NBA Nonsense Notebook

Peanut Butter Jelly Time with Brandon Jennings, A.J. Price's push-up championship and more.
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The freshness unto death.

Photos by Michael Katz.

Brandon Jennings loves PB&J and so should you.

I once saw Sixers forward Lavoy Allen place an order with a visiting locker room attendant for three sandwiches from a sports bar and grille attached to the Verizon Center—two for before the game, one for after. NBA players have access to all sorts of food.

That’s why I was so surprised to see Brandon Jennings with a single sandwich in a Ziploc at his locker after the Bucks 112-98 win vs. the Wizards on April 2. That’s not Brandon Jennings dinner, that’s the lunch my mom packed for me when I was in elementary school.

So what is an NBA player doing with a single sandwich? Serious eating, that’s what.

“Peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Brandon Jennings said. “Can never go wrong with that.”

Scout’s honor, April 2 happened to be National Peanut Butter and Jelly day.

“Nah, I did not know that,” he said, smiling. “But for me, a skinny guy, I like to eat two of them after the game just to keep my weight up.”

Every day is National PB&J day to Brandon Jennings.

(Oh, and also: Those shoes!!!)

A Young Kyrylo Fesenko Meets His Idol, Shaq

I love this story. Kyrylo Fesenko was once a very tall boy playing basketball in Ukraine. During that time, always he said, his hero was always Shaquille O’Neal.

“I always wanted to play against him, or with him, or whatever or see him,” Fesenko said.

When it Fesenko turned into an NBA prospect, he came to the U.S. to workout for the NBA Draft, and he happened to be auditioning for the Pistons when the Heat were in Detroit. Fesenko got tickets to the game, and made sure he was close enough to catch Shaq’s attention.

“I was just, ‘Can I have a picture with you?’ He was very nice,” Fesenko said. “He crossed the line like, I cannot cross one of the lines and he was like ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ So he came to me, took a picture. It was awesome.

“I uploaded it to the Internet right away, like, let my friends see it,” he said. “And well, it was pretty cool when somebody who knows me, like they knew how much I wanted to take a picture with Shaq. They’re like, well Fez, you’re example show me that if you work hard the dream comes true.”

Shaq might have picked up that he was making a kid’s day, but he had no idea that kid was a future NBA player.

“No,” Fesenko said. “Just a gigantic fan.”

It doesn’t end there. In time, Fesenko found himself on the court against his hero.

“I played against him first time for, I spent 50 seconds on the court, actually 50 seconds against Shaq,” he said. “So, at one point he was posting me up and I was thinking ‘Oh, I got him. I got him.’ And I pictured myself, you know, blocking him. You know, I pictured myself being on the front page of all newspapers and everything. I was already so hyped, like I was thinking how I’m going to tell it to my friends. And then he dunked on me.”

Demoralizing, right? Not at all.

“When you first time meet your hero—if you ever meet your hero—you will definitely remember it,” he said. “I was still thinking about like, ‘Did somebody get a picture of that?’”

The time Jrue Holiday treated himself to an extra helping of popcorn

One thing I’ve noticed is that the guy with the box of popcorn is always very popular in the locker room, and several of Holiday’s teammates came by with their hand out. A lot of NBA players snack on popcorn before games, including Sixers starting point guard Jrue Holiday, who sat at his locker in warmups and flip flops, munching on fistfuls from a movie theater-style box.

What makes popcorn such a hit in the locker room?

“Usually it’s in the training room, so when I need something to snack on I usually go in there and get it. But I actually just took a box,” Holiday said. “I usually don’t ever take a box, but I took a box this time. … I was hungry, pretty much.”

How can the best athletes on the planet run on the nutritional equivalent of packing peanuts.

“I try to eat healthy usually, but sometimes, times are hard. You gotta go with what you got.”

Not like times are that tough.

“Oh, popcorn is awesome,” he added.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Mike Dunleavy, Jr. has some really nice sneakers

Dunleavy said he wears the camo on the road with the Bucks green jerseys, but not at home. For due diligence, SB Nation’s Mike Prada performed a fact-check on this claim with Synergy Sports. Dunleavy is as truthful as he is freshy fresh.

The Pacers have the best conversation an NBA team ever had about pushups

When I walked into the Pacers locker room, almost the whole team was there, and more than a few players were getting on A.J. Price about his pushup form.

Price was doing his pushups with his feet up on a folding chair, and Danny Granger was killing him. David West was killing him. George Hill was killing him. After watching the whole bizarre scene unfold, I needed clarification. Hill had moved over to Price’s locker room to continue the debate, so I asked if I could join the conversation. Here’s the transcript:

A.J. Price: “You need your feet elevated ...”

George Hill: “He’s got midget arms! ...”

AP: “You need your feet elevated.”

George Hill: “... so his body don’t go all the way down.”

AP: “And your arms gotta lock.”

George Hill: “What is a standard pushup? In a standard pushup, do they feet be elevated?”

Me: “I mean, I would think think standard is on the ground ...”

GH: “Thank you.”

Me: “... But also …”

AP: “Go ‘head! Finish!”

Me: “But there’s a level of difficulty …

AP: “Thank you!”

Me: “... That comes with putting your feet up.”

GH: “For shorter people!”

AP: “For anyone!”

GH: “No, I’m not rolling, juice!”

Price said he’d been doing pushups with his feet up since he was 15, when his father taught him. It’s never been an issue, until now.

AP: “This is the first time that I’m hearing that. It’s easier to do it regular. It’s always harder to have your feet up. Everybody knows that.”

GH: “Do a handstand!”

AP: “I’ve never lost a pushup battle.”

GH: “Do a handstand and do a pushup then.”

AP: “In the yard, jail yard, they get down in front of each other and they do ‘em face to face. We can do that.”

GH: “You ain’t never been in a jail yard doing competitive pushups man. Get outta here. Do a handstand pushup right now.”

[Hill leaves to get shots up before the game, and Price and change the topic of conversation … until Kyrylo Fesenko walks over.]

KF: “Can you tell us more about the jail yard?”

AP: “You want to know about the jail yard?”

KF: “Well, I overheard you talking about it …”

Me: “You’re getting killed today, man.”

AP: “It’s alright. I know I’m the undisputed champ though.”

KF: “In D.C. you can get killed for that stuff. For that kind of words.”

Louis Amundson: “Hold on, you’re not the champ. You’re claiming you’re the champ.”

AP: “I am. Until I get someone who steps up …”

LA: “There’s not been a challenge though. … You gotta compete to be the champ. You can’t just claim to be the champ.”

AP: “This the champ right here.”

LA: “We can do it sometime.”

AP: “Some time. Oh, OK. Until then I’m the champ.”

KF: “I can do three pull-ups. I’m the pull-up champ.”

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the U.S. to workout for the NBA Draft, and he happened to be auditioning for the Pistons when the Heat were in Detroit. Fesenko got tickets to the game, and made sure he was close enough to catch Shaq’s attention
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