Childress and the Suns Weather Day 1 of Training Camp

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital

By Josh Greene,
Posted: Sept. 29, 2010

Even the most seasoned veteran can feel like a rookie again, especially when it comes to Day 1 of an NBA training camp.

It was no different for newcomer Josh Childress Tuesday, as the Suns officially tipped off their preseason at RIMAC Arena on the campus of the University of California at San Diego. Spending the last two years playing overseas, the five-year veteran got back into the swing of things in his first NBA training camp since his days with the Hawks.

Between healthy amounts of conditioning and three-man drills, coupled with five-on-five scrimmages and plenty of instruction spread out between the dual day-night sessions, Childress and the summer roster additions got an impromptu sense of what it means to be a Phoenix Sun.

“This differs from the sense it’s official,” Childress said. “This is the start, and guys are really focused on really being sure they get every rebound, get that stop. It’s a little different than playing a pick-up game. Having five new players, we have to get used to this system. Coach Gentry has made it pretty clear that it’s tough to just jump into learning how to play like this. It’s not like you can just run and gun. You have to learn how to do it. We’re using this time together to all get on the same page. Hopefully it happens pretty quickly. Our schedule is pretty tough early on.

“We got some good things accomplished today. We’re starting to work, and everybody’s excited and anxious. This is a great time. As a professional athlete and a basketball player, this is what you worked all summer for. From the beginning of training camp through the end of the season, we’re just trying to truck along and get on the same page.”

Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry was happy with the day’s results, even though he admits it’s still early in the proverbial preseason game. Still, he says it takes everybody time to get used to the Suns’ system, but he doesn’t expect Childress to need much of a learning curve in that respect for the upcoming season.

“Josh adds some to the second unit," Gentry said, "being a slasher and being able to get out there and run, finish on the break and rebound the basketball. If he has open shots, he’s got to shoot it. There was a year in Atlanta where he shot almost 40 percent from three, so we won’t necessarily ask him to step out for threes, but he’ll space the floor and when he gets an open shot, I expect him to shoot.”

Trading in mountaintop training camps in the Greek League for one in sunny Southern California with the Suns, Childress expects his versatility to shine through when it comes to the upcoming season, which expects to be worlds away from his time with Olympiacos Piraeus.

“Those camps weren’t quite San Diego,” the swingman laughed. “This is a step up, but hard work is hard work. This is where teams build their baseline for the season, and that’s why we’re here. It’s definitely special, and it means a lot to me. The best part of it is I’m with a good team, a good group of guys. They all seem to genuinely like each other and pull for one another. It’s just a great situation. Honestly, it feels like home. Hopefully it will be for a long time. It feels like where I belong.”


Beating himself up over wanting to do better on his first day of camp, Alvin Gentry reminded rookie Gani Lawal that if he wanted Lawal to do something differently, the Suns head coach wouldn’t be shy letting the Georgia tech alum know about it.

The rookie big man definitely felt the difference between his college and the NBA on Tuesday. Or to be more exact – his aching legs sure did.

“It’s part of training camp,” Lawal said. “I’m a little more tired because of the anticipation and the anxiety of training camp because you want to do so well. From a rookie standpoint, you want to do well, so the adrenaline is probably pumping a little harder. That has something to do with the fatigue, too.

“This is the NBA, but it hasn’t hit me yet.”