Archive for the 'Metta World Peace' Category

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Through the Lens of World Peace

Forward Metta World Peace got creative before the team’s final preseason tuneup in San Diego. As MWP walked out to the court for his normal pregame routine he picked up team photographer Noah Graham’s camera and, after a quick lesson on focus, snapped off a couple pics of his teammates. Check them out below.

Metta catches rookie big man Robert Sacre as he warms up

Devin Ebanks and Darius Johnson-Odom warm up

Metta got going with the camera's motor drive to catch these six pics of Steve Blake waving to the camera

Lord Stanley Visits the Lakers

The Stanley Cup continues to make the rounds around Los Angeles and Sunday night that included visiting a place that it knows very well, STAPLES Center. Except this time the hardwood was down on the floor instead of the ice.

As the team exited the locker room following their postgame media obligations they were able to stop and spend a moment with the most historical trophy in sports. Here’s a look at Dwight Howard, Mike Brown and Metta World Peace checking out the cup. Thanks to the LA Kings for sharing the big guy with us for an evening.

Metta World Peace Rounding Into Form

A year ago, Metta World Peace conceded he was out of shape. His shot was off, he seemed to be a step slow defensively and his entire game was affected.

“The lockout hurt me a lot, because last season going into the playoffs I had a nerve issue in my back,” he explained during his exit interview in May. “Once the lockout happened I wasn’t able to address it so all I could do was rest. It took me 2-3 months to get in shape.”

During the first half of last season, World Peace shot only 33.5 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from the 3-point line, while averaging just 4.9 points.

After he was able to lose weight and get himself back into game shape, though, those numbers jumped. In the second half of the season, World Peace shot 43 percent from the field, 33.1 percent from the 3-point line and averaged 10.7 points. On the defensive end, he looked quicker, more nimble and displayed that prowess he’s been known for his entire career.

Going into this season, the small forward knew what he needed to do to continue playing at that level.

“I gotta come back just how I left off,” he said last May. “I was playing at a high level and need to be able to stay there.”

Fast forward to now and the former St. John’s product appears to be performing at that same level fans saw during the latter half of last season. He’s noticeably slimmer and he’s quicker on both offense and defense.

“He’s been in the best shape that I’ve seen him since I’ve been here,” Kobe noted. “I haven’t seen him in this kind of shape since I faced him when he was in Indiana. He’s really in tip-top condition.”

The results are showing, too.

Through the team’s first three preseason games, he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and the 3-point line, while chipping in almost 12 points. And he’s doing all of it in less than 24 minutes per contest. World Peace noted how much of a difference it feels to have lost 17 pounds in the offseason.

“I feel good that I can get to the basket,” said World Peace, who notched 13 points, grabbed four rebounds and shot 3-of-4 from the 3-point line in the team’s third preseason game. “I can push it without getting tired. I can go right a little bit more this year and (the opponent) doesn’t really know what’s going on defense. And I can help my team more.”

With World Peace in peak condition and playing at a high level, fans can expect to see some of the old Ron Artest — a more dynamic player on both ends of the court.

Quote Round Up: Postgame vs. Portland

Here’s a transcription up of postgame interviews with Mike Brown*, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, assembled by Intern Trevor.
*Click on each name to watch the video.

Q: On the team’s play in second preseason game:
Brown: In the first half — in the first quarter particularly — our defense gambled too much. Every time we gambled, it seemed like they scored on us. Once we settled down defensively and started playing by our principles and giving the multiple efforts that we needed to contesting and rebounding, I thought we got some stops. Offensively — the first group and the second group a little bit in the first half — we did a nice job of trying to execute our offense. We got some wide open shots … offensively, we were pretty good in the first half.

