A week ago before practice, head coach Ty Lue was asked if he had any special traditions at the start of training camp to set the tone for the season.
He was surprisingly elusive.
“I would tell you, but you might give my secret away, so I’m not gonna tell you,” Lue said last week. “But we have something planned the next couple days or so. We just want to be able to sit down and have dinner and just talk and get to know each other. We have some new guys on the team, we have a new coaching staff, so we all want to get familiar and just talk and get to know each other, a little team bonding moment. But I’m not gonna tell you when, I’m not gonna tell you how.”
Lue stuck to his word, keeping his vow of secrecy about the particulars. He did confirm that the Clippers had a team-bonding session, but wouldn’t give any details about the event, other than the fact that the players, coaches, and staff enjoyed hanging out and getting to know one another.
“We did have a little session but I don’t know if I can talk about it. You are going to have to ask Lawrence (Frank) first,” Lue said. “We did have a session. It was pretty, it was fun actually. Didn’t know how it would go, but I know all the guys liked it, I liked it, the coaching staff, they loved it as well. It was a nice little thing we had. I don’t know if I can discuss it out loud.”
Lue’s code of silence extended to the rest of the Clippers. Reggie Jackson was the most guarded, saying, “We just got together. The details, that’s above my pay grade, so if the big guy didn’t tell you necessarily what we did, then I can’t. But just know that we had a good time hanging out and getting to know each other.”
Luke Kennard shared a little more detail, offering up the fact that the Clippers asked one another questions, like about their favorite musical artists. He even revealed that one assistant coach, among the older ones, calls Lil Baby his favorite rapper.
Compare that to Lue, who simply started laughing and declined to answer when asked if he learned anything during the bonding event that surprised him.
So that begs the question: what exactly did the Clippers do during this bonding event, and why is it so secretive? It would be one thing for Lue to hide the message he shared with his team; that could be proprietary information that he doesn’t want other head coaches stealing. But there are only so many activities that teams can partake in during the pandemic, and this group is getting way too much joy out of hiding the specifics.
I’m also curious if this is Lue’s secret, as he suggested last week, or if Frank organized the event, since Lue said he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to talk about it. And since when does Jackson refer to his head coach (or Frank, I suppose) as “the big guy”?
My guess is the players gathered for dinner in a private dining room somewhere, Lue had some icebreaker questions prepared, and that naturally led to some chit-chat that brought the guys closer together. It doesn’t seem particularly exciting, but maybe part of the magic is carrying the secret. I know I certainly care more about this event now than I would have had Lue just explained what happened during his media availability.
Whatever the secret is, kudos to the Clippers for putting something together that resonated with their players and hopefully kickstarts their chemistry heading into this season. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of it.