Kings, NBA facing unprecedented reality during coronavirus shutdown


Kings, NBA facing unprecedented reality during coronavirus shutdown

The notification on my phone came through like it always does.
Kings vs. Nets
Golden 1 Center, 500 David J Stern Walk, Sacramento

It was 6 p.m. PT on Sunday. I would normally be three hours or more into my work day by that time, but thankful for the earlier start because I would get home just before midnight.
My 16-year-old ran down the stairs and boldly proclaimed, “Kings game is starting!”
He’s sarcastic, like his dad. I will likely get this same exact reaction 16 more times as we get calendar notifications on our phones for games that will not be played, at least not on their scheduled date, after the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Both of my sons are out of school until April 13, at a minimum. They’ll likely get independent studies, but their schools aren’t set up for anything like this yet and we are only at the beginning of what will be a long few weeks and months.
Having a moment to reflect after stocking up on supplies, planning home projects and quarantining vulnerable family members, this seems like a moment to put fingers to keys.
We are entering a new normal in the world. We have no idea what the coming moments will bring, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There is little choice but to go into lockdown mode, educate ourselves about what we are currently facing and try to be good human beings.
As of now, we know that NBA players Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Christian Wood have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Celebrities like Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Idris Elba, among others, have also tested positive for COVID-19.
The coronavirus isn’t discriminating in who it attaches itself to.
The Kings confirmed Friday that none of their players were showing symptoms of the virus, but the team has not been tested due to a lack of available tests in Sacramento county, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
The county announced a second death on Monday, along with 33 confirmed cases. It should be noted that, as of late last week, the county had very few tests per day to work with.
Having a basketball team filled with healthy 20-something-year-olds tested isn’t the proper use of resources when there are exposed hospital workers and critically ill patients. Testing the team and its staff would take two-to-three days' worth of the community tests, which isn’t something the Kings were willing to do.
Richaun Holmes and De’Aaron Fox have both turned to social media to thank Sacramento fans and to send along well wishes. That is exactly what people need at this point.
The league is on hiatus for what looks like at least three months. Players are not allowed to practice in groups, but they are now cleared to return to their homes around the country as long as their teams and the league know where they are.

[RELATED: Kings-Pelicans ref reportedly tests negative for coronavirus]
During this time, we will do our best to supply our readers with engaging content. That includes features, an increase in podcasts and tracking the NBA's who and what.
We are living in unprecedented times, but we are in this together. Welcome to our new reality.

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic worries NBA games without fans would be boring


Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic worries NBA games without fans would be boring

There is no guarantee that the NBA will be able to finish the 2019-20 season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. If they are able to pull off the tall task, there is a very good chance that the league will start out playing in empty buildings to ensure player and fan safety.

It is a difficult thought. The sound of sneakers squeaking and the ball bouncing, but nothing else. A referee’s whistle could be heard blocks away without 17,000-plus cheering bodies to dampen the noise. 

From the shot clock buzzer to the sound of Luke Walton’s baritone voice bellowing out commands, it’s all very strange to imagine. 

While the experience would be different for people on the outside looking in, this is how many NBA players grew up with the game. They started playing in front of parents at rec league games, but the real work came in their driveways, at local parks and in gymnasiums where they practice in front of a coach with a whistle.

On the latest edition of the Purple Talk Podcast, we caught up with Kings starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, and one of the topics of discussion was the idea of playing without fans. 

“I played in Serbia without fans and we were fighting,” Bogdanovic said. “So I got used to it a little bit.”

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Serbia or New Orleans or the Bahamas, it doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t until college that most of these players truly had the experience of playing in front of a packed house. It might take a game or two to get used to, but that might be the reality facing all professional sports in the near future. 

“It will be weird for sure,” Bogdanovic added. “It will feel like a practice game, not a real game.”

While the Kings are in the middle of a 13-season playoff drought, that doesn’t mean that fans aren’t still flooding into Golden 1 Center every game. Known as one of the most loyal and loud fanbases, Kings fans have an ability to energize the building. 

[RELATED: Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown]

For Bogdanovic, he equated the feeling to being in a battle. 

“The fans are something that brings that feeling like you are in a gladiator arena,” Bogdanovic said. “Imagine two gladiators fighting, or more, without fans. It would be boring.”

Bogdanovic is hoping to return to the court as soon as the league allows it, but he also has a strong perspective. He wants the fans to stay safe and if that means they have to watch the game through the television set while the team plays in an empty arena, then he understands.

We still are at least a month or more away from knowing what might happen this season, but all options are on the table. With any luck, there will be basketball, but what that might look like is a long way from being determined. 

Kings players provide meals to locals in need amid coronavirus pandemic

Kings players provide meals to locals in need amid coronavirus pandemic

The Kings are getting involved.

It started with a 5,000-pound food donation in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, but the team is stepping up to help both the local community and abroad.

Late last week the Kings offered up Arco Arena as a surge hospital and it is currently being transformed by the Army Corps of Engineers into a 400-bed facility. On Tuesday, we learned that Bogdan Bogdan, Nemanja Bjelica and Ana and Vlade Divac are sending aid to Serbia, including ventilators, masks and other medical supplies.

Bogdanovic is now joining Richaun Holmes, De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes in a new local venture, where the players are partnering to support local eateries while supplying over 1,000 meals to families in the Sacramento area.

“Since coming to Sacramento I have experienced firsthand how our community is truly one big family, so my teammates and I are committed to looking out for those in need and lending a helping hand,” Holmes, who initiated the plan, said via press release. “I am very thankful for my teammates in joining me to help bring smiles to others and get through this time together.”

The quartet of players are working with non-profits Juma Ventures and City Year, as well as Buckhorn Grill, Chicago Fire, Fixins Soul Kitchen and Jimboy’s Tacos, who will deliver food to those in need.

[RELATED: Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown]

“Sacramento is a huge part of my life and my career,” Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California when reached for comment. “We all said, ‘we have to give back to our community.’ We’re trying to help as much as we can. There are all of these people, most of who are fans, who are helping us during our games. Now it’s our time to help them”

The group has gone through local non-profits to find those in need and will have food delivered in the coming days. 

Listen and subscribe to the Purple Talk Podcast: