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Ball Don't Lie

Taking a cue from their famous trainer, the Detroit Pistons offer health food on the home arena’s menu

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Arnie Kander stevia's the heck out of Tayshaun Prince's calves (Getty Images)

Some readers and even Detroit Pistons fans will take to this news as some sort of recognition of the loss of one of the great freedoms of sporting culture — the ability to go to a game and imbibe in endless amounts of terrible food, watered-down soda that comes from a bag in a box, and crummy domestic beer.

Others might see this as a nice choice to have in reserve. Or, at the very least something to try in order to turn your tongue away from the feeling you created by essentially buying a series of salt-licks covered in previously frozen pepperoni through the first three quarters of a basketball game. The Detroit Pistons' NBA-legendary trainer Arnie Kander has influenced a few menu choices at the team's home arena, and the Palace at Auburn Hills has those choices on the ready should you choose to pass on that hot dog that has been spinning in plain view of dozens (it is a Pistons game, after all) of customers prior to your purchase.

(And, haaayyy ESPN — this is how you source a person or organization that you like a lot that makes your life easier. You link to someone and credit both their name and their publication. Even if that organization competes with you. Because you can handle the competition, because you're not a collection of insecure prats.)

From Patrick Hayes at ESPN's TrueHoop Network site Piston Powered, on Wednesday:

Kander, who has been with the team since 1992, has become famous around the NBA for both his unique training methods and nutritional supplements. Now, as part of the team's new menu options, fans will actually get to try one of the drinks Kander uses as part of the team's training regimen at games. Here's the description:

The Pistons Greenlite drink, used as part of the training regiment by Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander and the Detroit Pistons team, is a unique blend of wheat grass, organic lemon and stevia that helps cleans the body. Pretzel and hummus chips, quinoa, kale and lentil salad and an assortment of smoothies will be served as part of The Training Table team-inspired options.

I tried the drink at yesterday's event and it's not bad. It's kind of an ecto cooler color, which makes it look like it's going to be really sweet, but it isn't. It's hard to describe exactly what it tastes like, other than very citrusy, but it's definitely unique stadium food fare.

What's interesting to me is, even if you're not going out to the ole ballgame to get your stevia on, that mix sounds pretty intriguing. And not as some silly way to avoid a hangover or make up for downing two hot dogs and a tub full of nachos — even without overusing libations, who among us hasn't left a sporting event feeling full of sodium and/or sugar and felt like a little hydrating cleanse (however small or superficial) was in order?

I'm far from the picture of health, and enjoy my awful processed food and deep-fried whatevers as much as anyone else. But with 41 (the Pistons aren't making the playoffs, sorry) home games to deal with, fans or even rare visitors to the Palace at Auburn Hills probably appreciate these options. Again, it doesn't have to be because they think these options will tip-off an instant weight loss or ability to run a four-minute mile. It might just be because they don't want to drop some sodium bomb on their stomach just because it's time for a post-dinner snack.

And just speaking from experience, on the short ride back from the Palace to my hotel the last time I covered a game at Auburn Hills, this pizza-lover wouldn't have minded some of the healthier options listed above to take home. Instead, even in the midst of that suburban sprawl on my ride back from the arena, the only thing open on that Friday night on the direct drive back to the hotel was a local pizza chain.

Yay, pizza. Boo, the fact that I was full after three pieces and still had already consumed a day's worth of calories in one hotel sitting. I certainly wouldn't have minded a styro full of hummus and chips to stash in my laptop bag to take back to my room, as much as I enjoyed the glop lack of options forced me into selecting.

To actually utilize the smarts of the legendary Arnie Kander? To offer something besides a bottle of water (usually made by the same plants that churn out Coke and Pepsi) as a healthy option? This is a fantastic move. It doesn't mean some Nanny State is taking away your nachos and beer. It just means there might be something on the menu that won't have you feeling like you need a gallon of water to get the sugar and salt out of your system on the drive home. That's it.

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