On Thursday (Jan. 24), the NBA kicks off its 2013 NBA FIT Live Healthy Week, an annual program in which current NBA and WNBA stars, former basketball legends and top coaches take part in programs encouraging kids and families to lead active lives. During the week, NBA representatives will work with community members to establish fitness programs, dish out nutrition tips with celebrity chefs and partner with children’s organizations to encourage exercising at a young age.
Of course, a key ingredient of NBA FIT Week — and high-level b-ball in general — is music. What better way to get you pumped up for the big game, or a quick trip to the gym, than with a solid workout playlist? With that in mind, Billboard caught up with a handful of NBA stars taking part in NBA FIT Live Healthy Week to talk about the program, and what music personally gets them going before they hoop it up.
“With so much that’s going on as far as diabetes and obesity, unfortunately parents put their kids in front of a DVD and give them a box of Twinkies,” says former San Antonio Spurs star and current ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen of NBA FIT week. “Kids aren’t getting outdoors like they used to, so this is a program for kids to live a healthier lifestyle and understand how important it is to get outside and smell the fresh air.”
Bowen says that he’ll be teaching “little drills that help you pick up coordination” this week, including footwork drills like “foot fire.” But the defensive star and two-time NBA champion also acknowledges the importance of music as a motivational tool — as well as his own varied taste. “Foster The People is one of [my favorites], and I’ve been on this kick of Little Dragon right now,” says the indie rock fan. “I like Rick Ross — it kind of gets you going. And definitely Lil Wayne.”
Portland Trail Blazers star Wesley Matthews also blasts mainstream hip-hop to get himself ready for game time. “If I was going to make a playlist for the weight room or training, it would probably have Young Jeezy, Meek Mill, Rick Ross — just a lot of uptempo beats,” he tells Billboard. Matthews, who says he will do “whatever I can” to help out with NBA FIT week in between Blazers games, adds that his whole team is a fan of rap music, with Young Jeezy’s new mixtape “It’s Tha World,” Drake’s “Take Care” and Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” frequently echoing throughout their locker room before game time.
“Music was our life and set the tone for everything,” says Muggsy Bogues, the 48-year-old point guard best known for his decade of work with the Charlotte Hornets, about using music as a motivational tool during his playing days. Bogues says that his workout playlist includes a unique mix of relaxing fair like Kirk Franklin, throwbacks like Rick James, upbeat hip-hop like the Notorious B.I.G. and some contemporary R&B like Miguel. Hopefully, he says, that drive to do more will be translated to the youths taking part in the NBA FIT program. “We got to do our part in getting these kids active,” he insists.
Nick Anderson knows all about fitness programs: the former Orlando Magic guard-forward has been working with Florida Hospital on their Healthy 100 campaign for quite some time, and says that taking part in NBA FIT week was a no-brainer. “I want to live as long as I possibly can, and living a healthy life and exercising are the number one ways to accomplishing that,” he says. “You have to take of your body. If you don’t, you’re doing a disgrace to yourself.”
As for his workout music, Anderson is all over the map, although one artist immediately jumps to mind. “Pitbull — I love his music!” he exclaims. “And then Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Rihanna, Beyonce, and some jazz. It’s a variety of music that I have an interest in.”
Click here for more information on NBA FIT Live Healthy week, and in the meantime, check out the NBA stars’ top picks to include on your own workout playlist:
Bruce Bowen: “Cee-Lo’s ‘Bright Lights, Big City.’ That gets you going! Cee-Lo is no basketball player, but he sure makes some good music.”
Wesley Matthews: “Young Jeezy’s ‘Put On.'”
Muggsy Bogues: “I love ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ by R. Kelly. That was a big part of the soundtrack, when I was doing “Space Jam.” And that was one of our theme songs when we came out [onto the court] in Charlotte. That was something that always put you in a different place and brings you back.”
Nick Anderson: “‘I Believe I Can Fly.’ It’s a slow song in a sense, but it has a lot of meaning to me, and I love listening to it because it inspires me, it pushes me. When I listen to it, it inspires me to keep going. When guys finish their careers, it’s a sense that it’s over now. No, that’s just the beginning! It inspires me to just keep pushing and pushing.”