Jazz's Bell struggles with addiction to ... strawberry bubblegum
For Jazz guard Raja Bell, it is complete, unfiltered obsession.
Bell has such a drug-like affinity for Bubblicious strawberry chewing gum that he requests the candy during games, hand-selecting a single, special piece from a tupperware container that features an assortment of delicacies.
"I was having a bad game and was looking for something to do to get my mind off of it," Bell said. "There was this fragrant piece of gum that stood out amongst the others. Ever since then, I've been popping 'em."
He added: "The good thing about it is, the flavor runs out really quickly. So you only got to chew it for like five minutes, and you've got what you need out of it."
Bell prides himself on being able to discover his beloved Bubblicious on smell alone - ignoring less-savory choices and selecting strawberry on first try - and even his children have fallen prey to the lure.
Brian Zettler, Jazz assistant athletic trainer and equipment manager, stands guard over the tupperware and has been charged with providing Bell with his options.
"He gets to the point where he's like, 'Don't carry it on the road. I can't have it. I can't have it!' " said Zettler, who is also in charge of precious cough drop rations. "But I'll say, 'But you know you love it. You've got to have it.' "
Soon, the smell is waiting. And Bell is in strawberry heaven.
Brian T. Smith