Surely the buzz of an NBA game is umatchable but have you ever wondered what happens when that buzz dies down? What happens after a game is over?
After the action:
The highs and lows of watching an NBA game may be well known to you if you’re a basketball enthusiast- the whole ride is no less than an adrenaline rush, which, after it’s culmination leaves one rather worn out and in need of some downtime: taking a nap, winding down with a novel or a movie. You’ve probably put aside everything important to watch the game, so now it’s time to tend to all work too!
The very same goes for the ones playing the game itself: the players. You’ve probably wondered what exactly they do to relax after games and what remaining duties they have to fulfill. Well, we’re here to satiate your curiosity.
Here’s a quick rundown of what players tend to do after games: shower, take an ice bath or cryotherapy session, attend to media obligations and have dinner.
How do NBA players recover and rejuvenate after a game?
The game is certainly harder on the players themselves than it is on the viewers: with almost 2 and a half hours duration, including team timeouts, replay reviews, shooting fouls, halftime breaks, breathers etc, requiring both physical and mental exertion. This is why after a quick shower, they choose a rather unconventional way to relieve stress: cryotherapy or ice baths, which has become increasingly popular with names like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Cryotherapy, which literally means “cold therapy,” is a technique where the body is exposed to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes. Cryotherapy can be delivered to just one area, or you can opt for whole-body cryotherapy.
The individual will stand in an enclosed chamber or a small enclosure that surrounds their body but has an opening for their head at the top. The enclosure will drop to between negative 200–300°F. They’ll stay in the ultra-low temperature air for between two and four minutes. Ice baths are well…just baths full of ice.
The importance of these procedures:
Both these procedures may not seem very pleasant to newcomers and their effects on the body have been topics of debate even in the medical community, however regulars, like our players have stood by them, implying that they have potential.
They seem to have both, potential physical and mental health benefits. They reportedly speed up healing, decrease spasms and by increasing blood circulation- reduce inflammation, thereby reducing related problems e.g anxiety. Cold temperatures also stimulate the transvagus nerve, which helps them face stressful situations (e.g playoff season) better.
Overall the players seem to enjoy these not only as pain relievers but also as stress relievers, all the while ensuring that they are ready and able to give their best for the next game of the season- packed as their schedule is.
A first hand experience:
“After I tried it the first time, my body felt amazing,” Memphis Grizzlies forward Jarell Martin told HoopsHype, about discovering cryotherapy, “Now, I try to use it whenever I’m sore or my legs are feeling heavy. I try to get in the cryo chamber about once a week. We have one in our facility in Memphis. This summer, I put in a lot of hard work and I needed to find ways to get my body feeling right, feeling good. The trainers recommended cryotherapy and it’s been amazing.”
Players and coaches also reportedly meet in locker rooms for about 15 to 30 minutes after a game to go over and discuss the performance and the mistakes and what could be done better next time.
What are the media obligations for NBA players?
Basketball is now world renowned sport and the players have a greater duty to aptly represent the league to the public, considering the ample media reporting the league and they, warrant. The NBA is given huge amounts of their funding through these very media companies, and hence, the players are obligated to present themselves to them, whenever needed- in return for the money.
This “accessibility” is a quality that characterizes the league and it’s players and it is something that they take pride in. There are rules set in place that require the players to be available to the media for 45 minutes after the game (and mind you, this is after many rules deemed
unnecessary were revoked/changed by the NBA in 2013/14). It is also required that practice must be open to reporters either 15 minutes at the start or end of it. Players that suffer from long term injuries are also required to see the media at least once while sidelined.
Rules to follow while handling the media:
There are very obviously, some guidelines that need to adehered hand in hand with this accessibility and media obligations. The players need to know how to handle particularly tricky questions, as their words may be taken out of context and blown out of proportion across news channels and websites.
They also need to try and keep their temper in check when attacked with offensiveness or any breaches in their privacy. Therefore, they are required to answer questions in a very straightforward and concise way, not imparting any extra information.
The problem with these obligations:
However, all of these requirements may seem a bit stringent and rightfully so, they have been questioned by many people, fans and otherwise. The fact is that despite them being in place, the relationship between the players and the media has always been rather turbulent, with many lashing out at them- including Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant- thinking their privacy has been attacked.
An example, Kyrie Irwing:
This is has been also true in recent times, as no matter how much the players keep to their part, the media always uses them to prove their own narrative- twisting their words. Kyrie Irwing, fearing the same, skipped out on media obligation in December last year and instead, issued a statement through a Nets spokesperson so his message could be conveyed “properly”:
“I am committed to show up to work everyday, ready to have fun, compete, performan and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.”
