LaJethro Jenkins, Seerat Sohi, Chris Haynes, and Vincent Goodwill reflect on the NBA a year later after COVID drastically changed not just basketball but the world.
- Yeah, that's it. Thank you.
- Chris Paul was asking, where's Rudy Gobert at? He found out he was ill, and he wants to know what the deal is, why he's ill.
- And you see the teams heading back to the locker room.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: It became extremely real for me at that point. You know, we see what's going on in other countries and stuff. And you know, you're hoping for the best there, but it hit home, like that this could be-- this would be a global thing.
SEERAT SOHI: I was working on a feature story that became immediately irrelevant. And then as soon as the season shut down, I started looking around at everything because I realized that, oh, boy, I should have been taking this thing seriously. Think I had written a column a couple of days before, suggesting that the NBA shut down for a period of two weeks, believing that this novel coronavirus would be able to run through and run itself out of the States.
CHRIS HAYNES: So this was the first time that our schedule was starting to be altered, our regimens were starting to be altered. So I remember they told, Chris, there will be no after-quarter interviews with coaches. And I was like, wow. I knew, above the talk, was being relayed from the players and the Players Association, I knew the league was desperate to restart the season for obvious financial purposes.
VINCENT GOODWILL: I wasn't very confident in a bubble being formed when nobody would get infected, nobody would come in, people will be kept tested every day. There were still shortage of tests back then. So to be able to say, hey, we're going to have all these tests every single day, we're going to form this impenetrable bubble where nobody is going to come in or out, I didn't see that being wholly realistic.
SEERAT SOHI: It was really difficult to even tell how long the season would be suspended for, like what was COVID something that we were going to deal with for three or four weeks? Was it going to be longer than that? And that's a lesson that we all kind of learned as it was going. We're still kind of in that position right now where it seems like there's a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. But we've now-- we've now dealt with this thing long enough to know that we can't really be-- be optimistic until we're completely out of the woods.
CHRIS HAYNES: The success of it was shocking, and it also showed what social distancing can do and wearing masks and all that stuff. I thought there was no way we'd see basketball again. I thought there was-- if they started it up, I thought there would be no way they'd finish. And they proved me wrong. And thank God for that.
VINCENT GOODWILL: We use the NBA as this sort of moral beacon. We've applied this to them, maybe they've applied it to themselves, but they are a business. And they are in this to make money. And they do have responsibilities to Turner, to ESPN, to its television partners. So when-- and to its players.
I'm very curious to see if herd immunity is achieved. I'm not a doctor, but I am curious if a COVID-19 vaccine will be like a flu shot. I do believe that some point next season or maybe even the start of next season, things will look like a typical NBA season.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: Maybe by playoffs, we might be able to see, like, you know, some sense of normalcy with the game, like fans there, more fans there. As far as-- everybody's talking about a new normal. The new normal hasn't been invented yet. We don't know what it's going to look like. I just-- I think it'll be sooner than later with the vaccine. I don't know-- I don't think it'll be-- I don't think we have to wait till next season to see fans.
CHRIS HAYNES: I'm just being straight. I think some players will obviously get the vaccine, but I think there'll be a decent amount of those who won't. You know, some-- some players, you know, especially from players that weren't born in the United States, some of them have within their rituals that they don't participate in taking any vaccine.
VINCENT GOODWILL: The biggest lesson to take away from this shutdown, I think, is the importance of knowing that no one's invincible.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: We took everything for granted prior to this, even leaving the house and just going to Trader Joe's without a mask.
SEERAT SOHI: I hope that a year from now, things are back to normal, you know. I think we're seeing the vaccine roll out, attempts to solve the issue of invariance. I think the biggest lesson that you can take away from the shutdown-- I think obviously it's going to be different for everybody-- but for me it's just been that there are no guarantees and to never take any moment, especially a moment that you get to share with another person, for granted.