Raptors’ fitness is in good hands, if even at a distance — Toronto Sun

Keeping 17 NBA bodies finely tuned and chiselled is no easy feat at the best of times. Read More

Raptors’ fitness is in good hands, if even at a distance — Toronto Sun

Keeping 17 NBA bodies finely tuned and chiselled is no easy feat at the best of times.

But try doing it without being able to take any of those 17 into the gym, or even see them face to face for what looks like it will be at least a month and probably longer, and the job becomes infinitely tougher.

That is the task that falls to Raptors strength and conditioning coach Jon Lee.

But instead of tough, Lee is finding he has a lot of help from within these days, most of it coming from various veterans on the team.

In fact, Lee’s biggest concern right now is that the condo building floors of Serge Ibaka’s Toronto abode are sufficiently reinforced to withstand all the weights and equipment he’s having sent in.

“He was on the phone to me two days after (the Raptors’) self-isolation period began,” Lee said of the veteran big man. “I was packing up stuff from OVO (the Raptors’ practice facility) and getting it delivered to him. Today, I just had more stuff delivered over to him. I won’t be surprised if I have to send over more stuff in two days.”

It’s to the point now where Lee is only half-joking when he says he is concerned about the building Ibaka lives in, and whether it can take all that weight and equipment without causing some sort of cave-in.

But Ibaka is not the only Raptor pushing himself at home while the rest of us work on those worn-in marks on our collective couches.

Ibaka might be the extreme when it comes to wanting to maintain his fitness level while the world works on overcoming this coronavirus pandemic, but he’s not alone in a desire to stay at or as near as possible playing form.

Lee has another player — he chooses not to name him — who not only updates him daily with his workouts, but sends him screenshots of said workout complete with heart rates at particular intervals of said workout.

“This player is so highly motivated he went out and (purchased and had delivered) his own (equipment),” Lee said. “His own weights, his own bench, a monitoring system … That’s one area I am truly lucky in. We have real professional guys and when it comes down to our veteran guys, I really don’t have to worry.”

Even the young guys, who might not be as diligent in their daily workouts, hear from the veterans. Lee knows because they tell him.

The message is always a variation of the same truth: “We got that championship last year and we’re not happy with that,” Lee says. “We’re getting another one. We’re going to fight until we get the second one. We are in a position this year where we have a great chance.”

All that, of course, is contingent on this season actually being completed. Lee though says the work must go on and he has had absolutely zero pushback when he delivers that message.

“Be ready,” he tells them. “Be ready. We could be starting in one month, we could be starting in two months but you better be ready for us.”

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Raptors’ fitness is in good hands, if even at a distance — Toronto Sun