After spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Hawks, Jeff Teague was traded to his hometown Pacers in the deal that sent George Hill to Utah and Taurean Prince to Atlanta. While Indiana was quickly bounced in the first round of the playoffs by LeBron and the Cavs, it was a successful season for Teague, which earned him a 3-year, $57 million deal this summer with the Timberwolves.
The offseason was a busy one for Teague who, in addition to heading to a new team in a new city, opened up a multipurpose training facility—called The Factory —in Indianapolis. The 34,200-square-foot center opened in August and has 18 basketball hoops, an indoor football field and space for volleyball, dance, baseball and other sports.
It’s the latest collaboration between construction company A M King, Sports Med Properties and D1 Sports Training to be run by a NBA player. Chris Paul, a fellow Wake Forest product, operates his own facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Teague talked to SLAM about how D1 Indianapolis came to be, what it was like to play a season in his native Indianapolis and why he chose to sign with the Timberwolves.
SLAM: What was it like playing for your hometown Pacers last season? Similar or different to what you expected?
Jeff Teague: It was fun, it was different having people there at every single game. Other than that, it was a pretty similar situation to that in Atlanta. Family didn’t really bother me or anything, they just kind of stuck to themselves. It was just a transition having them at every game.
SLAM: What was it about the Timberwolves that that made you want to sign with them?
JT: They were the first team to call me, they were really interested in me. They have the young talent but they picked up some vets, like Jamal (Crawford), Taj (Gibson) and Jimmy (Butler). They’re really good and have a chance to be special, I know they haven’t been to the playoffs in awhile—like 15 or 16 years (Thirteen years — Ed.)—so I wanted to be part of something special that’s growing.
SLAM: Tom Thibodeau’s reputation kind of precedes himself. What have you heard about him from guys who played for him?
JT: A lot of hard work, and I imagine a lot of defensive drills. Everyone’s telling me he’s a hard-nosed coach who’s expecting the best out of his players. He wants to win and I can respect that.
SLAM: You mentioned Jamal Crawford. As one of the more prominent and well-respected vets around the League, what do you think it is about him that people seem to be attracted to?
JT: He’s a really good guy, first and foremost. He’s willing to help anyone, he was my vet in Atlanta and made sure that I was ok and tried to help me with anything possible. Besides being a great basketball player and one of the best sixth men ever, he’s one of the best teammates ever. I knew he’d play for a really long time and, as you can see, he’s still continuing his career into his 17th season.
SLAM: How long has the training center been in the works? Was it something you thought of while you were in high school or college, wanting to give back to Indianapolis in that way?
JT: I never really thought about it in high school or college, but when I made it to the NBA I thought it would be cool to have a place where you can go play at any time and to help kids get better on their game.
SLAM: Did the idea come up during your year with the Pacers or back in Atlanta with the Hawks?
JT: I’ve been thinking about it since I was in Atlanta. Indiana’s always been home for me and has a special place in my heart, so I knew I would go back there. I’ve seen Mo Williams and those guys have gyms, and it’s cool to see how they were able to develop kids and help others in their area, and I wanted to do the same thing.
SLAM: Did you have a lot of say in the design of the facility and its features?
JT: It was more of my dad. I let him handle most of those kind of things.
SLAM: Chris Paul has his own facility down in North Carolina. Did you talk to him at all throughout the construction of D1 Indy?
JT: We didn’t really talk to each other at all. I just partnered up with a close friend of mine, a business partner, and he helped me put it all together. We just made it happen.
SLAM: There are a lot of current NBA players from Indianapolis, such as you and Eric Gordon and others. Do you think the city is on the rise in terms of producing basketball talent?
JT: I think the talent pool is very deep, we continue to put out really talented players and teams every year. It’s been going on for a couple of years now, maybe 10 or 11 years, when we started getting a lot of people drafted and playing well in the NBA. The kids now in high school, with skills trainers and other places to develop their skills, are only going to get better.
SLAM: Growing up, did you have facilities like this one to work at or were you mostly playing outside on playgrounds in Indianapolis?
JT: I played outside, I had nothing like this. We didn’t have trainers, we didn’t have people working on your bodies and things like that. We just hooped and played outside, worked on our games that way and it was more fun. We didn’t really play inside until middle school. Times have changed and high school guys are almost getting the NBA treatment when it comes to workouts.