NBA Stars Head to Hollywood for Premiere of 'The Game Changers' Doc

Chris Paul and Jada Crawley - Getty - H 2019
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

“I hope people can see that the old neanderthal way of thinking that you just have to stuff your plate with meat is the only way you can perform out there. It’s not true,” NFL legend Tony Gonzalez told THR how pro athletes can build strength and excel on a plant-based diet.

Elite athletes, including NBA all-star Chris Paul, NFL all-pro Tony Gonzalez and MLB all-star Chase Utley, all walked the red carpet at the Hollywood ArcLight Cinemas on Wednesday to celebrate the premiere of The Game Changers, a new documentary that showcases world-class athletes who have achieved high-levels of success while eating an entirely plant-based diet.

The film was executive produced by Paul, as well as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan and was directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Louie Psihoyos.

Paul has recently adapted to a plant-based diet and he shared with reporters what it was like to share it with his fellow NBA players. “I went to dinner with LeBron [James] and Russell Westbrook and we went to Carbone in Vegas and obviously that’s a huge steak restaurant... they didn’t know at the time that I was vegan. I’m out with my friends and I got a cauliflower dish...they gave me hell. They gave me hell,” he said, laughing.

The film follows James Wilks, a former MMA fighter and winner of the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, as he travels the world speaking with doctors and researchers about the medical benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as professional athletes who have seen their careers prolonged by adapting to a vegan diet.

Champion weight-lifter Patrik Baboumian, who eats an entirely plant-based diet, flips over a car in the film to demonstrate that he is still able to maintain incredible strength without animal protein.

Gonzalez told THR that he credits adapting to a plant-based diet for the longevity of his career.

“I hope people can see that the old neanderthal way of thinking that you just have to stuff your plate with meat is the only way you can perform out there. It’s not true. The science is there," he said. "It’s been there for a long time. I made that change about year 10 in my career and I saw the benefits skyrocket. Clarity of mind, endurance, sleeping better, everything. It gave me an extra seven years to go out there and play the game I love.”

Lisa Edelstein has been a long-time vegan and she told THR that it’s important for films like this to educate people on the benefits of a plant-based diet and to counter the false information that is disseminated even within the medical community. “The food pyramid is upside down and backwards and inside out. There’s all kinds of problems with the food pyramid we were handed in school. Pediatricians, the first thing they’ll tell your kids is to drink a lot of milk and have some hamburgers. It’s so frustrating because our medical community does not get trained in nutrition and certainly does not get trained in plant-based nutrition. So we’re fighting an uphill battle but movies like this where you have people who are top of their game talking about what plant-based diets did for their bodies, is incredibly helpful and really important to support.”

Following the film, hundreds of guests descended on the Sunset room for an after party where in addition to custom cocktails such as The Refueler, they dug into an extensive vegan buffet that included a vegan cheese platter and a vegan meatball pizza.