Why Are Damian Lillard and Other NBA Players Obsessed With Coffee?

Coffee is the fuel that keeps millions, if not billions around the world going during a hard workday. While many might presume that NBA players aren’t running on that same fuel, several NBA players have been outspoken about their dependence on coffee to keep themselves going during the grind of the NBA season.

Why do so many players turn to coffee and is it working for them?

Coffee and the NBA

Coffee’s place in the NBA isn’t just about keeping players awake throughout the game and practice, some teams are incorporating it into their players’ diets as a way to improve their performance on the court. The Portland Trail Blazers doesn’t just encourage its players to drink caffeine before a game, they grind the beans, control the temperature, and even provide the proper dosage given a player’s weight in the process.

The team heats the coffee at 190 degrees, steeps it for two minutes in a French press, and is served to the players 35 minutes before the game with the idea that the meticulously-prepared coffee provides the proper benefits to the players’ performance, energy, and drive throughout the game.

While this may seem like the team being snobs about coffee, studies have shown that the way coffee is brewed has a direct effect on the way it interacts with the body.

Too much caffeine that is handled poorly can promote the negative effects of caffeine from sleep deprivation to the jitters, so by paying special attention to the smaller details in the preparation, the Blazers are trying to make the good outweigh the bad. It appears to be working, as their star player has sung the praises of the effects coffee has on his game. 

Damian Lillard 

Damian Lillard credits former teammates Chris Kaman and Steve Blake for bringing coffee over to the Portland Trail Blazers. The two had picked up the habit with the Los Angeles Lakers and brought it over to Portland, where the coffee phenomenon spread through the entire team. Lillard has highlighted the immediate differences he felt when he started drinking coffee before the game. 

“The first time I did, I just felt sharp,” Lillard said (per CloseUp360.com). “I remember walking out there for warm-ups, and I was sweating because the coffee made me hot. I just felt focused. My mind just felt locked in. I had no idea that coffee had that effect.”

Perhaps, Lillard’s love of coffee helped more players get on board with their leader, but Lillard and the Blazers are not alone in their love of the drink. 

Boris Diaw 

Although he is now retired, one cannot talk about the NBA and coffee without speaking about Boris Diaw. Later on in his career, Diaw developed a reputation in NBA circles as a coffee connoisseur.

He was, after all, the man whose locker in San Antonio was equipped with its own coffee machine, and anyone perusing Diaw’s Instagram account would be sure to find him sipping coffee around the world. 

Diaw took his coffeemaker everywhere, it seemed, from the Grand Canyon to the comfort of his home, Diaw’s social media was a journey into the mind of a coffee-lover, and he even gained the nickname “The Borista” because of his obsession. In retirement, he is presumably enjoying a lot more coffee wherever he is today. 

Matthew Dellavedova 

Matthew Dellavedova‘s love of coffee became notorious in 2015 during the NBA Finals. During that series, Dellavedova shocked NBA fans everywhere with a 20-point outing in a Game 3. Dellavedova made headlines after the game, however, when he was taken from Quicken Loans Arena to the hospital to get an IV following a bit of dehydration. 

When asked about this, Dellavedova said that his pre-game ritual, a cup of black coffee an hour and 15 minutes before tip-off, may have led to his dehydration. He stopped this tradition right away but gained a promotional opportunity with a local coffee company, who gave Dellavedova his own brand to be sold in Cleveland.