5 NBA stars playing other sports in the offseason – Basketball Network
If you think about it, the NBA’s only regular season, 82 games to be exact, is already a tough one. Not to mention that it becomes even more tiring if the team manages to qualify for the playoffs. So when the offseason rolls around, most players tend to kick back and take their well-deserved break.
However, there’s no way these players are spending all their free time relaxing. We’re absolutely right about that, because some players, even teams, are still training and sweating in the offseason. And it’s not necessarily basketball.
Chances are a wide range of NBA players play/train in sports other than basketball, but let’s take a look at the five selected for now.
Honorable Mention: The Detroit Pistons – MMA
Before moving on to the main roster, let’s start by recognizing the efforts of the entire Detroit Pistons organization as an honorable mention.
In the summer of 2015, the Pistons and his coaching staff decided to channel their inner “bad boys” by training in mixed martial arts (MMA). The plan wasn’t really to follow in the footsteps of the dirty style of play, but rather to add some physicality and build team camaraderie.
Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy has given the green light to the team’s request to “work MMA.” What’s more interesting? Detroit did not just train in a combat sports hall, but in the facilities of the UFC in Las Vegas.
The partnership was beneficial to both parties as the deal involved a number of UFC stars being sent to Auburn Hills to hoop and do basketball drills inside the Pistons court with staff from the club. ‘crew. Among the UFC fighters who were chosen included Forrest Griffin, Stipe Miocic, Jessica Eye, Aljamain Sterling, Ryan LaFlare and Kevin Lee.
5. Leandro Barbosa – Soccer
As a Brazilian, former Phoenix Suns goalkeeper Leandro Barbosa has always been in love with football. Growing up in Sao Paulo, Barbosa was exposed to the sport at a young age, with his father being a member of popular Brazilian football club Sport Club Corinthians.
To this day, Barbosa is still in contact with the club. Of course, they still practice their beloved sport from time to time.
“My father was Corinthiano and since I was born we had the bandera [flag] of the team and we went to the Pacaembu stadium”, Barbosa told Frank Dell’Apa of Boston.com. “Even now, many Corinthians players are my friends. [Emerson] Sheik is a great friend, a super amigo. We are always together.”
On the other hand, basketball also has a special place in Barbosa’s heart, and he intentionally tried to balance the two different sports. Luckily, Barbosa managed to do that and he even realized that playing football was actually beneficial for his basketball skills.
“I always talk about football and basketball in terms of vision and passing facilitation and how that happens,” he added. “At the same time, you get the timing, you measure distances, passing angles, when to defend, when to attack. You learn a lot from football and that makes basketball easier.”
4. Steve Nash – Soccer
Steve Nash may have made a name for himself in basketball, but the truth is, he was always a football player at heart.
The two-time NBA MVP grew up in a family of Tottenham Hotspur loyalists. While playing as a professional in the world’s most prestigious basketball league, Nash also competed for two New York-based soccer clubs during the offseason.
In addition to playing, Nash was also an influential advocate for the sport, having been an early investor in the women’s professional soccer league. In 2020, Nash took it to the next level by becoming co-owner of Real Mallorca, a Spanish club which rivaled FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga, the country’s top league.
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Through his Steve Nash Foundation, Nash has also hosted a few football charity events in which he has already invited fellow NBA stars Tony Parker, Brandon Jennings, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley to play.
3. Damian Lillard – Boxing
Some may not know this, but six-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard has been a long-time boxing fan. It’s only fitting that he plays for the Portland Trail Blazers as the team “fully embraced boxing workouts” in the offseason, a win-win situation for Dame.
Every offseason, Lillard trains in boxing to stay in shape and constantly work on his physical and mental coordination.
2. Joel Embiid – Boxing
To help Joel Embiid prepare for the 2017/18 season, the Philadelphia 76ers “used boxing training” as part of their summer training regimen. The Sixers were pleased with the results as “The Process” had its first monster season that year, recording 22.9 points and 11 rebounds per game in 63 games.
Since then, Philadelphia has continued boxing training in the offseason for Embiid and some of his teammates. At first glance, it seems that Embiid also benefited.
1. Deron Williams – Weightlifting, Swimming, Cycling, MMA and Boxing
There might be a number of players training for multiple sports over the summer, but no one does it quite like Deron Williams.
During his playing years in the NBA, D-Will even keeps busy during the offseason. He trains “5-6 times a week” and usually starts his day doing “strength training”.
After appetizers, Williams would continue to her main course, which involves weightlifting, swimming and cycling.
“I mainly focus on core strength and stability,” Williams told USA Basketball in 2011. “I do a lot of bodyweight stuff. I also focus on speed, agility and good movement. For cardio, I do a lot of cycling and swimming to give my joints a break.
Just when you thought Williams would be done with all that after leaving the NBA in 2017, he added two more sports to his roster: MMA and boxing.
According to Williams, he always knew there was a fighter in him and he has a long-time love of combat sports. In fact, the three-time NBA All-Star followed the sport even during his active years in the league.
“I have always been attracted to combat sports” said Williams. “Wrestling was my first sport. I’ve always been a big boxing fan, a big MMA fan. I always wanted to do a fight since I retired [from the NBA].”
“Listen, I’ve been training for years” he added. “Part of MMA is, of course, boxing. This opportunity presented itself and I just felt like if it was there and I had passed it up, I would kick myself for it.
In December 2021, Williams, 37, finally felt ready for the next step and made his boxing debut in an exhibition match against former NFL star Frank Gore.
Williams won by decision, and it’s still his only combat sports appearance to date. Despite some success, D-Will said he may never step back into the ring again.
Now that it’s the offseason again, we can be sure that some NBA players are already doing their cross-sport workouts. Hopefully we can take a good look at some of them and add a few names to the following list.