When basketball does return, players are going to have different views on how they’ll approach their safety.
From everything announced over the last few weeks, the NBA appears dedicated to finding a way to resume the 2019-20 season after the coronavirus suspended play on March 11. Miami Heat big man and former Kentucky Wildcat, Bam Adebayo, is still worried about the physical aspect of playing a high-contact sport in the midst of a pandemic.
“Some players like Steve Nash used to lick his hands,” Adebayo told the Associated Press. “Some people still have that in their routine. Some people wipe the sweat off their face and put it on the ball. It’s going to be weird how they try to control it, because we have to touch each other. And then you have to worry about the family members that we may be touching.”
The NBA has set a target return date for July 31 and all signs point to a “bubble” location that would host all remaining teams down in Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort. Finishing the rest of the season – whether that includes regular-season games or not – is still going to be a lengthy and potentially dangerous situation. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have been in talks over recent days in regard to players bringing down friends and family members to the bubble venue.
Adebayo makes an excellent point and he isn’t the only athlete that shares the same sentiment. In the same article by the AP, football and soccer players alike also expressed their concerns over acquiring the appropriate amount of tests and enforcing proper safety regulations.
“When that thing happened with (Rudy) Gobert and the (NBA’s Utah) Jazz, the whole sports world — maybe even the whole world — was like, ‘I got to take this serious,’” Green Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis said, according to AP. “So we’re test-tube babies. That’s why it’s even that much more important that we take every precaution before we even think about coming back.”
Steve Nash isn’t the only (former) NBA player that licks his hands, either. Several players lick their hands and rub the bottom of their shoes to gain more traction. People of all ages at your local YMCA do the exact same thing. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have been spotted licking their fingers before free throws. Hell, even Anthony Davis got blasted on social media when he recently licked his fingers before high-fiving teammates – and that was just three days before Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
It’s disgusting; there’s no other way around it. But it’s something that has just sort of *happened* in sports for a long time – and most of us probably never truly took it into concern until this all broke out. Sure, licking a finger or two might help with the grip a tiny bit, but players are going to quickly realize (and most of them probably already have) that they can’t continue to do this going forward.
(Shoutout to Josh Harrellson, first and foremost, but can we talk about how vile it is for Hedo Turkoglu to stand there and repeatedly dip his fingers into his own saliva?)
But Adebayo’s concern isn’t just about players licking their dirty, sweaty fingers. As he said in the quote, he’s concerned about the family members brought down. He raises a fair question that the league is going to have to address sometime soon.