Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone discusses the challenges NBA teams face during Coronavirus
“It’s been a strange time for everybody, right?”
Those were the opening remarks from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone in his Altitude Sports Radio appearance Wednesday, succinctly describing the devastating impact of the Coronavirus over the past month in the U.S.
As of April 8, there are 395,011 cases of COVID-19 with 12,754 causalities, according to the CDC. Malone has also personally been affected as the New York City-raised coach has plenty of family in the city, which is currently considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. with 138,863 cases. Colorado has been assertive with its social distancing rules, but there are 5,655 cases in the state, including 193 deaths.
“I feel for all of the families that have been affected out there in this state and all across the country,” Malone said.
With the focus on saving lives, basketball isn’t anyone’s primary focus, but Malone has acknowledged the Nuggets are continuing to remain in touch and stay active as much as they can during this period.
“We have, in my opinion, the best strength coach in the NBA in Felipe Eichenberger, who does a tremendous job [and] his assistant coach Claus [Antunes de Souza],” Malone said. “They have sent and mailed a lot of [workouts] to our players they can use during this hiatus as we recover from this pandemic.”
Malone cautioned that his players, along with other teams in the NBA, will likely need time to get back into game shape after an extended hiatus. While some players have private gyms and basketball hoops at their homes, others do not.
“How do you work on your jump shot if you can’t go to a rec center and get shots up, you can’t go to the Pepsi Center and get shots up,” Malone asked.
There’s also the mental aspect.
“I think the hardest part for us as professional athletes and coaches is we always deal with a black and white business,” Malone explained. “We know when Opening Day is and we know what day the playoffs are going to start. And so right now, we’re in a situation where we don’t know if we’re going to have a season and if we do have a season, what’s that season going to look like? How do you prepare for something that you don’t know what you’re preparing for?... So all those questions and all the uncertainty make that difficult.”
Despite the challenges, Malone admits to finding some silver lining through the process. He’s been able to spend more time with his family than he ever has during his time as a coach in the league.
I've played more volleyball probably in the last month with my two girls. We have a net in the backyard and we play in the house. So I might be the most improved volleyball player in Douglas County,” Malone joked.
Here is the full interview with Coach Malone: