Jason Kidd knew it was coming. The dreaded fifth practice of training camp. Call it Hump Day in the grind that is preparing for a grueling 82-game schedule.
You've got to pay it forward.
So after a Wednesday night workout of swimming laps and more laps ("I got the report that everybody was tired leaving the pool, instead of being on floaties," said Kidd) the Brooklyn Nets got their first look at adversity today.
And they didn't blink.
"I think we got better today," said forward Paul Pierce. "We're still building. We're still getting to know one another. It's going to be a process."
There might not be another team in the league that needs to do more processing than the Nets.
The staff is new. Many of the key players are new. The identity this team wants to build - less vanilla, more Rocky Road - is new.
If the Nets are going to overcome the mental toughness of Miami, which has won two straight NBA titles, if they're going to get by Indiana, which has taken grinding to a new level, it will be because of the work being done this October.
Kidd remembers these days. He said he was curious this morning about how the players would respond after double practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Being a player, I've always said this is the hardest practice,'' said Kidd. "Because you're sore, mentally just a little tired.''
The practice ended with no let up. Players stepped to the foul line knowing a missed free throw meant everyone ran up and backs. There was more swishing than running.
The toll of the first two days set in Wednesday night. Kidd and the training staff decided to use the pool instead of the court. The players were thinking floaties. They were wrong.
"When we went down there they made it seem like it was all sweet and gravy," said Joe Johnson. "We were just going to tread water for a little bit. We got down there, swimming laps. Oh man.''
It was just a year ago that Kidd was going through his 19th and final training camp. His ability to relate to the physical and emotional demand placed on players is his strength at this point.
He said he did not have to tweak the practice schedule to cut down the amount of running. The Nets showed up and toughed it out.
"I think being the fifth practice, the quick turnaround, being able to be tired and accept being tired and pushing through it," said Kidd. "A lot of times when you get tired you just shut down.
"Being a championship team, you have to fight through those times of being tired. Guys were helping each other so guys were supporting each other. I agree with Paul, I thought our guys, as a whole, got better.''