For Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle, life during self-quarantine started out as it did many of us.
Reading books, including To Kill a Mockingbird and Freakonomics; workouts in which he did step-ups on his bed while holding a box (don’t worry, he’s since gotten his hands on some free weights!); yoga; meditating in the morning; walking outside when the weather was willing; and group chats and video calls with teammates, family and friends. He even built a Lego — a small Porsche, he said, that fits in his hand.
But unlike many of us, Thybulle decided not to spend his time binge-watching TV shows or movies.
“Because I want to do things that I don't (normally) have time to do, and I've always had time to find TV shows to binge-watch," he said in an interview Monday with NBC Sports Philadelphia.
So, Thybulle did something that he says was completely out of his comfort zone, creating a TikTok account. It's something that he says still feels awkward for him, a guy who admits he's uncomfortable in front of the camera.
“I know, it's pretty backwards,” Thybulle joked about his new hobby. “It's quite unfortunate.”
And it takes a lot of time.
“The one where I was dribbling around in my jersey took all day — like, hours," he said with a laugh.
Thybulle has also gotten used to a new diet —he's eating gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to his cousin that he’s been staying with — and figuring out a way to fill his competitive hunger without basketball games.
“For me, competition has always been largely an internal battle,” he explained. “Competing with myself, I find that a huge challenge and hugely rewarding if I can exceed expectations.
So how does he compete with himself while being isolated? He might pick an activity that he doesn’t necessarily enjoy doing, like stretching, tell himself he wants to reach a certain goal of being more flexible, and achieve it.
“Some days, it’s hard to motivate yourself to do something productive," he said. "I find it rewarding to actually not be a lazy bum and sit on the couch, and be productive. I find that's like competition.”
But along with making TikToks, reading books, practicing yoga, stretching and building legos, this time has given Thybulle even more opportunity to think.
Not just about basketball, though he’s been reflective of his rookie year.
As a whole, because you get so caught up in the day to day, preparing for each game, every micro-detail, you can lose sight of the big picture," he said. "To step back and embrace the fact that I made it to the NBA, I played in the NBA, I started an NBA game, I've scored, I've gotten steals, I've done all these things as a kid you dream of. ... For me, to be able to look back on a short season, but my first season, and see all the stuff that I achieved, it's cool. It helps put things in perspective.
He's also been thinking about life outside of basketball.
“To think about what my life means, for me, and what I want to achieve, it has been eye-opening," he said, "and I think it will be cool once we can try to get back to a normal life, to see how people use what they have been able to learn about themselves during this time, and act on that once we are back out in the real world.
“I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and that good or bad, there is something to be learned from it. I know that this has been a tragic time and really hard for a lot of people, but it has also given us a great opportunity to just remember the human aspect of life, that it is not just about your job or what your status is ... appreciating just what it is to be alive, be happy, be healthy, have friends, and people who you look after and who look after you. This has been a really difficult time for a lot of people, but this has also brought a lot of people together.”
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