Where the NBA Eats Slideshow
Kobe Bryant: The Cheesecake Factory
Since TrueHoop.com launched, Abbott says he’s received reports of more than 200 player sightings at various TCF outposts around the country. A simple explanation: Everything else is huge at The Cheesecake Factory, so why not the patrons?
Players to Spot Besides Bryant: Charlie Villaneuva (“I get some pasta Alfredo with chicken and shrimp. Oh man, I love it, they do it so right”), Lindsey Hunter (“That's the biggest thing if we're on the road, I've got to find a Cheesecake Factory… we don't actually eat the cheesecake, it's just the food — and the strawberry lemonade”), Lorenzen Wright, J.J. Redick, Darius Miles, Channing Frye, Mo Taylor, veteran Kelvin Cato.
Gilbert Arenas: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
This chain, the brainchild of restaurant executive Paul Fleming in collaboration with L.A. Chinese restaurateur Philip Chiang, offers a menu is based on Chinese “grazing food” (guess that means chicken–lettuce wraps). The first location of P.F. Chang's opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, and there are now more than 200 outposts around the world.
Other P.F. Chang's Regulars: Anthony Randolph, veteran David Robinson, Hall-of-Famer Clyde Drexler.
Yao Ming: Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
Yao Ming is said to regularly polish off, single-handedly, entire Pappadeaux Platters consisting of fried shrimp, fried catfish fillet, blue crabcake, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab, crawfish, extra shrimp and catfish, and French fries. This Cajun-inspired chain proudly boasts that each location bakes its own bread, turns out fresh-cut French fries, and makes its own mayo for tartar sauce and salad dressings; we’re not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that it also draws such notables as Othella Harrington, O.J. Mayo, Tony Allen, Tracy McGrady, and veterans Nick Van Exel and Sam Cassell.
LeBron James: Morton's The Steakhouse
The Chicago-based chain, with locations in 28 states and five countries, was founded by the co-founder and the onetime food and beverage director of the 1970s-era Playboy Clubs, so you know that showmanship and a masculine ambience are key to the Morton’s experience. NBAers also like the fact that they relax their dress code for players who show up in tracksuits. Everything is big here, especially the double filet mignon that many players are said to favor.
Besides James, Look For: Dwyane Wade, Gerald Wallace, Kenyon Martin, Derrick Rose, Omri Caspi, and veteran Dale Davis.
Kevin Garnett: Ruth's Chris Steak House
Garnett's usual order is Caesar salad, New York strip, lobster, and a Coke at the Boston outpost of Ruth's Chris. The restaurant started in New Orleans in 1965 by a single mother who mortgaged her house to buy a favorite old local steakhouse. Today, with more than 120 locations across the U.S. and internationally, it provides about as corporate a dining experience as you can find — which is to say that everything goes off without a hitch. The butter-drenched steaks are first-rate, service is impeccable, and the staff sees to it that the players are left alone while dining.
Other Ruth's Chris Lovers Include: Eddie House and Steve Francis.
Dennis Rodman: Capital Grille
Yet another national steakhouse chain, this one (slightly) differentiates itself by trying to be less stuffy than some of the others, with something of a trendy, see-and-be-seen-in atmosphere — and the beef is dry-aged on premises. It’s all very “classy” in that appetizers-served-in-martini-glasses way, and the NBAers love it. Rodman loves it.
Current Players Who Love Capital Grille: Chris Bosh, Brian Lynch, and in Dallas, after home games, the entire Mavericks team.
Tony Parker: Fogo de Chão
This posh mini-chain brings a highly Americanized more-is-more version of the Brazilian churrascaria (grilled meat) tradition to the U.S. and manages (coincidentally?) to have branches in almost every city with an NBA franchise, both the big markets (Miami, Los Angeles) and the smaller ones (Indianapolis, San Antonio).
Who Digs Fogo? Players like Parker, Eddie House, Jordan Hill, and Dwyane Wade enjoy Fogo de Chão because waiters bring platters and platters of meat right up to the table, although it’s hard to imagine what they think of little “stop” and “go” cards meant to indicate whether or not you’re still hungry.
Al Jefferson: Subway
For younger guys in the league, Subway is still the "take back to the room" fast food of choice, especially for players who are on strict fitness regimes or those whose team has just suffered a loss so debilitating that a night at the club would only make things worse. Jefferson reportedly lost more than 30 pounds on a “Subway diet.”
Other Subway-Lovers: Russell Westbrook and Gordon Hayward.
Dwyane Wade: Chili's
Dwyane Wade wants his “Baby Back Baby Back Baby Back Ribs”, and a host of other ball players call Chili's their favorite restaurant too. With branches in 50 states (the first was a Dallas-based burger joint opened in 1975), Chili's is straight-up “American” with a supposed south-of-the-border flavor. Million-dollar playmakers hunkering down for “margarita night madness” and baby back ribs night? Yes, it does happen, and apparently with alarming frequency.
Other NBAers Who Love Chili's: Mike Bibby and Lebron James love this spot as do Chris Bosh and vet Junior Bridgeman (NBA 1975-1987), who likes it so much that he now owns 121 Chili’s franchises.