Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the talk of the NBA world this week thanks to an extensive deep dive from Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Frankly, the underworld of NBA food is a vastly under-covered part of the lifestyle that the league’s players enjoy and the piece is full of wildly intriguing tidbits that provide a window into what professional basketball players put into their body on a regular basis.
Perhaps the most mind-blowing tale, though, revolves around current Atlanta Hawks center and former All-Star Dwight Howard. Once the most dominant big man in the league while starring for the Orlando Magic, Howard encountered something of a road block facilitated by injury as he moved to the Los Angeles Lakers and things weren’t going swimmingly for him during the 2012-2013 season. While some of that could certainly be tied to a back surgery in April 2012, Howard also reportedly had a major sugar addiction that is, frankly, unbelievable.
The piece goes into great detail with regard to Howard’s issue, including the fact that the team’s nutrition believed it could be causing a major nerve issue.
By February’s All-Star break, it was time for a full-blown intervention, and Dr. Cate Shanahan, the Lakers’ nutritionist, led the charge, speaking to Howard by phone from her office in Napa, California. Howard’s legs tingled, he complained, but she noticed he was having trouble catching passes too, as if his hands were wrapped in oven mitts. Well, he quietly admitted, his fingers also tingled. Shanahan, with two decades of experience in the field, knew Howard possessed a legendary sweet tooth, and she suspected his consumption of sugar was causing a nerve dysfunction called dysesthesia, which she’d seen in patients with prediabetes. She urged him to cut back on sugar for two weeks. If that didn’t help, she said, she vowed to resign.