Troy Daniels can’t recall the last time he went this long without shooting a basketball.
The Denver Nuggets guard, who was with the Lakers until agreeing to a buyout March 1, was sitting on the bench in Dallas last month for what would end up being the last completed NBA game before the season was suspended indefinitely.
“We were playing when we found out so I didn’t know if we were going to stop but we kept going, and as soon as it was over everyone was talking about it in the locker room,” Daniels said. “We were supposed to go to San Antonio that night but we went back to Denver. That’s when I knew it was serious.”
Daniels returned to his home in Los Angeles the next day but faced the same problem during self-isolation and social distancing as many other NBA players: He could not shoot on a regulation court or step foot in a gym.
Not only was the NBA season shut down but so were all team training facilities as well as community gyms and public parks, making it impossible for players without access to a private court to train properly.
“I tried to find some gyms to get some shots up and keep my rhythm but everything is shut down,” Daniels said. “We can’t shoot hoops anywhere. So I take a basketball outside and just dribble around just to have that rhythm.
“It’s kind of weird. I find myself in a daze every now and again. When I wake up, I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’ I try to create a routine for myself. I try to wake up in the morning and make a good breakfast. I’ll try to go for a bike ride or a run, just to get my heart rate up and try to stay in the best shape I can. When I come back home, I take a shower and play video games for about four to five hours at a time and try to get something to eat in between, and that’s really my day.”
Daniels isn’t the only NBA player relegated to playing video games without a court or gym at home. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who is in the semifinals of the NBA 2K Players Tournament, said he is playing about 10 hours of video games per day.
“This is the most in the dark we’ve been about anything,” Booker said. “We really don’t know what’s next or what’s going to happen. Not being able to be in the gym is hard but safety is our main priority. I’m trying to stay prepared as best as I can. I’m trying to eat the right way and get my push-ups and sit-ups in when I can. I actually bought a basketball hoop a week ago and put it up outside so I’ve been shooting on that but that’s about it. I’ve just been playing video games and relaxing with the family.”
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has spent much of his time off playing the popular video game “League of Legends” and being with his wife, Robyn, who is expecting their fourth child in September, and their daughters, Bernie, 4, Charlie, 3, and Nora, 1.
“I don’t have a basketball court,” Hayward said. “I haven’t been able to shoot or anything. The practice facility and gyms are closed down so there’s nowhere to go. We’re just trying to figure out how we can get through this and keep ourselves ready but at the same time keep our distance and stay safe.”
The NBA reportedly has looked into resuming its season, which is 80% complete, this summer. If that were to happen, players will have gone months without playing a game or even shooting on a regulation court.
“We have a small home gym and I have dumbbells up to 40 pounds and I got my wife a Peloton last year so I’ve been doing the home workouts,” Hayward said. “On days when it’s nice I can go outside for a run and do some ball-handling drills like I’m a kid back in my driveway.”
The Lakers and Clippers arranged for equipment to be delivered to players’ homes and have used the video conferencing service Zoom to set up team workouts.
“It’s tough,” Clippers forward Patrick Patterson said. “I’m trying to find some hills that I can run up and down to keep my conditioning up. Our training staff sent us a bunch of gear so I have dumbbells, ladders and boxes. I have everything set up in our garage. I work out down there every other day and go on runs and jogs every other day. I’m just trying to keep my body in the best shape it can be for whenever we start up again.”
If the season resumes, there likely will need to be a mini-camp to get everyone on the same page after their hiatus.
“If we come back, the first two to three weeks are going to be tough,” Daniels said. “The majority of the guys in the NBA are trying to stay in shape but there’s nothing like game shape and there’s nothing like playing and practicing on a regulation court. Guys are going to get tired and struggle at the beginning. You’re going to have to cut guys’ minutes and play them less because fatigue can lead to injury. It’s going to be an adjustment for everybody but we’re all hoping we can come back this season and have to make that adjustment.”