Issue 137: Let’s Feast: NBA Pregame Meals

This week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and beyond giving thanks, we also give ourselves a few extra inches on our waistline.

The holiday is synonymous with feasting. You’ve got the meats like turkey and ham, sides like mashed and sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and desserts like every type of pie.

I probably didn’t need to tell you the foods of Thanksgiving. You likely already knew them, and maybe even partake each year.

What might be new to you, though, are the eating habits of NBA players. Thankfully, we know what at least a few of them nosh on before a game. Let’s dig in!

The entire NBA loves peanut butter and jelly

If you look at the foodie landscape right now, people love complex, fancy foodstuffs. There are like 32 variants of avocado toast, your latte can include milk from any plant or nut on Earth, and no cheese comes without cranberries or sundried tomatoes baked into it.

But there’s one classic that NBA players can’t avoid: peanut butter and jelly.

With all the traveling players do, they need something easy and readily available. Ben Gordon first publicly commented on the sandwich back in 2008, but it was the Boston Celtics trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen that truly brought it to the forefront.

I ate a PB&J sandwich for basically every school lunch from kindergarten through 12th grade. So, I fully understand the appeal here. It’s a comforting sandwich that always tastes good. You can throw on grape jelly, strawberry jelly, raspberry jelly, heck, even honeydew jelly would be alright.

Just don’t use crunchy peanut butter. That stuff is whack.

Blake Griffin explores the pastabilities

Blake Griffin probably couldn’t leap over a Kia or star on Broad City without a well-balanced meal. So, what does he go for?

His personal chef prepares a few options that Griffin enjoys, but pasta is always involved, usually a gluten-free variety. Griffin pairs that with turkey bolognese or barbecue chicken with a sweet potato dish on the side.

If he’s on the road, he orders salmon from room service because “it’s easy and you can’t really go wrong with salmon, rice, and some kind of vegetable.”

You know what? That sounds pretty tasty. I might go for that tonight.

Mike Muscala eats a half-dozen meals a day

NBA players need to ingest a LOT of calories. And the taller and heavier you are, the more you have to consume to avoid dehydration. Former Atlanta Hawk and current Oklahoma City Thunder center Mike Muscala is 6’11” and about 240 pounds, so…he’s gotta eat up!

Take a look at Muscala’s daily meal plan during the season:

Meal 1, 9:00 a.m.: “For a game day, I’ll get a room service breakfast at like 9 a.m. I like omelets or sausage-and-egg biscuits or waffles or fruit.

“That’s the biggest thing for me. I have to eat breakfast, and if I don’t, my metabolism just isn’t working and it’s not good for me. I find it I miss breakfast, it’s hard for me to keep weight.”

Meal 2, 1:00 p.m.: “After shootaround, we have a team brunch, so I’ll eat lunch there.”

When at home, and often on the road, the Hawks typically do a Whole Foods catered brunch or lunch. It’s a common sight after shootaround to see players headed out of Philips with a boxed lunch.

Meal 3: 4:00 p.m.: “When I wake up from my nap, I’ll eat a sandwich.”

Meal 4, 6:00 p.m.: “Before the game I’ll have a granola bar or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Meal 5 (and sometimes 6), 10:00 p.m.: “After the game, I’ll have a recovery drink and dinner.”

Give this a shot tomorrow and see how you feel. I’d bet the answer is “very full.”

Ron Artest drank Hennessy during games

Hennessy is a French cognac and frequent topic of Trick Daddy songs. It was also a halftime meal for Ron Artest when he played with the Chicago Bulls.

Artest said he kept a bottle in his locker and would walk to the liquor store to pick it up. His early years in Chicago were full of ups and downs, and, well…you probably remember what happened a few years later when he went to the Indiana Pacers.

I interviewed Ron Artest for a story a couple of years ago. He was cordial but also took the call from his son’s basketball game, so it was very loud and echo-y. Seemed on brand.

Crisp Bounce Pass is taking this Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday but will be back in your inbox next Monday. If you’re celebrating it, hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving celebration.

In the meantime, here are some more pre-game meals for athletes in all sports, including some truly bizarre habits.