It was strange enough for NBA players and team personnel to attempt to navigate the coronavirus hiatus without games being played, but the closure of team facilities has thrown another wrench into the mix. Now players are left to their own devices and motivation to stay in shape during the indefinite pause in basketball activities.
For some teams, however, the hiatus could be viewed as a way to allow injured players to heal, as they’re still permitted to undergo rehab sessions with team doctors, and it will provide a long rest for players who may have needed it.
One player most point to in that regard is Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who is in the midst of an MVP-caliber 17th NBA season at age 35. Some, , feel that the extended break will allow James to be fresh and primed for the playoffs, if and when they take place, and put the Lakers in an even better position to win the title.
James, however, feels that narrative needs some adjustment. Still in quarantine after being tested for the coronavirus, James joined the “Road Trippin'” podcast with former Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, along with Spectrum SportsNet reporter Allie Clifton. James said he feels the prolonged rest might actually be a detriment rather than a benefit.
“The narrative that I don’t like is, well, now guys get so much rest. Or like, ‘LeBron, he’s 35, he’s got so many minutes on his body, now he gets so much rest,’ ” James said. “It’s actually the opposite for me because my body, when we stopped playing was asking me, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ … My body was like, ‘Hey man, what the hell is going on? It’s March 13. You’re getting ready for the playoffs. Why are you shutting down right now?’ And I was right there turning the corner. I felt like I was rounding third base getting ready for the postseason. So the rest factor, I think it’s a little bit overblown, especially when you’re in the full swing of things.”
James also gave his opinion about how long players would need to get ready once the season resumes. He said if they cancel the rest of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs, players will need a significant period of training to ramp things back up.
“I think maybe one and a half, two weeks of a little mini training camp, and then five to 10 games … to get ready for the playoffs,” James said. “If we’re talking about finishing the regular season, then you don’t need that much. You could do a week of training camp and then get back into it.”
James added that he’s been training five days a week on his own at home, and will be able to resume workouts with his personal trainer on Monday, when his two-week quarantine comes to an end. But he also acknowledged that it may be difficult for players to find ways to stay sharp, both physically and basketball-wise, during the layoff.
“There’s guys that can’t get on the court right now and there’s guys that don’t have gyms in their cribs,” James said. “So all the Equinoxes, all the 24 Hour Fitness, all that s— is shut down right now. So guys gotta figure it out.”