NBA Players are Mastering Cooking Skills During Quarantine

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As the NBA remains on pause, some players are looking to use their free time to better their skills in other areas aside from basketball. SI's Ben Pickman discusses how players Cody Zeller and Enes Kanter are using their time in quarantine to better their skills in the kitchen by advancing their cooking skills.

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Robin Lundberg: Typically, when you say a basketball player is cooking, you mean on the court and not in the kitchen. But things have changed during the quarantine. And our Ben Pickman, along with Jarrel Harris, had a chance to catch up with some NBA players in the WNBA player in the kitchen, Ben. What did you find? As far as how these guys are cooking with their culinary aspect?

Ben Pickman: Right. As you mentioned, Robin, I mean, nutrition is so important nowadays and so many players in professional basketball have professional chefs. But because of the quarantine and because of the coronavirus, so many are stuck at home alone, maybe with their families and being forced to cook alone. So we thought it would be fun to see what NBA players and WNBA players are cooking during the hiatus. So some are beginners, some are more advanced, namely Cody Zeller. Take him as a beginning chef. He actually got a recipe book in recent years from his mom. Just short recipes, very simple stuff. And he calls her before nearly any time he makes a meal. He was recently making Fettuccine Alfredo and he actually had to ask her, how long do you boil the noodles for? How long do you cook them for? 

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He was making scallops one meal and he all he needed was olive oil and pepper. And he had neither of those things. And so he said that was tragically bad and was a good learning experience now. There are some more advanced chefs, namely Celtics center Enes Kanter, who is more familiar with food in the kitchen. He was growing up in Turkey, and as a child his mom told him to learn how to cook and he never really took her advice seriously until he got into the NBA and he started having to cook for himself. But now he experiments with all different kinds of Turkish spices and has actually turned his teammates on to a number of Turkish meals. So he's very familiar in the kitchen. And you can see on his social media feeds all the lamb chops and steaks and chicken wings and more authentic Turkish food that he's cooking during the hiatus.

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Robin Lundberg: It seems very advanced. I mean, I feel like I've got a better chance of guarding Cody Zeller than making fresh scallops. Did you find any interesting recipes?

Ben Pickman: Yeah, we got a wide range of recipes. We have side dishes, entrees, desserts. And we also have ones that were native to one's culture or one's family. So we actually included the moussaka recipe, which is native to Luka Doncic's family and has actually passed down from his great grandmother to his mother. And now to him. We have Deandre Ayton another member of that draft class and a quail and oxtail recipe that was passed down from his mother. We have some banana bread recipes sprinkled in some other breakfast casseroles, sprinkled in a vegan recipe from De'Andre Jordan. All different kinds of recipes to learn when NBA players and WNBA players are cooking during the NBA hiatus.

Robin Lundberg: Again, when you say a player's food, usually it means they can't guard you or barbecued chicken. But now a whole new meaning. Thanks to Ben Pigman and Co. Appreciate your time.

Ben Pickman: Thanks a lot for having me.

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