Darren Collison is a young man playing a kid’s game.
But he feels the rigors of competing at full throttle and sometimes crashing on a hard surface.
So after every game and practice, the Kings veteran guard goes through a routine to, in effect, chill out.
Ice becomes his soothing friend.
Collison will have bags of the cold stuff taped to his elbows, knees, back and ankles. An ice bath? Scoot over and fetch the towels.
“Every time,” the 29-year-old Collison said with a laugh after Tuesday’s practice in preparation for a five-game homestand starting Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center.
“You have to ice. Got to take care of your body. It’s the most important aspect of the game. We talk about work ethic on the court, but off the court is just as important. I ice the whole body. Cold tub and treat anything that aches. We’re constantly running and jumping every day and it catches up to you.”
All players ice. It numbs and treats what ails. Kings coach Dave Joerger joked that when he coached in the minor leagues in chilly outposts such as Bismarck, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D., ice baths weren’t necessary.
“Just go out and sit in the snow,” he said.
Collison fittingly described his return to action as “cool.” Wednesday’s game will mark his fourth this season after the league suspended him for the first eight games following his guilty plea to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. For one of the fastest guys in the league, Collison has been in full-speed catch-up mode.
He had nine points, four assists and two steals in 28 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 8, then had six points, nine assists and two steals in 23 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. On Friday, Collison logged 38 minutes and produced 20 points, five rebounds and four assists against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Kings went 1-2 in that stretch.
Ty Lawson remains the starting point guard, but Joerger has the luxury of two versatile, experienced ballhandlers.
“He’s been good,” Joerger said of Collison’s progress. “He’s still trying to grab stuff, getting comfortable with new terminology and coverages.
“To me, point guard is the most talented position in the league. Which way is the screen coming? Wondering where the help (on defense) is coming. He can score. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and with (DeMarcus Cousins or Willie Cauley-Stein), we have a nice two-man game, difficult to guard.”
Collison said the coaching staff continues to add plays while the players get acclimated.
“I feel I’m up to speed,” Collison said. “I was here all summer going through the plays before the team did. I had a head start before the season. But I’m still getting my legs under me.”
Collison feels the weight of his responsibility to get the team in motion, to facilitate, to read defenses, to score, to get back on defense.
“I definitely take it personal,” he said of his role. “Especially in this league. The point guard role is very important and you have to take it serious. It’s our job to know the plays. I think once we pick up all the new plays, we’ll be a lot smoother, a lot better as a team.”