Most of the country staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, is affecting all of us in a variety of ways. In this way, players on the Los Angeles Lakers are no different from the rest of us.
Most of us don’t have access to a gym right now, but for the majority of people, that’s an inconvenience, not something that might tangibly affect their job performance. For the Lakers, however, the practice facility being shut down has been a real problem, as has been the lack of basketball in general.
“Not playing basketball... that’s not fun,” JaVale McGee said to cap off a list of things he’s been doing during his quarantine on teammate Danny Green’s “Inside the Green Room” podcast. McGee was wearing a Lakers shirt during the appearance, which he chalked up to how much he misses the game, and playing it with his teammates.
“I haven’t put the jersey on, but I’m having withdrawals. That’s why I’m wearing Lakers gear,” McGee said. “It’s the weirdest thing ever.”
It’s been strange for all of us, to say that least, and it’s not clear when that strangeness is going to end. While we all wait to figure that out, McGee and Green have been trying to stay in shape for the Lakers’ title chase, something that is easier said than done with no access to a gym.
McGee: “I was this close to buying a bike before this whole pandemic happened, and I never got it. So I’m going to the park, because obviously there is nobody at the park, and just running around the park to stay in condition, that’s all I can really do. Doing push-ups and of course all those, but yeah.”
Green: “Yeah I spent all last night ordering a bunch of gym stuff that I didn’t think I’d ever need. I got a crib where it’s like ‘oh, you could make this into a gym’ and I was like ‘nah, what do I need that for? We’ve got a gym we go to.’ In times like this you can’t get to a damn gym, so you’ve got to create one in your house. Find some dumbells that can change numbers, some flooring, a floor mat... Shit’s expensive, man. Bikes and treadmills are expensive as hell.
“I bought a little doggy treadmill a while back for my little guy because he’s kind of chunky, and it was a couple hundred bucks, I figured a treadmill for humans shouldn’t be that much more, but boy was I wrong. Yeah man, figuring it out, lifting paint cans... Moving stuff around, it’s part of a daily workout.”
Putting aside the hilariousness of Danny Green just casually fat shaming his dog — they’re still (adorable) good boys, Danny! — and complaining about the price of home gyms (as relatable a moment as an NBA player can ever have) and resorting to lifting paint cans (???) instead, this whole exchange once again highlights a point that’s been made a few times: That it’s hard to play NBA basketball without playing NBA basketball.
It turns out that lifting paint cans and running in the park are not great substitutes for working out at a state-of-the-art practice facility with some of the best coaches and trainers in the world, and that’s without even mentioning being out practice for playing in an NBA game. This is why the preseason always looks so ugly. Guys have to find their legs again.
To that end, Green has previously said he thought the Lakers and other NBA teams would need at least a few games to find their stride for the playoffs rather than having the NBA skip right to the postseason. His teammate, Jared Dudley, another veteran of multiple playoff runs, says players would need “at least a month” to prepare if practice facilities remain shut down.
Green and McGee riding bikes, lifting weights, running around the park, lifting paint cans or whatever else are great stop-gap options for normal human beings during this time of social distancing. But for NBA players, who are bigger, stronger and faster than the rest of us, these won’t be enough to protect all of them from the start-and-stop injuries that are risked by playing high-level basketball. Especially in high-leverage playoff situations where the intensity will ratchet up yet another level.
Whenever the league ultimately decides to resume, if it even does, these are factors those decision-makers will have to consider. For now though, just like the rest of us, Green and McGee will have to find workarounds. Even if some of them are a bit pricier than Green would like.
Green and McGee’s whole conversation is a fun listen, and you can watch all of it here. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.