Transcript: Pelicans forward Nicolò Melli media availability - July 1, 2020
On what the last few months have been like in quarantine:
“Well, basically, I was sitting on the couch for the last three months. Well, my wife and I decided to stay here, because we didn’t know if we could come back, how was it with the travel situation. Plus, in Italy the situation wasn’t that good, so we decided to stay here, and we basically stayed at home for the first two months and a half of this quarantine. I was practicing in what was the second guest room at home and just nothing. We tried to spend our time together. Tried to keep our selves busy, but we were just waiting for the league to resume or at least to give us an idea of what our future would look like.”
On if he has any family members affected by COVID-19:
“Well, everybody was affected from this virus. Luckily all of my family and all of my friends were healthy and are still healthy, so I feel very lucky about it. It was a tough period, honestly. I was, to be completely honest, very concerned about my grandma in Italy, and she basically stayed in for 90 days at home completely alone, but that was vital for her because it was important for her to stay home. It was a tough period and plus being so far from family, not being able to stay close, and they reopened quicker than what we’re doing right now, so I would have had the chance to be super close to them, but instead, I’m just super far away. It’s not been easy. It’s not easy, but it is what it is, and still, as I said before, I feel myself very lucky that nobody got really affected from this virus.”
On talking to his friends and family about the early stages of COVID-19:
“I have doctors that are friends, and I’ve spoken with them. I have a guy who was on the front line in the main hospital in Reggio Emilia, my hometown. It’s been crazy. It’s been a crazy time, and what they did is something unbelievable, and we should just not forget about them once this emergency passes, because they’re there every day and they’re fighting for us every day.”
On how frequently he was able to speak with his grandma during quarantine:
“Every day. Every day. Luckily she’s good with FaceTime and the iPhone, so it was a pretty good upgrade from the basic phone call. We could just see each other every day and for her to be able to stay in touch with me and also with the other part of the family because you couldn’t see also the other family in Reggio Emilia, the same hometown because she had to really quarantine from all her peers since she’s a little bit older. She was and still is at risk, so we were just on the phone Face Timing each other, and it was pretty cool for what we could do. It’s not enough, but somehow it was enough.”
On his thoughts of going to Orlando and the ‘bubble’ concept:
“Well, I think if there is a league that can pull off something great, something cool it’s the NBA. I think nobody exactly knows what we are going to expect, so I cannot give you an answer of what Orlando is going to look like. For sure, they organized everything even though they might have even had problems with the unions and the location and with some teams. There are so many people involved, so many things that are getting involved, so it’s not an easy thing. Plus, with the pandemic still going on, it is even more difficult, but as I said, if the league and the world are able to put in place a plan to make us resume, to give us the chance to finish the season, that’s the NBA.”
On how much he was able to work out during quarantine:
“I didn’t touch a basketball for like two months. I didn’t run for two months, but as I said, I set up a small gym in my second guest room at home. I bought a Peloton bike and a couple of elastic bands and a couple of dumbbells. I was basically working out twice a day, so I could eat as much as I wanted at home. At least give me this little joy during the quarantine, so I was eating like a bull, but at least I was practicing, and it was honestly super boring. As I said, we were trying, so my wife and I were trying to keep ourselves busy. I think we did it, and now we are at the end, and hopefully, we will resume soon.”
On what the process has been like getting back into the practice facility:
“It’s nice to be back, honestly. As soon as they gave us the green light, I was in the gym because I couldn’t…I love my wife, she loves me, but it’s nice to be back here. This is our habitat. This is our environment, so it’s nice to be back here, and today it’s nice to see all my teammates…besides a couple. It’s nice to be back here and be back on track.”
On how much more comfortable he is going into Orlando compared to last summer entering the NBA:
“Well, for sure. I hope experience is on my side now, so there is something that I don’t have to learn from the beginning. It’s something that I hopefully learned already, and I hope I can bring back that on the court. As I said, it’s going to be a unique situation. It’s going to be something that no one’s ever experienced before, so I think the most important part right now is to be back and get back in shape physically and then technically we’re going to find out a solution, and we’re going to put something together to allow us to play.”
