Coronavirus: How NBA players are coping during unexpected hiatus in season due to COVID-19 outbreak

The NBA is shut down for a minimum of 30 days, and likely for eight weeks after the CDC recommended Sunday night that any gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus. Monday night was supposed to feature an entertaining slate of Giannis and the Bucks trying to beat the Heat for the first time this season, the Jazz proving they can hang with a team like the Lakers and the Mavs putting their superstar duo up against the Clippers’ duo. Instead, players are confined to their homes, unable to get in any practices or even interact with each other. 

It’s hasn’t even been a week since the league announced it would postpone the season, and already players are getting a little antsy over what they can do. The return date for the NBA is still up in the air, so in the meantime, players are filling their time in a myriad of ways. Here’s what some of the top players around the league are doing during this time of social distancing. 

Video games galore 

In no surprise at all, players around the league are taking to their gaming consoles to help fill the void of playing an actual game of basketball. Trae Young took to Twitter to put a call out for anyone confident enough to challenge him, while Luka Doncic asked for some help in setting up a stream on Twitch so fans could watch him play. What’s even crazier in all this is Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker was actually taking part in a Twitch stream when he got the news that the NBA season had been postponed. His live reaction to the news is not unlike how many across the country reacted when they got the news.

Some players are familiar to playing video games for hours and already have their own Twitch streaming channels like Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard, and New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart. However, gaming isn’t for everyone as Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant was honest in saying his on-court skills don’t exactly translate to 2K.

Staying fit during the hiatus

While players can use team facilities to get in individual workouts, some teams are self-quarantining after recently playing against the Utah Jazz as both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus. The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are among those teams, and while no one has tested positive for the virus, the league is still taking the necessary precautions. So, players under self-quarantine are getting creative in ways they can get a workout in without the use of team facilities. 

Raptors center Serge Ibaka already has his own cooking show and is no stranger to making video content on the side, so he’s been using his quarantined time to make a spin-off of his cooking show, “How Hungry Are You?” with a series of Twitter videos that have primarily focused on working out called, “How Bored Are You?” In his second episode, he showed how he’s working out at home as a way to encourage everyone who is social distancing to stay healthy. 

LeBron James shared on his Instagram that he’s still getting work in at the Lakers practice facility despite the interruption in the league schedule, and even brought along his sons whose own basketball seasons have been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Watching old highlights on YouTube

Most people who are missing basketball right now are likely spending hours on YouTube’s search bar typing in classic NBA highlights from years ago or even games that happened a few weeks ago. Apparently, NBA players have resorted to this as well with the league on pause. It’s not just watching old games, or dunk highlights but their own individual highlights. Net guard Spencer Dinwiddie admitted to watching tape of his former self on YouTube since the league’s gone dark, and several players fessed up to doing the same.

Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry admitted to watching his own highlights at least twice a day, Donovan Mitchell said he’s been viewing them in chronological order from his rookie season to now, and Trae Young went back to his high school days only to remember that was just three years ago. With a player like Curry who has an endless stream of highlights throughout his career, you have to wonder which are his go-to choices when he’s looking to reminisce about the good ole’ days. 

Becoming TikTok content creators

This has become popular primarily among the younger generation who have taken to the social media platform to create a number of videos in the wake of the NBA’s postponement. It serves as another way for players to connect with fans, but in the form of shorter, typically funnier videos. For Ja Morant’s first foray into the TikTok universe, he threw on his full Memphis Grizzlies uniform to act out the starting lineup introductions in a game. Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle put together a creative, albeit probably time-consuming video to announce that he has joined TikTok. It’s pretty impressive that Thybulle was able to put this together, and it even elicited a NSFW response from teammate Mike Scott who was genuinely confused at what he was watching. 

Other young players around the league like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley have put their dance skills to good use on the platform, even getting an assist from teammate Chris Paul in one of the videos. There’s likely going to be more players joining the site as the hiatus drags on and cabin fever begins to set in, and if what we’ve seen so far is any indication then we’re in store for some truly odd content.

There’s been a wide range of activities we’ve seen from players during the hiatus. With Giannis Antetokounmpo attempting to learn how to play guitar and Damian Lillard — or Dame D.O.L.L.A as he goes by in the studio — potentially promising new music, players are trying to stay busy with this unexpected time off. However, a universal sentiment that most of them have shared is they want the NBA back. As many would agree with them, the unfortunate truth is there’s no way to know when that will be. So until then, we’ll just have the TikTok videos of Matisse Thybulle building Legos models to keep us busy.

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