The Players’ Tribune is introducing a new series called The Iso. With so many of us keeping our distance from each other in a variety of ways, we decided to ask some of our favorite athletes to share how they’ve been dealing with life in the Covid-19 world, and how they’re spending their time away from their sport.
On the night the Jazz were in Oklahoma City, my girlfriend, Kate, texted me. Have you checked on Jordan? Text Jordan. I didn’t know yet what was going on. I checked social media and turned on the game. They were walking off the floor. Fans were being sent home. I FaceTimed JC and realized that this was going to be very serious. Later that night, Silver postponed the season.
I went over to Tristan’s house, and we opened a bottle of wine. We talked with a couple of friends who were there with us, just about the magnitude of everything. Talking about, What is this going to look like? There was a lot going through our brains at the time. Is this going to change our culture? Is it going to change the NBA? Is it going to change how humans interact forever? We were just throwing out ideas and talking about what this meant for us. It was good to be with him and Darius that night, just trying to absorb everything.
The next morning, I woke up and thought, S***. There’s a bunch of people at the arena who I’ve developed relationships with, people who I know on a first name basis, who have been a part of my story — on and off the court — who are living paycheck-to-paycheck and will lose their jobs if we’re missing games. They don’t know how long they’re going to be out of work.
You just develop a relationship, a bond — a social connection that’s really just bigger than basketball. They’re people who have been a part of my story. They were here for the highs, like in 2016, when we won, and they’ve been here for the lows, all of the times when we didn’t.
Like, George. He’s one of our security guards. He works in our locker room and guards our lockers, making sure he sees everybody that comes in and out of there.
And Eugene. He’s another member of our security staff. I’ve developed a good relationship with him over the years that I really value.
Also, there’s Al, who I say hello to every time I see him come to clean the lockers. Every game pretty much, when I come in and when I’m leaving after I do all my treatments.
That’s just a few names of people I see every day, who I knew will be affected by all of this.
I called someone close to me, and that’s when I decided to donate $100,000 to the arena workers. Then, the Cavs stepped up and said they were gonna pay all of them through this time as if the games were going on, and other players stepped up, too. It was cool how it unfolded, with everyone just trying to help in whatever way they could.
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The unknown is the biggest stressor, right? That’s where the anxiety comes from. It’s real.
At night, my mind is racing. I try to make sure I’m getting good sleep and focus on trying to calm my mind. A big thing I’ve done for my mental health is clean the house, making sure there’s no clutter. I also get up and shower every day, and put on training clothes.
Find something that will give you motivation — that will get you through this time. I’m reading and watching a lot of film. That’s a big thing for me. Just finding different ways to escape. Sports are usually such an escape for people. The stories unfold before your eyes, and there’s so many different narratives. I know firsthand that when that’s taken away it can be extremely tough.
Social connection, meditation, stretching, eating healthy foods — that’s taking care of the body and the mind. You have to keep both the physical and the mental in balance as much as you can.
Somebody said to me — and I really like this — “Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.” Find ways to connect. If you’re feeling isolated, know that it’s normal to feel that way. Reach out to friends and loved ones on the IG Lives and the Zooms. Even just virtually, I think that being able to connect with people is huge. If you feel like you’re alone, on an island by yourself, I know that can be extremely, extremely tough.
I’m finally finishing I Heard You Paint Houses. It’s the Charles Brandt book that Scorsese adapted into The Irishman. Another one I’m reading, to kind of work on my mind, is The War of Art. It’s about breaking through creative battles. I’m also reading something called My Age of Anxiety. It’s about fear and hope and dread, and that search for peace of mind. It’s incredibly relatable for what I feel and go through.
As far as movies, I’ve been watching really everything. My buddy Ronnie (he’s the owner of Kith), we had gone back and forth about movies, and he made a list of his 30 best — what he believes are the 30 best movies of all time. We were just choppin’ it up about movies, and I gave him my best 30 and some honorable mentions.
I’ve always been a big film guy. I love that old Hollywood sensibility — the era of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman. Hitchcock is probably my No. 1. I’ve seen his entire cinematic catalogue. Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo are amazing. Rear Window is amazing. North by Northwest. What Psycho meant for film and all the barriers that broke. There’s so many, even ones that weren’t critically acclaimed, like Torn Curtain.
If this situation ever comes again, we need to be more prepared. Kind of like how we fight wars in the world, I think we need to learn to fight a virus like COVID-19. It’s pretty apparent that we weren’t ready for it. The early messaging that it was only old people who were affected was misleading and probably caused younger people to take it less seriously. So, hopefully we can be ready next time.
I’m in Cleveland, for the time being, or I guess for the foreseeable future. Me and Kate, and our dog, Vestry. It was important to me that we all be together during this time.
Everybody’s safe. I think whether we have somebody at arm’s reach or somebody just outside of that, we all know somebody or have a relationship with somebody who has been close to or has contracted COVID-19 — and those numbers are going to continue to trend in the direction that we don’t want them to trend. But I think to flatten out this curve it’s going to be incredibly important that we just continue to stay home.
Human beings are resilient. Nothing unites us like a common enemy. The only way we’re going to do this is together and by doing right by the next person. And we have to make sure we’re paying respects and tipping the hat to grocery-store workers and pharmacy workers and nurses and everybody in the medical profession, who are working on our behalf instead of being home with their families.