Spending every day with Tony Parker would send many NBA fans into dreamland — but for Bermudian Matt Herring it’s his job.
The 27-year-old was busy courtside and in the locker room last night as the San Antonio Spurs took on the Portland Trailblazers in Game 2 of their second round Playoffs series.
As one of the team’s strength and conditioning coaches, the former Saltus Grammar School student’s role is critical in getting the Western Conference champions — including stars Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan — in prime shape day in, day out.
And it’s working: Parker racked up more than 30 points for the second straight game in the Game 1 win, following his series-winning performance in the Game 7 decider against the Dallas Mavericks.
For Herring, he believes the “humble” nature of the players he spends hours on the road with is key to their success, as they aim to go one better than last season when they were beaten in the NBA finals by the Miami Heat.
“The whole team is very humble and we all really support each other,” Herring told the Bermuda Sun.
“In terms of the ‘Big Three’, I see them every day for hours on end and think of them primarily as friends and colleagues.
“On the other hand, they are extraordinary athletes and some of the greatest players of all time.
“What sets them apart from other athletes is their selflessness, complete focus, and attention to detail, plus, of course, their natural talents.
“I have worked with many world-class athletes in their respective sports, but you can’t get much more high profile than Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. They are class personified, both on and off the court.”
Despite the family togetherness at the Spurs, Herring says the demands on everyone from coach Gregg Popovich have gone up a notch now they are two series wins from another NBA finals showdown.
It’s all meant that Herring’s first campaign has been a whirlwind after the Spurs steamrollered their Conference with the best NBA regular-season record.
“In a sense, that is just history now,” said Herring, “[In the playoffs] the atmosphere is very intense and the job can be extremely stressful as the front office, coaches, players and fans are counting on you to help each player reach and maintain high fitness and performance levels.
“But the Spurs are a family and I very much feel part of the team — we celebrate victories together and are unified in defeat.”
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