London Time

Pistons hit the ground running after all-night flight across Atlantic

The Pistons hosted practice shortly after arriving to London to prepare for Thursday's game.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
LONDON – It wasn’t necessarily by design, but the 75-minute ride from Heathrow Airport to the Pistons team hotel eliminated the need to try to squeeze in a double-decker bus sightseeing tour of London for many in the team’s traveling party.

Maybe not for Greg Monroe, who established his bona fides as a world-class sleeper on both the charter flight over the Atlantic and the bus ride through the heart of London.

“I was asleep on that, too,” Monroe said of the slow crawl through London’s winding roads as the caravan took the Pistons past Harrod’s department store, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye – the ferris wheel along the Thames River so visible in aerial views of the city.

“I heard people as I woke up every once in a while. I woke up when we were right outside Buckingham Palace, so I got to see Buckingham Palace. Otherwise, I was sleeping.”

Monroe was wide awake a few hours later, though, after the Pistons held a light practice – limbering up and shooting drills over the course of an hour at the University of East London.

“I feel good,” he said. “Practice woke me up a little bit, got my juices flowing.”

And that’s exactly what Lawrence Frank had in mind – schedule something that brought the team together and prevented them from caving to the desire to dive right into bed after arriving in London just before 10 a.m. local time after a 10 p.m. Monday departure from Detroit Metropolitan Airport and flying through the night.

“All you’re looking to do is try to get your body on London time,” he said. “Innately, every guy wanted to sleep in, but then they’d be up the entire night and you’d never get your body right. You’re not going to get anything out of a contact practice – you’d probably put your guys at risk – but it’s, ‘Let’s get a good stretch, get some shots up, get a little sweat.’ Now, go get dinner and go to bed at a normal time.”

Rodney Stuckey tossed and turned on the flight, he said, after earlier Monday having one of his upper front teeth removed – a result of last month’s collision with Washington’s Kevin Seraphin. Stuckey will eventually have a new tooth implanted.

“They thought it wasn’t as bad, because it was getting tighter as time went on,” Stuckey said of the tooth. “But I got X-rays and they found multiple fractures up in my gums.”

Stuckey is in Europe for the second time in the past six months, having spent a week with Jonas Jerebko in Sweden last July. Jerebko said he expects to have 10 to 20 familiar faces at O2 Arena for Thursday’s game, including his grandmother and grandfather.

Jerebko said he was a little tired from the flight, but is accustomed to having his body clock altered by flights between Europe and North America. He also spent a good deal of time on flights from one end of Europe to the other playing for the Swedish national team in Eurobasket play later in the summer.

“I’m used to these kinds of flights, playing this summer,” he said. “It doesn’t really hurt me. Of course, I’m a little bit tired – everybody’s tired.”

The Pistons and Knicks both will hold practices at O2 on Wednesday with a half-hour of each team’s practice open to the public. Between practices, the NBA will hold an NBA Cares Clinic involving players from both teams.

  • Charlie Villanueva is nursing a sprained ankle suffered in Monday’s practice and didn’t participate in shooting drills, though he was walking with just the trace of a limp. He said swelling was fairly minimal, but the extended flight exacerbated inflammation of the tissue. He hopes to be able to play Thursday, he said.