This post was completed in collaboration with a PR representative from 5 Gum.
DeAndre Jordan has seen an amazing rise in production and level of play this season when contrasted to previous years. Normally, in addition to hard work by DJ, this improvement is attributed to new head coach Doc Rivers. But new information has me wondering: is Doc the difference, or is it 5 Gum's new Photon flavor?
It's undeniable that Jordan has stepped up his level of play this season. Compared to his career averages of 7.1 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game, DeAndre is currently averaging 9.9 points and 14 rebounds through 52 games this season. His improvement defensively and on the glass have been a huge part of why the Clippers have been successful so far this season, even though they've played 18 games without Chris Paul.
Many (myself included) have been giving partial credit for this drastic improvement by Jordan to Doc Rivers, who took over as head coach of the Clippers this off-season. Rivers' confidence in Jordan is reflected both in his off-court comments (praising DJ as a candidate for defensive player of the year) and in DeAndre's playing time, which is near 36 minutes a game this season, 12 minutes a night above his career average.
However, I got an e-mail from a PR representative at Wrigley and 5 Gum, who contacted me with some new information regarding DeAndre. In her e-mail, she said that 5 Gum built a custom video gaming chair for DeAndre and has provided him with a stash of gum, both for his home and at STAPLES center for him to share with the rest of the team.
When DJ met the 5 Gum team this summer, they discovered that it's the only type of gum he likes to chew both on and off the court. Follow this link to see pictures of his cool, custom video gaming chair.
So, is this partnership the real reason for Jordan's improved play? According to DJ, "I couldn't be more excited about the video game chair that 5® gum created for me! I chew gum all the time while I play video games, and now I'll never run out thanks to the stash of gum in a drawer underneath this chair. [...] 5® gum is my favorite gum to chew – both on and off the court. As the season ramps up, I’m excited to have a new place to relax, play video games and chew gum during my downtime."
It's hard to pinpoint the exact cause of Jordan's improvement. Is it hard work, new coaching, or free gum? Perhaps it's a combination of all three.