Although the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers play in the same division, Paul George and Reggie Jackson are close friends off the court. Over the summer, the two vacationed together in Spain. And to be fair, they had plenty of reason to celebrate. Both are coming off the best seasons of their NBA careers.
George, who suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his lower right leg that caused him to miss nearly the entire 2014-2015 season, returned to post a career-high in points per game (23.1) and tie his previous career highs in steals per game (1.9) and assists per game (4.1). Meanwhile Jackson set a career-high in points per game (18.8) and led the Detroit Pistons to their first playoff appearance since 2009.
STACK: Can you describe what you did today?
George: Today was a lot about leg strength, explosiveness and just being quick on our feet. Defensive slides, quickness, that power we need in our lower body [to be successful].
Jackson: A lot of footwork, a lot of learning how to move correctly through your core and firing the right muscles. Especially the glutes. It was just learning how to attack and be aggressive and be able to move from any position.
We noticed you used the Vertimax quite a bit. How does that help basketball players?
George: We're not used to being held down, having to fight through that power to really elevate. So what that does is, it makes it easier in games, when guys are really holding us down, to explode and jump for rebounds or explode to the basket. [The Vertimax] really ties you down, it's a resistance that keeps you down. It really helps. We notice the difference on the court.
Jackson: It's almost similar to having a weighted vest on, but probably less stress on your body. But the same principles. Once you get out of it, you feel lighter, faster and more explosive.
What motivates you to work so hard in the off-season?
George: I was told I wasn't going to be in the position I am know. I wouldn't be an All-Star. I wouldn't be in the league for longer than 4 years. I wouldn't make it to the league. That's pretty much what my career has been based off, being doubted. It's the reason I love to work every day.
Jackson: [I've also been doubted] a lot. I knew I wanted to be in the NBA since I was four. I definitely remember being told in the 2nd grade that I couldn't make it to the NBA and I needed a plan B. I made a plan A and I've attacked it with everything I've got, and I have a great support system with my family and friends I've been very blessed.
How do you respond to doubters?
George: Deep down, I believe one of the biggest things you have to have—especially in this game—is self-belief. I'm fully confident in my work ethic, pretty much the whole process. So that's what it comes down to—believing in yourself and putting the work in.
Jackson: I just work harder. I believe in the saying "the early bird gets the worm." I've always wanted to be the hardest worker, the first one in and the last one out. Every time someone doubts me, I just find a way to prove them wrong. It motivates me and lights a fire to work harder and just shut the naysayers up.
If you could go back and talk to your high school self, what would you say?
George: High school Paul was easily discouraged. Sometimes I wasn't as confident as I should've been, which ultimately stopped me from doing some things I wish I could've. I would tell him to keep his confidence. Just continue to grow and continue to feed off other people's criticism.
Jackson: I'd tell high school me to continue to strive to be great. I was a kid who was up at 5 a.m. and going to the Y to work out. I was doing everything it took to find a way to get here and make this dream a reality. I think I've done so, but I still have bigger dreams and more to accomplish. I'd tell him to continue to dream big and don't let anybody turn you down.
During their workout, George and Jackson performed a number of drills that required them to compete against each other. Here are a couple of our favorites.
3-Cone Loop Drill
Two athletes race to see who can finish first.
- Set up two lines of three cones, three yards apart.
- To start, the athletes shuffle in a circle around the first cone, then shuffle to the next cone.
- When they get to the second cone, the athletes shuffle around it in a circle and continue to the third cone.
- The athletes shuffle around the third cone in a circle, immediately shuffle around it in the opposite direction and repeat the pattern on the way back to the start.
- Whoever finishes first wins the set.
Single-Leg Ball Toss
Two athletes toss a basketball back and forth while balancing on one leg on top of an Airex pad.
- Set up two Airex pads 3-4 yards apart.
- Both athletes begin by standing on a pad with their left foot, while holding their right foot several inches off the pad.
- The athletes toss the ball with their right hand (the hand opposite their foot on the pad).
- The athletes toss the ball back and forth gently, focusing on keeping their balance while throwing and catching.
- Whoever loses his balance first loses the set.
- Reverse legs and repeat.
Sets: 2 on each side
The Basketball Blowout Issue 2016 features training tips and advice from Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, J.R. Smith and many more. CLICK HERE to see the full lineup.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock