Updated: May 22, 2019
With conflicting timing between his religious purposes and profession, the Portland Trailblazer center is still making the most of it.
By Devin Smith, Staff Writer
NBA player Enes Kanter is playing in the most important games of his career and doing well despite a disadvantage no one else on the court can relate to.
Kanter is the only NBA player still in the playoffs who is celebrating Ramadan, a Muslim tradition in which those observing it cannot eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. The tradition lasts from May 15 until June 14.
Unfortunately for Kanter, all of his games are played during his fasting period. The hardest struggle for Kanter is not being able to drink water during his timeouts or at halftime. On top of all this, his team, the Portland Trail Blazers, is currently playing against arguably the toughest team in the league, the Golden State Warriors.
With this obstacle in his way, one would think Kanter would not be much of a factor in his games. This, however, is not the case. His level of play has not dropped. Before Ramadan began, Kanter was averaging 11.2 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per contest. After his fasting started, he has been averaging 10.9 points and 10.7 rebounds.
When asked by BuzzFeed News about how he is getting through while remaining efficient, Kanter said, “The game of basketball is mental over physical. Ramadan is all about relaxing your body and soul and also focusing on your inner world and listening to yourself to be a better person.”
Kanter has celebrated Ramadan since birth and has always struggled overcoming it. When he was younger, by the end the day, when he was finally allowed to eat, all he could do was drink water. He would be so dehydrated that he would drink so much water to the point no food could fit in his stomach. The only other player in history to play as many minutes while fasting is NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon.
Kanter recently stated publicly that he has been texting Olajuwon for tips and motivation on getting through the fast while also maintaining a high level of play.
“I asked him, How did you fast and play at such a high level? He gave me tips, what he would eat, when he would wake up, and how much water he was drinking and other stuff,” Kanter said per ESPN.
He only has about eight hours to eat every day. He must wake up at 4 a.m during the fast because he knows that meal will be the only food he gets until nighttime. He noticeably feels and looks weaker on the court during this period, but the fact that he is maintaining his same level of play is remarkable.
Kanter is playing the same amount of minutes per game that he always does and never asks to be taken out. He is quickly becoming one of the most respected players in the league due to his determination to win no matter the obstacle. He is not the only Muslim in the NBA, but he is the only one in the playoffs. Whether you like his team, Kanter is making it hard to not root for him.