The Los Angeles Lakers have made one thing clear since the decision to hand the keys to Magic Johnson was made: Everything is changing. That includes their approach to fitness and health, something both Magic and new general manager Rob Pelinka have stressed throughout their conversations with media in recent months.
That ultimately led to the resignation of head trainer Tim DiFrancesco, joining the numerous pieces of the Jim Buss-Mitch Kupchak era that faded into the past. Fast forward ahead to last week, and the Lakers replaced DiFrancesco by bringing in celebrity and athlete trainer Gunnar Peterson.
As these things seem to go nowadays, TMZ Sports landed an exclusive interview with Gunnar, who hasn’t spoken a great deal since being announced as part of the new Lakers regime. Peterson revealed that not only is he a Duke grad, but so were his parents and brother. His son just wrapped up his Freshman year at Duke as well.
When asked what he plans on telling fellow Blue Devil Brandon Ingram when he first meets with him, it sounds like it’s going to be business as usual. Peterson plans on simply shaking his hand and letting Ingram know they’ve got “a big year ahead.”
And no, Ingram’s Duke ties won’t get him an favorable treatment from Peterson, who may actually expect even more from Ingram because of it.
"I'm going to make sure he upholds the standard that I know he's capable of. He's a special athlete,” Peterson said.
He also gave a breezy overview as to what the team should expect from the direction of their conditioning and fitness efforts going forward.
“I have not worked with any of these guys yet, which is what I like. It's like a clean slate. It's like they shook the etch-a-sketch and we're walking in there, and we're going to do some great things.
“I think what they're going to find is we're going to take the conditioning level up, we're going to take the strength levels up, we're going to keep them explosive. We're going to limit the fatigue, it's all about getting the work done. Getting in shape, getting them conditioned,” Gunnar said.
Magic’s been clear that physical fitness is one of the key components the front office wants to lay down as they build a new culture. They plan on taking a very serious look at how to best develop the increasingly-younger roster they’ve put together, and Peterson’s plans on doing the best he can to lay out a process that works for them.
“At the end of the day they're going to be doing the work, and the programming that we put out will put them in a position that they're going to be able to get the most out of their bodies,” he said.
Many of the young Lakers have been participating in voluntary workouts while the coaching staff hosts pre-draft workouts, and it will be interesting to see if a new leader in fitness development makes a noticeable impact in his first summer with the Lakers.