NBA players’ favorite new investment? Veggie burger companies.

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For years now, if you headed to a modern burger joint or gastropub, some pretty good veggie burgers would be on the menu.

Now, however, you don’t have to go to a hipster spot for a good veggie burger. Thanks to big brands such as Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger, you can get a plant-based Whopper at Burger King, or Famous Star at Carl’s Jr., or plant-based tacos at Del Taco, or plant-based sausages at Dunkin’. And the list goes on and on and on, right down to being able to buy plant-based burgers at your local grocery store and cooking them on your own grill.

Plant-based proteins are everywhere — and some NBA players are making a killing off it.

A number of NBA players were early investors in the product, before Beyond Meat went public, something Chris Ballard reports on at Sports Illustrated. These players, already well off, made a killing (so to speak) when the stock price for Beyond Meat opened at $25 a share in May and, as of this writing, was at $140.

Among those fortunate few was a cohort of NBA players; in addition to J.J. Redick, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul, investors included Victor Oladipo, Harrison Barnes and DeAndre Jordan, none of whom, it’s safe to say, needed a windfall. Most weren’t in it for the cash; rather, they are both converts and proselytizers. Some, like Paul and Redick, eat both plant and animal protein. Others, like Jordan—who was recently in New York hyping the Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich at Dunkin’ Donuts—have gone, as Redick says, “full vegan on us.”

The NBA connection makes sense, at least in one respect. Today’s players are constantly seeking micro advantages. The Lakers traveled with a bone broth chef at Kobe Bryant’s behest; LeBron James uses cryotherapy. If a plant-based diet really can extend a playing career—as Brown contends and many believe—then reducing meat intake is worth the trade-off.

For the players, this investment works on a few levels.

First, yes they have made a lot of money (not that they were not already wealthy). Second, it ties into a healthy diet, something players are more and more focused on (and a growing number of players, such as Jordan, do not eat meat anymore). Third, plant-based proteins are simply better for the environment, something that generally matters a lot more to people the age of NBA players than it does to people the age of politicians in Washington.

“I think that’s a societal change in that there are a lot of pillars of masculinity that we’re stripping down and have been for the last few years and rightfully so,” says the 35-year-old Redick. “To use a phrase that I don’t often use, the NBA is very much a woke league. It’s at the forefront of a lot of things—training, fashion, food, diet. A lot of things that have happened in a macro way with society [are reflected in] these micro changes in the NBA.”

How healthy these plant-based burgers actually are for you is up for debate (like a beef burger, you probably shouldn’t eat one every day), but it is unquestionably a trend that is not only taking off but also is not going away. For many people, this is an option they want.

Some NBA players just got lucky to make even more money off it.

 

LeBron becomes oldest player with 39 points, 11 boards, seven 3-pointers (he’s also the youngest)

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The first question after LeBron James put up 21 and 8 to help the Lakers beat the Spurs Friday night was whether he would play in the back-to-back Saturday. He had just missed five games with a groin strain, after all.

Not only did LeBron play Saturday, he had a historic night.

LeBron had 39 points, 11 rebounds, and shot 7-of-12 from 3 — making him the oldest player in the history of the NBA with a 35+, 10+ with seven 3-pointer game.

The youngest player ever to put up that stat line? Also one LeBron James.

The 39 points were also the second most points ever scored by a player in his 20th NBA season, trailing only Kobe Bryant gunning his way to 60 in his final game.

The Lakers got the second straight win over the Spurs on Saturday behind LeBron, 143-138, a game more likely to be remembered for Zach Collins getting ejected for a foul that left Russell Westbrook bloody. The Lakers have won three straight and 5-of-6 but have done it against a very soft part of the schedule (three of the wins were over the tanking Spurs). Los Angeles beat the teams in front of it and started to show signs of life this season, but now they have to carry that over into a stretch against better teams, beginning Monday against the Pacers.

