Last month, SI.com caught up with Big3 players to learn about their eating habits. How did they get their diets in order to make sure they could compete at a high level again? What were some of the weirdest things they saw teammates do when it came to eating? What's their favorite city to eat in? Rasual Butler, Rashard Lewis, and other players weighed in:
SI: When you were playing in the NBA, what was your favorite city to grab a bite to eat?
Rasual Butler: It was always in New York. It’s always my favorite place to come. Back then it was Mr. Chow and Philippe. I really like Asian food. Japanese, Asian cuisine. So I would always go to Mr. Chow or Philippe.
Moochie Norris: New York, the Mecca of basketball. It's probably the one city I think that everybody in the league, that's ever played or hasn't played always wants to play. Definitely No. 1 on the list. ... When I come to New York, I just like to get out and see the city. Sometimes I just leave the hotel and start walking. If I get lost I just catch a cab back to the hotel.
Rashard Lewis: I’d probably say L.A. California—the weather out there is just so nice, sun is always shining, but it’s not too hot and humid. Always got a good breeze out there. It’s good to be outside in L.A. I used to go to Aunt Kizzy’s all the time when I was younger, obviously got the Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. When we stayed in Marina del Rey I think they had this seafood restaurant, it’s right by the hotel, right there on the water—I forgot the name of the restaurant—but it was a good spot.
Larry Hughes: New York is always big. I like Negril in New York. Chicago is always a good place to get some good food down on Rush Street. And then Atlanta. Atlanta’s good too. Atlanta is usually at Lenox, or Houston’s, or Benihana’s in Atlanta is top-notch.
Mike Sweetney: When I went back home to D.C., my family always made me a home-cooked meal. I’d probably say New York is always good. I mean, everywhere we went, there was always a good restaurant. So the veteran guys would always show me where to go, so there was always somewhere. ... I lived in Westchester County. There was a restaurant, like a locally-owned restaurant, I can’t remember the name of it. It was like an Italian place that I would go to all the time that was pretty good.
Cuttino Mobley: Miami. Prime 112. My guy Miles.
Eddie Robinson: Probably in New York. The steakhouse. There was a steak place right across from Madison Square Garden. They had like a 30 oz steak or something over there. I remember when I worked out for the Knicks they took me over there. Steak covered the whole plate.
SI:Did you have to make any adjustments to your diet to make sure you were ready to play in the Big3?
Norris: Pretty much just going outside in the backyard and eating grass. Get out all that fried food—same thing you do when you was playing. You get more into your shakes. Your portion control goes down, you stop eating as much. You’re eating more—more times a day. The most important thing is the eating. So you got to make sure you’re doing the right things when it comes to that. ... All kinds of protein shakes. Sometimes banana strawberries. Sometimes just regular right out the can, with just two scoops with water. There’s just so many places you can go and get shakes these days—Smoothie King. Jamba Juice. I don’t know if [these guys are] lazy like me, but I’d rather go to the store than make it myself.
Sweetney: Just water. Take away the juice. A lot of vegetables and salads and proteins. Got to cut out the carbs a little bit, and that’s it.
Butler: Nah. I try to do a good job of eating well everyday. One of my friends actually just texted me the other day, he was getting ready to eat, and he was like, "Rasual wouldn't eat this, so I'm not going to eat it." So I think I have a pretty good influence on people. ... I make sure I eat breakfast. After breakfast, every other meal is just like a starch, protein, some vegetables and I always drink a protein shake after, just because I'm a smaller guy.
Hughes: Nah. This body style that I got is everlasting. I need to gain a few pounds. I was blessed without having those type of problems. ... I try to eat right. Try to eat protein and steaks and things of that nature. But again for me it’s about being natural, being comfortable. I feel like I got a good foundation, good base, so I’m ready to rock and roll.
Lewis: I can’t eat like I used to eat. When I was young I could eat cheeseburgers and fried chicken and go jump off the wall and still dunk the ball. But nowadays, you know you got to try to eat healthy. Try to stay away from a lot of the caffeine and drink a lot of water, stay hydrated. I’m not 21 no more, the energy goes fast. ... A lot of water. Wake up, drink a lot of water. Try to eat a good breakfast, pancakes or oatmeal in the morning. Try to get a healthy lunch. Some type of grilled chicken or turkey sandwich, club sandwich, but for dinner try to make it a bigger meal. Well, I try to make it a big meal after I workout too, because it’s draining. Obviously doing a lot of cardio and strength and conditioning. But I’m trying my best to eat healthy. My wife is a healthy freak, so she does a lot of the cooking and grocery shopping.
SI: Did you ever have any teammates with a weird eating habit?
Mobley: Steve Francis, he couldn’t have salt in his food. He would get headaches, bad migraines where he couldn’t play.
Sweetney: I just seen certain guys who had to have a peanut butter and jelly before games. Certain things like that and that was it. Nothing crazy.
Robinson: Eddie Curry. He used to order room service and out service. He would get food from the hotel then order food from outside. All the time. I’m like, ‘Curry, just get room service bro.’ But people like what they like.
Hughes: Not that I can think of. I played with some pretty straight-up dudes, and all that green shakes and all that stuff wasn’t really popular when I was playing.
Lewis: No, not really. Well, yeah—Jerome. Jerome James back in the day when I was with Seattle. He would just to eat all kinds of crazy s—t and still be able to go out there and play. I mean, I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know how he did it. But he did it. It worked for him. A lot of people it don’t work for.
Norris: Not so much as weird, but Steve Francis used to want to eat at the dagone Ruth’s Chris in every city. So it’s kind of like, “You going to eat the same thing every time before a game?” And yeah, he ate the same thing every time before a game in every city.
Butler: Joakim Noah. He would put everything on his plate and mix it all together. He would have pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, pasta with meat sauce and other stuff and just mix it all together and eat it. I thought that was kind of weird.