GALLOWAY, N.J. - The hip-hop music was cut off on Friday afternoon as another session of Sixers training camp wound down. And then the Stockton University basketball gym filled with the sounds of chirping birds and soothing music. In a new training camp ritual, it was time to meditate.
The Sixers players laid on their backs in a row and propped their feet onto a chair. An onlooker in the crowd asked if the team was really meditating. The players crossed their hands on their chests and closed their eyes. Light Japanese meditation music played. Yes, the Sixers were really meditating.
The team added the meditation this season under the guidance of former strength and conditioning coach Jesse Wright, who was moved this summer to a newly created performance science position.
Head coach Brett Brown, whose basketball path has taken him around the globe, said he had never seen a team meditate before. He thinks he will keep the meditation as a part of practice once the regular season begins. The Sixers finish training camp on Saturday. They will play seven preseason games before opening the season on Oct. 28 against Boston.
Point guard Isaiah Canaan said the team had no idea what was going on when they meditated for the first time this week.
"But it was probably the best time," the 24-year-old Canaan said. "You just get to sit over there, lay down, and listen to the weird birds and whatever they're playing. It's definitely a relaxing time. You have an opportunity to think about practice, what just happened, and what we learned. There's a lot of things that it can help with."
Jerami Grant said he clears his mind as he meditates. He thinks of nothing, the small forward said. Grant, 21, said he tries to meditate on his own, too.
"It's good for us," he said. "We need it. We've been having tough practices. Jesse is just good at what he does. It's strength training."
Brown said he is always trying to find an edge, which leads him to let his staff "do almost what they want." If it works, they'll keep it. If not, they won't.
"You end up like a CEO of a program," Brown said. "Where I have all this firepower around me. Sports scientists, great assistant coaches, and people that are studying recovery and rehab. You empower them. You let them do their job."
The meditation, Brown said, is representative of the whole franchise's willingness to try new things. No one is afraid, Brown said.