7'2" Indiana Pacers Center Roy Hibbert Does Mixed Martial Arts
If Roy Hibbert has seemed like more of a physical presence this year, it's probably because he's had another man punching him in the face on a regular basis. In case you were unaware, Hibbert started mixed martial arts training last summer.
It's a topic that popped up during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals as the Miami Heat were beating the Indiana Pacers to a pulp. MMA amateur fighter-turned-trainer Sam O'Keefe worked with Hibbert at Integrated Fighting Academy in Indianapolis, doing his best to help the big dude increase his stamina, and toughen him up in general.
Hibbert has been visibly more physical, nimble and much more confident around the basket after his terrible start to the season.
The big man is averaging 15.7 points on just under 50-percent shooting in the playoffs and is continuing to evolve as a defensive presence. Not only that, but he's bumped his way up to 36 minutes per game in the playoffs after averaging just under 29 per game in the regular season.
Not only is he a big body in the middle, but he's become just as important as Paul George in the Pacers' game plan. Additionally, the team's defense is completely centered around his work down low (just ask Frank Vogel), something that wasn't necessarily true a few seasons ago.
Last summer wasn't Hibbert's first foray into MMA training, although it was his most serious.
Back in 2010, a video of Hibbert and Paul George came out featuring the Pacers teammates doing a bit of sparring and working out with a few fighters.
Just looking at this three-minute video of the two guys sweating alongside each other gives you a good idea of just how arduous the training can be.
Taking part in MMA fighting is a strange way to prepare yourself for a basketball game, but it's far from the strangest training regiment we've seen in recent years.
Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons was supposedly engaging his core after hurting his back during practice by playing the bongos (which was all a big joke). Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls has used underwater workouts championed by surfers in order to improve his lung capacity and endurance.
I suppose there's a workout out there for everybody.
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