BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA may be on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, but that hasn’t kept Brad Stevens from coaching. But that tutelage is much, much different from what he demands from his Celtics players.
With Stevens and his players all self-isolating during the ordeal, the C’s head coach is like most of us — stuck at home with his kids. And like a good parent, Stevens is keeping them informed on everything that is going on.
It’s difficult to explain a worldwide pandemic to kids, but Stevens did it the best way he knew how: With a PowerPoint presentation. That may be the most Brad Stevens move that Brad Stevens has ever made.
Stevens has been practicing proper social distancing since the NBA put its season on hold over two weeks ago. He said the Celtics arrived in Milwaukee for their March 12 clash with the Bucks expecting to play in front of an empty arena, but the NBA put the season on hold the night prior when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
“In a unique way, that was the starting point for the whole country recognizing [the seriousness of the matter],” Stevens said on a Friday conference call with Boston reporters. “That night will be something we all remember, and the days following that as we enter this ‘new world.'”
As for keeping in touch with all his players, Stevens has been hosting some conference calls over Zoom (see, the NBA is just like us regular folk!) a few times a week to keep everyone connected and talk about non-basketball issues. The coach said that Marcus Smart, the lone Celtics player who tested positive for COVID-19, is feeling better and is joking around like his normal self. He’s happy that Smart came forward with his diagnosis to hammer home the importance of social distancing.
“I’m proud of how he kind of took the initiative to tell people that he had it and that he felt good and that he got online and just continued to ask people to practice social distancing and self-isolation right now,” said Stevens. “It’s a really unique, unsettling time for everyone.”
As for players keeping themselves ready for the return of basketball, the team has sent them bikes and weights so they can do their training at home. But Stevens has not sent them any homework to do during this layoff.
“Basketball has taken a far backseat,” said Stevens. “I think it’s more important right now that we’re a community of coworkers and a community of friends and people who care about each other that get online and make sure we’re doing OK.”
That doesn’t mean Stevens isn’t getting ready himself. He’s gotten a jump on his normal post-season work, hoping it will pay off when/if the league returns.
“Usually, I wait until after the playoffs are over after season ends and do a series of film studies and those types of things, just stat studies and individual studies and those. But, I’m actually knocking those out now, in hope that it helps us dial into what we need to do should we be able to resume playing, and what we need to focus on when we get back to practice,” he explained. “It would be a unique situation to be off for as long as we’re going to be off to have to re-acclimate and re-condition. But you do already have a system in with those 15 guys. And so, it’s really interesting because you have five back or six back when you go to a training camp scenario.
“Other than that, just working on things that will be applicable should we get back together. But right now, I don’t think it’s appropriate right now to be hammering basketball with our guys,” he added.
While some may be complaining about having to work from home, or having no sports to take their minds off of such a trying time, Stevens put the situation into perspective.
“We’re calling sitting at home an inconvenience. What a joke,” he said. “There are so many that are working so hard every day to help our communities and help the sick, putting their own selves at risk. Every time you put on the TV, it hits home even more.
“My thoughts are for everyone really facing this thing,” he said.