The Life Without NBA Basketball Due to Coronavirus Diary: Day 3

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images /

The 2019-20 NBA season was suspended on Wednesday, March 11 due to the increasing threat of novel coronavirus. In Day 3 of this ongoing diary, we take a more optimistic approach to finding light in the darkness.

It’s only Day 3 without NBA basketball.

Even if the league’s 30-day hiatus turns out to be the minimum and doesn’t extend any further (which feels like a very unlikely outcome), we’d still only be 10 percent of the way there. The weekend is finally here, but it sure doesn’t feel like it in this self-isolating world without sports.

And yet, as easy as it is to be sucked back into the doom and gloom of it all, Friday actually gave us some reasons for hope. To be fair, the fallout since our Day 2 entry is very much in keeping with the theme of these last two coronavirus-dominated days:

  • All English soccer was suspended until April 3
  • The 2020 Masters Tournament was postponed
  • The London and Boston Marathons were suspended
  • USA Basketball suspended all upcoming events, including the 2020 Nike Hoop Summit
  • The NBA entered a moratorium period, freezing all business such as trades, signings, 10-day contracts, team/player options, etc.
  • The NBPA sent out an email to teams detailing a doomsday provision in the CBA that could prevent owners from paying players a percentage of their salaries if the rest of the season is lost due to coronavirus
  • NASCAR suspended events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • The NCAA established a recruiting dead period through at least April 15
  • The NFL prohibited in-person pre-draft visits
  • President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over coronavirus

But even with the last remaining sports events being shut down as expected, and even with the United States declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, we didn’t have to look too far for legitimate signs of optimism, minimal though they may seem in the face of such overwhelming anxiety.

Whether your preparation for novel coronavirus entails responsible self-isolation and proper hygiene or extends all the way into the kind of supermarket-raiding for supplies that makes it impossible for me to do my regular grocery shopping, everyone’s dealing with some deal of stress, anxiousness or outright fear.

Yet in any unfortunate, sorrowful time, there is always light that rises to meet the darkness. It doesn’t always vanquish the pervading blackness that robs us of our sight and comfort, but even if we’re no longer basking in the sunlight, even the glow from a single candle can help guide our way.

On Friday, we got a few sparks of optimism in the NBA world.

The first match was technically struck on Thursday, when Kevin Love announced on Instagram that he’d be donating $100,000 to support the part-time staffers and in-arena workers at Quicken Loans Arena who would be missing wages for the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ remaining home games that had been postponed.

The league’s reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, made a similar promise shortly thereafter, announcing on Friday morning that he’d be pledging $100,000 to the staff of Fiserv Forum, where the Milwaukee Bucks play.

The game’s stars weren’t done shining, however. Zion Williamson promised to take care of the salaries of all New Orleans Pelicans arena staff workers for the next 30 days.

Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin donated $100,000 to the Little Caesars Arena staff.

And the Golden State Warriors joined the growing host of teams promising to take care of workers who would’ve been adversely affected by the NBA’s hiatus, setting up a Disaster Relief Fund and pouring $1 million into it from ownership, players and coaches, with more to come from other donors.

Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, announced they will use their Eat.Learn.Play foundation to help feed displaced students who are currently out of school by donating to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

As if this weren’t uplifting enough, Jeremy Lin — last seen in the NBA winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors nine months ago — donated $100,000 to the United States Fund for UNICEF to help the fight against coronavirus. This comes after he already donated $100,000 to help combat the pandemic in China, where he’s been playing this season as a member of the Beijing Ducks.

Yeah, these guys are millionaires. But these gestures of goodwill in dark times go far beyond the numbers, and they’re invaluable bits of reassurance when there’s not much else to be happy about.

It hasn’t even been 72 hours since our last NBA action, and yeah, a lot of us miss it already. But the thing about this league, and sports in general, is not just the ability to distract us from everyday life, but that feeling of inclusion that comes when these larger-than-life athletes become actual role models setting an example for the rest of us:

Be kind. Be generous. Think not just of yourself and your own concerns, but of those less fortunate and in need of your help. What can you do for them?

These acts of kindness, effortless as they may appear from a financial perspective, show a united front from the people that make the NBA so great. Basketball has always been more than just a game to its fans, but when its players go above and beyond like this, they become an example of what binds us together and remind us of how defiant and admirable humanity can be in the face of adversity.

Pandemic or no, we need more of that on a day-to-day basis. As difficult as it can be to find our way in dark times, when enough people strike a match, it doesn’t take long before the whole room is illuminated and warmed by the candlelight.

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For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.