Earl Boykins bench presses more than you
Earl Boykins man is listed at 5-foot-5, 139. His max bench press is 315 pounds. This makes him the Wizards' strongest pound-for-pound player. And a lot of people, I told him, are surprised by that number.
"I think they should be," he said. "I think they should be."
Teammates, too. I guess to NBA veterans and longtime observers, the 315 number is sort of legendary, but to newcomers, it's still a shock. If Shaquille O'Neal could bench a number in the same proportion to his weight, he'd be hoisting 736 pounds.
"That's amazing for a guy that little in stature, but he's got a big heart," said Randy Foye, whose all-time max was about 290. "It's just amazing to think about It like that, a guy that small can bench that much."
"That's a lot of weight," said Mike Miller, who joked (I think) that his max is 105. "He's strong. It's been well known throughout the league, and that's why he's able to do the things he does on the court, because he can guard guys, he's strong enough to keep guys off the block. At that height, it's impressive."
"They say he can bench like 315, but I've got to see it, I've really got to see him get up there and do that weight," Brendan Haywood said. "I've got to see it to believe it. I don't remember my max this year, I don't know man, but it's got to be close to around there."
"He benches more than you, they said," Flip Saunders noted, as he walked past Haywood.
"Yeah, that's what they say, though, that's what they say," replied Haywood, although he noted that Boykins has "midget arms" which means the weight has to travel a shorter distance.
(Unrelated: Despite his pledge not to Tweet until he got to a million followers, Gilbert Arenas posted a video on Twitter showing himself whipping Nick Young with a belt or something. Seriously. Watch it here.)
(The inspiration of this item came from Wiz.com's Andrew Rosen, who also wrote on the topic and provided the above video.)
Haywood, though, is probably Boykins's biggest fan. He's praised him at every opportunity this month, and he did so again at my prompting.
"Just look at him," Haywood said. "He's 5-5, maybe, and he plays in a land of giants and does well and performs every night. What he does, he's fast, he's quick, he's just electric out there. The team, the crowd feeds off his energy. If I was 5-foot-5, I'd probably be working at Target."
"You could walk into a YMCA and pick teams like how it was in White Men Can't Jump," Foye pointed out. "If he was in the YMCA you probably wouldn't pick him, but then he [starts] playing, I bet you the next time you're gonna pick him."
"When I'm on the court with Earl I just watch him do all kind of crazy moves," DeShawn Stevenson said. "It's just fun watching him play, because he's so little, he gets everything off."
Boykins said he started concentrating on upper-body strength when he got into the league and opponents kept trying to post him up. Which makes sense.
"That's why when I first came into the NBA I was really heavy into lifting weights, and I didn't know any tricks," he expained. "Now, I know tricks, so I can do other things."
What tricks? "Can't tell you," he said.
The tricks, plus a sore shoulder, mean that Boykins doesn't do much benching any more. Instead, he does about 500 push-ups a day, in sets of 100. He said the whole thing takes about 10 minutes, which would be a push-up every 1.2 seconds or so.
Anyhow, he's already a fan favorite at Verizon Center, which he said has happened at pretty much every stop of his career.
"I think with my height I'm definitely a fan favorite everywhere I go," he said. "Whenever someone sees basically a regular-sized guy able to play in the NBA, it's always a joy to see them play."
(If you want an Xs and Os breakdown of how Boykins's strength comes in handy, we can ask another Cleveland-area undersized point guard, if you want.
"Everybody thinks when he comes in the game they're gonna go at him and post him up," Saunders explained. "So [the Cavs] went and [Mo] Williams scored a jumper at the elbow. Then they went four straight times and they came up empty and we got run-outs out of all of those. So sometimes what happens is you go at him and he's just been a guy you've never been able to post up much. Because he is so strong, he gets into you, fronts you. Teammates know that they've got to give a little help, and sometimes what you do is unless you have say a Sam Cassell or even a Chauncey Billups who you post up a lot, those guys are familiar with getting in there. Guys like Williams, that's unknown territory for them, and now you're asking them to do something that's probably not to their strength. And so they bail you out by taking a turnaround jump shot or something like that.")
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