KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) – David Crewe works for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He does not play for them, however – not that anyone confuses him as an NBA athlete.
“Not a chance,” he told the Kenosha News . “I think I’m too short. I’m only 5-10. Guys used to give me a hard time when we had Luke Ridnour.”
Crewe, a 2004 Tremper graduate, accompanies the Timberwolves wherever they go as the team’s head strength and conditioning coach/assistant athletic trainer.
He’s in the locker room, sits courtside with the team and travels from city to city.
“Like anything else when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t really notice what’s going on,” he said. “You kind of live it every day. It’s definitely humbling when you think back to where you are, what you get to experience. . I told my folks before, it’s not like it’s happened by luck. There was a lot of time, there was a lot of effort and sacrifices that have been put into it. There’s days I definitely feel blessed and I know I’m lucky, but I also know what it’s taken to get there. I feel like it’s well deserved.”
Crewe, who played basketball at Tremper, enrolled at UW-La Crosse knowing he wanted to be in sports medicine. It was during his freshman year that he decided the field would be athletic training.
For three years in college, Crewe had an internship with the Kansas City Chiefs, including one after he graduated as their assistant athletic trainer for the entire 2008 season. He worked with the running backs and wide receivers, and became friends with Larry Johnson.
“For whatever reason, he took a liking to me,” Crewe said. “We had a connection. He took good care of me, looked out for me, was delightful to work with. He was a pro and it was fun to be around him.”
After the season, Crewe returned to UW-La Crosse to take some more courses and worked in the athletic training department for about a year.
In 2010, he was hired by Minnesota as an assistant athletic trainer. The title of assistant strength and conditioning coach was added in 2013, and last year be was promoted to his current position.
“I try to tell our guys to be the MVP of their day,” Crewe said. “If it’s a lifting day, they need to be the best they can be in the weight room that day. If it’s a game day, they need to be MVP on the court. My message that I drive home every day is you need to get better one way or another in the facility today. Maybe the focus shifts from basketball to strength training, or maybe it shifts from strength training to some small rehab exercises. No matter what we’re working in that day, they need to try to be the MVP of that day.”
Crewe must practice what he preaches, since he was named the 2016-‘17 NBATA David Craig Assistant Athletic Trainer of the Year recently.
But do the millionaire professionals listen to him?
“I think just like in any work setting, you’ve got some push and some pull in every direction,” Crewe said. “A lot of times we’ll rely on our veterans or our starters to really help facilitate the message we’re driving across. We typically get pretty good buy-in. It comes down to educating the player what we’re trying to do for them and show them you’re there to help them. You’re not trying to take anything away from them; you’re trying to make them the best basketball player they can be.”
Which includes making sure they eat the right foods, even if that includes octopus for some of the European players. So what does Crewe know about octopus?
“Not much,” he said. “One of the things we like to do because the NBA is an extremely global game – every year it seems like players are from different countries – we sit down with them and ask our nutritional team to find out things they do enjoy eating and are used to having, so we can make it available to them. We don’t want them worrying about their food, we want them worrying about basketball.”
There has been less worrying about basketball in Minnesota since the team acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler from Chicago in the offseason. Crewe, who enters his seventh season with the Timberwolves, has already had a chance to meet Butler.
“Telling him I’m from southeastern Wisconsin, he got excited since he went to Marquette,” Crewe said.
Perhaps Butler will become Crewe’s next Larry Johnson. Just don’t ask him who his favorite NBA player to deal with so far is.
“I would like to, but I can’t say any names to show favoritism right now,” he said. “One day when I’m done working with the Timberwolves, we can have that conversation. How’s that? Otherwise that gives guys too much ammunition if they ever read the article or anything like that. They’ll give a hard time too much.”
Another thing Butler and Crewe have in common is the Bradley Center. Butler played there for Marquette and Crewe watched the Golden Eagles and Bucks while growing up.
Crewe joked it’s a family reunion when Minnesota visits Milwaukee, and he usually has around 30-40 relatives and friends in attendance.
“It’s special because we only play once a year,” he said. “It makes it that much more fun. Growing up in the area, being on the court in warmups, sitting on the bench with our team . it’s a lot of fun. It’s a very humbling experience.”
Information from: Kenosha News, http://www.kenoshanews.com