If you're a longtime NBA follower, you've probably heard about the cautionary lockout tale of Shawn Kemp.
From the time the Seattle Supersonics drafted him in 1989 until he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1997, the Reign Man was a freak of nature whose hobby was putting people on posters. Then, following the 1998-99 work stoppage, Kemp turned up for training camp at 280 pounds — from 246 last season.
(It was actually 315, if you ask former Cavs GM Wayne Embry.)
With the basketball calendar scheduled to restart on July 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic, players gaining weight during lockdown is a real concern. For a handful of stars, though, the break has had an opposite effect:
Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol (Toronto Raptors)
A meaner Lowry and leaner Gasol would bode well for the reigning champions (46-18, No. 2 East) and their title defense. Before the postponement, the latter was averaging 7.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talked about the photos on a conference call: “It’s good. I mean, I’ve seen Marc myself a few times on some Zoom calls and in mostly just his face in there. So I thought he was probably trimming down a little bit. But I think both him and Kyle look good, and I mean most of the guys (have).
"We’ve — as you guys probably expect — been asking for weekly weigh-ins and things like that and there hasn’t been any red flags or any issues at all, really.”
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
The Beard was leading not only his team, but also the league in scoring with 34.4 ppg for the fifth-seeded Rockets (tied with OKC). Will the weight loss — 20 pounds, according to teammate Austin Rivers — increase or decrease Harden's effectivity?
He reportedly went through a "high-intensity, week-long boot camp in Phoenix" during the hiatus. The 2018 MVP shared to The Athletic, “I’ve been doing a lot of cardio. I’ve got treadmills in my houses, weights, and all that good stuff. It really hasn’t affected me like it’s affected a lot of other players.”
Harden's transformation has been drastic that ex-teammate and current analyst Kendrick Perkins claimed, "It's going to be dangerous, and it puts the Rockets up there as a heavy favorite to win the title, if the season resumes... Because that's the whole problem, he always got tired...and disappear in the fourth. With conditioning and getting yourself in better shape, that affects it."
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
In an interview with Altitude Sports Radio, Nuggets president Tim Connelly shared a recent exchange with his franchise player: “He’s beach-ready... He sent me a picture. No shirt on. He’s got abs. I’ve never seen him have abs before.” That was before photos and videos of a svelte Jokic made the rounds on Twitter:
The first-time All-Star was the top scorer (20.2), rebounder (10.2), and assists man (6.9) for No. 3 Denver (43-22) prior the suspension. Now that the Joker has basically turned into the Slender Man, the NBA better beware.