Sports athletes are known for having unique pre-game routines. But an emerging trend goes far beyond superstition and into the territory of a full-blown craze: Basketball players are turning to manicures and pedicures to get them ready to play.
As featured by Ben Cohen in The Wall Street Journal, players from both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers use regular mani-pedis to relax and keep their hands and feet in shape. Warriors forward Harrison Barnes goes straight to the spa from the practice facility, kicking back and getting his feet worked on.
LeBron James has been advocating the mani-pedi treatment for some time, calling on men last year to recognize the importance of proper foot care.
Warriors reserve Leandro Barbosa is the most diligent: He gets a pedicure every week. But the Cavs organization has them beat: the team brings in a specialist to give players mani-pedi service even in the hours before a game.
"So if that's what you want," says Cavs reserve James Jones, "you can get one every day."
It might seem purely cosmetic, but players insist there is practical value. Regular pedicures help clear away calluses and prevent small injuries that can yield big problems, such as an ingrown toenail.
Still, there are skeptics. Perhaps the best take on pedicures comes from Cavs starting center Timofey Mozgov, who has yet to partake of the mani-pedi action.
Says Mozgov: "I don't see these things in Russia."
But maybe a mani-pedi is a smart health move after all, particularly in the long view of things. You don't want your feet to end up like Shaquille O'Neal's:
Shaq, you should get those nails looked at. Something's wrong.