NBA players come in two varieties: Big and Tall, or skinny and tall! Once the big men end their careers, everything is fine - no one expects them to look great. They can finally let themselves go and eat at McDonald's or order pizza for the whole week. As opposed to the bigger players, the guys that took great care of their bodies deserve some time off from staying skinny. Also, NBA stars might be in such a state after their long careers that they actually can't go to the gym due to various injuries suffered during their playing days.
There are however former athletes who got so used to the training regimen that they can't live without hitting the gym or going for a run. These guys worked extra hard during their playing days and find it hard to simply let go. They were associated with an active lifestyle for so long that it would be impossible to just sit on the couch. Years, if not decades, of competition got them addicted to sports. They just can't stop.
There's nothing wrong with both approaches. After all, both groups are no longer expected to participate in organized competitions. If they prefer to rest after years of taking care of their bodies - good for them, why shouldn't they? If they want to stay fit, good for them as well. It's their bodies and their decisions. Here are 10 athletes who decided to skip working out and 10 that just can't stop taking care of their bodies.
20 Let Go: Magic Johnson
When he was on the court he looked incredibly athletic, even during the 1995-96 season after he came back from retirement to help his Lakers stay relevant. He didn't play how he looked, but still his participation in the season generated some much-needed buzz around the once-great team which fell into obscurity. That's what Magic is best at during his post-basketball career - business. He owns a lot of dining businesses, including Burger King restaurants, which somewhat explains why he gained some weight. If anything, he looks like a regular businessman, so at least he doesn't have much problems blending in, right? He's not the same muscular guy who ran point for the Lakers, but his money is doing well, so why should he care?
19 Looks Great: Dennis Rodman
This one might seem controversial, but allow me to state my case first. We all know Rodman loves to party and he's a bit crazy, right? Just look at all his visits to North Korea for proof. Well, considering that he's been partying for over 20 years and playing competitive basketball in the meantime, it's a small miracle that Rodman is even alive. His face looks bad, but the man is 56 years old! A lot of guys his age look worse even without years of drinking, which definitely took its toll on Rodman's body. Still, for a quinquagenarian The Worm looks at least OK. Plus he could definitely get more rebounds than most of us even now.
18 Let Go: Antoine Walker
Never the athletic type, Walker's work ethic was always questioned during his playing days, even when he was one of the best young players in the NBA. He was always a bit slower and his decision making didn't always benefit his team. However Walker's career wasn't actually as bad as people tend to think about it, as without him the late-90's revival of the Celtics would never happen. Walker was highly compensated for his contributions during his playing career. This is were his decision making comes into play once again, as because of it Walker lost most of his money. Unable to let go of his NBA dream, he continued to perform his wonderful Shimmy in NBDL, but he no longer looked like an NBA player. It's actually very surprising how he was able to play so long on a KFC-based diet.
17 Looks Great: Alonzo Mourning
Zo was a physical specimen. Listed at 6'10", he was smaller than opposing centres, yet thanks to his superhuman strength was somehow able to outblock and outscore them on many nights. Because of the way he looked, everybody was shocked to find out that he had a kidney disease. After he found a donor, Mourning was not only able to live, but continue playing competitive basketball. He was even able to capture that elusive championship - in 2006 he won it as a backup centre for the Heat. Nowadays Mourning eats very healthy, practices holistic medicine and yoga, which explains why he looks so great almost a decade after he retired from the NBA.
16 Let Go: Charles Barkley
Chuck never looked especially athletic, even during his playing days, but once he decided to end his NBA career he immediately let himself go. The Round Mound of Rebound earned his nickname because of the way he looked and played. He seemed very unlikely to jump so high and be so quick on the court, yet Barkley could dominate on the court like few players his size. Much smaller than other power forwards, he was always somehow able to grab more rebounds and score more points than his counterparts. Both the Sixers and the Suns retired his number, which is very telling about his basketball skills. Now he's an analyst who's often very wrong about his predictions. His eating choices could also be a bit better.
