Joe G's Practice Notebook
We’re talking ‘bout practice …
Say Uncle ... There was an air of anticipation at the Cleveland Clinic Courts on Monday. Not only are the Cavaliers and their fans gearing up for the season opener on Wednesday night against Brooklyn, but also for the third installment of the infamous Uncle Drew/Pepsi Max ad campaign.
Everyone knows that Uncle Drew is Kyrie Irving’s octogenarian alter-ego. The real question on Monday afternoon was who Uncle Drew’s new teammate(s) were going to be.
After Minnesota’s Kevin Love co-starred as “Wes” in the previous spot, it was anyone’s guess who’d be next. And Kyrie was prepared just in case the secret leaked. (“Nobody (on the film crew) could tell, and if they did, I was gonna sue them,” half-joked Irving. “They all signed a form to remain silent.”)
The third chapter, which was filmed in Seward Park on Chicago’s North Side, featured a fellow guard who apparently lobbied Irving for the role last season.
“The person that was in (the commercial), during a game, he came up to the free throw line and he was hitting me on Twitter and Facebook almost every single day saying he wanted to be in ‘Uncle Drew’ – and I finally cast him,” recalled Kyrie. “It’ll be exciting. He was a good pickup for me; he was a good pickup for Uncle Drew and the team.”
Not long after practice wrapped up, the new Pepsi Max commercial dropped and Kyrie’s co-star(s) were revealed. The extended commercial runs for over six minutes and features a semi-sweet backstory.
And in the spirit of not spoiling the surprise, let’s let fans see the spot for themselves …
Centers of Attention … There’s still no concrete timetable for their return to regular season action, but a pair of Cavalier bigs – Tyler Zeller and Andrew Bynum – are working their way back into shape.
Zeller, who’s been somewhat snake-bitten this preseason – suffering from a hip flexor in the Wine and Gold Scrimmage and undergoing an emergency appendectomy less than a week later – was back on the floor, working on drills with fellow big man, Henry Sims.
Zeller’s been cleared for full practice and is getting back into shape – something the sophomore doesn’t enjoy (and you have to respect his honesty about the process).
“Conditioning is terrible – I hate getting in shape,” smiled Zeller. “I’m actually one of those people – I hate getting into shape so much that I try not to get out of shape. This is the first time I’ve been completely out of shape in a few years, so it’s not fun getting back in shape.”
But as much as Zeller doesn’t dig line-touches and the like, he knows the real challenge will be re-adjusting to the game itself.
“Probably the hardest part will just be the game speed,” said the former Tar Heel. “When you run through plays with no defense and all that, it’s easy. But when you start having to make the reads, the defensive reads and all that, it becomes a little more difficult. Just getting in the flow will probably be the hardest part.”
Andrew Bynum is also working for his eagerly-anticipated return to the hardwood. And he continues to get closer.
“(Bynum)’s played 5-on-5, full-court, with contact,” said Coach Mike Brown after Monday’s practice. “He looked good, but again, this is a guy who hasn’t played in over a year. So he looked good for the (amount of) time that he had been out.”
The two-time NBA champ has been playing 5-on-5 for about a week-and-a-half.
“It’s not my decision to clear him for the games, so I’m just coaching him,” continued Brown. “I coach him in practice and when the medical team says he’s clear to play in games, then obviously we’ll let him go. But he’s played 5-on-5 now for quite a few practices.”
Listen as Kyrie Irving and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Monday's practice with the media.