Hawks rookie point guard Jeff Teague couldn't wait for training camp. Anxious to get an early start, Teague came to town weeks ago, embarking upon a rigorous daily routine of weight-room and on-court work, mostly with Jarrett Jack, a former Georgia Tech star who is now a guard with the Toronto Raptors.
Teague was the first but certainly will not be the last Hawks or NBA player to take to the court in advance of training camp.
Dozens of players --- Hawks , other NBA players and pros who play overseas --- will flood the Hawks' practice facility over the next two weeks trying to draft off each other in anticipation of their respective seasons.
For rookies such as Teague, though, it's a unique experience on the eve of their first pro season.
"It's almost like a boot camp for training camp," he said after a recent morning workout that included several of his Hawks teammates as well as Jack, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse and others. "For me, it's just good to get a chance to play with guys that have been in the league for a while. I know the level of intensity will rise with the start of training camp and everything. But just to be out here and see what the veterans do is good for me."
Teague won't have to wait until camp to play alongside and against Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Mo Evans, Randolph Morris and most of the Hawks' other veterans. He's already been on the floor with them at one time or another in these voluntary sessions.
"Everybody will come through here before we get started for camp," Smith said. "That's the same way we've done it every year since I've been in the league."
It's a tradition that veteran players insist began long before any of them started in the league and one they believe will be here long after they're gone.
"Labor Day is the last weekend to eat well and drink well and indulge in whatever your vices may be," said Anthony Johnson, a former Hawks point guard now with the Orlando Magic, who like many of the pros attending these sessions calls Atlanta home in some fashion during the offseason.
"Labor Day is the cutoff, when you know you have to kill the sweets and the fried foods and get yourself focused for what will hopefully be a long [NBA] season."
The mere notion that NBA players have an "offseason" is laughable to Jack, an acknowledged gym rat long before he moved from the Flats to the NBA.
"To each his own," Jack said. "I think for the most part, guys just can't stay away from it for too long. Guys have their own routines that they do. Me personally, I'm in the gym all the time. I just love to play."