15 Looks Great: David Robinson
Another athletic marvel, The Admiral looked like an ideal basketball player. His muscular frame was unparalleled for a man of his size, as he looked like he could dominate in any game he played in. This was true most of the time, as he played in a time when centres still ruled the league. Still, Robinson stood out among his peers, as he was named the 1995 MVP and his number was retired by the Spurs. Alongside Tim Duncan, Robinson led the Spurs to two NBA championships and there's no denying his impact on the basketball culture in San Antonio. Nowadays, at 52 years old, he still looks incredibly lean and athletic.
14 Let Go: Shawn Kemp
When you have problems with substance abuse during your playing days and the athleticism of your prime gives way to weight issues, odds are that after you retire you won't look much better. Such was the case with Reign Man, who was a high-flying, explosive power forward up until the NBA lockout in 1998, during which he really let himself go. When Kemp reappeared on the Cavs, he was plump and obese. What's more surprising is that he actually played great basketball during his first season there. Then he bounced from team to team, which wasn't really the fate everyone thought awaited this energetic player. All that's left is highlight reels of nasty dunks from his Sonics days.
13 Looks Great: Karl Malone
Even when he was pushing forty and still playing in the NBA, Karl Malone looked better than most twenty year olds with whom he was sharing the court. Around that time Malone maintained an almost inhuman 4.8% body-fat percentage. Apart from being physically gifted, The Mailman just loved to work out. He still does. Malone is also a true nature enthusiast, who enjoys walks and bicycle rides near his ranch. He retired in 2004 but looks like he could play in the NBA even now. If anything, it would be interesting to see Malone participate in Big3 games. He would probably still put a lot of younger guys to shame with his physique.
12 Let Go: Vin Baker
The man who the Sonics acquired when trading away Kemp was another skilled power forward and four time All-Star, Vin Baker. Unfortunately, once he went to Seattle from Milwaukee, his career started going downhill and Baker was no longer able to recapture the spark that allowed him to play so well in the Eastern Conference. Due to alcoholism and bad investments Baker was broke once he ended his basketball career. He is now a barista, working at a Starbucks in North Kingstown. Not exactly the post-basketball life for a former athlete who earned over $100 million during his basketball career, but at least he's sober and happy.
11 Looks Great: Jason Williams
Since we're talking about Big3, here's a player that was one of the reasons fans really wanted to see the competition, yet were left disappointed when he came down with an injury during the first game. White Chocolate was an electrifying player who could always deliver the ball to an open teammate. He's regarded as one of the better point guards of his generation. Williams was never extremely athletic, but he still looked OK for a basketball player. He does to this day, after all he's just 36. Instead of letting himself go, he still participates in pick up games, during which he still delivers sick passes.
10 Let Go: Gary Payton
The Glove was probably the best trash-talker in the NBA of the 90s. What made him so great was that he could back up his claims with his defensive play, which was extraordinary. Payton was able to talk and play without getting tired, which wore out his opponents even more. Nowadays the 49-year-old Payton looks more like a frequent donut shop enthusiast more than a basketball player thanks to his belly. Surprisingly, the rest of his body looks rather slim, especially the arms, which shows that he spends most of his days now sitting, rather than participating in athletic competitions, let alone pick up games.
9 Looks Great: Kwame Brown
Call him a bust all you want, but Kwame Brown was extremely unlucky during his NBA career. He was picked first overall by Michael Jordan himself as a raw prospect straight from high school and was supposed to have time to develop. Then Jordan announced his return to basketball and immediately became the teammate of the player he selected. And as we all know, he was never the nicest guy on the team. His failed basketball career aside, Brown was not as bad of a player as everybody remembers. The one thing we can probably agree on is that Brown still looks great. He proved that by getting to the Big3 final and actually playing solid minutes for his team.
8 Let Go: Shaquille O'Neal
Never the most athletic guy on the team, maybe apart from the Magic during his early years, Shaq was a real monster once he hit the basketball court. He could dribble, pass and dunk, while still weighing around 300 pounds. It's hard to believe that his man was once rumoured to pursue a career in MMA because of his passion for the sport. Nowadays he seems well-suited for his desk job as an analyst alongside Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. Dr. O'Neal - remember, he really has a degree in education - is still a big guy, even though the athleticism seems very much gone now. He's probably still very powerful, but not as quick or agile as before.
