The Cleveland Cavaliers had a lot of downtime during their run to the 2016 NBA Finals. They swept the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, then were idle for eight days before it was finally time to suit up against the Atlanta Hawks. They proceeded to sweep the Hawks, too, and were faced with a nine-day layoff before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Then, after dispatching the Raps in six games, the Cavs had to wait nine more days before the start of the NBA Finals.
Rest, especially in the postseason, can be a team’s best friend, but too much of it can also be a team’s undoing. In the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs, teams have no more than two days off between games, usually reserved for when the series switches cities to allow for travel. Sitting for eight or nine days can be a shock to the system, and can take a team both out of shape physically and out of rhythm on the court. The Cavs were determined not to let the former happen, so they engaged in what sounds like absolutely brutal workouts on the VersaClimbers in their practice facility.
In the most recent episode of “Road Trippin’ With R.J. and Channing,” the NBA-themed podcast hosted by Cleveland Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, the two players discussed the “killer” VersaClimber workouts the team used to ensure their bodies stayed in peak basketball shape during the layoffs between rounds of the playoffs.
“When we had to stay in shape in between each round with all those days in between, we did a VersaClimber workout,” Jefferson said. “So we would go four rounds, basically four quarters, and we’d have teams of guys together, and we would just go 500 feet, 300 feet, 200 feet, etc. on the VersaClimber.”
Each player was paired with a teammate, and the two would try to complete the challenge as fast as they could. The “Four Quarters” workout was essentially this: the Cavs had to climb 500 feet in the first quarter, 300 in the second, 200 in the third and 100 in the fourth. By the time it was over, they were exhausted.
“You go to a place where you’re like, ‘Do I love basketball?'” Frye said. “Because you don’t look at the little number [that tells you how far you’ve gone], and you’re like ‘I’m starting to get this lactic acid in my legs,’ and you’re looking at that number and it’s like only at 150.”
LeBron James’s love of the VersaClimber is well known, but it appears as if he gave his teammates a rude introduction to its many virtues.
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