The Los Angeles Lakers are seeking new heights in the physical fitness department of the puzzle that’s being pieced together. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are looking to Gunnar Peterson, who has a vast list of athletes and impressive resume, to help elevate the athleticism of the roster.
Magic’s ready to lay down the law on anyone on the team showing up out of shape, making it clear in April that conditioning is one of the top priorities going forward.
“We told every player that they must improve and we want them to be in the best physical shape of their lives. We don’t want anybody over seven or eight percent body fat anymore, and basically all but one or two players were in double-figures in body fat,” Johnson said. “We can’t have that. We told them that this is all about excellence now. So you’ve got to be disciplined and put the work in.”
Peterson is taking on a huge task, but the Duke alum is thrilled to be in the position he is working with the Lakers. World class sideline reporter Mike Trudell spoke at length with Peterson and was kind enough to drop a transcript of the conversation.
The entire thing is illuminating to get a better feel for what he’s bringing to the table. Peterson certainly sounds ecstatic to be making this transition (via Lakers.com):
Peterson: I wanted this job. I've worked with a ton of athletes in a number of different sports, both individual sports and team sports. But there was something about being part of this group. I think it's a special group, not just from the players and pieces they're putting together on the court, but as well the pieces that are behind the scenes: Rob; Magic; Jeanie (Buss); Linda (Rambis). There's a shift going on, and it's taking on what I think to be a really interesting look that I was eager to be a part of from the ground floor. If I can contribute to (the players) being better … it's nice to be part of a group, of a team, of working for a common goal.
As far as the big question on everyone’s minds — how he’s going to develop young Brandon Ingram — here’s what Peterson told Trudell:
MT: There was a plethora of talk last year about Ingram's body, mostly centered upon what kind of weight or mass he “needed” to put on. Isn't it possible his body is of a certain type – like Kevin Durant – where he'll always be on the skinny side? Does that matter to you in your position?
Peterson: He just worked out with me 15 minutes ago. He's not weak. He comes out of Duke, where I know the strength coach because that's where I went, and I spoke to him. Brandon is young, just made the transition from the college schedule to the pro schedule, and he carried a big load last year*. I don't ever see him showing up at 250 (pounds). He could be between 180 and 190 his whole life. Some guys don't have that body type to get really (bulky). If he's active, moving and playing, he's never going to be Karl Malone. I'd rather have him be the best Brandon Ingram he can be than a knock off of Karl Malone. The second-best of that is always going to be worse than the best of himself.
*Ingram played 28.8 minutes per game in 79 games, second only to Jordan Clarkson.
MT: And while he won't be Malone, of course you want him to get stronger, like every player. What are some key exercises you'll use specifically for Ingram?
Peterson: Lower-body strength, so he can dictate when he's out there. He'll be dead lifting. Doing a lot of weighted carries, like he's been doing already. Weighted lunges in different planes of motion to different targets so he's strong when he goes left, right or straight ahead.
There’s a whole lot more to it than that, so be sure to head over to Lakers.com to get the whole interview.