What NBA Players Do in Their Free Time: Invest, Rap, Collect, Golf, Game, and Gamble

Since Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan first stepped foot on an NBA court, the league has grown significantly over the last three decades. Players aren’t just making exponentially more money, they become A-List celebrities and household names that even non-basketball fans can tell you who Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are. 

The advent of social media and its widespread use has helped fans of the game stay connected and peek into the lives of NBA players. Social media has also provided an outlet for fans to delve into the lives of their favorite players off the court. No longer do we have to wait for USA Today or Sports Illustrated to do a printed story. 

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You can find dozens of articles on nearly every player in the league. Who they are, what their upbringing was like, their net worth, who their spouse is, where they put their money, and so much more. This article looks at a few of the off-court pastimes and hobbies that some NBA players engage in and partake in.

Point Gods Bowling and Golfing

Many NBA stars note their love of social bowling, mainly as an occasional outing with the team or with their families. However, the Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is something of a bowling fanatic. He likes to bowl as often as he can and will even go to the bowling lanes after basketball practice. He loves the pastime and notes that it’s one of his favorite things to do with his family as well as when he has time off the court.

He has also taken part in the Professional Bowlers Association Celebrity Invitational, showing just how he is also rated within bowling circles. Some would argue that he has raised the profile of the PBA and continues to do so with his support of this sport outside of his basketball fame.

His on-court positional nemesis and fellow Point God Steph Curry also loves to take to the links. As does Michael Jordan, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Charles Barkley, and Mike Conley Jr.

Making Music

Music and the NBA have always been intertwined. It’s rare to see an NBA player without headphones at their locker,  warming up or walking into the arena, but some players take music to the next level. 

From the days of Shaq releasing his own album, appearing in rap videos and having a few bars to spit, there have been players who saw themselves as musicians as well as ballers.

Damian Lillard has become the league’s most-well known rapper, releasing an album that has done well enough to gain him some notoriety as a rap musician. His first actual album ‘O’ had appearances by Lil Wayne, Jamie Fox, and Juvenile. He has also since done a number of live shows and even shared his music at NBA functions. Another player that loves recording his own music is Victor Oladipo.

Collecting Comics and Cars

This may seem like a hobby for the more bookish and less like a famous NBA big man’s pastime. Well, think again because one of the biggest men of them all, Robin Lopez, a current Cleveland Cavalier, is massively into his comic books and has been since he was a kid. He has a collection that is highly prized and has even been friends with the late Stan Lee of  Marvel comic book fame and tried his hand at producing his own comic book with his brother. He continues to collect, read, and, in fact, some would say hoard some of the greatest comics of all time.

Another fan of comics? At least in comic book movies is the Boston Celtics Grant Williams.

Many NBA players have more expensive tastes than $3 comic books. LeBron James spends a very small portion of his millions on his car collection.

Playing at the casino

Playing casino games has always been a big pastime for a number of NBA stars who’ve been pictured in traditional land-based casinos. Whether sports betting or poker and blackjack is your thing, there are NBA players like the former Laker, JR Smith, who love to play casino card games. And some of this gameplay even takes place online, with the live dealer games proving to be particularly popular these days.

Live dealer games afford an authentic live casino experience with all players’ favorite games; however, the difference is that they can be enjoyed from the comfort of home via a device with an internet connection. This can be especially enticing for celebrities – like basketball stars – since there are no paparazzi to disrupt their game time like there would be in a land-based casino.

Given the level of flexibility and privacy online casinos grant players, it’s no wonder this has been a trending hobby for many – and as live dealer games have launched online, it’s said that some NBA players who value their privacy and like the convenience of these games have done so, too.

Martial Arts

Just like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, one of the greatest to ever play the game, who practiced and learned Aikido, there has been a slew of NBA players who have taken up a martial art.

A great example is James Johnson of the Dallas Mavericks, who has a black belt in Karate and has commented in the past as to how his martial arts have helped his basketball. It is so much part of his and his family’s life, and his parents and eight siblings have all had a black belt of some description. But James has taken it to a whole other level and continues to practice and fight and has a record of 20-0 in kickboxing and 7-0 in mixed martial arts.

The Mavericks also noted that they brought him on board for his toughness which is kept in check and balanced by his incredible discipline. So, his martial arts added something to his game and enabled him to become the great player he is today.

Video Games

It might be easier to name all the players that don’t play video games than it is to list the ones that play video games in their free time. Whether it’s FIFA, NBA2K or Call of Duty, if there’s a pastime that is one of the most popular among NBA players; it’s sitting in front of a huge monitor to play video games. 

A very short list of players that love to game include Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George, Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox, Lonzo Ball, Donovan Mitchell, Deandre Ayton, Hassan Whiteside, Kevin Durant, Rui Hachimura, Jerome Robinson, Montrezl Harrell, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Jones Jr., Zach LaVine, Domantas Sabonis, Josh Hart, Jordan Clarkson, and Meyers Leonard.

No matter what you do for a living, you’ll want to have extracurricular activities that bring you joy outside of work — not only to decompress, but find passions that you love. For those lucky enough, sometimes passions can be your career.

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