By Dionysis Aravantinos / @AravantinosDA
Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the whole world. Countries are closing their borders while schools, stores and airports are shut down. People all around the world are strongly advised to stay at home in an attempt to fight and eventually eliminate this virus.
As one can imagine, coronavirus has had a huge impact on basketball worldwide. All basketball leagues including the NBA and the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague competition have been suspended, cancelled or postponed and no one knows what the future holds. Some American players are stuck in Europe in a quarantine, not knowing if they’ll be able to return back home in the near future, when and if they’ll play basketball again this season and what will happen with their payments.
Their daily schedule looks way different than their regular one, their feelings are mixed and the situation they’re in isn’t getting any easier (at least for now). Eurohoops had the chance to talk to some players who compete at the highest level in Europe (EuroLeague & EuroCup) and a couple of NBA stars who shared their thoughts and feelings on this unique situation.
How are you dealing with the coronavirus at the moment?
- Marco Belinelli (San Antonio Spurs): The situation is really tragic. This virus has been underestimated in all countries since the first moment and immediate procedure wasn’t taken, thinking that it was similar to the flu. Being Italian, I saw all the progress of the virus and the restrictions that have been taken by my country. In the United States, we have been facing this virus for a week.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings): It’s shocking, it’s unbelievably difficult for everybody but we’re all in this together. We just have to be disciplined as we learn more things about this new virus. It’s a new lesson for us as a community, as a society. We just have to deal with it like everyone else and be aware of the spreading and the power of the virus.
- Shane Larkin (Anadolu Efes):At the moment I’m just staying home much of the day. Obviously self-quarantine rules are in affect so I’m being able to stay away from any potential ways to catch the virus.
- Malcolm Delaney (FC Barcelona Lassa): Honestly, I’m just sitting in the house, me and my chef basically chilling.
- Paul Zipser (Bayern Munich): As the days go by, more people are understanding the significance of this situation and are staying at home. By doing less (staying at home), we’re doing the most in order to get past this.
- Alex Poythress (Galatasaray): It’s hard dealing with this problem alone. Especially since we’re so far from our family back in the States. I haven’t left my apartment in four-five days and I’ve just been watching movies and YouTube all by myself.
- Guerschon Yabusele (ASVEL Villeurbanne): In France, we have more and more cases every day. People don’t really take care and understand the importance of the matter, because they still go outside. It’s impossible for the virus to stop. So, this is our situation. Stay home. We’ve been home for four-five days, so all I’m doing is working out by myself.
- Nigel Hayes (Zalgiris Kaunas): I’m dealing very well with it. As good as one can. Social Distancing, continuing clean habits. Trying to keep busy without getting bored.
- Kyle Hines (CSKA Moscow): I’m just trying to stay at home as much as possible. Socially distancing myself from others. I’m only going out when needed to; when we have practice or when I have to get food.
- Amedeo Della Valle (Olimpia Milan): It’s not easy to deal with this situation. As a person I just try to do whatever the government and our club tell us to do. Staying at home and spending time with my mother.
- Maurice Ndour (Valencia Basket): Just like everybody else is dealing with it. Staying home with my family, only go out when we need to and mostly to the supermarket.We are all just trying to not go crazy during this lockdown.
- Peyton Siva (ALBA Berlin): At the moment, I am currently traveling back to the States with my family. For the past week, I stayed in the house with my family, watching movies, creating little games with my kids to stay active.
- Austin Hollins (Zenit St.Petersburg): At the moment I am taking all the safety precautions from the doctors. Washing my hands and limiting my contact with other people as much as possible outside of necessity.
- Deshaun Thomas (Panathinaikos): I’m dealing with it a day at a time. Staying clean, spending time with my family; the good thing about it. It’s a situation that we’re all in, we just got to keep the faith and hope it gets better.
What’s the current situation in your city?
- Marco Belinelli: In San Antonio until yesterday (18/03) we had about 12 cases, but the numbers are continuously rising. Restaurants, shops, gyms etc. are slowly starting to close.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic: (Sacramento) It’s the same as every other city. All the stores are closed, only grocery shops and hospitals are open. There are even more restrictions, compared to last week. We cannot use the gyms; all the arenas are shut down and we have to be patient and figure it out.
- Shane Larkin: Currently in Istanbul, Turkey we are starting to get more and more cases. A week ago, we had under 10 cases and now the number is up to something around 650. But obviously, that’s just the cases that are reported and the people who are actually getting tested. Istanbul is a huge city with around 16 million people so who knows how many cases we actually have.
- Malcolm Delaney: The situation here in Barcelona, Spain is that everybody is pretty much in quarantine. Most stores are closed, and it’s recommended to stay at home.
- Paul Zipser: The situation here in Munich, Germany is changing every day. The government is pretty strict about everything which is good. We spend 95% of our time at home. I only get out of the house to go for jogging. I drive up to the forest, in order to be completely alone and just jog. At home, I’m constantly on social media and I’m playing some games on PlayStation.
