Why Nikola Pekovic Is Acting Like A Baby To Get Better At Basketball

Burly, bruising behemoth Nikola Pekovic is considered by many to be one of the strongest guys in the entire league. The 28-year-old Montenegrin is a force on the block, more than most can handle. But a recent profile in the Star-Tribune revealed some interesting training habits, the most surprising of which details his practice of crawling around on the ground and emitting baby noises. You read that right.

Pek stands at 7-0, and he’s nearly 300 pounds of thick muscle. He’s also got a farrago of intimidating tattoo work covering his body. That’s what makes the news — by way of The Starters — Pekovic crawls around on the floor making baby noises, so startling.

We’ll let the Minnesota Star-Tribune explain just what in the hell we’re talking about:

In order to get stronger, healthier and even richer, Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic first must regress all the way back to his baby days.

Three times a week, he’s in the Target Center basement weight room down on his stomach or elbows or all fours, making small, measured movements intended to replicate how an infant learns to crawl, roll, sit and eventually walk.

The tattooed, self-declared “real man” whom opponents call probably the NBA’s strongest also will deliver, if the mood strikes him, sound effects along with the delicate motions designed to strengthen and stabilize his smaller muscles after he has spent a lifetime pumping the biggest ones.

“Waaaaaaa,” he says, contorting his face and mimicking a baby’s cry.

It gets better, with Kevin Love chiming in and even more odd impersonations by Pek:

Now Pekovic himself impersonates a baby, a bear and a beauty queen in the weight room without hearing so much as a snicker from a teammate.

“I think he enjoys the baby ones better because then he gets to make the noises,” Love said. “He’s a big baby. A big teddy bear, too, though.”

Trying to imagine Pekovic performing these ridiculous impersonations is a baffling juxtaposition when you think about what he looks like. But he hasn’t missed a game yet this season, after missing 39 games over the last two years from a series of nagging injuries.

After Pek signed a 5-year, $60 million contract this summer, a bonus was included if he could play 60 games.

When asked whether he would hand some of that bonus money over to Minney’s newly hired director of sports performance, Koichi Sato — the man who implemented the peculiar new exercises, Pek laughingly answered, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t know about that. We didn’t make that deal.”

Let’s just hope video surfaces of Pek’s new workout routine sometime soon. In the mean time, here’s Pek whirling for a bucket on Tim Duncan, which shows off some of the footwork and balance mentioned in the piece.


[Minnesota Star-Tribune; h/t: The Starters]

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