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NBA TV’s ‘Open Court’ routinely tops the “must watch”-list when it comes to NBA programming that isn’t directly game-related. Adeptly hosted by Ernie Johnson (big shocker there), the show features a cadre of recently-retired NBA stars talking up various subjects, often times shooting the breeze on topics that typically wouldn’t make a player’s PG-rated memoir.
When a fan-inspired “what was your pregame meal?” query devolved into the usual replies (“I used to eat junk, then I got older and stopped eating junk”), Steve Kerr stepped to the plate with this winner about Chicago Bulls teammate Toni Kukoc, who entered the league in 1993-94 just as Kerr was beginning his sixth NBA season. Watch:
The anecdote brings to mind a passage on Toni from David Halberstam’s classic ‘Playing For Keeps,’ a look into the career of Michael Jordan from 2000:
He knew nothing about how to train and get his wind up, even what and how to eat before a game. Once [Bulls trainer] Chip Schaefer had a pregame meal with him and was stunned to watch Kukoc put away a seven-course meal including salad, pasta, and steak.
“A sure four-thousand-calorie meal,” Schaefer noted later, almost admiringly. Like many European players, he was accustomed to drinking wine with his pregame meal, even if he did water it slightly. His body fat when he arrived was about 20 percent, very high for the NBA. Eventually, the Bulls got it down to the mid-teens, which was pretty good for Kukoc.
All the more reason why Toni Kukoc will forever and ever remain one of my favorite NBA players. Carb it up, kids.
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