It truly is amazing how professional basketball teams, with their full staffs of trainers, nutritionists and sports scientists, can develop their athletes’ bodies. As good as the college game is, it’s not even close to the NBA, where athletes are—like that overplayed Daft Punk song says—bigger, stronger and faster. Many rookies coming from college (or, for a time, straight out of high school) possess the talent to compete at the next level, but their bodies aren’t anywhere near ready. To reach their full potential, these athletes must bulk up to chase their dreams. Here are six of the biggest body transformations in the NBA.
If the Marc Gasol of today traveled back in time and ran into the high school version of himself, the lumbering Spaniard might not even recognize the young man staring back at him. The Marc Gasol of Lausanne Collegiate High School in Memphis, Tenn., was a large fella’ to put it nicely. Now the anchor of the Memphis Grizzlies, and the last of a dying breed of old-school big men, is in the best shape of his career, thanks to training exercises like running up and down mountains in Spain, which Gasol says helped him shed 25-30 pounds during the 2009 off-season. The weight loss has not only allowed Gasol to stay on the court for longer periods of time, but it’s also contributed to his transformation into the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2012-2013 season.
Photo: AP Images
You may not remember Tyson Chandler when he was just a young pup, trying to find his way in the league as a Chicago Bull, but the straight-from-high-school product was an absolute pogo stick when he first entered the NBA, barely breaking 200 pounds. The current center for the New York Knick has added plenty of mass since then, packing on a good 30 pounds over his career. The extra weight has allowed to him to become one of the most ferocious shot blockers and defensive anchors in the league.
Photo: cleveland.com and the marsreel.com
The best player in the NBA has one of the most astounding physiques in the league. LeBron James’s work in the weight room has kept the Miami Heat star from ever suffering a serious injury or missing more than a handful of games at a time. When Bron Bron stepped onto an NBA court for the first time as a youngster fresh out of high school, he looked downright scrawny. It truly is incredible to witness the work LeBron has put in, not only to improve his game, but also to sculpt his body. His massive frame now stands at 6’8” with 250 pounds of muscle.
Photo: nbamania.com and nbathroughmyveins.com
When he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2002, Carlos Boozer didn’t have the ripped body or broad shoulders that he currently sports as a key cog for the Chicago Bulls. To withstand the physicality of playing down on the low block for the duration of his career, Boozer knew he had to bulk up, and he now boasts a physique tough enough to bang under the boards with the best of them.
Photo: AP Images
When Kevin Garnett first came into the league, he was no bigger than a stick bug. And though the aging star has always had a lean frame, he’s worked hard to sculpt his body into one that can take a serious pounding over his almost 20 year career. From winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 to capturing his first ring with the Boston Celtics in 2008, Garnett’s body work has allowed him to sustain an extremely successful, extremely long NBA career.
Photo: AP Images
The Birdman’s build has remained relatively unchanged during his time in the NBA, but his appearance certainly has not. It looks like Andersen has added about 20 tattoos per season since 2001, and the Miami Heat forward’s hair has gone through its fair share of changes as well, though it’s been styled as a fauxhawk for a few years now. It’s anyone’s guess what Andersen will look like 10 years from now.