Just over a week ago, I was at Staples Center interviewing Danny Green for the Spectrum SportsNet postgame show after the Lakers played Brooklyn on March 10th.
Our next conversation came Wednesday afternoon, March 18th, on the phone, with Danny at his house, and me at mine, due to the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting precautions taken by the NBA that quickly expanded to the rest of the sports world.
Green talked about how he’s handling the situation, his thoughts on a possible return to play, what he’s doing with his time at his house, how he’s trying to stay in shape, what he’s watching on TV and more.
Below is a transcript of our phone call:
MT: How are you and your family doing amidst the COVID-19 crisis?
Green: We’re here in Los Angeles. I don’t have any kids, so it’s me and my girlfriend, and we’re fine. We’re at the house. Taking the proper and necessary steps they’re telling us to follow. My family back home (in Long Island, New York) is doing OK. I check in on them, but I haven’t been able to see them. I hope everybody is staying home and trying to stay safe.
MT: I know that we’re all most concerned about the safety and wellness of people across the country and the world, but let’s focus on the NBA family and the Lakers here if we can. How have you been processing the suspension of the season? How has that hit you?
Green: I don’t think it really has yet. It’s still hard to believe. I think it’s still something that I’m hoping is going to end (at some point). I’ve been talking to some people at the NBA, about how it’s an hour-by-hour type deal, and not to (necessarily) believe different (reports) about what’s going to happen. I can’t really believe that the season is going to be over, but as we’re taking precautions and every city is shutting down, it’s becoming more real. So I’m just trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my time. Take care of the body the best I can. Figure out new hobbies. Organize and clean the house. Little stuff that we’ve been putting off and procrastinating since moving in.
MT: Commissioner Silver reiterated on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Wednesday afternoon that it’s his hope that the season will continue in some form or fashion, and laid out different possibilities they’re looking at, including extending the calendar late into the summer, or playing games with fans. Does it give you some hope realizing the NBA is going to do whatever it can to resume the season if possible?
Green: For sure. I know they’re doing the best they can, that they’re going to do everything possible to get this thing back on track. We all hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I’m hoping that it’s not as late as what some of the statements are saying, but if it is, so be it, we have to adapt and adjust to it.
MT: You guys have put so much into this season to build a 6-game cushion in the loss column out West that all but guaranteed you were going to finish with the No. 1 seed.. Does it feel different not knowing how/if games will resume when you’re in this type of position with a real title chance, as opposed to a team likely going to the lottery?
Green: The biggest thing that most people are thinking about, especially contenders, is we have a really good opportunity here – we built the chemistry – and we could be one of the last teams standing. For that momentum, for that rhythm, for all that to be deterred or re-routed could change things. That kinda sucks. But I think with the cushion we have for first place, I think we feel pretty confident that we could finish out the season with a good seeding. But we just want to be healthy, and keep our rhythm so that we’re the same team when we start back up that we were when things shut down.
MT: I know that you guys were able to go into the UCLA Health Training Center for individual workouts on the court and in the weight room, but that has changed this week across the NBA. What have you been able to do physically to stay in the best shape you can given the circumstances?
Green: We were allowed to work out in the gym (on a 1-on-1 basis with a coach), but that changed with the gym now being shut down. So right now, I have to figure something out in the house. Calisthenics is probably the best bet that we have. And, I live by the beach, so maybe running on the beach. Running around outside by the house.
MT: Right, that’s quite a bit different from being able to work out at the facility when you’re trying to keep some level of your game shape.
Green: Yeah, and they were taking all the precautions when we were going in. If anybody was sick in any way, they’d send you home. But if not, then you were able to go work out as an individual. You’d set up your time with the coaches, or for a lift with the strength and conditioning coaches. So we were doing that. (Tuesday), before the news came out about the Nets, I was just in for a pretty good workout.
MT: For a veteran like you, coming off another Finals run playing well into June and then playing in 61 of 63 games this season, or LeBron James, with all the mileage in his 17 years, what’s the balance of having some time off for your body to recover, and the risk of losing rhythm and everything like that?
Green: We have a lot of vets on our team, so a week or two can be great, just like All-Star break. A nice reset to get your legs back under you, get fresh. But once that extends to three weeks, four weeks or more, that’s where things get tricky. You start losing your rhythm. You can’t simulate playing basketball no matter how much working out you do. There’s no equal amount of training or conditioning individually you can do to simulate a 5-on-5 basketball game. It’s such a different type of staying in shape. So we don’t want to be rusty or out of shape. I’m sure we trust our guys to stay in shape, but things can get a little dicey when it comes to too much rest.
