ORLANDO — Donovan Mitchell turned his mother’s basement into his gym during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The All-Star guard set up an exercise bike and bought weights from the internet so he could try to stay in shape.
The Utah Jazz wanted to make sure their leading scorer had a little more than that during this extended stay at the NBA campus in Florida. So in late June, the team packed up dumbbells, machines and other supplies at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, loaded it onto a truck, and moved it to the team’s hotel in Orlando.
“We have an alternate weight room there besides the one the league is providing because we have some very specific lead-up drills and we have specific equipment,” said Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey.
The truck with some six tons of equipment and supplies — more than 160 items in total — left the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in late June and arrived in Florida on July 1, when NBA staffers helped the Jazz remotely recreate their weight room.
“Every team is different and does different things,” Jazz forward Joe Ingles said. “We’re lucky to be in a business where we can do that (transport equipment). It benefits our team. It’s just more consistent. We can do the same exercises, same lifts. Obviously if we’re just using a regular hotel gym, it’s a lot different from the stuff we have in Utah.”
The move will help the Jazz players and vice president of performance health care Mike Elliott’s staff maintain routine in an unprecedented situation.
“Mike Elliott uses the Fusionetics discipline, which is, simply stated, joint mobility. Our players get 15 minutes before practice, 15 minutes after practice. Same with games. It’s quite a dynamic process to make sure their bodies have alignment and proper joint mobility,” Lindsey said.
The process of transporting a large portion of the team’s weight room across the country was detailed and costly, Lindsey said, but “it really got back to what’s best for the coaches and the players and the staff for their health.”
That same principle helped Jazz officials make difficult decisions about which personnel to send into the NBA’s Orlando bubble for the restart. The team brings as many as 60 people on a normal road trip, but for safety reasons teams are limited to just 35 players, coaches and staff here.
“You guys can do the math. There were some tough choices,” Lindsey said. “The biggest consideration were those people that were in service to the players – hands on players.”
In the end, the Jazz decided to bring as much of the team’s training staff — and equipment — as possible to keep players safe and healthy in Orlando.
“I’m meant to be in there lifting right now,” Ingles told reporters during an interview Friday, “but you guys are interrupting that.”