You're beginning your 19th season in the NBA. You never…

You’re beginning your 19th season in the NBA. You never know if it will be the last one, but you’ll turn 40 in 2020. For the first time, your future seems somewhat uncertain. Do you have more doubts than other times? Will it be your last year? Pau Gasol: “I am not worried about the future. I understand that my career is about to end. It is something that I have been assimilating these years. I am sure that my career as a basketball player will end in a little while. It won’t be much more, as much as I love playing. There is uncertainty about what will happen after, but I have been training to have different options, objectives and responsibilities. Activity will never be missing. I would like to have space to work with an organisation, a team or an organisation within the sport. I will also look for flexibility to be with my family. For now, I want to continue enjoying this stage as a player, although I know that the chapter, or the book, will end. Then another chapter will begin and we will continue writing good pages.”
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January 27, 2021 | 8:36 pm EST Update
Attempts to grow closer as a team are confronting a world in which proximity to teammates is both dangerous and prohibited. As a result, NBA players and staffs have been reduced to distant conversations through face masks, and a road life dominated by individual screens rather than collective camaraderie. “The reality is that you can’t do stuff like that anymore,” Haslem said. “Those opportunities don’t exist.” In Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner’s words: “It’s a bubble within a bubble.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
STARTING AN AVERAGE day on the road, an NBA player must now wake up as early as 7:30 a.m. to be tested before a practice or shootaround, depending on the market. He then returns to his room to catch another hour or so of sleep, or to busy himself with a video game, an episode of a series or maybe a FaceTime session with family back home. A couple of hours later, he reports downstairs to board the team bus. The wait in the lobby is traditionally a time when players schmooze and hang out, but with everyone at least 6 feet apart and masked, the vibe has taken on an edgy quality.
Pre-practice strategy sessions at the hotel can no longer last more than 10 minutes. Shootaround or practice offer some normalcy, but breakfast back at the hotel in a ballroom, typically a communal ritual where players and staff yuck it up at tables for eight, now operates as a grab-and-go. Want some fresh air? Forget about taking a walk outside, even though the CDC and other leading medical institutions regard outdoor activities with the appropriate precautions as low risk.
This season, that ground rarely extends much past the door to a hotel room. The Spurs’ custom on the plane has been effectively prohibited. Under the new guidelines, players must sit next to the same guys they sit next to on the bench during games. On an off night, it’s dinners for one in the room — a far cry from the jovial dining out experience in a road city. “I think that’s hard — having options taken away,” Holiday said. “You might go to your favorite city, and have a favorite food spot that people might not know about. And that’s something that you can bring to the table, something you share, and [this season] you can’t really share that.”
January 27, 2021 | 6:50 pm EST Update
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