On what will be the biggest adjustment playing without fans:
“Well, it happened to me already a couple of times in Europe, because fans in Europe are a little more crazy than in the States. It will be strange. It will be weird. I think it’s going to be even weirder in the playoffs because everybody, a lot of the playoffs is the atmosphere in the gym, and we’re not going to have that. Well, we, I don’t know if we are going to have that, but for sure, 16 teams in the NBA aren’t going to have that, and it’s going to be weird, but it is what it is. We’re dealing with something bigger than everybody and right now if we want to play this is the only possibility, the only solution. It’s not what we dream about, it’s not what sports is about. It’s about emotions, it’s about fans, it’s about relationships, it’s about being there and sharing moments bad or good, so we’re not going to have that, but at least we’re going to have some basketball, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
On why some games that he played in Europe were without fans:
"No. No. So, a couple of times this happened either our fans or I don't remember if our fans but for sure opponent, fans were just punished, so the gamer after the gym was empty. One time, honestly, it happened where one half we played with fans and the second half we played without fans because they kicked out all the fans at halftime. It was pretty cool because we were losing in the first half and then we won in the second half, so it was pretty cool. It's weird because you go and play, and if you win on the road it's even nicer because you aren't in front of the opponent's fans with the environment. It's going to be different, but as I said at least, we're going to have some basketball."
On why the fans were banned from games in those instances:
"They'd throw whatever they had in their hands on the court. It's very easy, but no, this happened. This
is not something that happens regularly. This happened one time. It was one time over 12 years, my European career. I had never seen something like that, and it happened a couple of other times where we played in an empty gym because the previous game the fans did something crazy. It's not something that happens regularly, but it's not going to be completely new for me because I already, unfortunately, experienced that."
On if he has thought about the 'new normal' going forward:
"I think it's something that we need to deal with it. It's a part of our reality right now, and I think as a healthy, young person, we need to be accountable and behave. I think wearing masks is something that I will suggest to everybody because I still see too many people around without a mask and just keep a little bit more distance. I know it sucks, but it is what it is. Until we find a vaccine, until we find a solution, it is what it is, so it's a part of our reality. Whether we like it or not, it's like this. It's nothing we can change overnight. I wish we could, but it's not going to happen. We need to start to deal with it. Be responsible, and life goes on, so it's our choice to be a part of this life or not. We just need to be a little bit more responsible to take care of the guidelines experts are giving us. Expert, not somebody else giving us very bad information, but it's a part of reality."
On the amount of time he took off from shooting and how long will it take to get the shot back:
"Well the first shot I took it was a 3-point shot, and I scored, so next time I have to prepare for an important game, I should not practice for two months. That was the thing I just don't have the time span. Now I think it was weird. It might happen that I didn't touch a ball for, not that long, but long because unfortunately, I've had injuries. This time it was different because I was healthy just sitting at home. I couldn't go outside. I wasn't going outside. I tried to run a couple of times on the balcony, but I looked like a hamster on the wheel, so I just went back to the couch and watched The Last Dance, and Netflix, or whatever. It was weird, but I don't think it's going to take – hopefully, it's not going to take long. We will see on the first official game. I hopefully can go back and shoot threes."
On the general vibe of going to Orlando:
"I think honestly, we haven't practiced as a team yet, and I think I can get you the right vibes after we practice as a team the first time, but I think since everyone's showed up, I think the mentality is once we go there we go for the target. We're not going there just to enjoy Disney World. I think we're a young team, an ambitious team. We're in a good position to do something good, so why not? It's a great opportunity. It'll be a waste to not use it."
On his Instagram posts and if he has any advice for the writers:
"No I don't. I just try to keep myself busy. I started this thing because I noticed I'm doing this in Italian and I know I should've done it in English also, but I'm doing Italian because I noticed that nobody did it before and in Italy, there is so much thirst about the news (and) about the NBA and so I might start hosting a very short personal podcast in the 'bubble'…just to keep myself busy. Just to give some more insight about this wonderful world, that's the NBA, and for me, I'm a basketball player, so I'm not giving you writers any tips. Eventually, it has to happen the opposite, you know? You should give me some tips. But no, I appreciate it."