7 Looks Great: Al Harrington
Another Big3 finalist and eventual champion, Al Harrington never looked supremely athletic, but his NBA body was OK. It's OK even now. Harrington is just 37, but he's been out of the NBA for three years. He's lean, agile and still knows how to play basketball. His team went undefeated, 10-0, and won the championship, so his basketball knowledge and skills are still on point. Remember, we're talking about a guy who loves hamburgers and is an active promoter of cannabis. Big Al proves that stoners and fast food eaters can still kick butt on the basketball court and look great doing it.
6 Let Go: Eddy Curry
Another big guy who many thought would follow in O'Neal's footsteps was Eddy Curry, drafted by the Bulls in 2001. Curry is just 34 years old yet actually looks older than Shaq. During his playing career the centre managed to sign a huge contract with the New York Knicks ($60M for 6 years) despite having cardiac problems. The Bulls actually traded Curry to the Knicks because of his refusal to take a test to asses said heart issues. Surprisingly, Curry is an NBA champion, as he was part of the 2012 Miami Heat. This was a much slimmer Curry, not the one who weighed 350 pounds during the 2008-2010 seasons. After his playing career was over, Curry was able to return to feasting, which he gladly did.
5 Looks Great: Kevin Garnett
Yes, Garnett retired just recently, but he looks like he could hit the basketball court and after a brief warm up still dominate. During his segment on Inside the NBA he looks better than a lot of his guests, which is really telling. KG was a tremendous athlete while still in the NBA. Perhaps most famous for his "anything is possible" soundbite, it is clear he applies that logic to staying in shape. He was slim and lean, never had enormous biceps, but always could somehow overpower guys that seemed stronger than him. Another practice enthusiast, expect Garnett to stay in shape for as long as possible. Even during his show he's very energetic and enthusiastic.
4 Let Go: Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom was a very versatile forward, one that could pass, shoot, rebound and drive into the lane. He was never the best player on the Clippers, the Heat or the Lakers, but his game was instrumental to team success. He won two NBA championships with Kobe and Pau on the Lakers, and earned Sixth Man of the Year honours in 2011. Then came the trade to Dallas and Odom was never the same. He practically lost interest in basketball and focused on substance abuse. His reckless lifestyle almost cost Odom his life - he was found unconscious in a brothel in Nevada and was in a coma for a few days. He suffered several strokes and kidney failure. Not a great end to a very good NBA career.
3 Looks Great: Ray Allen
Even last season there were rumours circulating about Allen joining the Cavaliers and helping LeBron James during last season's championship run. To be honest, Allen still could play on the Cavs, however he would be much better on the Warriors. Don't expect him to do much on defence, but he can definitely knock down a couple of three pointers a game. He was an integral element of the Celtics 2008 championship team and without his big shot there's no 2013 championship for the Heat. His present look shouldn't come as a surprise - Allen was always disciplined and extremely focused on staying in shape. Some habits don't die, and his devotion to maintaining a healthy body is undoubtedly one of them.
2 Let Go: Derrick Coleman
Entitled and lazy is the best way to characterize Derrick Coleman during his NBA career. When coming out of college the strong power forward was supposed to be a true superstar, a player that would dominate the NBA for years to come. However, Coleman thought that everything would come easy to him, just as it did in college. That's why instead of working on his game, he preferred to demand a lot of things. His numbers look great and he was a true monster during his early days, but because of his questionable work ethic Coleman failed to sustain that level of play. He also liked to eat. A lot. Eating is a habit that stayed with him to this day.
1 Look Great: Charles Oakley
Uncle Oak is 53 years old, yet looks like the tough guy he always was on the basketball court. Recently he came back to prominence after being thrown out from Madison Square Garden for being very vocal about the state of the Knicks last season. A group of men was called to handle him, because one or two clearly weren't enough. Oakley was always the bodyguard, whether his job was protecting Michael Jordan in his Bulls days, Patrick Ewing for the Knicks or Vince Carter in Toronto, his teammates could always count on his toughness. The fans embraced him for it, especially those in New York, who still think fondly of Oak and the Riley-era Knicks.
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