In most cases, when an athlete calls it a career and their lifelong obligation to stay in tip-top shape disappears at last, the retirement pudge follows shortly thereafter. It did not follow for Mike Bibby, who set the Internet in flames last month with a picture in which the former Sacramento Kings star more closely resembled, say, a Taken henchman than the sweet-shooting point guard who spent 14 seasons in the NBA.
Bibby has spent the last three years coaching his alma mater, Shadow Mountain High School, to three straight Arizona 4A state titles—a gig that has allowed him to spend more time in the gym and the weight room than he did as an active player. During the summers, he captains the Ghost Ballers squad in Ice Cube’s BIG3 league, and he hopes one day to coach at the NCAA and NBA levels. We recently caught up with Bibby to learn more about what he did to pull off such a dramatic transformation—and why the world didn't get to see this action hero version of him any sooner.
GQ: Okay, start from retirement and take me to today. How did this happen?
I’m always in the gym. From, like, 7 A.M. to noon, I’m working out, training others, and playing basketball. After that, I’ll go back home, where I have a training gym. I'll train kids some more, and I can work on my basketball skills at the same time. I always try and learn new things because I want to be a coach, so everything plays into that.
People aren’t used to seeing me like this. I’m not really as big as the picture made it seem. But if I were out of shape and fat, someone would say something about that. People are going to say something about you regardless of how you look, so I try to eat well and take care of my body as much as I can.
In what ways did you change your diet?
After the BIG3 Combine, I started weighing all my food. I eat small portions, and more frequently throughout the day. I’ll have a protein shake in the morning with a protein bar to start off, and work out until about noon. Then, I’ll go and have some breakfast food, like egg whites, toast, and turkey bacon, just to keep some protein in me. My lunches and dinners are a lot lighter now, since my food is getting weighed. I keep the carbs low, and eat very little sugar. Since the combine, I’ve probably lost 25 pounds. I’m still strong—it’s just less fat. I knocked that off, and I feel good.
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What about the lifting? It appears that there is some lifting.
I’ve always had this build, and I’ve always loved lifting weights—it’s just that when I played, teams didn’t want me to lift heavy like that. Every summer when I came back for training camp, teams would always get mad because they said I looked like a linebacker. So it was just always just one set here, one set there—that was all the lifting I did.
Once I retired, I had all the time in the world. Now, I can lift heavier. I drop my kids off at school and I’m at the gym until they have to get picked up. Plus, think about it—no one is really going to want to train with me if I’m 300 pounds and can’t get through a workout. I have to make sure I’m getting right for my next coaching job.
Did the coaching bug get you towards the end of your playing career?
Oh, I’ve always wanted to coach. My son is 20 now, and I’ve coached him since he was nine. A lot of ex-players want to become commentators, but I love to teach. Whether it’s kids or pros, I want them to get better, and I want to show them the work ethic it takes to get to where they want to go. A lot of kids nowadays feel privileged, like, “I should be here anyway.” It’s not that easy. I tell my son every day, “There are kids who are really hungry out there.” If you don’t work out, you will get embarrassed. That’s the way that it has to be. I try to put that mindset into every kid I train.
What does your regimen look like these days?
I do full-body lifts—three days a week with weights, and two days with bands. That’s for about two or three hours. Then I’ll go to the gym and work out, shoot, or play. I’ll take a little break and then later in the day, I’ll go back in the gym for more shooting, footwork drills, and things like that. And then volleyball. My day doesn’t stop until about 10 or 11 at night.
Wait, volleyball too?
Yeah, I have daughters that play volleyball, and they have practice. It’s a full day.