The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is here!
Beginning Monday April 12, Muslims began fasting every day from dawn to sunset as one of the five fundamental principles of Islam.
Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter, a devout Muslim, has been partaking in the holy month since he was only eight years old. As he prepares to face his former team, the Boston Celtics, on Tuesday, he will do so without food or drinks. Yes, that means water too.
“Whenever the Ramadan time comes, it gives me so much mental strength, and it’s like my superpowers come back,” Kanter said.
A typical day for Kanter includes a 4:00 a.m. wake up call, where he eats a meal called suhūr before abstaining completely from food and water for the rest of the day. He won’t eat again until roughly 16 hours later.
It takes incredible discipline as an NBA player to fast while playing basketball. Imagine all the calories burned by stepping on the basketball court. That doesn’t include the preparation that goes into working out and long nights on the road.
“It just feels amazing out there because I know that I’m doing something that I’m supposed to do, but at the same time, I’m playing basketball,” Kanter added.
In preparation for the ninth month of the Muslim year, Kanter fasts weekly year-round to keep such cravings at bay.
Trail Blazers guard Norman Powell says he’s never been around a teammate that participated in Ramadan, but he had heard about Kanter’s practice before arriving in Portland.
“It’s amazing to see,” Powell said. “I know it’s because of religious beliefs and hopefully he does what he needs to do and still able to perform. I tip my hat to him for being able to do that.”
Kanter won’t be the only Trail Blazer fasting while playing competitive basketball. The Blazers have three Muslim players: Kanter, Jusuf Nurkic and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the most of any NBA team.
Nurkic confirmed he, too, would be fasting for Ramadan this season as well.
While Hollis-Jefferson is signed to a 10-day contract, Kanter and Nurkic could play as many as 16 games while fasting during Ramadan this year.