All the players said they enjoyed learning more about the classic NBA characters in that series. Obviously, today’s players love watching peak Bryant — now more than ever. Bynum has become something of a curiosity. “People forget how good Bynum was,” Zeller said. “He was a monster.” Caleb Martin said he was surprised at the speed and athleticism of a young Danilo Gallinari, playing almost full time as a wing. “You know of these guys, but you never sit down and actually watch them play a full game,” Cody Martin said.
Ibaka had played a key role on good teams prior to arriving in Toronto. He reached the NBA Finals with the Thunder in 2012. Perhaps that is why he is not often cited as another successful byproduct of the Raptors player development system. But he should be. “You come here as a vet and you see the way they develop those players, and you get to play with those players, too. …They developed (those skills) from working out,” says Ibaka. “And the style of the game changed, too. You have to adapt to it. As a player, you have to adapt to it. If you want to have a role here, you have to develop, too, if you want to play with those young fellas that have talent. That’s where everything comes from. It helped me adapt my game.”
Something wasn’t right. Hundreds of basketball games had tipped off without fail at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but this was an outlier. The three officials gathered to start, then there was a fourth, a suit unfamiliar to this portion of the show. It was the equivalent of a 747 tearing down the runway only to get called back to the gate. When games are ready to go, they typically do. But “typical” is not what’s happening to the world right now. The coronavirus is not typical, nor was March 11, when, in front of 18,000 people, Donnie Strack acted atypical to the NBA machine that was in motion around him.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Amid a strange scene that ended with the cancellation of not just a game but the postponement NBA indefinitely, Strack remained himself. For those unfamiliar with the 6-foot-5 native of Indiana, his face may have exhibited urgency as he explained the scenario to the officials and motioned for Thunder assistant general manager Rob Hennigan to join the huddle. But Strack’s face maintained the same controlled concern he has when talking to players in pregame with a hand on their shoulder and an even tone.