Q: On the chemistry between players that haven’t played before:
Brown: Chemistry is great, but when you have Jordan Hill out, Kobe (Bryant) out and Dwight (Howard) out, the guys that are playing together aren’t going to play together a ton this coming season. So what I’m looking for, more than anything else, is individual performances in terms of is: ‘Is a guy playing defense the right way, is a guy trying to help his teammates get better by spacing the floor, making the right cuts, making the right reads offensively?’ And then when he gets a chance to knock down shots, he doesn’t look like he’s in panic mode out there. So there are a few things I’m looking for individually on both ends of the floor more than anything else because I still don’t know who’s going to play when it comes to my backup point, my backup two, my backup three, my backup four and my backup five.

Q: On why the game got out of hand in the second half:
Brown: Well, there are a couple reasons: We had over a 2-hour practice today, so maybe it could be their legs. I’ve been working them pretty hard, but Portland just outworked us. Everything that they did, it was harder, sharper, better, quicker and we did not – in the second half – give a multiple effort to contest the rebound. We made one effort and then we stopped and we just watched. And they got open shots, they got loose balls, they got layups, they got whatever they wanted because we didn’t give the multiple effort to contest the rebound in the second half.

Q: On distributing minutes to starters in the second half going forward in the preseason:
Brown: I’ll continue to do that. Pau (Gasol) needs to work on his conditioning some, Metta (World Peace) needs to work on it a little bit, too. But I’ll continue to give the guys that start minutes into the second half, and then eventually, I’ll play the rotation right. But right now, I’m going to stick with what I did tonight. I’m going to change up some of the guys in our next game. I’m going to give some other guys the backup minutes so I can continue to look at individual guys and different combinations to find out where I want to go with that second unit.

Q: On if anybody moved up on depth chart based on second preseason game:
Brown: I need to go back and watch the tape. Darius Morris, the few minutes he got, were solid. (Andrew) Goudelock’s minutes were solid. Jodie Meeks didn’t knock down shots, but I thought defensively he was good, I thought he got a lot of loose balls, I thought he got some rebounds and I thought he was a presence out there. He just didn’t make shots, so that’s the type of stuff I’m looking for. Offensively, he was never in a hurry. He took what the defense gave him, he kind of understood and knew what we were trying to do offensively. I was impressed with Jodie’s toughness, his composure, his pace, what he did defensively, how he got after some loose balls and some long rebounds.

Q: On what he’s seen from the team thus far:
Nash: We’re continuing to find moments where we see a familiarity and an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish on both ends of the floor. Right now, we’ve gone over a lot. We’ve had long days and we’re not necessarily producing the way we’d like to, but we’re showing glimpses of all that time on the court. And all that new territory we’ve been covering is paying off. We have to have faith that we’re doing the right things and just continue to grow day by day.

Q: On what team needs to work on:
Nash: We always want to hang our hats on the defensive end of the floor, so for us to shore up that side of the ball will always be number one. But again, the offense is a big, vast, new sea of understanding and knowledge for us, so we’re all trying to not only learn it, but learn how to play together out of it. That takes time and we’re not going to get it in two preseason games. We’re probably not going to get it in eight preseason games. We’re going to have to continue to improve throughout the season.

Q: On how Jodie Meeks filled in for Kobe and Robert Sacre filled in for Dwight:
Nash: It felt good. I thought we had a pretty good little (connection) going out there with the first unit. The ball moved, we created a lot of open shots, we didn’t finish at a rate we’re capable of, but I thought we did a good job executing. We just didn’t make shots tonight. Jodie did a good job, got some open looks and knocked some down. He missed some, but we know he can make them. Robert is a rookie and he’s done very well.
Continue reading ‘Quote Round Up: Postgame vs. Portland’

Postgame Quote Summary: Fresno

If you missed L.A.’s opening preseason game, or just want to hear what two of the starters and Mike Brown had to say afterwards, you can watch the postgame interviews right here:

Steve Nash: LAL – GSW Postgame
Metta World Peace: LAL – GSW Postgame
Mike Brown: LAL – GSW Postgame

Below is a summary of the comments featured in the videos:

Q: On his first game with the team:
Nash: I felt pretty good considering I’ve only been at this for a week — less than a week — so we got a long way to go. We covered a lot this week, and you never know what to expect the first time out. I felt like it wasn’t bad.

