Here’s How Tim Duncan Inspired Al Jefferson To Lose 25 Pounds This Offseason

It’s been a huge (as it were) trend the past few years. When LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland last summer, he shed a considerable amount of mass in favor of a leaner, faster physique for the coming season. Likewise, Kyle Lowry debuted a svelte new look earlier this offseason as he and the Toronto Raptors look to become a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference.

Jared Sullinger’s friends and family even went so far as to stage an intervention to make sure the stocky big man maintains a healthy weight as the season inches closer and closer. And now another Eastern Conference frontcourt player is joining the trend. According to Joshua Priemski of SB Nation, Hornets power forward Al Jefferson looked to Tim Duncan for inspiration this summer as he dropped 25 pounds.

“I had to get the pressure off my knees, man,” Jefferson said. “Tim Duncan set a great example. He lost his weight, he got down, and he’s 38 or 39 still playing at a high level. I just turned 30, and it was time to add some years to my career, man. I’ve still got a lot of ball to play.”

There have been all sorts of advances in sports science and nutrition over the past decade, but to the surprise of absolutely no one, a lot of it boils down to basic common sense. Big Al was able to melt off that much weight in large part by simply avoiding Popeye’s fried chicken.

And considering the knee problems that caused him to miss nearly a quarter of last season, it’s probably a wise decision. The timing is critical for another reason: Jefferson is in the final year of his contract. If he wants to cash in on the skyrocketing salary cap next summer, he’ll need to have a productive season in which he proves he can remain healthy going forward.

It’ll also help if Charlotte can push itself back into playoff contention in 2015-2016. They made a few splashes this summer by severing ties with Lance Stephenson, adding Nicholas Batum, and selecting Frank Kaminsky in the draft. Add that to a core unit that already includes Jefferson, Kemba Walker, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and the Hornets might be fighting for a postseason appearance next spring.

(via Charlotte Hornets and SB Nation)