MT: And again, this is all in perspective to the much more important issues going on in the world, but in terms of how you had progressed through the season … stacking the wins up, beating the Bucks and the Clippers most recently, it’s obviously disruptive for that rhythm to be halted.
Green: For sure, and (when/if) we do resume, we’ll probably take some losses, which is fine. We can hope that we don’t take as many in the last 20 games to lose the top seed, but we want to build or chemistry back so that we’re the team that we were when we stopped playing.
MT: Just a hypothetical here, but what if the standings are frozen and things go right to playoffs. How would that work from a physical standpoint, depending on how much time passes? Figure you’d need some kind of warm-up games?
Green: For sure. I don’t think that’d be fair to just have teams dive right into the playoffs. I think we’d need at least five games of the regular season to just get us our flow back. Get our legs back under us, get some kind of rhythm, get our chemistry, get our team back. I don’t know if it’s preseason-type games or scrimmages, but at least five or six games under our belt to get back into team form.
MT: To give fans an idea for what it’s like to just be in the house and want to maintain game shape, how do you try to manage your diet, if at all?
Green: Not really managing a diet, I never have. I mean everybody’s been loading up and buying groceries preparing for a shutdown … canned goods, frozen goods that we can be ready for. And (my girlfriend) does a lot of meal prepping for healthier things, so we’ll hopefully manage there. But for the most part, I’ve never been a guy that’s managed my intake of meals; I’ve always managed my working out and conditioning, regardless of what I eat, as long as I make sure to make the time to work out and stay on top of my body.
MT: So no Serge-Ibaka-type cooking for you?
Green: Man, I don’t even know about Serge’s talent for cooking … he’s very bored. He has his YouTube TV show … but I’m not into the cooking shows and things like that. I do a lot of cleaning and organizing of the house, and I’m also a big TV and movie buff.
MT: OK let’s get into the movie and TV show lists…
Green: My girlfriend hasn’t seen a lot of old classics, so I’ve been watching some of those with her: “Goodfellas”, “Casino” and “Heat.” For TV, we’ve been watching “Snowfall,” the new season is coming out soon. The third season of “The Sinner” came out, and the first two seasons were really good, especially the first season. We watched “The Outsider” on HBO, which was good. We got behind on some shows like “Ray Donovan” and “Homeland” (on Showtime) … they don’t have the same shows available in Canada, so we got behind last season.
MT: How about some of the HBO classics like “The Wire,” or “The Sopranos”?
Green: I didn’t finish “The Wire.” I think she’s watched it. “The Sopranos” I haven’t watched either. We’ve been watching more of the newer shows, but we’ll have time to dip back into the classics.
MT: I know you at least watched “Game of Thrones” though…
Green: “Game of Thrones,” of course, yeah, we watched that.
MT: How have you been staying in touch with your teammates? The group chat on text?
Green: Yeah, we have a group chat. We all check in daily with each other, especially now. It was easier when we’d see each other in passing when we were going in for individual workouts. Guys would be on different places of the court but we’d see each other.
MT: Who’s the most entertaining on the group chat?
Green: I’d have to say LeBron, JaVale, Duds and Kuz. We have a pretty good group of guys that are active and entertaining within the group chat. There’s some funny stuff, but that’s probably my top four that are the most active.
MT: OK Danny, just to zoom back out, how is what’s happening right now impacting you and those around you?
Green: It’s impacting everybody, not just us. It’s a big part of our lives because it’s our jobs, our daily habits. To shut down the gym throws a wrench in what our daily habits are, so it’s kind of weird. It’s affecting the whole world because the whole world is used to watching sports, not just us, but all sports, and they’ve come to a full halt. People aren’t sure what to do with themselves. And the whole world has taken a hit financially. The market has been hit. Things have gone south … a lot of work stoppage, a lot of people figuring out what they’re going to do with their jobs, how they’re going to feed their families. Luckily, some jobs are taking steps to continue to pay some people and look out for their employees, but not all jobs are doing that. Everybody is taking a hit financially, and emotionally and entertainment wise, it’s out of the same daily routine. (Just gotta) stay positive.