Q: On finding his teammates in the game:
Nash: We definitely found some opportunities to get easy buckets and some other opportunities where we got open looks. Make or miss, they were good shots for our team. My job is to facilitate and make the game easy for my teammates, get them opportunities to score easy baskets, have an advantage against their man or make the defense pay, so when you get to play with good players who understand the game, I think it’ll come together nicely.

Q: On how the week of practice helped team chemistry:
Nash: We just spent time on the court together. You have to spend time on the court to get any kind of chemistry, so I think the week of practice definitely helped, so we had somewhat of a familiarity going out there and we were able to find some cohesion. I thought both ends of the floor, we did a pretty decent job of playing together.

Q: On playing with Kobe:
Nash: It felt pretty good, to be honest. I felt pretty good and it’s only going to get better. I can’t complain about that part of the game … Hopefully (Kobe) can save some energy, get some looks, get his rhythm, get some baskets without having to put his head down and take on a team. And he can save his legs for later in the game.

Q: On his first game after losing so much weight in offseason:
MWP: It’s only the first game so I’m definitely 17 pounds lighter but at the same time, it’s still the beginning. But definitely, I feel much better.

Q: On if he didn’t like anything in the team’s first preseason game:
MWP: You always want to improve. It’s never a thing where I don’t like something. It’s just a thing where I can improve and always look at it as a positive rather than seeing it as a negative out there.

Q: On playing with Nash:
MWP: I mean, he’s Nash and his passes are really, really good. His passes are right on target, right on target.

Q: On the first half:
Brown: We’re going to get some great shots, we’re going to get some great looks. We scored 56 points in the first half and we could have even played better than we did in the first half. Then you throw in a guy like Dwight in there — on both ends of the floor, he helps your defense, he helps your offense — you just got some intelligent guys that can really play the game the right way offensively and defensively, so it was fun to watch.

Q: On Nash creating opportunities for his teammates:
Brown: He does. He’s a guy that’s extremely intelligent and it doesn’t matter how you play him. He’s going to find a weakness or a hole in the defense and he’s going to make the game easier for everybody. On the flip side, you got Metta and Dwight. Just like Steve sets the table for everybody offensively, those two guys are going to set the table for everybody defensively. It’s going to be exciting to watch.

Q: On if he didn’t like anything from the team in their first game together:
Brown: There were some things here and there we could have done a little bit better. Our transition defense could have been a little bit better and I thought we gambled too much, whether it was in transition or in the half court, which kind of put us out of position. But they’re all things that are definitely fixable.

Q: On if the Warriors’ 37-2 run was concerning:
Brown: My goal going into the game was to play everybody. I wanted to get guys a few minutes here, a few minutes there. I told our guys nobody would probably play over 20 minutes. I didn’t care what the score was. We could have been down 105 to 22 and I was going to stay the course, so that these guys can get a taste of it and get a feel of it. It was great they were going against some guys that played in the NBA for a long time it was great that they got to see what its like to guard Richard Jefferson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee. It was great experience for the guys and probably something they’ll never forget.

Q: On Nash and Kobe playing together:
Brown: It was good. It thought those guys played well out on the floor. They each tried to find one another and Steve just created easy shots for everybody. He made (Robert) Sacre look like he was in his third year in the league.

Q: On what team needs to work on:
Brown: The one thing we know we need to work on is transition defense an there are some things offensively, we can tweak on what we’re doing and learning how to do that better. The neat part about it is that we’ve probably put in 20 percent of what we’re gong to do offensively so there’s still a lot more that we need to add, which we’ll do in terms of taking our time. But there’s a lot to work on. Transition defense is probably the number one thing that we’ll get to.

