If you’re like me, you have a lot of questions about how COVID-19 is impacting the Lakers and the NBA as the world tries to combat the virus.
What we know for sure is that the NBA suspended all games on Wednesday evening, and will be on hiatus for at least 30 days, but
hopes to resume the season if and when it becomes safe.
That’s what we’re all rooting for as we prioritize the safety of our family and friends, and, really, everybody.
But in the meantime, back to those questions. What are LeBron, AD, Kuz and their teammates doing at the moment? Can guys still practice? Who’s at the office? Is STAPLES Center open? What about the other Lakers employees?
We’re here to discuss those, and a few more:
Q: Where are the players right now?
A: All of the players, for both the Lakers and the South Bay Lakers, are being asked to stay home as much as possible, so guys are in their homes in Los Angeles.
Q: Can the Lakers practice?
A: No, they can’t practice as a team, currently through March 16, with updates to follow. Neither can any NBA team. However, if the players do choose to work out individually at the UCLA Health Training Center, safety measures are being taken and NBA guidelines are being followed. Workouts are on a 1-on-1 basis with a member of the coaching, developmental or strength staff. All workouts are voluntary. Players are also able to receive treatment from the athletic training staff. To be clear, that’s 1-on-1 for a player and a staff member, not actual 1-on-1 between, say, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley. Cook may be getting shots up with assistant coach Phil Handy, but will not be playing against another player.
Q: What safety measures are being taken?
A: Of course, the health and safety of the players, staff, families and all of the fans is the top priorities for the Lakers. The organization is strictly following the guidelines set forth by the government officials, the NBA, as well as team doctors, to ensure the players practice safe habits if they choose to workout. This includes washing hands frequently, sanitizing equipment and shooting on separate baskets.
Imagine a player immediately washing his hands after getting his shots up, the assistant coach washing his hands as well, and the ball being sanitized.
Q: Why are players still working out if we don’t know when games may resume?
A: Part of the reason for players to continue individual workouts is the hope of resuming games, and preparing for the playoffs at some point in the near future (we’ll get to what Commissioner Adam Silver said about that below). It takes a ton of work to be in “NBA game shape,” and players will want to do their best to stay ready despite not being able to actually practice or play in pickup games. Doing cardio, lifting weights, doing shooting and other individual drills can at least keep guys close to maintaining what they’ve built physically to this point of the season.
The Lakers have been an extremely driven team all season, with one goal in mind: a championship. Frank Vogel’s squad built a Western-Conference-leading 49-14 record, including at least one road win in every single Western opponent’s building, with the exception of Minnesota, where they have yet to play. LeBron and AD have set a focused, intense tone in the locker room that still has room for fun (and, well, winning is more fun than losing). I’m sure they want to try and keep their eyes on the prize as best they can, even through the hiatus, and being able to work out individually is one step.
Q: When could the games return?
A: Commissioner Silver said during an interview with TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew that the NBA and its team owners, plus the Players Association, would be willing to extend the schedule into the summer months. That’s why he used the phrase “temporarily suspended” instead of “canceled” in his letter.
“Even if we’re out for a month, even if we’re out for six weeks, we could still re-start the season,” he said. “It might mean that the Finals take play in July, late July … my feeling was it was way premature to suggest that we had lost the season.”
Q: Is it possible to still play a full season?
A: Yes, it is possible. Commissioner Silver said that the goal is to figure out what makes sense for a return to play, but that it all depends upon how the virus is contained. A protocol needs to be established for what’s safe for all parties involved in putting on a game.
Q: What’s happening at STAPLES Center right now?
A: In California, public health experts have recommended a cancellation of all public gatherings of 250 or more, so there are currently no scheduled events at STAPLES Center planned for March.
Q: How do the NBA and sports fit into this situation?
A: Sports are often a welcome departure for people to enjoy the teams and games they love amidst the realities of life, but in this case, perhaps sports can assist in the handling of an extremely difficult situation for the country and the world. An NBA player testing positive for COVID-19 certainly seems to have jumpstarted the rest of the country’s really taking this seriously.
“We think we can use this hiatus to use this platform we have to help people deal with this disease,” Silver said.
Q: Is it possible that the season is canceled?
A: Commissioner Silver did allow on TNT that, “Of course it’s possible” the season will be canceled, but they simply have to wait and see how the COVID-19 situation evolves.
Q: What are other Lakers employees doing at this time?
A: All other Lakers employees have been asked to work from home for the time being. I, for example, am writing this on my laptop from my house, while my wife kindly attempts to occupy/entertain/teach/feed my 5-year-old twins upstairs. I’m sure many of you are finding ways to get things done in different-from-usual circumstances!
Q: What do I do if I have tickets to a Lakers game?
A: For fans that have already purchased tickets to games that have been postponed: they will be valid for the rescheduled date, once that date is determined by the NBA. Refunds may also be obtained through point of purchase.
Finally, folks: what’s most important is keeping yourself and your family healthy and safe during this challenging time. You can follow the recommendations and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by clicking here.