The Whiteboard: How to fill the basketball-sized hole in your heart

The Whiteboard is The Step Back’s daily basketball newsletter, covering the NBA, WNBA and more. Subscribe here to get it delivered to you via email each morning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up nearly every corner of the globe, infecting nearly 200,000 and disrupting all the rhythms of daily life. On the list of pressing concerns, basketball is pretty far down the list. But for many of us, it’s an enormous part of our lives and routines, and in this general time of social unmooring and grasping for normalcy, its loss is felt more deeply than if it was canceled for something like a lockout or strike, a one-off blip with parameters that feel at least somewhat familiar.

Everyone is coping in their own ways. Spencer Dinwiddie is watching his own highlights on YouTube. Trae Young is keeping his jumper sharp with socks and a hamper. Ja Morant is doing his own pre-game introductions. Karli Samuelson is doing ball-handling drills at her house, inviting her followers to join her. Nikola Jokic is riding around in a tiny horse-drawn chariot, as one does.

Here at The Step Back, we’re still thinking about basketball, talking basketball, watching basketball — even it means climbing down rabbit holes of classic games on YouTube. We want to stay up-to-date on the latest news about what’s happening with the league and the logistic solutions they’re exploring to ensure the health and safety of players, fans and team officials, as well as possibilities for the return of games. But we don’t want to get lost in that uncertainty either, we want to be able to explore, unpack and celebrate basketball in all the ways we’re used to.

For those reasons, it seemed like a perfect time to re-launch The Whiteboard, our daily basketball email newsletter. A billion thank you’s to Ti Windisch who started The Whiteboard and ran it for nearly a year until it went on hiatus last April. Now, Gerald Bourguet and I will be picking up the mantle, bringing you basketball stories, thoughts, news, analysis and jokez, from FanSided and all of our basketball friends around the internet, every weekday morning

You’ll find The Whiteboard at The Step Back and can subscribe to get it in your email inbox as well. We might be a round peg in a square hole but we aim to lighten the load for you, me and all of us just a little bit. The NBA, WNBA and NCAA aren’t playing games right now, but basketball isn’t gone and we’re not going anywhere either.

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If you’re looking for something to fill your quarantined hours this afternoon, I’ll be watching Game 7 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals between the Sonics and Jazz — pushing play at 1:30 p.m. ET and tweeting along on The Step Back account.

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We’re well past the point where suspending the season seemed like anything but a foregone conclusion but it’s worth revisiting this well-researched piece by Jared Dubin at FiveThirtyEight on why it only took one positive test to shut down the NBA.

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