The Better-Bodied Nets

By Cory Wright

Brook Lopez’s biggest vice was sugary ice.

Slurpees, Icees, Sonic Route 44 Slushes with nerds or popping candy were the junk food of choice for the Nets 7-foot center. Key word: was.

“I’m coping well,” Lopez, who reportedly lost seven pounds, said at Nets media day. “I’m over that depression period where you break down right after giving it up and I’m at that feel-good portion after you’ve been doing it for a while.”

Lopez gave up the sugary drinks in the quest to better his body and become a better athlete. He was already in good shape, hustling for 33 minutes per game last season, but general manager Sean Marks wanted the Brooklyn Nets to be in better shape and he’s giving them the tools to achieve it.

Marks expanded the Nets’ training and performance team, adding a series of highly-specialized trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists and dieticians. That includes director of player performance Zach Weatherford, who was previously working with the US Naval Special Warfare Command.

“We have so many people specialized at what they do and the best in their field,” Lopez said. “They’re all in there taking care of us and we’re all getting turns from PT to mobilization to weights, changing the way my body moves, looking for any way to we can improve.”

Another way to improve is dieting. Like Lopez, Sean Kilpatrick decided that success in the NBA would taste better than pizza, so he did the unthinkable for a native New Yorker.

“I’m a New York guy, so I’d go and grab a slice of pizza or something like that, but it wasn’t helping my game or helping my body,” Kilpatrick said. “As soon as I got away from that stuff you see drastically that the weight just started shedding and that’s something I wanted.”

Kilpatrick went all out, giving up Gatorade and almost exclusively drinking water and lemon. He’s eating more greens and more baked foods, staying away from the fried stuff. He weighs 208 lbs., down from 217, with a body mass index (BMI) of 8.5, down from 13.5, and the results go beyond looking good in the mirror or at the beach.

“I’m a lot faster. I jump a little higher,” Kilpatrick said. “Now I can get to the rim pretty much anytime I want.”

“When it comes to little nicks and knacks or little bruises that I get I heal a lot faster,” he added. “I’m a guy who likes contact and especially going to the rim and everything and being able to have that type of stability to where the little injuries or anything won’t hurt.”

That’s Marks’ plan – prepare.

“It starts now, it doesn’t start in a rehab sort of phase, it starts with the prehab and what can these guys do ahead of time to manage the rigors of an NBA season,” Marks said.

It actually started earlier this summer, when Lopez, Kilpatrick and the rest of the Nets made new commitments to their bodies and forms of training and the physical results are already showing.

“A lot of athletes take for granted the diet part and making sure that their body is right,” Kilpatrick said. “It was a great experience and I want to keep living that way.”

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