Got next? Packers' hoops court not crowded after Matt LaFleur's injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Preston Smith would walk past the gym inside Lambeau Field on his way to and from meetings and workouts.

“I’ve seen some other guys play on the basketball court,” Smith said. “That was pre-Matt LaFleur.”

When he walks past now, it’s usually empty.

It sounds like what happened to the Green Bay Packers' first-year head coach, who blew out his left Achilles tendon last week on that very same basketball court, has scared off the players.

And that’s exactly what LaFleur hopes it did.

It might be the one good thing that came of his injury.

“I’m just going to try to keep as positive a mindset as I can and use it as a teaching moment for our team,” LaFleur said Tuesday, two days after he underwent surgery to repair it. “Hopefully they’ll realize, you know, bad things can happen if you play a little hoops. But I think it could have happened out here on the field as well.”

For LaFleur, it was a game of lightning that got him. He said he and several members of his staff had been playing basketball in the evening to blow off some steam after a long day of work.

“I wish I could give you some crazy dunk story or anything like that, but we were playing on 10-foot hoops, and everybody knows I can’t jump that high,” LaFleur said. “I missed a shot and I went for a rebound and as soon as I made that explosive movement that I was talking about, it felt like somebody kicked me, and there was nobody behind me. I had a pretty good idea of what it was right away.”

The Packers have some well-known basketball players on their roster. Tight end Jimmy Graham played four years of basketball at the University of Miami, and Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams has been known to post some videos of him dunking.

In fact, last week during an interview on "The Jim Rome Show," Adams professed his love for hoops after Rome asked him about the Kansas City Chiefs' decision to tell quarterback Patrick Mahomes to stop playing pickup games.

“I guess you’ve got to understand their side of it; that’s their franchise player,” Adams said on the show. “I’m sure if it was a practice-squad left tackle they wouldn’t be worried about it quite as much. Being who he is, you’ve got to understand. But you’ve got to let guys do what they do in the offseason. They take motorcycles and stuff like that away from us. But it’s good cardio, and I love playing basketball.

“That’s another thing me and Matt have talked about, too. He’s not a big fan of guys playing basketball in the offseason. But he knows that’s my first love right there. I didn’t play football till my junior year in high school. I was always basketball. Earlier in my career, any chance I got I was out there playing some pickup messing around, being safe obviously, but I use that as a good source of cardio. I feel like if you’re in good basketball shape you’re going to be in great football shape. But yeah, I definitely understand where they’re coming from.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a minority owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, said there are no pickup games in his recent past or in his near future, but he does still like to shoot.

“I actually have a hoop at the house,” Rodgers said. “So the guys come over sometimes and we play a game called ‘7.’ It’s a 3-point shooting competition, so there’s not a lot of movement in that. It’s how good can you shoot from beyond the arc.”

Rodgers then added: “I think basketball should be left to the supreme athletes.”

That doesn’t mean some players aren’t tempted.

“We itch to play sometimes, but it’s too much to risk,” guard Justin McCray said. “Some guys, I assume, do play, too. It’s a great cardio workout, but it’s just too much that goes into it, too much risk, you know.”

Smith was more definitive.

“I don’t think I’m playing basketball anymore this offseason,” he said. “I might not play next offseason, unless I’m standing still and they just pass me the ball the whole time. It makes you a little bit more cautious on how to take care of yourself.”