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Hidden agenda

Page 4 of 4 -- Importance of winning Full-court scrimmages conclude each afternoon session, with referees brought in from outside, giving participants an opportunity to apply what they've learned. But the lessons are not always about X's and O's.

On Day 2, the morning session ends with a talk by Carlisle about the importance of winning and the value of players who are winners. He cites veterans such as Jackson and Curry as examples of how a career can be built with a winning attitude that places an emphasis on making teammates better. O'Neal addresses the challenges of being an MVP-caliber player. Randolph speaks of how winning makes a player's reputation. Until the Trail Blazers win consistently, Randolph knows he cannot establish himself as one of the top power forwards.

The messages strike a chord with Pierce, who later talks privately about what he heard. The Boston captain acknowledges that he still must work on how to make the Celtics better with his talent.

"I'm always eager to learn what I can do to get better," says Pierce. "To come here and get a handful of coaches all at the top level, all in one place, there's nothing like it. Here, you have different coaches in your ear. Anybody with a basketball mind, I feel I can get better from."

Assistant coaches come, in large part, because they can learn from the best in Grgurich, who brought an emphasis on player development to the NBA. Celtics general manager Chris Wallace noted that Grgurich was one of the first "workout guys" in the league. When he joined Karl in Seattle as an assistant, Grgurich introduced intense, individualized workouts that Payton has credited with making him an All-Star. Pierce, who first worked with Grgurich at the ABCD camp during high school, praises his ability to keep players motivated.

"Most of the guys in the league, if not all of them, want to get better," said Mike Brown. "They want to learn. They want to be taught. When your season ends in April or a little later, to not be able to bang heads or play competitively in a gymnasium with other players of this caliber for five or six months gets a guy edgy. So this camp comes at a great time.

"Another draw is that there's a lot of different NBA coaches here. You get tired of hearing your coach preach whatever he preaches to you over the course of 82 games and the playoffs. One more reason is that Gurg's reputation is really big in the league and a lot of people think highly of him. Therefore, anything that he does is usually a no-nonsense deal. He's not looking for anything from anybody. There's no sham or game to it."

Except the only game that matters. 

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