On the Road With Nuggets Center DeAndre Jordan, Who Has Gotten Used to Curling Up in Hotel Beds

Few people on earth travel as often as professional athletes. With On the Road, the GQ Sports Travel Questionnaire, they’re weighing in on everything from room service to flying comfortably to their favorite chain restaurants.

DeAndre Jordan played in his first NBA game on November 1, 2008, a few days before Barack Obama was elected president. A decade and a half later, he’s slid into a veteran role with the Denver Nuggets, earning his first championship last summer. Along the way—ten seasons with the Clippers, pit stops with Dallas and both New York teams, plus the Lakers and 76ers—he’s amassed over 10,000 rebounds, landing him in the top 40 all-time.

While we don’t have definitive stats on this, we can only assume that Jordan has also spent over 10,000 hours in hotels, airplanes, and various other settings on the road. Now that he’s in his 16th season, he’s more than familiar with that world. Before the season began, Jordan sat down for an extensive interview about all things travel. He revealed that one of his fellow old heads is a video game savant, called out an NBA legend who gets spooked by stormy skies, and shared an appreciation for an American staple.

What are the essentials you bring on every road trip?

I gotta bring my iPad. We travel so much, I’m watching so many different shows on the plane. iPad is big for me. Last year, our team got into Mario Kart tournaments, so now I bring my Nintendo Switch on the road. The third thing I have to bring is just the essential chargers. You forget those and you’re toast.

Who’s the best Mario Kart player on the team?

Ooh, man. Jeff Green was pretty tough! I mean, he was the oldest one on the team, so he’s got more experience than anyone else. I would say I’m probably all-state at the moment. I’m working my way up to nationally ranked. I play with blue Yoshi.

What do you normally do on the plane?

It depends on what I did the night before. [laughs] More times than not, I am either reading, watching movies, Mario Kart tournament, or I’m going to sleep. There’s not that many options for me. I’ll stay up and do some stuff, or crash. I can sleep anywhere, it doesn’t matter. You hear, I can’t sleep on planes or in the car. Impossible! I can sleep anywhere. Maybe it’s just because I’m older, but I’ve always been a napper. When I came into the league, I had veteran guys who told me I needed to get a routine and stick to it. Napping was part of that routine. It’s stuck with me. Guys that don’t nap have a problem mentally. You’re crazy! There’s no way you can’t nap! But some people, you know, just can’t do it.

I don’t even look out the window anymore, man. As soon as I get on there I shut the window right away. I’m not looking for anybody up there! It’s a great perk that we have, for sure. But once you start flying so much and so often, you’re kind of on autopilot. Originally, on my first plane rides, I was super excited. But I do get nervous sometimes flying into different cities. Mountain-wise, it can get a little rocky. I don’t like flying into Vegas. We’ve had some preseason and exhibition games out there. I’m not a fan. Denver can get like that, too. Utah, places like that.

I’m not a fan of turbulence—I don’t think anybody is, at all—so that kind of freaks me out a little bit. Palms will start to sweat and you hear 30-year-old men screaming. That’s funny. Once we land, it’s funny. At the time, not funny at all. Turbulence is big for guys. I remember Chris Paul—I love you Chris, but I’m going to say this—he doesn’t play around when it comes to shaky times. We tell the guy to fly straight. There’s a lot of backseat pilots, for sure.

Generally speaking, are you an over-packer or an under-packer?

I think it depends on the trip. If it’s up-and-back, one game, I’m going to under-pack for sure. I’m bringing an outfit for the game, or I may just go sweats, because I’m coming right back home the next day. For a longer trip, I definitely over-pack. There will be some off days, I may want to go grab dinner and have a different outfit or do something during the day. My wife has definitely helped me become a better packer. When I was younger, I’d just throw the outfit in the bag. Then I’d end up having to smush everything and zip it super tight.

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