However, he received massive backlash for this and had to pay 25,000 dollars in fine, as he had violated regulations.
The question at hand is whether it is players or the media that needs more rules in place. The players are human beings too, and after a gruelling and stress inducing game (with many more on the horizon) cannot always to be expected to bow down to them for duties sake, even when their morals or private life is in question.
What do basketball players eat after games?
A very important part of recovering from a gruellkng game and keeping themselves fit for the others that are to come, is diet. One of the last things the players do after a game, then, is to have to dinner! Diet, very obviously, varies a lot from player to player- for example, Karl-Anthony Towns, once divulged that he eats as many as 10 pancakes over two breakfasts each day, plus several pieces of grilled chicken while Tom Brady’s diet, which has garnered fascination in the sports world- consists of lots of natural, vegetable-based meals, and few fats.
This is because basketball may require regular exercise, however it does demand a proper diet in the sense of one, as there are key differences between between a sports diet and a regular “healthy” diet.
A healthy vs sports diet:
Nevertheless, this does not mean that basketball players do not have any guidelines to follow in an after-game dinner. For the first key difference, they need to load up on carbs, as they extend a lot of energy due to constantly moving about in the game. Secondly, the constant movement also calls for constant use of muscles, therefore, the players need to intake more proteins to ensure their muscles remain healthy and can repair easily.
Foods to avoid:
For a lot of players, more important than foods they should eat are the foods that they should avoid, the first being processed sugar- which can make one put on excess weight and put added strain on organs like liver and stomach, affecting performance in the long run. Therefore junk food, like candy, chocolate bars, confectionery items etc need to be avoided (something Dwight Howard -notorious for living on soda and candy- looked into and changed his life through). Trans and saturated fats also need to be given a wide berth most of the time, as they increase chance of heart disease and also deplete stamina. Last, but most important is caffeine. This is a substance that dehydrates quickly and for basketball players, dehydration is the last thing they need after working up a sweat after a game.
Recovery nutrition, a concept:
Recovery nutrition is a very important concept when players have less than 24 hours between games or training session, which is the case in playoff season. An article on gssiweb.org states the significance of time in helping muscle recovery after a game:
“In the 30–60 minutes immediately following exercise, the muscles used during exercise are especially sensitive to amino acids and glucose in the blood and are able to use them for muscle protein synthesis and glycogen restoration, respectively. Eating a meal or drinking a recovery shake during this “window” of time allows the muscle to recover its glycogen stores much more quickly than the same meal eaten 2 or 3 hours after exercise.”
They also lay out the specific carbohydrate (1.0-1.2 per kg body weight) and protein (20 g) amount needed to be taken, in order to recover properly for the next game. A point is also made that a balanced meal should taken about 2 hours after the game to give the muscles another portion of “fuel” to keep them rejuvenated.
It is also very important that the players intake a healthy amount of water for every pound of body weight lost in a game. The players follow most of these guidelines when having dinner, considering they have nutritionists at hand ready to advise.
Each to their own:
Chef Anja Lee, who has worked with several NBA teams and their personal trainer, including the Cavaliers, over the years, shared her insight about the dietary preferences of the players and how they vary from team to team and player to player:
“Each team has very different preferences – some are more focused on health than others. I would say the person in charge of ordering the food (trainers and managers) makes the biggest difference on what the boys eat. I try to work closely with them to combine both nutrition and absolute deliciousness into every dish, while also making foods sound comforting and familiar so that the players will eat it when they need it most. Some team managers and trainers prioritize familiarity and comfort with their food, others focus more on nutritious.”
Do NBA players go home after a game?
That very much depends on whether it is a home game or an away game. If it is a home game, many of them go home and if not, they stay in the city until they have to catch the flight for their next game.
They may go out to dinner together or to celebrate, but that, too varies from players to player e.g After the 2013 Finals championship, the Heat had won with Lebron and most of the players went out to the local clubs to party. However, one of the players -Shane Battier- chose to go to Denny’s with his family to celebrate the win.
So, there you have it: we’ve given everyone a detailed plan of just what their favourite NBA players to after games and truth be told, it isn’t really that different from exactly we do either: rest, attend to some work, pig out and then go home! Because, it’ll be time for another game soon, considering it is an endless cycle of 82 games, one after the other.