The Art of the NBA Nap


Most prefer it cold—Kings veteran Malik Monk says he needs the room at a frigid 64 degrees, Carter sets his at 68, and Sabonis also prefers the more moderate setting, noting, “I used to do colder, but then I started getting older and I started getting sore throats”—though some like it hot.  “Eighty degrees,” says Robin Lopez, who reasons, “Once you’re in the covers, what’s it matter?”

The nap maestros also diverge on the need for background noise. Boucher might cue up some Bob Marley, or rain sounds on a white-noise app. (He also enjoys “fire pit,” for the crackle of burning wood.) Oubre is partial to crashing waves, which he also uses at night. Celtics vet Grant Williams says he used to do the same, until realizing “that it kept my mind going,” so now he opts for total silence—putting him in a category with Murray and Robin Lopez, among others. “I just need the bare necessities,” Lopez says. “No candles. Nobody whispering sweet nothings in my ear.”

Brook Lopez likewise eschews the apps, but he sometimes likes a little 1990s sitcom in the background—“something random, like Frazier, Seinfeld, Simpsons, something I’ve seen a million times, so I don’t really pay attention to it too much.” Oubre is partial to Cowboy Bebop, an anime series, and says he winds down while wearing Normatec compression boots.

Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers star, says preparing for the nap is almost as important as the nap itself. Following shootaround, Lillard will get treatment for his sore body, spending time in a cold tub and following that up with a shower. Then he heads home for lunch, followed by some quality shut-eye. “When I wake up, you feel really calm,” he says. And when he doesn’t nap? “I can’t relax the same” when the ball goes up. “It’s the deep nap that allows you to just kind of be in that relaxed state.”

Robin Lopez considers it a point of pride that he was the one who convinced Lillard to adopt a napping routine, when they were teammates in 2013-14. Sure enough, early that season Lillard got on a hot streak and reasoned, “Lately I’ve been taking naps. That might be the difference.”

The nappers say it’s important to clear their heads before they can doze off. Monk practices breathing exercises. Blazers veteran Jerami Grant meditates. So does Boucher, who says he starts his pre-nap routine a full hour before trying to sleep. “It’s kind of a me time,” he says. But he can’t relax until he’s called his mom, his brother and his sister first—just to “make sure my family is good.”

Carter lists one other napping essential: an electric aromatherapy diffuser, pumping out a “lavender-eucalyptus mix.” He even brings it on the road. No one else would admit to any elaborate accessories—no special pillows or weighted blankets, no incense, no footy pajamas—though Brook Lopez does insist on a post-shootaround massage from the team masseuse. “I’m ready to go to sleep after that,” he s

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