When he was coming up, Anadolu Efes Istanbul forward Chris Singleton played so much basketball that his ankles became consistently swollen, which forced him to wear a bigger-sized shoe.

Eventually, he gave his feet enough rest that the ankles returned to their normal size, and he could fit into his correct, smaller basketball shoes.

Because his feet weren't used to the smaller size, however, he ended up with a foot injury that kept him out of six games near the end of his university career.

"I could finally wear my size, but my foot just wasn't used to it and it broke," Singleton said speaking with the official EuroLeague website.

That story is only newsworthy, in retrospect, because after that problem about 10 years ago, not much else has stopped Singleton from playing basketball, certainly not since he arrived at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in 2015.

On Friday, when he steps on the court for Efes against Zenit St Petersburg at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall in Istanbul, the 31-year-old power forward will break the record for most consecutive EuroLeague games played, a remarkable 210 in a row.

He is tied now on 209 with the recently retired Nikos Zisis.

"It's definitely a blessing," Singleton said recently of the impending record. "I'm not the most flexible guy, but somehow I was able to stay out there and stay fit enough to be on the court. And I'm just happy to be where I am."

Singleton's "iron-man" record comes with a couple of remarkable extras.

First, he doesn't know what it's like to miss a EuroLeague game because his streak started in his first season in the competition, back in 2015-16, when he missed no games while helping Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar reach the Final Four.

Free throws this season

80%
14,9
Points made: 14,9
Accuracy: 80,0%
Place in standings: 2
Record max: 21
Record min: 9
Most made FTs: Shane Larkin

Second, and even more remarkable, he left Krasnodar directly for China and played in a 35-game summer league that summer of 2016, winning the title as MVP, then signed with Panathinaikos Athens and went directly to Greece to keep playing.

All told, from October 7, 2015, until May 15, 2016 – adding up official EuroLeague, domestic league and cup, and Chinese summer league games – Singleton played in 165 games, an average of one every 3.7 days for 20 months straight.

"Going into my second year with Panathinaikos, it kind of hit me. My body felt tired. I felt like I was going to miss a couple of games," Singleton recalls.

"Just my legs weren't there, I felt it. And then I just sat down and got back in the cold tub, and that's when I really like locked in with the training staff there. And we just got busy. And ever since we locked in, I've been good."

He has continued without missing a beat in each EuroLeague season since then, from Athens to Barcelona and now Istanbul, where he became a continental champion last spring with Efes.

Along the way, he learned a thing or two about staying fresh.

"Everyone has their tired legs and stuff like that," he said. "I just try to stay prepared. You have the Game Ready, the Normatec. You have all the little gadgets that go with you, plus the training staff is always with me. They've become my best friends during the season."

Besides taking care physically, though, Singleton takes care mentally.

"Big men have shorter careers than guards or wing players if you look into it," he says. "And that's one thing I try to set aside. I try to tell myself I'm different, I'm not like anybody else. And it's been a lot of mental things. I see myself as mentally tough."

Finding ways to spend time without obsessing about basketball was another lesson for Singleton. He has a couple of businesses that help him take his mind off the game when he wants.

"You've got to find something besides the game, to get away from it," he says. "Because if you think about it too much, it will drive you crazy. I think that was one of the big things about me when I was younger. I took everything to heart.

And that's something that, like, there's going to be another game. Like, you're going to lose some, you're going to win some. And you've just got to separate that."

His consecutive games record also speaks to how Singleton regards his role on all the teams he has played for.

"I see myself as like a protector with teammates, the big man. I'm the enforcer wherever I go," he says. "I see myself as old school. I watch the 80s and 90s, and 70s. I watch a lot of throwbacks and stuff like that.

So, they always had that person on the team who's like... if that person's bothering you, or you need to tell something, or you need to say something to get this person going, I'm going to be that person.

Or if you need someone to help you, I just... I want to be reliable. I want people to know that I'm always going to be there. If you fall, I'm going to be right there to help you get up."

He traces the qualities that make him so reliable and dependable straight back to the woman who raised him.

"My mom was the father figure in my life," he says. "Her values and the stuff she taught me, just to love all and try to give all you can. And that's what I try to do."

Whether his record will keep accumulating or someone will come along and break it soon is not going to worry Singleton. He's in it for the long haul, even if he happens to miss a game.

"Obviously, it's a blessing just to be able to play basketball and to be able to do something that you actually love," he says. "I'm just going to try to keep taking care of my body as best as I can. Hopefully, nothing happens, and we'll go from there."

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Chris Singleton

Chris  Singleton
Chris  Singleton
MIN: 19.23
PTS: 4.57 (41.03%)
REB: 2
As: 0.57
ST: 1.29
BL: 0
TO: 0.71
GM: 7