Lauri Markkanen Says Phil Jackson Made Him Eat Raw Meat During Draft Process

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 10: Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New York Knicks on January 10, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE  (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Steven Freeman/Getty Images

It appears Dennis Smith Jr. wasn't the only draft prospect forced to eat strange cuisine with Phil Jackson during the lead up to the 2017 NBA draft.

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen revealed Wednesday that the former New York Knicks president made him eat some form of raw meat during a meeting in New York.

"He made me taste raw fish, or raw steak," Markkanen told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. "I didn't like it."

Smith, who was later drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, revealed in August that Jackson "pressured" him to eat octopus during a predraft dinner.

"We went out to some restaurant and they had me eat some octopus, like an actual octopus tentacle," Smith Jr. told Bondy. "First time ever. I wasn't going to try it, honestly. They kind of put the pressure on me to do it."

Markkanen said he was unsure of Jackson's motivation for the odd request.

"I don't know. Maybe he was trying to get something from my personality with that," Markkanen said.

Markkanen, who was then viewed as a potential replacement for Kristaps Porzingis, went to the Bulls at No. 7—one pick ahead of the Knicks. New York then selected Frank Ntilikina, leaving Smith on the board for the Mavericks at No. 9.

Jackson was fired June 28, less than a week after the draft. Selecting Ntilikina was his final major move as an executive and has drawn criticism from the likes of LeBron James, who has a festering dislike of Jackson dating back to comments the legendary coach made about his friend group.

Markkanen finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday night's win over the Knicks, his first game at Madison Square Garden.

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