Biggest Loser: NBA Edition
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The words "overweight" and "professional basketball" don't really go together—or at least they shouldn’t. Being overweight in the NBA tends to be a distinct disadvantage. And yet, for whatever reason, there are players every year who go through the season 20 or 30 pounds heavier than they should be. It’s ridiculous.
That’s why it’s important to celebrate these guys—the “Biggest Losers” of the NBA. These are the players who were willing to put in some overtime work to shed their extra pounds and start looking like real professional athletes. And while they’re all deserving of a prize…there can only be one “Biggest Loser.”
Honorable Mention: Dwyane Wade
Wade probably just sweated out about five pounds.
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Yeah, yeah, I know Dwyane Wade has never been overweight. He’s not here because of that. Wade’s here because he’s apparently losing ridiculous amounts of weight each game.
Last year, the Associated Press reported (per SI.com):
Wade loses about five pounds per game, so his postgame meal tends to be as important - if not more so - than the pregame one. Ingraham tends to keep things simple: chicken breast, turkey breast, that sort of thing. On occasion, he says he'll make one of Wade's former favorites as a treat, but for the most part Wade sticks to the better choices.
Five pounds per game. Are you kidding me? How is that even possible? Obviously, Wade works hard on both ends of the court, but five pounds just seems ridiculous.
Wade has played in 660 games in his career. If he's lost five pounds in every game he's played, then he’s lost 3,300 pounds by now—roughly ten Shaquille O’Neals. Now, obviously Wade isn’t losing that much weight in every game, but still…that’s unbelievable.
Honorable Mention: Lamar Odom
Lamar is noticeably thinner than he was to start the year.
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Lamar Odom gets an honorable mention because he played his way into shape this year, and that kind of defeats the spirit of the competition. It doesn’t reflect the actual weight loss—Odom was looking pretty doughy heading into this season.
Odom has always had some weight issues, but he reported to the Los Angeles Clippers this season at 260 pounds, far bigger than his usual playing weight. Odom was big to the point that Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro actually had to hold him out of an exhibition game, and Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones was posting photos with headlines like this.
But, as they would for any player who was getting 15-20 minutes per game, the pounds did start to drop. A little over a month into the season (when Odom stopped playing like a train wreck), Del Negro told ESPN’s Arash Markazi:
Have you looked at him? He’s lost 12 pounds. He’s going to lose more. He’s working. You’re going play better. You’re going to move better. You’re going to get more confident. You’re going to feel like yourself again. That’s what he’s doing.
Odom does look fairly in shape now, and he’s been a valuable role player for the Clippers over the past few months, so it looks like they made the right move in snagging him this offseason. Even if he looked like a big acquisition in all the wrong ways at first.
No. 7: Kevin Love
Love looks pretty down here, but at least he's thin!
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The funny thing about Kevin Love’s big drop in weight is that, while his style of play and looks have changed quite a bit, his general effectiveness is pretty much the same as it was.
Two years ago, Love was playing at about 265 pounds and averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds per game. Last season, he clocked in at 240 pounds and averaged a 26-13 on slightly worse shooting (per ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez). He’s in much better shape now and has added an improved post and perimeter game, but the numbers aren’t as different as you’d expect.
Though, to be fair, it’s hard to improve all that much statistically when you’re already tearing the league up. And as mentioned before, he definitely looks different.
Personally, I miss the old Kevin Love. Chunky Kevin Love looked like an overgrown high school player who just happened to be able to out-rebound Dwight Howard. New Kevin Love looks like a real NBA player. He even has a real beard now. Disappointing.
No. 6: Glen "Big Baby" Davis
Those darn weight clauses.
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Of all the players on this list, Glen “Big Baby” Davis is probably the one whose story most resembles the TV show, “The Biggest Loser.” Much like the contestants on the show, Davis was competing for a cash prize.
When Davis agreed to re-sign with the Boston Celtics in 2009, he agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $6 million. While most of the money was a base salary, $500,000 per season was dependent on Davis meeting certain weight clauses (per ESPN.com). And that, of course, led to hilarious quotes like (per Boston.com’s Frank Dell’Apa):
I have to weigh a certain weight at a certain time. I have to find out what time and what the weight is. I just look at my body - you know when you get fat. You have to know who you are and you’ve got to know your body.
And (per NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury):
It's not something I'm thinking about. They'll tell me the time and the place when I have to step on the scale and that's when we'll take care of that. It's a lot of money, so I have a lot of motivation. But it's not something that I can't do. I've been putting in the work.
I love that. “It’s not something I think about, I just use it to motivate me.” Interesting philosophy, that’s for sure.
According to Jackie MacMullan (per WEEI.com), Davis never was able to reach those benchmarks, but it definitely wasn’t from lack of trying. And the before and afters do look fairly different, so that’s something, too.
No. 5: Raymond Felton
Felton's thicker than most guards, but nowhere near as heavy as he was.
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Raymond Felton has always been built a bit, shall we say, thicker than other point guards, but last year he stretched that definition to the extreme. Okay, fine, he was fat.
