identical. To stimulate it, we use a component called “lactate,” which is when you are sprinting for 20-30 seconds. When he’s shifting from defense to offense quickly, doing what he does, he’s going to build a blood lactate level. That’s that burning sensation you may feel. When he gets back to play in June, July, whenever it may be, he’ll be able to withstand that same discomfort.”

While masking the disastrous events of the world’s current calamity as a typical ‘work stoppage’ grossly underscores the severity of our current state of events, sticking to a routine and executing a plan can provide the mindset to overcome such horrifying thoughts.

If you may recall, Holiday dealt with adversity earlier in the regular season. He missed seven games with a combination of an elbow contusion and triceps strain, but came back stronger than ever.

“The challenge behind that one was that he couldn’t grip anything because of the elbow,” Guevara said. “He couldn’t hold dumbbells, couldn’t put a barbell on his back. It was a large dose of those BR cuffs. If y’all remember, he came back against Memphis and scored 36 or something like that. He said his legs felt amazing. Good moment for me.”

Since his return from injury, Holiday is averaging 19.5 points, 7.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 threes and 1.6 steals. He is shooting 48.0% from the field and 38.1% from deep, and his +7.6 plus/minus rating is the highest on the team during this period. Stellar play on both sides of the ball propelled the New Orleans Pelicans to a 12-9 record over their last 21 games, and had many believing they would have eventually overtaken the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

Now, that groove is broken so players like Holiday are unexpectedly back into offseason training mode without any definable information or plan going forward. They are living life day to day, just like the rest of us.

Darius Miller

On the other side of the coin, the NBA’s postponement probably skirts as close to normal life as possible for someone like Darius Miller. Since rupturing his Achilles, Miller has been diligent in his approach and is getting closer and closer to returning to the hardwood floor — don’t rule out the possibility of seeing him this summer if NBA action resumes!

“Darius is running, so he might be close if the season does resume in my personal opinion,” Mike G said. “He’s getting to a point where he’s becoming comfortable using that right side. That’s a big step for us.”

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While it seems unlikely that the Pelicans would bring back the sharpshooter even should the season roll into July, the progress is a welcome sight. Millers’ 2019-20 that never was drips with disappointment, but with an unguaranteed agreement in the following season, the Pelicans could find a way to bring him back at a more amenable deal or deal him to another squad in need a perimeter scoring threat with size.

Jrue and Lauren Holiday Giving Back

We’ve become privy to the generous actions of well-known New Orlenians like Drew Brees, Zion Williamson and Gayle Benson, but Jrue and Lauren have quietly already given back to their community during the coronavirus outbreak, providing meals to several hospital staffs in the New Orleans region.

“They’ve already done it,” Guevara said proudly. “You know they like to stay humble, below the radar and not really kind of broadcast the good things that they do — but I’ll do it for them. Essentially, they used their hired chef to cater meals for all the medical staff, doctors, nurses and whoever else that makes up the hospital, to provide them meals ready to eat. {They’re} kind of like civilian MREs, so that they have fresh food to eat whenever they can step away from helping out with the crisis going on right now, especially in New Orleans.”

Get Outside

Being active during a time when citizens are asked to stay indoors as much as possible is as critical as its ever been and Mike offered some words of advice in helping to maintain and build each of our immune systems to further fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“From a biochemistry side, (get your) vitamin D. We have the best weather in the country right now. The sun is shining. It’s a huge component of the immune system. If you’re not consuming it through your diet, the best thing you can do is go outside for 30-40 minutes. Also, to combat boredom, the best fix is to get outside.”

Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, drop a comment below and tell us what you enjoyed so we can offer more of it in the future. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Let’s dance and let’s geaux Pels!