As the Los Angeles Clippers settle into the NBA Bubble, they reflect on their lives in quarantine for the past three months. While the team is prepping for the restart, their minds are focused on factors outside of basketball as well.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was able to talk to the players as of Friday. His premise for the players is they are “on a mission.”
“We’ve been deployed. Nothing is going to distract us. We’re not going to complain about anything,” Rivers said. “Right now, personally I think it’s been impressive. When you watch what the NBA has done to try to pull this off, it’s really impressive.”
The quarantine allowed forward Paul George’s shoulder to heal. Rivers got a chance to see him shoot and mentioned that “he looks great.”
“I think honestly since this, especially with this team, it gave us a lot of time to heal up, a lot of time to kind of just get our bodies back under us,” George said. “All the way up until maybe a month or two ago, I had to always do shoulder rehab stuff, warming the shoulder up. Just so much went into stuff I had to do before I actually took a foot on the floor. Now I feel great again.”
With social justice on the minds of many players, the NBA and NBPA released a set of 29 slogans that players can have on their jersey. The list includes the phrases “Black Lives Matter,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Freedom,” and “Equality.”
George plans to wear a phrase on his uniform and will reveal the phrase later.
“I think ultimately as young African Americans we have an unbelievable opportunity to use our voices,” George said. “With that alone we should have more than enough of an opportunity to get our message and our points across.”
In late February, the Clippers signed guard Reggie Jackson who recently played for the Detroit Pistons. When the season was suspended, he was living in a hotel and had to reside there until the restart. George allowed Jackson to use one of his houses so he can put up shots.
“Fortunately enough, the hotel I was in, nobody was allowed to be on the floors under me,” Jackson said. “I found myself dribbling at times, knowing I didn’t have other people occupying rooms near me.”
Meditation has helped Jackson throughout his playing career and aided him in accepting the pandemic. Through meditation, he learned to make the most out of things that are beyond his control.
“I truly wanted to go back to my house in Detroit where I had my training equipment, call on my chef,” Jackson said. “But the best thing for me was to stay in Los Angeles, train, try to stay ready mentally, be ready for the call if we were to come back. I’ve accepted that.”
A difficult decision for Rivers was choosing which staff to bring to the NBA Bubble. They only brought 15 players and Rivers compared the beginning stages of the restart as training camp in a regular season.
“We’re assuming that as each round goes on, we’ll be able to add more staff,” Rivers said. “We really leaned hard on the medical side even over the coaching side, which made it a very difficult decision for me obviously.”