As the NBA continues to try and figure out how to resume its suspended season, some teams are taking the first steps by reopening their practice facilities. But because of the still very real health risk posed by the coronavirus, they’re having to do so with extreme caution.
The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the teams opening up, and while it’s exciting in one sense to be able to get back in the gym, coach Doc Rivers is not completely comfortable with the situation. In a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic, Rivers, who is 58, spoke about his unease with life in general right now.
“I’m worried, because you should be. I’m not smart enough to know what this virus is or does. We do know it affects most people when they’re in a group setting, and it doesn’t affect you at all when you’re by yourself. You know? We already know that. Listen, I’m not young (58), but I guess I’m young enough … I don’t know. Would I say I do it without fear? Of course not. You’ve got to have some fear in all this … until (there’s a vaccine), no one can tell me they’re going to do anything and feel comfortable doing it. I just don’t know how we get there.”
He also explained how the virus, and the necessary precautions teams need to take, are already having an impact on the team. Assistant coach Armond Hill, who is 67, will not be able to be at the facility working with players. It’s not going to make or break the season, but as the Clippers’ situation shows, it’s definitely an advantage to have younger coaches right now.
“Armond would be such a great teacher. He would be one of the guys that’s doing it. But he’s not going to do it. And he’s upset. He wants to go work. And I said, ‘well, I understand that. But we’re not going to let you do it. We just can’t. I can’t live with that.'”
Most of the discussion surrounding the return of sports is focusing on big picture problems, and for good reason. But when you really dig into the details, you realize just how complicated it would be to get back to play safely, and even then, what impact those precautions would have on teams.
And Rivers isn’t the only one worried about how older coaches and staffers would be included in proposals to resume the season; executives across the league have expressed similar concerns about this issue.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that for all of Rivers’ seeming reluctance, he’ll still be getting ready for the season. As the weeks move along, and coaches and players continue to deal with the risk and inconvenience of reopening in this manner, it will be interesting if anyone stands up and says it’s not worth it, and that play shouldn’t resume.