Here‘s what Felton had to say about all of the overweight accusations that came his way last season (per the New York Post’s Tim Bontemps):
I am hearing from everybody, “He wasn’t in shape last year.” I played in the league seven years, about to be eight, came in out of shape one year and that’s all everybody wants to talk about. … I look forward to this year and shutting up everybody’s mouth.
Seriously, guys. Give the man a break. He was only fat for one year, and everyone made a big deal out of it. You’d think it was his job to stay in shape or something. Totally ridiculous.
Anyways, Felton took all of the ribbing pretty personally and dedicated himself to getting back into shape in the offseason. The New York Times’ Nate Taylor talked to Felton over the summer and wrote:
At the Cox Pavilion on Thursday, Felton appeared to have lost a good portion of the weight he gained in Portland. Felton would not say how many pounds he shed, but when asked if it was more than 20, he smiled. “A whole lot,” Felton said. “I’ll leave it at that. I’m ready to play.”
Felton has definitely slimmed down, and he’s had a solid year for the New York Knicks so far. But it’s still hard not to poke a little fun at an NBA player who didn’t understand why people were upset at him for being overweight.
No. 4: Marc Gasol
Weird. Even Marc Gasol's face is way thinner.
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It’s funny to think about now, that Marc and Pau Gasol are at totally opposite ends of their careers, but the trade that sent each brother to their current team used to be considered one of the worst in NBA history.
In 2008, the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi summed up the deal by saying:
As we get ready for the most eagerly awaited NBA finals in years, let’s look back at the deal that made it all possible: The Memphis Grizzlies trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers for $24, a dozen beaver pelts and three glass trinkets.
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley told Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:
I don’t know if I got the most value. Maybe our people should’ve shopped (Gasol) more and maybe we would’ve gotten more, done a better deal. Maybe Chris did call every team in the league. I don’t think he did, but maybe he should’ve…
Seems weird now, right? It definitely wasn’t then. Mostly because Marc was more than a little chubby. And that was actually a picture of Marc after he had lost weight. Here’s what Marc looked like in high school, when he was known as the “Big Burrito” (per the Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner).
Doesn’t exactly look like a player who will one day make a case to be considered the best center in the league, does it? Though, to be fair, neither does this.
No. 3: Kendrick Perkins
No one runs the break better than Perk.
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Here’s something you don’t hear very often—an NBA center actually lost weight during a lockout.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins slimmed down significantly during the 2011-12 offseason, citing his desire to fit in with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s fast-break offense. He told Sporting News’ Sean Deveney:
I spent all season working hard and watching what I eat and just focusing on getting my body right. We are an up-tempo team and I want to be able to run with them.
Perk shed around 30 pounds and definitely has looked great. Despite his slim frame, he’s more than kept his ability to bang down low with other bigs for the past couple of seasons. The whole up-tempo offense thing might not be going as well as he had hoped, though.
Perk tries to run the break, and sometimes he even makes solid plays. Other times though…yeah. Maybe just give it to Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant, Perk. I hear those guys are pretty good at this whole “offense” thing.
Okay, one more for fun.
No. 2: Enes Kanter
Just try not to eat...everything, Enes.
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That’s right, Enes Kanter dropped a whopping 51 pounds, going from 293 to 242 pounds, in just two months (per the Salt Lake Tribune’s Bill Oram). For those of you hoping to follow his example and achieve the same results, the diet is simple: Don’t eat everything in sight, make more food, and then eat that too.
This is what Kanter told Oram he ate every day before he dropped the poundage:
First my breakfast: I was eating like six eggs, omelet with six eggs; seven or eight pancakes, with sugar, whipped cream, everything; then a breakfast burrito. That was just my breakfast. Then I came to practice and my lunch was just like pasta, chicken alfredo or whatever, and then a burger and an appetizer. Dessert? No. Dessert was at dinnertime. Dinnertime I ate another burger, a big meal again and a dessert.
Mother of God. How did he only get up to 293 pounds?
Maybe the best part about this whole thing (besides the fact that he used to eat for an entire family of four) is Kanter’s response when Oram asked him about all of the workout pictures he tweeted. According to Oram, Kanter simply said of his fans, "they love it. Boys, girls, everybody love it."
No. 1: Eddy Curry
Curry looking as slim as he'll ever be.
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The weight that Eddy Curry dropped down to last season is around the weight that most of the players on this list started at. That should give you a good idea of what we’re talking about.
Curry was rumored to have been pushing 400 pounds at one point two years ago (per FOX Sports’ Chris Tomasson), before he started working out to attempt an NBA comeback. Be honest, you would never have thought that this guy could play in the NBA again. Never.
But, after months of work, Curry shed a whopping 100 pounds—putting him at a (relatively) svelte 300 pounds—and eventually signed with the Miami Heat. That didn’t stop people from throwing fat jokes around, but Curry definitely looked better.
Did he set the world on fire with his five minutes per game last season? No. No, he did not. But give him some respect. The man’s an NBA champion now.