What is it with NBA diet revolutions and the Boston Celtics?
First, we had Kevin Garnett getting the NBA hooked on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches back in 2007. Fast forward a decade, and Kyrie Irving apparently is leading the charge on a new food craze: one that eschews meat.
Bleacher Report published a feature Wednesday detailing the growing list of NBA players who have switched to vegan or meat-free diets. At the center of this trend is Irving, who revealed during the preseason he’s on the vegan train.
“Been on more of a plant-based diet, getting away from the animals and all that,” Irving said at the time on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown,” via Bleacher Report. “I had to get away from that. So my energy is up; my body feels amazing.”
According to B/R, Irving’s new diet is partly why he’s thrived in late-game situations this season, using his increased stamina to dazzle winded opponents: In 24 minutes of play in “clutch situations” (games within five points in the final five minutes), he has scored 41 points on 57 percent shooting.
“He’s had great energy all year,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told B/R of Irving. “The nutrition side is huge.”
Of course, Kyrie has his own unique way of describing why he switched to a plant-based diet.
“I started becoming more in touch with myself,” Irving said. “I did my own research.”
” … I mean, I’m not eating a whole bunch of animals anymore. Once you become awake, you don’t see that stuff anymore.”
It appears “Woke Kyrie” has rubbed off on his teammates, too. Second-year forward Jaylen Brown, who doesn’t eat pork or red meat but admits it’s been difficult to go vegetarian in the NBA, pledged to go vegan by his 21st birthday. That means no steak dinners in Boston, where Irving said he’s gravitated toward Sweetgreen as his go-to vegan spot.
“Steak? Nah, I don’t eat that,” Irving added. “It doesn’t come from anything natural, so why would I eat it?”
Alas, there’s still a prominent holdout in Boston: big man Al Horford, who playfully chanted “An-i-mal protein! An-i-mal protein!” at Brown while he spoke to B/R.
As long as the Celtics keep winning — they enter Thursday’s showdown with the Golden State Warriors on a 13-game winning streak — Stevens probably doesn’t care what they eat.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images