Torero Turned NBA Head Coach David Fizdale Weighs In on Plans for NBA’s Return – NBC 7 San Diego

In the midst
of unpredictable times, former Torero basketball player and assistant coach
David Fizdale can usually count on being asked one question.

“Anytime I go
out I could have my mask on… I’m standing in line doing my social
distancing… for some reason somebody will recognize the glasses over the mask
and they’ll say, ‘coach are we having basketball this summer? We need our games.’”

“They really
need that lift that sports give them, and especially what the NBA gives them,”
Fizdale said.

That’s been
absent since March 11th, the night that the Jazz and Thunder were
told to leave the court after Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for
coronavirus. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended the season. A day later the
rest of the sports world shut down.

More than two
months later the NBA is working towards a safe return. The league has allowed
teams to open facilities for voluntary individual workouts – with no coaches
and no more than four players present at a time. According to New York Times NBA
reporter Marc Stein, 17 of the league’s 30 teams had taken the league up on its
offer as of Monday.

“It’s the
first step to the process of coming back,” Fizdale explained,

That process
will require many more steps, and answers to a number of questions. For
instance, how much time will players need to get back in playing shape? The
former Knicks and Grizzlies head coach thinks the NBA should give teams three
weeks for players to get game ready.

“They got to
get on the court. They got to start hitting. They got to start running up and
down. They got to start playing through situations,” Fizdale said. “Doing a lot
of things that the real games are going to entail.”

What is also
uncertain is how many games they will play before launching into the
postseason. In fact, there is the question of whether teams outside of the
playoff picture should return at all. Fizdale thinks it might be beneficial to
limit the remainder of the season to the teams that still have a shot at the
postseason.

“Is it worth
risking the employees that you need to show up to the games to make a game
function? Is it worth the players health? The coaches’ health? The trainers’
health?”

In an effort
to limit the number of people involved and their exposure to others, the league
is also reportedly considering sending teams to one or two locations –
specifically Disney World Resort in Orlando, and Las Vegas. If players operated
in a ‘bubble’ on one of those host cities, the question is whether or not their
family members will be able to join them

“To be away
from my family and not being able to interact face-to-face with them every day
would be difficult.”

“I do believe that they will come up with a solution that gets basketball back on the court for us this summer.”

Regardless of
where games take place, there’s no question they’ll look different. Fizdale
says playing without fans is a no-brainer. While that would take away from the
in-arena fan experience, and the typical environment of games, he does think
the circumstances could add a new layer of entertainment value for those
watching from home.

“Now you’re
gonna hear everything,” Fizdale said. “You’re gonna hear dialogue between
people. You’re gonna hear a lot of vulgarities.”

He even thinks
the league will have to find ways to engage fans during games, like putting
more microphones on players or including them in in-game interviews.

There’s a lot
that will need to be figured out, but Fizdale says that with next season
already likely to start late – there’s time to put together a plan.

“It’s just
better to be cautious right now. Err on the side of caution, and just really
slow walk it step-by-step to get these guys back on the court.”

He believes in
the leadership of Silver, and his ability to put together a safe plan for the
league’s return.

“I do believe
that they will come up with a solution that gets basketball back on the court
for us this summer, and it’ll be a nice jump to the system for everybody.”

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