Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson reportedly lost 25 pounds this summer. However, many writers took that report with a grain of salt, as players routinely come into camp claiming to have lost or put on significant amounts of weight.
Jefferson was noticeably smaller at Media Day, but more importantly, he said that he felt great.
"I had to get the pressure off my knees, man," Jefferson said. "Tim Duncan set a great example. He lost his weight, he got down, and he's 38 or 39 still playing at a high level. I just turned 30, and it was time to add some years to my career, man. I've still got a lot of ball to play."
Jefferson referenced Duncan's career arc many times when talking about his weight loss and where he wants to take his career. Much like Jefferson, Duncan battled knee problems earlier in his career and over the span of several seasons worked to get his weight down, thereby extending his career.
To lose that weight, Jefferson changed his eating habits, got in the gym more, and took the time to let any lingering injuries heal. He mentioned nagging injuries like the groin and knee injuries he dealt with last season as the products of not being in shape.
"I just sat down and really got involved with the things that I need to do to take care of my body," Jefferson said. "I'm looking at it like this is second half of my career, even though this is my twelfth year. I feel like I have a lot of years left to play."
Sure, you could make the argument that Jefferson is entering the final year of his three-year, $41.5 million contract, that he's simply acting in his own best interests, and that there's no chance this level of dedication is sustainable.
But you'd be wrong.
Jefferson spoke glowingly of his new teammates, especially Nicolas Batum, whom Jefferson said isn't given enough credit for how well he passes the ball into the post. He's excited about the fact that other teams need to pick their poison this season, as Jefferson will be surrounded with dead-eye shooters for the first time in Charlotte.
"I'm licking my chops this year," Jefferson said, "because I know the floor is going to be more open this year. More than it has ever been in my career maybe."
Jefferson once again used Tim Duncan as an example to illustrate his point.
"I remember (this one time) when I was younger and I was playing with Minnesota, and I was watching the Boston Celtics," Jefferson said. "They were playing against Tim Duncan, and they didn't double team him. They just let Tim Duncan play one-on-one. And at that time, Tim Duncan was a way better post player than I was."
"But then when I played them, they double teamed me every time I caught the ball. It's all about having the right guys around you, so that when they do double team you, you get open shots."