For NBA players, the body is the temple. Without a sound body, a sound mind would not matter — this is why professional basketball players do everything in their power to keep their bodies in top condition. In the NBA, a season lasts 82 games, with a team playing around three games weekly. The grueling schedule of the NBA has gotten the best of many players, so simple things such as hydration are taken with utmost respect.
Let’s find out more about the NBA’s official hydration partner. What makes it the top choice? Are there other options? Does it really work? Let’s dive into that here.
Why Do NBA Players Drink Gatorade?
The NBA is the pinnacle of professional basketball in the world, and it is a boiling pot of the planet’s best basketball players. These players are the best of the best, so they have to make sure that their legs keep running, their thighs keep jumping, and their arms keep on shooting.
Much like any athlete in the world, NBA players require a sufficient supply of fluid and nutrients to stay active in games. Without proper hydration, they will tire and will more likely be more susceptible to injuries. Any fluid should be good, but why not go for something more apt for the game, such as Gatorade? Gatorade has a unique blend of electrolytes and carbohydrates — exactly what the players’ bodies need. Gatorade has risen to become the most prominent hydration choice in the NBA, and it seems like the league won’t be the same without it.
Gatorade easily replenishes electrolytes and provides carbohydrates — both necessary to keep NBA players energized. Being inherently water, Gatorade effectively hydrates players so that they can avoid muscle cramps and other types of pain in-game. Not to mention, Gatorade also tastes good!
How Did Gatorade Become So Popular in the NBA?
Gatorade was first crafted by researchers from the University of Florida with the goal of creating a super drink that would help football players keep up with the rigorous demands of their sport. Florida, being one of the hottest and most humid places in the country, offered to help with the hydration of athletes.
The result of the experiment was a balanced drink that had electrolytes, carbohydrates, and, of course, water. The drink was the perfect aid for the University of Florida Gators — thus Gator-aid and, later on, Gatorade. In 1967, the University of Florida Gators would win the Orange Ball, and it’s been upward for Gatorade ever since. The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs were the first professional team to adopt the drink officially. Still, its rise in basketball and the NBA is commonly attributed to none other than Michael Jordan. Anyone who followed the NBA in the 90s knows that whatever MJ did, everybody followed.
Gatorade’s name has been ringing in the NBA since Michael Jordan openly admitted to liking the brand’s Citrus Cooler flavor. From there, Gatorade’s stock in the league skyrocketed and slowly became the household name that it is today.
In 2017, Gatorade officially became part of the NBA as the league’s official sports drink provider. As years went by, Gatorade’s partnership with the NBA transcended the squeeze bottles and became a fully-fledged marriage to improve the game of basketball.
Apart from the usual branding efforts of Gatorade in the NBA, the two entities have also been active in providing science-based insights to improve player performance and recovery. This is spearheaded by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) — an organization devoted to researching more about player nutrition and hydration. Gatorade has also developed numerous products to help out NBA players, such as the Gatorade Thirst Quencher and Gatorade Zero.
Of course, one of the biggest fruits of the Gatorade-NBA partnership is the emergence of the NBA G League in 2017. Even before Gatorade and the NBA shook hands, the NBA Developmental League had already been around and served as the destination for players who wanted to improve their game before getting into the NBA.
Players like Jalen Green, Scoot Henderson, and Jonathan Kuminga, and legendary call-ups like Spencer Dinwiddie, Khris Middleton, and Jordan Clarkson come from the G League.
Is Gatorade Really Better Than Water for Athletes
Gatorade has been the go-to sports hydration drink for a while now — but is it as good as advertised? The drink is supposedly better than water in certain situations, particularly for high-intensity scenarios like playing sports. Water is better than Gatorade in other situations, but a drink made for sports will undeniably edge out water in sports.
Objectively speaking, Gatorade simply has more to offer athletes who undergo high-intensity activities for more than an hour. High-intensity activities cause heavy sweating, which then depletes electrolytes in the body. Drinking an electrolyte-rich drink such as Gatorade should address that. The carbohydrates in Gatorade also provide an additional energy source for athletes who continuously exert maximum effort in their games.
For light workouts and quick physical activities, there won’t be a need for anything other than water, and drinking Gatorade can even be a little overkill. More so, for athletes who are on a dietary restriction, a sugar-rich drink such as Gatorade can be an issue — enter water. Lastly, some athletes may find the taste of Gatorade flavors overpowering and distracting, so water comes in handy for these types of athletes.
What are Some Alternatives to Drinking Gatorade?
While Gatorade remains to be the drink of choice for many athletes in the world, it is not the only choice out there. For people who want something different, or more personal even, here are some alternatives to Gatorade:
Good old water will always be an option for athletes and non-athletes alike. Water is what you lose when you’re exhausted, so it makes sense to simply drink more to replenish what you sweat. Also, water does not have to be boring. Drinking coconut water or infusing regular water with lemons, lime, and other fruits will give you that added boost.
Homemade Electrolyte Drink
Gatorade may have been a product of years of research, but that doesn’t mean you can’t whip something similar. Mixing water with a pinch of salt, honey, or maple syrup is a great way to hydrate faster than water. This natural version of Gatorade looks simple, but it goes a long way in hydrating you.
For people who need to avoid liquids but need carbohydrates and electrolytes in Gatorade, nutrition gels or chews are the way to go. Think of nutrition gels and chews as the concentrated and dryer form of Gatorade. These things are also perfect for those who need a quick replenishment of energy without having to chug on a bottle of fluids.
Lastly, for those who prefer something warm to decompress and energize them — tea is the choice. Herbal teas such as chamomile and peppermint are soothing and hydrating. These teas will help you settle down while keeping your fluids in check.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Do NBA Players Drink Gatorade?
Gatorade has been a household name in the NBA for almost three decades already. Its mix of carbohydrates and electrolytes, packed in a flavorful drink, has done wonders for athletes inside and outside the NBA.
The partnership between Gatorade and the NBA reached a new level in 2017 when they inked a deal to support each other in an effort to put the game of basketball forward — and it worked. Aside from the fact that drinking Gatorade increases the stamina and performance of NBA Players, the brand has also worked hand in hand with the league in developing new regimens, studies, and programs for players such as the NBA G League. Simply put, the NBA as we know it today might not have developed the way it did without Gatorade.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.