Watch Deandre Ayton put up 29 points, 21 rebounds, lead Suns past Jazz 113-112

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PHOENIX (AP) — There was much debate during the NBA offseason about whether Deandre Ayton was worth a max contract.

On nights like Saturday, the answer is a resounding yes.

Ayton notched season highs with 29 points and 21 rebounds, Devin Booker added 27 points and the Phoenix Suns held on for a hard-fought 113-112 win over the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz led 81-78 after three quarters, but the Suns pushed ahead 99-93 by midway through the fourth. The game remained tight through the final minutes, but Phoenix never lost the lead. On top of Ayton’s scoring and rebounding, he also had a crucial steal in the final minutes that helped thwart a final Jazz rally.

“I don’t know what he ate for Thanksgiving,” Booker said. “I should have been over there.”

Ayton grabbed his 21st rebound of the game on the final possession, securing Booker’s miss off a 3-pointer to keep the Jazz from a final possession. Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million deal during the offseason after the Suns matched an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers.

“That young man has been coming to the gym at crazy hours, lifting with (coaches), so that he can be prepared for moments like this,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It’s just good to see the work pay off. It’s good to see him have monster games against really good teams on a back-to-back. That’s pretty impressive.”

Ayton was the first player to have at least 28 points and 20 rebounds in a game for the Suns since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. He shot 11 of 19 from the field and added three assists and two blocks.

“I want to do more, I feel like I can do more,” Ayton said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to contribute to my team.”

Curiously, the Jazz didn’t foul the Suns on their final possession, essentially allowing them to run out the clock. Utah coach Will Hardy said the last play simply didn’t unfold like the team expected and there was some miscommunication.

“We wanted to get the ball out of Booker’s hands, and then foul,” Hardy said.

Ayton scored a season high for the second straight night. He poured in 28 points against the Pistons in a 108-102 win on Friday. Booker had a tough night shooting, making just 8 of 27 shots.

Utah was one of the NBA’s surprise teams in the first few weeks of the season, starting with a 10-3 record. The Jazz are just 3-7 since that point.

“One game, one stretch of the season doesn’t define your season,” Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk said. “You’ve got to go through ups-and-downs. Adversity – learn from it and come out the other side better for it.”

The Suns have an 11-1 record at home this season and have won four straight games.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points for the Jazz. Collin Sexton added 20 while Lauri Markkanen had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Jazz had a 54-51 lead at halftime. Clarkson led the Jazz with 12 points while Ayton had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Watch Spurs Collins bloody Russell Westbrook with a foul, get ejected

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs
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Jakob Poeltl was dominating the paint, scoring 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting with nine rebounds in 10 minutes, and giving the Lakers serious trouble. Then he had to leave the game with a sore quad, meaning Zach Collins would get more run.

Collins was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 on Russell Westbrook that left the Lakers guard bloodied. Westbrook bounced back up and LeBron James had to hold him back from going after Collins.

Collins plans to appeal the ejection he said after the game.

Collins will face a fine or suspension from the league, although he doesn’t have a history of this kind of foul, something the league takes into consideration. Westbrook also got a technical for going after Collins.

The Lakers went on to beat the Spurs 143-138, behind 39 points from LeBron James. It’s the second time the Lakers have defeated the Spurs in three days, the kind of wins over tanking teams the Lakers need if they are going to turn their season around.

Watch Victor Wembanyama drop 30-point double-double in France

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Maybe you spent your Saturday afternoon watching Lionel Messi doing Lionel Messi things. Or intense college football rivalries.

In France, they spent part of the day watching Kylian Mbappe be brilliant but then flipped over and watched future No.1 pick Victor Wembanyama drop a 30-point double-double.

That’s two straight 30-point double-doubles for Wembanyama.

He will be the No.1 pick next June (barring something catastrophic), and teams are already thinking about the lottery next June.

Expect some other teams to jump in that mix at the bottom because the depth of this class goes well beyond just Wembanyama with Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson and others. The tanking is coming people.