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For Nets, a fruit smoothie hits the spot

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In the SLAM profile of D’Angelo Russell, his brother Antonio describes his brother’s metamorphosis, citing among other things his change of diet. Tone said his brother cut out junk food and became an advocate inside the Russell family for better eating. And, noted his older brother said DLo did it on his own.

On their own or under pressure, players on the Nets roster know nutrition is an organization priority, as Jake Fischer writes for Sports Illustrated Thursday. Take Dzanan Musa.

Musa, the 19-year-old Bosnian, had never paid much attention to his precursory beverages while playing overseas. “I drank Coca-Colas before games,” he says, sheepishly. “When I came it all changed.” While the rookie has played sparingly throughout his inaugural season, he has felt a difference in his performance during G-League appearances following his preferred peanut butter, protein, strawberry-banana smoothie, most notably in power and stamina.

Smoothies, pregame fruit smoothies, in fact, are a big deal in the Nets nutrition program. Fischer says the Nets lay out a 12 oz. smooothie in a “majority” of the team’s lockers just prior to the game.

“This team, when it comes to health, when it comes to the training staff, is probably top two or three in the league,” says Jared Dudley, who is at the opposite end of the age spectrum from Musa. “We have the most training staff. Our nutritionist travels with us all the time. When you eat healthy, and you try to stay hydrated with the right vitamins, you gotta have that.”

The nutritionist is Cynthia Bass, who consults with the Nets and Yankees and is a nationally recognized authority of sports and nutrition. She comes up with the custom ingredients, writes Fischer.

Sass’s smoothies are customizable for each player, catering to their tastes and different supplemental values. “They try to help us be… flavorly, but to feel good,” says swingman Treveon Graham. The vast majority of players prefer a strawberry and banana base, but the remaining contents can vary drastically, from optional pre workout, protein powder, yogurt and other nutrients. “It gets everybody going before the game, gets everybody loose,” Graham says.

Spencer Dinwiddie (being Spencer Dinwiddie) has two smoothies before the game and asks Sass to surprise him ... “just don’t just give me the normal stuff.”

Those who don’t use Sass’ smoothies aren’t gouging on cake or bon bons. They often bring their own, like Shabazz Napier who makes his own stuff at home and uses vegetables instead of fruit, but keeps “his own sports drink mixology station” in his locker(!), writes Fischer.

It’s all another aspect of the Nets performance culture. It’s not just lifting weights. In addition to having a “director of human performance,” Nets also have a “director of sports science” and one for sports medicine, too, on staff. You can find them behind the bench every game.

Does it give them an advantage? Fischer doesn’t supply any data other than a quote from Musa. “We wouldn’t drink it if it don’t help.”