Besides sleepy eyes, you never know what you will see at an early-morning summer workout. Or who you will see.
For one high school basketball team in Minnesota, it could be an NBA head coach who walks into the gym.
Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger grew up in Staples, Minn., and stayed in-state to play basketball at Concordia College and then Minnesota State Moorhead. This week, he is visiting his father, who lives in Henning, Minn.
Wednesday morning, as Inforum tells it, Joerger was on his way to use the Henning High School weight room when he saw that the school’s boys basketball team was holding a 6 a.m. workout.
The former Memphis Grizzlies and current Kings head coach couldn’t help but throw on his proverbial coaching hat.
“He just asked if it was all right if he hung out, and he talked to the kids for awhile,” Henning boys basketball coach Randy Misegades told Inforum. “He jumped right into the drills and was showing them stuff. It was nothing formal at all. We were doing ball handling and shooting stuff. We were doing live 1-on-1s, and he was stopping kids and helping them with different skills.”
According to Inforum, Joerger was in a nearby grocery story last summer when Henning basketball player Dylan Trana ran to get the coach’s autograph in the parking lot. Trana recognized the coach not from his coaching stops, but from NBA2K video game series.
On Wednesday, Joerger talked to players about recent Kings draftees De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson and answered questions about former King DeMarcus Cousins.
“They ate that up, as he’s throwing out names of guys they drafted and talking about how he got along great with DeMarcus Cousins and how he was watching tape and Cousins’ toes were on the ground as he was grabbing a rebound at the rim and he’s just an athletic freak,” Misegades told Inforum. “He was asking them who they thought was better. He couldn’t have been nicer.”
The coaching instinct, it appears, cuts through the status of the job. The 43-year-old Joerger started out as a basketball player as a high school player like these kids and now finds himself entering his 11th year on an NBA staff, his fifth as a head coach.
“Basketball doesn’t change, whether you’re dealing with professional guys or my youngest son in fourth grade,” Misegades told Inforum. “He was just showing them some fundamentals, and it’s something he’s passionate about. It’s just in his blood. It’s just something he enjoys.”