NBA rookie Adam Morrison scores with control. By Terri D’Arrigo Adam Morrison is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy.
Precisely 2 hours and 15 minutes before every game, the 6’8” rookie for pro basketball’s Charlotte Bobcats eats the same meal-steak, a baked spud, and a vegetable. He knows how his body and blood glucose will respond to it, and he says it gives him the right balance of energy to et through a game without having a low.
It seems to be working. Morrison, also known to basketball buffs The Stache" for his trademark moustache, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 8 years ago, when he was 14 years old. Since then he has made nothing but magic on the court. He broke scoring records while playing for Spokane’s Mead High School before moving on to a college career at Gonzaga University that culminated in a dramatic run deep into the 2006 NCAA tournament. His ability to sink shots earned him comparisons to his childhood idol Larry Bird, and the Associated Press selected him for its All-America men's basketball team. In June he landed with the Bobcats as the third pick overall in the 2006 NBA draft.
And not once, despite the gruelling and physical demands of the sport, has he ever had to go to the hospital for a low. "It's about knowing what you 're putting into your body," he says. "It can be tough to be young, trying to healthy, but you have to be disciplined about it."
Sometimes such discipline requires a bit of sacrifice he notes. There were times at Gonzaga where he’d have loved to join his buddies at a party, but he knew it wouldn't help either his diabetes or his performance on the court. "Fortunately, 1 had good friends who knew what was right and wrong for me, and they under stood," he says.
Morrison says such support from friends and family has been integral to his diabetes management and his success as a player. "I had a good circle who knew what to do if an emergency happened," he said. "It's important to let the right people know what's going on so they can be prepared."
Part of the support he got from his parents during his teen years included the freedom to learn what works for him. "My parents let me make a few mistakes, and 1 learned to know my body," he says. The result is that both he and his parents carne to trust his judgment.
So far his judgment has been pretty good. His A1Cs hover in the 7 percent range, and he has had only one A1C above 8 percent, with a measurement of 8.1 percent back in 2003. When his A1C starts to c1imb, he consults with his doctor and his nutritionist-something he encourages young people with diabetes who have dreams of playing in the big leagues to do as well.
Overall, it's a matter of owning your diabetes, he adds. It's second nature to him to check his blood glucose four or five times on non game days and eight or nine times on game days. He adjusts his insulin pump as necessary to account for his physical activity and removes it entirely when he’s playing. He works with the team’s doctors, trainers and coaches on any diabetes-related challenges that might come up, even if it means checking his blood glucose during a time-out at a game.
Then there are the meat and potatoes, which he intends to keep having, although now they’ll be served to him at five-star restaurants in cities all over the country.
"I look at it all as an everyday part of diabetes," he says. "Once you come to terms with your diabetes, nothing will hold you back”.