New experiences, pains abound in Colorado Springs for start of training camp


SAN ANTONIO – For a team as well-traveled as the San Antonio Spurs, you wouldn’t think a place like Colorado Springs would seem so foreign, especially considering they are a team boasting talent from France, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Italy and Canada.

But for many that went on the trek to the Air Force Academy after media day yesterday for training camp, which begins today, it will mark their first time in the county seat of El Paso County.

Just as boxers like to train in high altitudes for big fights, the Spurs will take advantage of being one mile above sea level as they get ready for their 82-plus round fight.

Running the hill by the practice facility will be a far cry from what the Spurs will have to endure this week, and it’s no Pikes Peak, so some already see the pains coming their way.

“(It’s going to be) a lot different, a lot different, it’s going to hurt really bad, but it’ll be fun to have a little change of scenery for a little while,” Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. “I gotta imagine Pop’s got some fun stuff planned.”

Getting adjusted to the altitude and the climate may present a challenge to some players, but as Duncan said, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich anticipates that being back at the Air Force Academy should be plenty fun.

“It’s gonna be a lot of fun, a lot of people there that I know but just to do something different, take them to altitude, get them in the mountains and away from everything,” Popovich said. “We got some new players in camp, so it’s a good camaraderie thing, and when you do it in an environment that’s different for everyone, you kind of come together a bit. That’s the hope and the plan.”

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who will be a first timer in Colorado Springs, also sees the benefits of bringing the team together early on.

“I like it, I like the experience. It’s important sometimes for teams to get together, get that bunker mentality that we always talk about, share meals, you know just be with each other,” Ginobili said. “There are moments in the season that you need it. I am looking forward to practice there, go to a new city I’ve never been to and see what the Air Force Academy is.”

On media day, several questions arose about Popovich keeping training camp on a military schedule. Some players will be happy to hear the he has no such plans.

“I know he has a few surprises for us,” Ginobili added. “I don’t want to think about that but we’ll see.”

Having training camp away from San Antonio and the Spurs practice facility is hardly a first for the Spurs, as they’ve also spent training camp in Paris and the Virgin Islands.

“We did a lot in the past. I guess it was time to go where Pop is from,” Tony Parker said.

Aside from hoping to continue on from where he left off with the French national team, Parker says he has other training camp goals, like say, getting some inside information on his coach.

“I’m just looking forward to trying to get some gossip over there, see if some people can tell me stuff about Pop.”

The Spurs will start their first day tomorrow with two-a-days, including sessions from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. They’ll be on that schedule today and tomorrow, will practice from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday and finish up the week with an 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. session on Friday.