ORLANDO, Fla. — There are certain items of attire you never leave home without. At the top of the list, obviously, is underwear. As long as we humans inherit this earth, nothing will ever take precedent over wearing boxers or briefs, or so I thought.
This being the year 2020 and the age of coronavirus, suddenly the mask is rising up the charts faster than Drake or Taylor Swift. Speaking of her last name, it’s amazing how swiftly the mask — an accessory that was once only mass-produced every October — became a necessary part of the wardrobe. Six months ago, nobody I knew even owned a mask. But now? Folks have more masks than underwear.
Yes, it’s true that some people still refuse to wear a mask even as a virus rages, and I suspect those are the same people who leave the house without underwear. That’s how silly and misguided they are. And please, stop saying mask-on, mask-off is a political choice. I’ve seen plenty of folks in my neighborhood that I know lean left who don’t do the right thing, either.
Thankfully, here on the NBA campus in Orlando, it’s mandatory to wear a mask (underwear optional, but keep that to yourself). I was gently reprimanded on Thursday by the Mask Police when I allowed my mask to slip below my chin while watching Clippers-Lakers. In a panic, I realized my mistake and then pointed to an empty bag of chips, and breathed a sigh of relief when the Policewoman said: “I know. People eat and then forget. Happens all the time.”
I came to the restart in Orlando with a handful of masks, which wasn’t necessary. The NBA has plenty. In fact, there are boxes and boxes of NBA-printed masks everywhere you go, in case for some reason you left your room and forgot (and really, how can you?).
This of course presents a major problem every morning when you rise and scratch your head and ask: Which mask to wear?
Yes, there are tough life decisions we’re commonly confronted with, and now this. Should the chosen mask match with the rest of that day’s outfit? Should it be the one that fits the most comfortable? What about the Steelers mask made for me by a relative in Pittsburgh; should I show allegiance to the black and gold? Or maybe show gratitude to the NBA and wear one of theirs?
My most used mask is a standard white one. I’m not even sure where I got it, and I have three of them. When the pandemic hit, I suspect I went on a frantic mask-hunt like millions of other folks. Understand that back in March, nobody knew where to get masks. Mask Depot? Masks-R-Us? McMasks? Out of nowhere, an industry quickly mushroomed and masks were for sale everywhere. A vendor who once sold T-shirts from a kiosk in a mall near my house was suddenly in the mask business.
So the mystery of where the white mask originated will remain unsolved. Doesn’t really matter, anyway. I am well-stocked with masks and the NBA will see to that. Players, coaches, testers, everyone here leaves their hotel room with a shared piece of attire.
Our underwear choices, however, are different. I’m assuming. I’m not actually checking.
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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .
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