It’s been almost a month since COVID-19 changed our lives so dramatically. We all went from our regular routines to lockdown seemingly overnight. Being quarantined was never a scary proposition; it’s a necessary evil to help flatten the curve and has become enforced in every major country across the globe.
What made the sudden quarantine so tricky was the NBA and other sports leagues getting placed into an uncertain state of hiatus and that seemingly simple notion of staying indoors became a much more daunting thought almost instantly. What would we do without the NBA in our lives? Luckily for fans, the league they love is innovative and has continually risen to the challenge of providing content.
Content can come in many forms which the league has been enthusiastically exploring, culminating in the current 2K20 players-only league. Trae Young obliterated Harrison Barnes in the first matchup of the tournament.
The bracket continues this weekend and will be a guaranteed hit with sports-starved fans. Once the tournament plays to a conclusion, and a player lifts the title of 2K God, the league is planning on pivoting to a televised HORSE competition between current stars from both the NBA and WNBA and recently retired big names.
Sources: The NBA and ESPN plan to televise a HORSE competition is nearing completion and among those expected to participate include Chris Paul, Trae Young and Zach LaVine. Competition will also include a couple of WNBA players and recent NBA alumni.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 8, 2020
The first name announced of the recently retired greats for the HORSE competition is a notable one for Celtics fans worldwide. Celtics legend Paul Pierce has been confirmed as a participant, returning to the hardwood to show these young guns how the game is played.
Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce will take part in ESPN's HORSE Challenge next week.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) April 9, 2020
Outside of the NBA’s attempts to recreate some form of competitive content, other media outlets have experimenting with similar avenues. CLNS Media has been releasing some delightful simmed games on 2K with Celtics radio legends Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell doing the play-by-play as if it were a real game. Over at Posting & Toasting, SBNation’s Knicks blog, they have been replaying old rivalries and streaming it live to their blog page, giving the winners bragging rights and creating captivating narratives that have long since been dead.
NBA 2K has been a saving grace for media outlets and fans alike, but there has also been an uptick in player/fan interaction in the form of live streams. Players are taking to Zoom and Instagram Live with increasing regularity. Jayson Tatum was live on Instagram for hours with thousands of fans tuning in.
Legendary IG live session beetween @PepStanciel and @jaytatum0— SEANWEST (@_seanwest_) April 8, 2020
This man spoke facts about STL hoops, called out Kyle Lowry , flamed Mo Bamba , told SLAM get him a sneaker deal, layed the foundation for the STL pro-am, and had @RealDealBeal23 + 3,000 others tuned in for hours pic.twitter.com/cPsGlWXqw8
Fans have continually had a stream of NBA players going live throughout the day, with the majority of these streams incorporating stars from around the sports world collaborating and generally discussing life in lockdown. The best way to find this live content from players is to follow the “NBATogether” hashtag across social media which curates the best of these streams.
Another side of this live stream coin is that players have some extra free time to fill, which has enabled more interviews with them across multiple forms of media. Jayson Tatum made a recent appearance on ESPN’S First Take and Gordon Hayward recently joined me for an interview on the CelticsBlog podcast.
While all this content will serve to help people’s mental health while being couped up at home, those within the NBA stratosphere have not been content with just producing content. Instead, the NBA community at large has been using its platform for the common good. They are utilizing their platforms to bring attention to the suffering throughout their local communities and the world as a whole.
”Once we ended suspending the season, we just pivoted right away to what we could do to help.” - Kathy Behrens, NBA president of social responsibility and player programs.
These charitable donations started once the league was suspended with players such as Kevin Love being some of the first to make donations to the staff within the organization who were most affected.
Charitable efforts soon escalated everywhere. Here at CelticsBlog, we’ve organized a fundraising event in conjunction with the Boston Foundation, while elsewhere, there has been an enormous swell of community spirit.
Oakland is closing schools bc of COVID-19. We support this decision but are concerned a/b the 18,000+ kids that rely on school for 2+ meals daily. @eatlearnplay is donating to @ACCFB to ensure every child has access to the food they need. Join us & donate https://t.co/nDqF7OoO0Z pic.twitter.com/nFp0w1eFqH— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) March 14, 2020
Steph Curry and his wife Ayesha teamed up with a food bank to provide meals to more than one million children who would usually obtain a free school meal at school. There are so many donations happening from those in a position to help, but here are just a few of the stories from around SB Nation:
- Joe and Cara Tsai (owners of the Brooklyn Nets) are donating ventilators to those in need.
- The Dallas Mavericks players are providing dinner to first responders and healthcare staff.
- Jonathan Isaac is helping to provide meals to Orlando children in need.
- Four Sacramento Kings donate over 1,000 meals to the local community
- Rudy Gobert donates $500,000 to Utah arena workers, OKC families, and French Healthcare System
- Jayson Tatum pledging donation in fight against COVID-19
There are hundreds if not thousands of more charitable activities happening around the world. While our beloved sports stars are not leading all of them, it’s a timely reminder of the role these professional athletes play within our local communities.
This pandemic is one of the most challenging situations our generation has had to handle. In a time of need, we’re coming together and supporting each other as best as possible, whether that be creating content for consumption, making donations, or merely being there to listen to others’ struggles. It’s somewhat comforting to know we’re not alone and that even superstars have our back when the chips are down.