THE NEMACOLIN RESORT is tucked into the hills of southern Pennsylvania, a high-end property with a chateau hotel, two golf courses and a modern spa with everything from gentlemen's facials to IV nutrient infusions.
In September, the Cleveland Cavaliers' coaching staff checked in for a stay and enjoyed absolutely none of it.
For days, the group, led by coach J.B. Bickerstaff, was holed up in a conference room watching film, studying analytics and working through meals.
"It's a really nice place," Bickerstaff says. "But we mostly worked."
Preseason coaching retreats are common in the NBA, but the mission the Cavs had for that trip was not. In a league that has been on a decadelong march to get smaller and faster, the Cavs were workshopping how they were going to get bigger.
Bigger, in fact, than anything the NBA has seen in a generation.
And so what began inside a hotel conference room some 70 miles south of Pittsburgh has knocked a procession of teams off balance throughout a league that has become infatuated with small ball.
Using a starting lineup featuring three 7-footers and reintegrating a former All-Star big man, the Cavs have big-footed their way into Eastern Conference contention. And doing so has not only changed the fortunes of a franchise not long ago predicted to continue its residence in the East basement, but also served as a resurrection that could disrupt NBA roster construction.