Enes Kanter has fasted during Ramadan for most of his life.
However, the veteran Portland Trail Blazers big man has never done so during an NBA playoff series.
Kanter said he texted Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon for advice about how to be effective in games despite fasting during the day. The conversation left Kanter feeling better about staying true to his religion without hurting his team.
“I talked to Hakeem — I texted him, not talk — I texted him because I met him a few years ago and I know what he did in, I think ‘94, ‘95,” Kanter told reporters. “While he was fasting, he won the MVP in playoffs.
“I texted him, was like ‘Hey, how did you fast during Ramadan and play at a really high level?’ He gave me some tips, he give me what he was eating, when he would wake up, like 4 a.m. in the morning, how much water he was drinking and stuff. When I texted he was just very happy and very proud and we talk a little about basketball and stuff.
“It’s very important because, it doesn’t matter what your status is, what your position is, I just want to set an example for the young generations, definitely. It’s very important for them to follow their religion. Ramadan is like, think about Thanksgiving dinner 30 days in a row. That’s how big the meals are. It’s awesome to get help from a legend, so I would definitely love to be the new Hakeem of the young generation.”
Kanter, 26, averaged 13.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 67 games (31 starts) this season with the New York Knicks and Trail Blazers. During the playoffs, he was averaging 14.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in nine games, all starts, through the weekend.
Portland was set to face the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday night. The best-of-seven series was tied at 2-2.
“It’s a late game, the city of Denver going to break their fast 8:06 and the game is 8:30,” Kanter said. “While I’m playing in the game I will be able to drink water and eat food. I might just have someone get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for me to eat, just eat in timeouts.
“It’s good because it’s very important to follow (faith). I grew up in this, I started doing Ramadan probably 9, 10 years old and I’ve been doing it since, so I just didn’t want to quit. I talked to Coach (Terry Stotts) yesterday, he was very respectful. It just shows me a lot seeing so much support from my teammates and coaches and all over the league. It’s very important.”
—Field Level Media