Q: On how the team’s chemistry looked:
Brown: The first thing is we have good guys. Chemistry can be had if you have some good people in your group and we have good people in our group. Then when you have good people and the trust is there, that’s what chemistry is – it’s trust. Our guys understand that. We said this to them at the beginning of the year. Respect one another as teammates and what your teammates can bring to the table, respect the process and then respect the journey. You’re going to have ups and downs throughout the course of the journey and it’s how we handle the ups and how we handle the downs is going to determine whether or not we reach our goal at the end of the year. We have guys that understand that and are capable of dong that, and that’s what makes this thing exciting.

Being an NBA Strength Coach

Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco is about to embark upon his second full season with the team, with his ultimate goal not only to get L.A.’s players as strong as possible without losing functionality on the court, but also to keep them healthy.

As head athletic trainer Gary Vitti likes to point out, DiFrancesco is uniquely qualified to do both since he owns a degree in physical therapy on top of his strength and conditioning background. He’s also no amateur in regards to nutrition.

DiFrancesco took some time to discuss his approach to his craft, the balance between building muscle while not pushing too far, why Kobe Bryant is who he is, the incredible care Metta World Peace takes with his body, what it’s like shopping for groceries with an NBA rookie and more:

MT: How would you define your approach to being an NBA strength and conditioning coach?
DiFrancesco: My overall approach is to try and keep everything as simple as possible. In our industry, there is a lot of crazy, YouTube training going on. An exercise becomes popular because it looks cool, and it spreads on social media and trainers decide to try it with their athletes. But for me, I need to know why I’m doing every single thing I’m doing. There is always a risk/reward. Anything you do in the weight room poses a risk of an injury if you do it wrong, if it’s too much or too heavy, but can also benefit an athlete if done correctly. If I can’t immediately find an answer for why I’m doing a certain exercise, I won’t do it. Fundamentally, with my background in physical therapy, I’m always looking at basic movement patterns. Can they do a basic squat? Can they do a basic single-leg dead lift patter? That gives me a road map with every player I’ll work with, and I’m not going to do anything extreme until I really figure out the movement patterns.

MT: You hear stories about athletes squatting absurd amounts of weight, only to injure themselves in the process. Where’s the balance?
DiFrancesco: That’s back to the risk/reward. Do we blow out a guy’s (back) because he wanted to squat 400 pounds? Congrats, but you won’t be able to do half of that for the rest of your life. We’d have to take a huge risk to get there, and an injury could result. Typically there aren’t bad exercises, there is just bad application of exercises. Especially at the NBA level, I cannot afford to injure players on my end. If a guy gets really sore on a given day and all he did was lift and shoot, then that could mean I (pushed too hard). What I do or don’t do can either protect the players or make them more susceptible to an unnecessary contact injury. I’m very cognizant of players improving performance wise and physically, but just not at the expense of an injury.

MT: Anybody watching these players glide and explode up and down the floor can see that they’re among the world’s most impressive physical specimens; but what is it like to specifically train an NBA athlete versus a football player, for example? Aren’t they doing different things in the weight room?
DiFrancesco: NBA athletes are really, really good at making their body do amazing things … within the scope of basketball. That’s what they love to do, what they crave doing. They want to play, on the court. Football players are very different, because they play only once a week. They do what the sport requires to build themselves up from a strength standpoint. Now, NBA players are of course genetic freaks, but doing basic level functional patterns is not typically as easy for them. They struggle with that at times. When you can clean that piece up for a player, it only enhances their already off the charts athletic ability. In other words, someone may have a great vertical and great speed, but what would happen if we added really clean movement patterns to that and got a guy stronger? Well, your career gets extended and you perform at a higher level. The levers of basketball players are a lot longer, and strength training isn’t as ingrained in professional basketball players as it would be in football players. Especially if some of our guys only went to one year of college and just started lifting there, that’s hardly any experience practicing such a skill, which takes time to develop like anything else.