- Alex Poythress: The situation in the city (Istanbul, Turkey) isn’t too bad at the moment. Grocery stores and malls are still open but soon I think they’ll start shutting things down.
- Guerschon Yabusele: We can’t get out of the house. We have to stay home all the time. We can only get out of the house if we have a permit that shows we’re going grocery shopping, back home etc. If you go outside and get caught by the police, you get fined. So, we have to stay home, not get out whatsoever. Most of the people don’t work no more. It’s pretty tough.
- Nigel Hayes: Everything is closed in Kaunas, Lithuania except grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Only can have food delivered from restaurants, no dine-in.
- Kyle Hines: The situation in Moscow, Russia isn’t necessarily like some of the other cities and countries in Europe. So far, Russia has done a great job at containing the virus, so we don’t have the same amount of cases as a lot of other countries have. We’re not under a mandatory quarantine. As of right now (19/03) me and my family are trying to self-quarantine because we know that the best way to beat this virus is to stay at home as much as possible. Most of the people here are staying low, trying to do their part to help beat this virus. For the most part, Moscow is functioning semi-normal. People are still moving around, doing their day-to-day stuff. Schools are closed, we have some restrictions on a number of other things but for the most part, we haven’t seen as many cases, as some other cities, countries in Europe.
- Amedeo Della Valle: Right now, all of Italy is part of the red zone, which means that you can only go out to buy food and medicines.
- Maurice Ndour: The city here in Valencia, Spain has been on lockdown for almost a week now and I think everybody is respecting the decision that has been made. Some businesses are closed, others like supermarkets, bakeries and pharmacies are open.
- Peyton Siva: In Berlin, Germany everything was shutting down. Practice gym was shut down, movie theaters, etc. They were advising everyone to remain inside and practice social distancing.
- Austin Hollins: Here in St. Petersburg, Russia there isn’t much of a lockdown. The number of cases reported is very low. I think people are definitely being more cautious and are aware of the situation.
- Deshaun Thomas: I’m in Columbus, Ohio right now. I came back home due to the virus, to be with the family, make sure they’re all alright. Health and safety come first, especially at these times where everybody is trying to figure out a cure for it.
Due to the circumstances, what does your daily schedule look like? Do you practice at all?
- Marco Belinelli: I have been living in “quarantine” for two weeks now. I’m going out to only take my dog for a walk. We do our grocery shopping online, and I’m working out at home. I want to also thank the Spurs staff, that is absolutely present and read to accommodate our every need, by bringing us food and all the necessary tools to continue our sports routine as much as possible.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic: Under these circumstances, no we don’t practice. The arenas are shut down. I’m just trying to get better; that’s the only thing I can do. I’m trying to get my body right and try to be prepared for what’s coming next. The hardest part about all this, is that you don’t know what’s going to happen and when this situation will end. You just got to be ready and work on everything in order to stay in shape.
- Shane Larkin: My daily schedule is pretty boring. Luckily my best friend is here from New York for spring break and his school was recently shut down due to the virus, so we are just staying at home chilling. Either playing videos games or watching stuff on Netflix. A lot of rest and recovery going on.
- Malcolm Delaney: I’m trying to get some home workout every day but I’m mostly just sitting around watching TV.
- Paul Zipser: We wake up, make breakfast and just chill. We play some games, try go get some workout and watch some films. That’s basically it.
- Alex Poythress: My daily schedule has just been me in my apartment. Coach has been canceling practice every day and we have yet to found out anything news-related to our league (BSL Turkish League). We’ve just been told to stay inside and not go out for the most part.
- Guerschon Yabusele: We don’t practice no more. We have to stay at the house and do some individual workouts in order to stay in shape.
- Nigel Hayes: I workout in the morning with a couple of other guys. Now that I have free time, unfortunately, I’m doing a couple things to work on my body. It’s like a mini off-season. I’ve also started a cooking special on my Instagram @nigel_hayes. Follow for delicious vegan food and recipes.
- Kyle Hines: Due to the circumstances right now, I’m mostly at home. I have two small kids and most of the time, it’s me and my wife just doing stuff with the kids. I guess that’s the positive thing about all this. I have the opportunity to spend more time with my family. As far as practicing, yes, we’re still practicing as a team. We’re trying to stay ready, fit and prepared. Nobody knows what exactly is going to happen. But that’s basically my day. The only time I go out is to get food, essentials etc.
- Amedeo Della Valle: Luckily, I have a basket on my terrace and I’m able to practice and stay in shape with a tapis roulant. Nothing like being in the gym though.
- Maurice Ndour: Other than not being able to go practice or go to the gym, my schedule has not changed much. I wake up with my kids, make breakfast, hang out with the family a bit and then start cooking lunch, which was something I wasn’t able to do during the season. After I put them down for a nap, I either lay down in bed while surfing on my phone or spend some quality time with my wife. Daddy duty is on point during this time. I’ve been changing diapers, holding my little girl, feeding her etc. At some point during the day I will be playing my djembe (African drum) and find time to workout for at least couple hours. Finally, after dinner, we will play UNO (card game), watch a tv show or basketball tapes and go to bed. This pretty much summarizes my day.
