Rip Hamilton arrived in Detroit in 2002 and found chef Shawn Loving’s restaurant, Loving Spoonful. The then-Pistons guard became a frequent diner and asked if Loving was interested in a job as Hamilton’s personal chef.
“At that time, he was a motor and running around a lot. He needed to keep fuel,” Loving told USA TODAY Sports.
One gig led to another, and soon Loving was preparing meals for the Pistons’ in-flight service while traveling to games, then cooking for LeBron James on a commercial shoot and then cooking for USA Basketball at the Olympics and FIBA World Cups, starting with the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and continuing through the 2018 FIBA World Cup.
“We had a successful time, and I continue to do it for both the men and women,” Loving said.
He expected to be in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but with the Games postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, he finds himself instead in the Orlando area. League staffers reached out to USA Basketball's men's national team director Sean Ford and asked Ford to gauge Loving's interest in cooking for NBA players and staff during the league's restart at the Disney campus.