Quite like many basketball fans in the month of February, I look forward to NBA All-Star weekend. It is almost the equivalent of Valentine’s Day for hoopers everywhere – ball is life, as the popular saying goes. For one, there was the dunk contest. And it was one of the best in recent years, in my humble opinion. Dwight Howard brought his Superman cape out of retirement. Pat Connaughtan was creative and entertaining. Derrick Jones Jr. put on an explosive display of athleticism. And, of course, Aaron Gordon was robbed yet again despite the fact he dunked over Tacko Fall (I still cannot believe it). Overall, it was a lot of fun to watch. Chicago really did a good job hosting this year – particularly Common. But, to be honest with you, my biggest takeaway of the weekend was a conversation that Chris Paul and Charles Barkley had in the pre-game show of the All-Star matchup between LeBron’s squad and Giannis’ last Sunday night. Chris was asked to talk about his plant-based diet, which was something that peaked my interest since I had no idea he was doing such a thing. Graciously, Chris told Shaq, Barkley, and the whole ESPN crew about the benefits he experienced by making healthier choices for his body and mind. It was kind of cool, and a great example for the younger generation of ballers. But at one point, Charles Barkley laughed and said: “I’d rather die than give up meat”. Right then, an old mentality of dieting was brought into context. Or better yet, a misconception that we have been told for centuries in regards to the fact “dairy” and “processed meat” is a part of a well-balanced meal plan. Don’t get me wrong: it was clear that Barkley was teasing Chris for all that it was worth. However, as someone that has experimented with plant-based foods as of the last two months, I can truly say that it is one of the best choices I have made in a long time.
Let me begin by saying this: Chris Paul is a 35-year-old point guard. Yes, he is a legend. But at the same time, he is a not in his prime anymore. I didn’t expect much from him, to be fair. After all, I figured he was voted into the game based on seniority and his overall career. However, when I saw the 6-foot tall point guard catch an alley-oop with power and ease, I immediately thought about the impact of veganism. It was an incredible display that made me jump out of my seat. Even LeBron was shocked when he was asked about it in a half-time interview. And funny enough, I knew in the back of my head that eating meat/dairy wasn’t the reason why the 35-year-old was able to get up as high as a player ten years younger. Moreover, it made me think about my journey towards healthy living – primarily with vegan quesadillas and avocados.
Similarly to Chris, I also felt a change. I was more loose and mobile at the gym, became more focused, and suddenly I was even in a better mood than usual. To end this article, I will admit that I am not a hundred percent vegan yet. In fact, I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise to you all. But the fact Chris Paul can still consider himself an all-star in a league that is now becoming more and more dominated by one and done guys is pretty impressive in itself. Maybe, we can all try to be a little healthier – even if it means simply just eating plant-based meals once a week.