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JaVale McGee says converting to veganism helped him as a defender



© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

JaVale McGee partly credits his NBA Finals performance, and specifically guarding LeBron James on switches, to a decision he made last offseason: converting to veganism.

McGee had tried it sporadically, but he fully devoted his diet to veganism as he sought more minutes on the floor. Once he made the switch, he says he noticed a difference both visibly — he dropped about 20 pounds — and health-wise. His quality of life improved, and his game followed.

“Something I am working on even more, and I worked on last summer was, they said my fault was I couldn’t guard the perimeter and switches and things of that nature,” McGee told KNBR’s Murph and Mac Thursday morning. “So, being vegan really helped me out. The point of losing weight, being able to be more agile and guard LeBron (James) for example, that wasn’t happening last year until this summer, and I went in the gym and really focused on what I needed to do to be able to get more time on the floor.”

McGee averaged 9.5 minutes per game this past season, just a tad lower than his 9.6 minutes-per-game output in 2016-17. But he played an important role in Golden State’s sweep over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals.

In the 11 games preceding Game 1, McGee played only 15 combined minutes, and did not appear in eight of those games, as Steve Kerr played Kevon Looney in McGee’s place. He started three of the four games in the NBA Finals, averaging eight points in nearly 14 minutes per game.

His Warriors teammates have not yet followed McGee’s switch to veganism because “they like food too much,” he says. The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent sees no reason to change his diet plan as he enters the 11th season of his NBA career in 2018-19.

“It makes me feel amazing; it keeps my weight down,” McGee said. “I am running up and down the floor and I feel sluggish at 275, 270 (pounds). (At) 250, I feel like I am gone like a speeding bullet.”

Listen to the full interview below. For McGee talking about veganism, skip to the 7:40 mark.