MT: We know how manically Kobe Bryant has attended to his physique and fitness over his 16-year career. Is this an ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ situation for you?
DiFrancesco: With a situation like Kobe’s, I never came in saying I want to get my hands on him and mix things up and put my stamp on it. The stamps are already there, and we all know the results. I don’t need to mess with something that’s being done so well at such a high level. That being said, at certain times that allow for my expertise to assist in what’s already there in his foundation, I enjoy that opportunity. Just from having been around him, a word that comes to mind regarding his approach to taking care of his body is ‘obsessive.’ I think it’s important that using the word obsessive doesn’t need to have a negative connotation. Most people that are exceptionally great at what they do for a long period of time are obsessed with what they do, and to me there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. He understands as well or better than anybody what it takes to fine tune, to maintain or improve the function of his body and he’s constantly obsessed with that. He knows more than anybody that his weapon is his body and he maintains and cares for that weapon fanatically. That’s why he does what he does.

MT: Darius Morris has been a constant presence in your weight room since last training camp, and he’s gotten quite noticeably stronger and bigger. What’s been the key?
DiFrancesco: Darius bought in. He said, ‘You tell me what you want and I’ll do it.’ For example, contacted me at 8 a.m. on the day of Game 5 at (Oklahoma City) last year in the playoffs. He knew he most likely wasn’t going to play in the game, and it would have been easy to take the attitude of, ‘The offseason is coming soon, I don’t need to lift today.’ Instead, there we were getting an early work out in.

MT: Morris is clearly a gifted athlete; how has he developed since the first day of training camp last season?
DiFrancesco: Darius came into the league with pretty decent movement patterns, which saved me the time of cleaning much of that up, and let us get after it right away. Since he’s a point guard, we really focused on putting some additional lean mass on his already athletic frame. That can help at a position where you take a beating going into the paint, with that lean mass being bulletproof. So we got his weight up while adding in the right amount of protein to help him recover, and he really did a great job. I never had to follow up on him; he did everything I asked for.

MT: How much does nutrition come into play, using Morris as an example?
DiFrancesco: It’s generally a matter of being able to get away with not paying much attention to one’s diet thanks to being athletically gifted. But at some point, a player realizes that if he’s trying to put a puzzle together of being the best player he can be — and he takes care of his skill and lifting workouts — the other piece is nutritional. Many NBA players aren’t doing as well as they could there. Darius, this offseason, has started to realize that. He and I actually went grocery shopping the other day.

MT: Please, tell us more…
DiFrancesco: He showed me what he normally gets, and I tried to provide some better options.
For example, in the produce section, he said, ‘I don’t usually get much from here.’ I said, ‘OK, if these were in your fridge, what would you eat?’ We determined that he’d eat oranges, some mixed veggies laid out on a platter and pre-packaged salads. But he just hadn’t thought about having that stuff available. Moving on in the store, he said he likes honey mustard, so he showed me the kind he usually gets, but sugar was the first ingredient: high fructose corn syrup acts as sludge in the blood stream and makes everything less efficient. It’s never a malicious intent to eat badly, it’s just a habit, and it’s my job to show him the kind of mustard that’s more healthy.

MT: Still enjoying this. What else did he buy in the past to which you gave him a more healthy alternative?
DiFrancesco: He loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches*. Many of the ‘classic’ peanut butter like Jif or Skippy is nothing but saturated fat and high fructose corn syrup, and one of the last ingredients is peanuts. If you can instead get a whole wheat bread, a peanut butter like Justin’s (which has three ingredients, peanuts, salt, small amount of unprocessed sugar) and a better jelly, the PB&J can be much more healthy for you. So Jif to Justin’s is a simple change, but it makes a big difference.
*Editor’s Note: Show me an NBA player that doesn’t love PB&J and I’ll call you a liar. It’s definitely the most consumed item on the Lakers team plane every year.

MT: How about the things we drink? There’s Mountain Dew (my personal favorite) and other soda, Snapple and so on available on the team plane after every road game…
DiFrancesco: I’ll have a Diet Coke once in a while because I want the carbonation, but I try to keep it to water as often as possible. There’s no way for me to justify drinking calories. I want calories to make me feel full by eating them. It makes a big difference, especially in athletes, who don’t realize the impact that the nutrition piece has. It’s one thing that I can really bring to these guys to help them perform at their best, the knowledge when it comes to nutrition.

