Mike Conley won ESPN’s H-O-R-S-E competition in the safety and comfort of his own indoor basketball gym.
Joe Ingles, meanwhile, had been itching for a chance to shoot a ball. But with the Zions Bank Basketball Campus closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sharp-shooting lefty had no place to practice his jumper until he had a portable hoop set up in the backyard of his Salt Lake City home.
Among Utah Jazz players, Ingles' situation is far more common than Conley’s—just one reason Jazz officials were thrilled to allow players to enter the team’s practice facility Monday for the first time since the Coronavirus outbreak shut down the NBA on March 11.
Jazz officials confirmed “a handful of Utah Jazz players participated in voluntary, individual workouts” at the facility on Monday. The workouts were done in accordance with Utah Department of Health and NBA regulations.
The NBA allowed teams in states that have lifted stay-at-home orders to reopen their facilities on Friday, but under strict safety guidelines. No more than four players are allowed inside those facilities at any one time; staffers must wear masks and gloves; and group activities, including practices and scrimmages, are prohibited.
“The biggest goal is to have the confidence of the players and the staff that they can enter our facility safely,” Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said last week.
Reopening the Zions Bank Basketball Campus is a “small step” toward a return to normalcy for Jazz players and staff, Lindsey said.
While league officials continue to weigh options, there is no timetable for if or when the 2019-20 NBA season could resume.
Still, reopening the practice facility is important to Jazz players trying to maintain their fitness and skills as they await news from league officials. The team provided players with exercise bikes and some free weights to use at home. The Jazz strength staff has conducted individual and video workouts over the past two months. But many players do not have home gyms and fewer still had access to basketball courts.