- Peyton Siva: I wasn’t able to practice, only do the simple things like jog outside or do some simple workouts that our strength coach gave us.
- Austin Hollins: My daily life hasn’t been disrupted too much other than not playing basketball games. We are still practicing which has been nice. Other than that, I don’t leave the house much.
- Deshaun Thomas: I’m spending time with the kids. It’s a great feeling to be spending these times with them. I step outside when we need to get something from a store, and then come back home. There’s nobody out in the city and everything is closed. As far as practice, I try to do whatever I can in the house. It’s very tough to get out there and get a workout in and practice cause everything is shut down.
What’s your gut feeling on the future of the NBA/EuroLeague season?
- Marco Belinelli: It’s honestly a very difficult question to answer. It’s necessary to see what will happen in the coming weeks. For me, it is a huge absence, but safety and health come before anything. It’s our priority to defeat and get over this situation.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic: Right now, I’m more focused on this situation and how to take the positive things out of it. I don’t think about basketball. I’m not worried about that. There are people that are working on that and it’s their job; to plan the schedule when this thing will be over. I think any opinion right now is not important. Whatever happens, all players have to be ready for everything but in this situation, it’s hard to think about basketball. Everyone is more focused on how to take care of their families and get over this virus. The only way to do that is stay at home for 2-3 weeks or a month and wait, in order for the virus to calm down.
- Shane Larkin: My gut feeling is that the EuroLeague will come back much later than the April 11th set time right now. It seems as though they are makings some advancements with research about the virus, but more and more cases are showing up every day. So, I think and hope that EuroLeague comes back around the middle of May with a 1- or 2-week regular season tune up and then we head into the playoffs. Hopefully the Final Four can be moved to a safe location and fans are allowed to enter, of course only if it is safe.
- Malcolm Delaney: My gut feeling is that the season is finished. Too many different variables for us to play and if the players’ safety is the priority, I think it’ll be tough to re-start it.
- Paul Zipser: I’m really not thinking about basketball and don’t know what the solutions will be about German League and the EuroLeague competition because it doesn’t really make a big difference right now. Nobody knows how the virus will evolve, but part of me thinks that we won’t play anymore. I don’t know how they’re going to rule it, but so many players already left their teams and countries, so it’s not going to be the same if we start all over again. I think they kind of need to end the season and see if somebody’s the champ. I don’t know if it’s possible to have a Final Eight or a Final Four anywhere. In the next few days here in Germany we’ll have more restrictions. If you want to go out, it’ll be only to go to the supermarket etc. I don’t think anybody is thinking about doing any kind of events in Germany the next few weeks.
- Alex Poythress: I think that all the leagues just need to be postponed until we figure out how to combat this virus. Nothing is more important than our health and that is something we all have to consider. Of course, we all wish we could be playing right now, but we firstly need to tackle the situation at hand.
- Guerschon Yabusele: I don’t know what will happen with the EuroLeague competition. I don’t think that it’ll start back, that’s what I’m hearing. I don’t know about the French League, and so we really don’t know what to do. We don’t know how long it’s going to take.
- Nigel Hayes: I think that it will continue, at a later time obviously, with the playoffs starting as the season ended. Unfortunately for Zalgiris, it will mean the end of the season. I don’t have the answers though, that’s just what I think.
- Kyle Hines: I’m optimistic, so my gut feeling is saying that eventually this will pass, and things will start getting better. Once this passes, then we’ll be able to get back to playing basketball, back to living our normal lives. It’s hard to set a timetable on when exactly that will happen but I’m optimistic in saying that we will be playing basketball this season. I don’t know when, but I’m optimistic and I hope it’s sooner than later.
- Amedeo Della Valle: I’m not sure. My priority right now is to keep my family safe.
- Maurice Ndour: Honestly, I have no idea. There are so many uncertainties, so many things to consider that will affect any decision they have to make. For now, our basketball future depends on how quickly this pandemic will be over, in order for us to resume activities. But even after that, all bets will be off, since no team will be in rhythm after weeks of not practicing. All I can say is this will affect both players and club owners. A lot of compromising will take place even after we get through this, and even for the following season.
- Peyton Siva: It’ll be tough to finish the season with all that’s going on. I really hope it resumes though, because I didn’t really get a chance to play that much, due to my injury.
- Austin Hollins: I think that everyone would like to see the games start again but I don’t see a scenario in the near future that allows for that to happen. I hope they find a solution in a timely manner, whether it’s a decision to play again or to end the season. The latter is what my gut tells me will happen.
- Deshaun Thomas: I don’t know. It’s a tough situation right now. The season is suspended as of now and I really can’t tell. Only time can tell. Hopefully it gets back rolling and in the meantime, they set up something for us to stay in shape until the season is back.