Detroit Pistons hired head coach Stan Van Gundy a little over a year ago to help bring a winning mentality to a NBA team that has struggled to find success over the last few years. Just 15 months on the job and Van Gundy's young Pistons already have a sense of unity that has eluded them in past seasons. In fact, teammates Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and new addition Reggie Jackson worked with the team's director of sports medicine to find a team-building exercise for the offseason. They wanted to find an activity that could be a change of pace and still offer the physical benefits of an off-season conditioning program. Together, they decided that the team would train together at a mixed martial arts gym in Las Vegas.
Changing up the routine
The team worked with Hall of Fame UFC fighter Forrest Griffin, who was tasked with training the basketball players without anyone getting hurt. Luckily, the NBA players made it through martial arts training without injury. If nothing else, it was a unique experience and great conditioning.
Many of the players on Detroit's current roster were not born when the Pistons won their first NBA Championship in 1989. In those days, the basketball team was known for their stingy defense and all-for-one mentality, ultimately making them one of the most cohesive units in NBA history. It appears as though Van Gundy would like members on his team to harness that kind of mentality with this latest team-bonding exercise. Martial arts are a great way to increase the mental and physical strengths of athletes at any level.
"[Our goals were] to work hard, keep getting in great shape and bond with the guys," Spencer Dinwiddie told NBA.com.