Currently, Enes Kanter has been playing through the NBA playoffs with a separated shoulder. This week, he will do so while observing Ramadan, a first for the Portland Trail Blazers center.
For Muslims, Ramadan commemorates the month that God began to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. It began at sunset on Sunday and ends at sundown on Tuesday, June 4.
Those observing the month fast from sunrise until sunset. Prior to sunrise, observers participate in a meal called suhūr before abstaining completely from food and water.
While Kanter has played basketball through Ramadan before, he has never done so during the playoffs. This is because Ramadan moves back 11 days each year due to Muslims observing a lunar calendar which is 11 days shorter than the traditional Gregorian calendar.
Prior Ramadans took place during the offseason.
In an interview with the New York Times, Kanter discussed the first time he seriously played basketball while fasting. “I was going against players who were 30, 35 years old, and I was the only one fasting,” he said. “When I would break my fast, I was drinking so much water, like ‘Man, there’s no room left for food.’”
Not the first player
When Ramadan begins, Kanter will not be the first NBA player to play through the holiday. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has played through Ramadan and so has Hakeem Olajuwon, who had some of his best games during that monthlong period.
Kanter too believes he plays at his best while fasting. “I actually work harder during Ramadan because my body’s used to it,” he said.
He said he also fasts weekly year-round because he enjoys the feeling and it keeps cravings at bay.
Many of Kanter’s teams have provided him with a prayer room for him to visit freely. “So before the game, after the game, before practice, before I fly out, I can go to that room whenever I want and pray,” Kanter said.
The Trail Blazers play the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday.
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