When you’re the best team in the NBA, improvement exists on the fringe. It’s not as simple as "get better players," but rather about finding new, small ways to make your players a little better.
That’s why the Golden State Warriors brought on new trainers after winning the NBA title last season, and those trainers had a clear way to make the Warriors a bit better almost immediately — reduce the amount of sugar players eat.
Cool. The only problem?
Part of that plan meant banning peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The Warriors’ collective response: Oh, hell no.
The trainers wanted to cut back sugar on the team’s private plane, and the players agreed to give up soda, cookies and candy. But they freaked out when their PB&Js were taken away.
While Walton was filling in for head coach Steve Kerr, he went out of his way to annoy people about the PB&Js. From Ben Cohen’s piece:
The backlash began with Walton. When he wasn’t coaching as Steve Kerr’s interim replacement, Walton went out of his way to bother everyone he could about the PB&Js, even though he’s well aware of the sugar in jelly, fat in peanut butter and all that awful gluten in bread. “I stuck to my guns,” Walton said, “and I kept complaining.” He complained to performance coach Lachlan Penfold. He complained to flight attendants. He complained to anyone who would listen. Walton didn’t have to enlist any Warriors in the effort, he said, because he already knew whose side they were on. “Every player loves them,” Walton said.
It wasn’t just Walton who had to use his power. General manager Bob Myers swears by PB&Js and was part of the movement. And, of course, the reigning MVP is a huge fan, and when Steph Curry wants a PB&J, Steph Curry gets a PB&J.
"Somebody made a call," Shaun Livingston told the WSJ. "Probably Steph."
The Warriors are still making sacrifices. In addition to the soda, cookies and candy, they aren’t eating postgame pizza anymore and are trading in Gatorade for water with Himalayan rock salt. But after a month their PB&Js were back, and thankfully they could go back to worrying about basketball.