Shortly after being traded to Denver last season, Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson organized a team dinner for his new teammates, coaches and staff at his home in Philadelphia – something he’s been known to do throughout his 11 seasons in the NBA.
As training camp and the start of the season loomed, Nelson got the majority of his teammates together last week for a series of unofficial workouts and team bonding activities. The week, which Nelson and his teammates informally referred to as “Dig Deep Week”, also took place in Philadelphia.
Recently, Jameer spent some time answering questions for Nuggets.com about the time he spent with his teammates, offseason changes, and the season ahead.
What motivated you to organize this most recent week of events for you and your Nuggets teammates?
I think it’s very important to have the camaraderie that you need off the court that allows you to carry things on the court. When you look at the best teams – and going off of my experience with the teams that I’ve been on – not everybody hung out together off the court. We would do things every now and then to keep our relationships going, and like I said, it carries over to the court. It’s one of those things that makes it easier to trust one another.
What was the highlight for you?
We had a NAVY seal come and talk to us. He explained the anaerobic threshold, meaning you always have more left in the tank. You have your nervous system shutting you down listening to your brain saying you’re tired and you can’t do it and you’re frustrated. He put us through a workout. It was intense. It wasn’t easy. It was one of those things that we did the same exact thing over and over and he wanted to see who was going to break. It was unique because in the middle of the workout he made us do certain things with our eyes closed so we wouldn’t look at each other. You want to get the best that you can get out of your workout and not look at the other guy and say keep pushing because you need to learn how to push yourself. We did that. We also played basketball. We did paintball and then we went to dinner.
What did you learn from this experience?
I really appreciate all the guys who came and even the guys that reached out and said they couldn’t come for whatever reason. I know certain guys had already had obligations. It’s one of those things, if you can come when you get here it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be taxing on your body, you’re going to do some things you don’t want to do but we’re going to do them together and that’s the same exact thing that happens during the course of a season.
What are your thoughts on Coach Malone?
I like Coach. I’ve always had a good cordial relationship and we’ve had conversations all the times I’ve played against him on different teams. His dad was one of my assistant coaches and basically we were assigned to each other in Orlando so I got to know his father well during those years and through his father I got to know him. I know he’s ultimately a defensive coach and he’s defensive minded. We’re going to learn, we’re going to get better and from what I’m hearing he’s a fun guy but it’s no nonsense. That’s what you want especially from a new coach. We don’t have to be friends, we don’t have to be buddies. We have to respect each other and we have to buy into each other’s abilities. We have to do that as players and obviously, the coaching staff is smart enough to tailor certain situations and game plans to us as players.
What made you decide to re-sign with the Nuggets?
The atmosphere in Denver and what’s going on there. It took me back to my Orlando days when I first got there and we had a bunch of new pieces and a new coach. We put things together and we were on the up-rise. Nobody believed we could do it, but we made history down in Orlando. The things we did and the amount of wins that we had. We had a bunch of guys that nobody really wanted. Everybody thought this guy couldn’t play here that guy couldn’t play, but we stuck together and we did things together and we won a lot of games. We all helped turn the organization around.
What are your thoughts on your teammates who either extended their deals or re-signed this summer?
I think somebody like Wilson could have waited, gambled on himself and done things this year and then become a free agent. It says a lot about the organization. Guys are real receptive about the things that are going on. Obviously we are in the building process, but I don’t look at it as rebuilding. We still have veterans and still have pieces to the puzzle that are good. You look at when Gallo got healthy last year, he was big for us in the stretches where we were winning games and being really competitive. Wilson has so much talent and I think this year will be a big year for him. In terms of coming into his own, he’s always been a great player but I think he has a different level. It’s part of my job and Coach Malone’s job to get that out of him.
What are your thoughts on Mudiay and the possibility of a mentoring role for you?
I think he’s great, just the interaction that we had during the week together. He was great, very humble. You could tell that he is trying to learn some things. He’s very young, and like I told him, I’m here for him. Whatever he needs, I’m here. He actually reached out to me about three weeks ago, four weeks ago basically saying he wanted me to teach him everything. It was kind of humbling to me because you hear that from a guy and he’s your peer. He’s in the NBA, he’s an NBA player, but like I told him, I’m here. All the guys know that and whatever they need me to do, I’ll do. I accept my role whatever my role’s going to be. Obviously, we all want to play a lot of minutes and that’s just the competitive nature – and I’m going to push him. We’re going to compete in practice, we’re going to compete in film sessions, we’re going to compete in different areas, but at the end of the day, the better we all get individually, the better team we’ll be collectively.
Are you excited and ready to start the season?
I am, I am. I’ve been training my butt off, just getting ready. This is the part of the offseason that I love when you can smell the season right around the corner. I’ve been training all summer but this week I kicked it into a different gear with the amount of training I do and the intensity. I’m looking forward to it.