We hear everything about our favorite players' activities on the court, but what do NBA players get up to once the sneakers come off?
The NBA season may only last a few months, but the players don’t actually have all that time off. Staying in peak physical condition is basically a full-time, year-round job.
All professional athletes have to devote considerable time and energy to perfecting their physique and each sport requires a different focus and approach. While some sports allow a player to focus on just cardio or just building muscle, basketball requires both.
According to the strength coach for the L. A. Lakers Gunnar Peterson, not only do his players need to maintain their cardiovascular strength and their muscular strength, but they also need to focus on exercises that test their full range of motion.
Since basketball is such a fast-paced sport with lots of twisting, pivoting, and quick turns, players need to keep all their joints strong too. Seeing some of these workouts makes you wonder how they ever have time for anything else!
It’s no surprise that people who play sports for a living might also love playing other games. There are a few NBA players who are serious gamers in their spare time. During 2020 we saw a lot of famous NBA players turn to play video games to stay active and keep their competitive edge sharp.
Some NBA players are even doubling up their professional sports careers and playing esports too! Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz loves esports, while Paul George of the LA Clippers and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers both have a soft spot for basketball video games like NBA Live and NBA 2K.
For some players, that gaming involves gambling. Flying back and forth across the country for games means that players are often jet-lagged and awake at odd hours.
Often the only businesses open at these times are casinos. Casinos are a great way to keep them active and out of trouble while their body clocks adjust to a new time zone.
It only becomes a problem when the media tries to make it one, like when it blamed the Raptors' loss to the Cavaliers on two Raptors’ players being at a casino late at night. The online casinos that are so easy to access today would certainly have helped protect these players and kept some of the blame for the Raptors’ loss from falling on them and their hobbies.
Many NBA players spend much of their free time engaged in philanthropic work. Sometimes this is sparked by a specific issue or cause and sometimes it is part of a lifelong commitment to a certain issue.
Some examples include John Wall’s donations to various hospitals and charities to help provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kevin Durant helping victims of the 2003 Moore Tornado, and Steph Curry auctioning off a pair of customized game-worn sneakers to raise money for the families of the Atlanta shooting victims.
Two of the most charitable players are LeBron James and Steph Curry. Both men have started foundations to help underprivileged children and young adults have better access to resources to improve their chances to succeed in life.
The LeBron James Family Foundation has had a huge impact on the lives of young people in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and will lead to significant generational change as it continues and grows. Curry’s Oakland-based Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation was only established in 2019 but has already begun to improve the lives of local children.
Some NBA players also pursue acting careers during or after their professional sports careers. Space Jam (and its’ recent remake) aren’t the only movies to feature famous basket players in starring roles - they aren’t even the only animated appearances!
A lot of the time NBA players and former players have cameos or small parts in popular television series, sometimes even appearing in animated form in shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons.
Shaquille O’Neil is one of the busiest former NBA players in front of the camera. He has been acting since the 1990s, starting his career by starring as the genie in Kazaam (1996). He has also had cameos in Good Burger (1997), The Bernie Mac Show, The Tracie Morgan Show, Scary Movie 4 (2006), The House Bunny (2008), and The Lego Movie (2014).