MT: Won’t Steve Nash help you push that nutrition mission, based on what we’ve heard about how great he takes care of himself?
DiFrancesco: Second hand, the information I have suggests that nobody gets that more than Steve Nash, so I’m really excited about it. Somebody that has that much credibility makes my job a lot easier when I’m trying to create good habits for Darius. It’s one thing coming from me, and another coming from a two-time MVP in this league.

MT: Apparently, nobody comes close to Metta World Peace in how to take care of one’s body?
DiFrancesco: He was extremely helpful for me last year because he does a great job with his nutrition and recovery habits. He takes that stuff very seriously, and younger guys in our locker room started to see that. (CLICK HERE for more on MWP’s fitness habits).

Metta World Health

You guess: which Lakers player paid the closest collective attention to his diet and work out habits last season?

Kobe Bryant … right?

Maybe not.

Now don’t get me wrong – Bryant absolutely keeps himself in fantastic shape and has changed his dietary habits in the last several years in particular after his absurd metabolism carried him through a pregame routine of burgers and fries earlier in his career. He’s just not our answer in this case.

How about Steve Nash? He’s extremely well known around the league for keeping a strict diet and putting himself in the best possible shape to maintain his elite level of play after all these NBA seasons.

But it’s not the Canadian MVP, who has yet to sit down with the team’s training staff.

The answer is: Metta World Peace. Don’t look so surprised.

According to Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco, MWP is absolutely the man.

“Metta was extremely helpful for me last year because he does a great job with his nutrition and recovery habits,” DiFrancesco detailed. “He takes that stuff very seriously, and younger guys in our locker room started to see that.

“He takes it to a whole different level; he’s really in tune with a lot of high level nutrition approaches. He doesn’t just want to know what a good peanut butter is made of, but where it was made, what’s in it and how he can get a better one. He wants to really put the nutrition program together like an actual nutritionist might.”

In fact, World Peace makes a point of traveling with the right types of food that he knows fuel his body most efficiently during the season when the team is out of town. And he’s just as serious about his work outs.

“He cares about the ‘why,’ DiFrancesco continued. “Metta wants to know why we’re doing each exercise. On multiple occasions, he and I would stay after games lifting into the late hours of the night, and he’s always willing to go the extra mile. He’s very, very easy to work with.”

World Peace came into camp last season noticeably out of shape – just ask coach Mike Brown, or MWP himself – but for a reason. He’d carried some injuries out of the 2010-11 campaign, and with the lockout starting in July, was unable to work with the team’s training staff to address those problems.

Issues with his back and Achilles made it difficult for World Peace to work out as he normally does through the summer and fall, and when the season suddenly started – as a surprise to many players – in December, he wasn’t close to being ready.

“It was a product of the lockout,” said DiFrancesco. “But once he flipped the switch and got healthy, he put it all together with lifting, working out, nutrition and everything. It wasn’t rocket science, he just ate clean, worked out hard and consistently and recovered and slept the right way.”

After shooting 34 percent prior the to All-Star break, World Peace shot 43 percent afterwards, and discovered the kind of lock down 1-on-1 perimeter defending that has been the hallmark of his career.

If you’ve seen him around the team’s training facility this summer (OK, there’s no way most of you could have), you’ve noticed that he’s in fantastic shape.

“Compared to last year at this time, it’s not even close,” concluded the strength coach. “Metta told me he’s feeling on the court like he felt when he was playing for the Pacers, when he was at the top of his game athletically. It’s because he’s put his time in.

“He decided he needed to stay focused on this track and not take much if any time off. You saw it last year from a production standpoint on the court around the All Star break last year, and he’s at that level now coming in. The last thing he wanted was to come in anywhere near where he was lats year, and he’s far, far from that.”