NBA players are some of the greatest athletes on the planet. They regularly perform feats of athleticism impossible for normal people. Being able to do so requires remaining in peak physical condition with a rigorous fitness regimen and a healthy diet. But every once in awhile, one of those players comes along to buck the trend.
Caron Butler had a wonderful NBA career, but he did so with a mystifying addiction. Despite being otherwise healthy and a solid NBA player, Butler consumed an abnormal amount of soda. So how exactly did that make his career more impressive?
Caron Butler’s NBA career
According to Basketball Reference, Butler played 881 games in the NBA, averaging 14.1 points per game, His best years came with the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and Washington Wizards.
He began his career with the Heat after they drafted him with the 10th overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft. He was then part of the mega-deal that sent him and Lamar Odom to LA in exchange for Shaquille O’Neal.
After starring at UConn during his collegiate career, Butler was a solid contributor and a two-time All-Star for the majority of his NBA career. He racked up a career Player Efficiency Rating of 15.0 and 50.9 win shares.
The fascinating and perplexing vice
While Caron Butler had a fine career, he did have one embarrassing habit: he was addicted to soda — specifically, Mountain Dew. Yahoo Sports reported that Butler said his teammates couldn’t believe his habit:
“You’re sitting in the back of the bus and eating the right thing and (guys will) be like ‘why are you drinking that?’ And I’m like ‘what’s wrong with Mountain Dew?’ Guys are just shaking their heads and they have got water and those special crushed juices and I’m drinking a big Mountain Dew, just downing it frozen and stuff. They’re like ‘this guy, he’s not going to make it.'”
Butler also said he avoided drinking the carbonated swill around former Lakers’ teammate Kobe Bryant. Bryant was known to be fanatical about his teammates’ dietary habits and would call them out when they committed what he saw as a violation.
How strong was Butler’s Mountain Dew addiction? He still has it to this day. For Butler and the challenging upbringing he had, it remains the one demon he can’t slay:
“Guys knew I needed help. I still do. That’s like the battle I can’t get away from. I can get away from the streets, I can get away from all of these different things,” he added. “I can’t get away from Mountain Dew.”
Why Caron Butler’s soda addiction makes his NBA career so impressive
Remember the last time you had a soda (Mountain Dew or otherwise)? Or how about the last time you had a few sodas? If you had one, it probably wasn’t a big deal. If you had several, you may remember feeling a little…odd afterward.
You likely didn’t have much energy after your initial sugar rush subsided. It’s not nearly as healthy for you as water. Drinking that much high fructose corn syrup in a short time frame can have a number of negative health effects.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) performed a study on the effects of soft drink consumption on the human body. While the research found that it did help increase energy intake, it also increased body weight. It was also associated with a lower intake of necessary nutrients and other health issues such as diabetes.
While the occasional soda probably won’t do too much harm, it’s not something you want to drink too often if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That makes Butler’s addiction so confounding.
Here was a physical specimen putting absolute liquid junk into his body in alarming amounts. Despite this, he didn’t have any kind of long-term health issues as a result of it and it seemingly didn’t impact his play.
Butler was a great NBA player in spite of his soda addiction. The fact that he was able to remain so effective — and not collapse on the floor due to cramps on a nightly basis — due to his soda consumption is nothing short of a miracle.