Imagine, if you will, a 7-foot, 300 pound man with terrifying tattoos and barely-maintained beard crawling around on the floor, acting like a human baby who is trying to learn how to crawl. Now imagine that very same giant acting like a beauty queen, and then flip right back to him acting like a baby again. Then, just for good measure, just to see what it would be like, imagine that huge hunk of person acting like a baby who has just won a beauty pageant. I know that part is creepy, but if “Toddlers and Tiaras” exists, then I promise you that anything is possible.
Now stop imagining, because it’s real. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
In order to get stronger, healthier and even richer, Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic first must regress all the way back to his baby days.
Three times a week, he’s in the Target Center basement weight room down on his stomach or elbows or all fours, making small, measured movements intended to replicate how an infant learns to crawl, roll, sit and eventually walk.
The tattooed, self-declared “real man” whom opponents call probably the NBA’s strongest also will deliver, if the mood strikes him, sound effects along with the delicate motions designed to strengthen and stabilize his smaller muscles after he has spent a lifetime pumping the biggest ones.
“Waaaaaaa,” he says, contorting his face and mimicking a baby’s cry.
I can’t even, you guys. I cannot even.
Pekovic himself impersonates a baby, a bear and a beauty queen in the weight room without hearing so much as a snicker from a teammate.
“I think he enjoys the baby ones better because then he gets to make the noises,” Love said. “He’s a big baby. A big teddy bear, too, though.”
And finally, this:
Sato calls Pekovic “one of the most nimble guys I’ve ever seen” after watching him progress through a program that shares a bit in common with yoga.
“No, I never done yoga,” Pekovic said. “Or 80 percent of the stuff we’re doing, I’ve never done in my life.”
So, might he have been a dancer?
“No, even my mom tried to take me to dance when I was like 14,” Pekovic said. “She was like, ‘We have to start,’ and I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ I’m kind of a little big for that. I don’t know how that would look.”
Whatever baby dance moves Pek and the Timberwolves’ training staff are doing is paying off, as the big man has played in every one of Minnesota’s 41 games after missing 19 and 20 in his two previous seasons. And while that’s pretty great, I’m just more enamored by the idea of Nikola Pekovic rolling around on the ground and acting like an infant as a way to get better at basketball. Then you throw in the fact that he’ll even through in some pageant contestant moves and it’s even more incredible.
I mean, this is a guy who might be the out-and-out scariest fellow in the league, yet even he’ll go full baby if it’s going to help him get better. This, of course, despite the fact that just his head is likely bigger than most newborns. The NBA never ceases to amaze.