Nathan Chen: Figure skating superstar, NBA superfan

Watching Nathan Chen compete, you’d never think about Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James or reigning-NBA MVP R...

Posted: Feb. 14, 2018 5:59 PM
Updated: Feb. 14, 2018 5:59 PM

Watching Nathan Chen compete, you’d never think about Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James or reigning-NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.

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But don’t tell Chen that.

“I just really like (Westbrook’s) attitude,” Chen said in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “It’s something I try to emulate on the ice. Ignore the distraction, and go do what you want.”

As for James, Chen tries to be just as consistent in his routine as the 14-time all-star is on the court. James is a three-time Olympic medalist himself. 

“He’s the GOAT,” Chen said in the interview. “Just year after year after year, game after game, he’s consistently amazing. That consistency is something I strive for. It’s really inspiring for me to watch that.”

Chen, who has a chance at 18 years old to become one of the youngest ever men’s individual figure skating Olympic champions, told the Wall Street Journal he’s loved the NBA since he was child. He said he still follows the league consistently, both watching games and getting updates on his phone. (Once, he streamed a game on his phone under the dinner table. The youngest of five siblings still hasn't lived it down.)

Chen told the Journal that he has a subscription to NBA League Pass, which allows him to watch games across the globe, regardless of where he's competing.

“Partially to zone out, and partially for fun,” Chen said in the interview about keeping up with the league. “Netflix isn’t available internationally all the time. But the NBA is. It’s nice to have something that feels like home.”

Chen, however, recently encountered a problem. He told the Journal he’s been trying to avoid social media distractions. His solution? Creating a new, secret Twitter account where he solely collects NBA information.

“Stay away from all the skating drama,” Chen said, “and follow what I want.”

Chen grew up in Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and said in the interview that he’s a long-time Utah Jazz fan. The Jazz even congratulated Chen following his second national championship win at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 6.

After winning the U.S. Championships in San Jose, Calif., Chen attended a Warriors game, where he sat behind Golden State’s bench and had an opportunity to meet star guard Steph Curry, according to the Journal's report. 

“He’s just a god,” Chen said about Curry. “Not from this planet.”

Chen’s schedule in PyeongChang opened with a rough performance as he finished fourth in the men's short program phase of the team event. Chen and the U.S. team went on to win a bronze medal.

"Honestly, just let myself down,” Chen said following that competition. “'Let the team down' was the first thing I thought. Definitely not a representation of who I am and what I can do. Definitely need to work harder for the next couple of days.”

Chen, however, still has a chance at gold in the individual men’s event. He’s viewed as a contender for the top spot on the podium.

“I just need to go over everything I did well and wrong,” Chen said in an interview following his team event performance. “Try to fix the things I did wrong and make sure I clean things up.”

The men’s short program is Thursday, February 15 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com and the free skate is Friday, February 16 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.

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