BOSTON (CBS) — Enes Kanter doesn’t know when basketball will return from its cornavirus timeout. He doesn’t even know what the NBA will look like when it does return, and what format the league may use for the postseason.
But whenever teams start to hit the hardwood gain, Kanter is confident that his Celtics will be ready to win games no matter the situation.
“We actually have a really good chance to go out and win a championship,” Kanter said Friday on a conference call with members of the Boston media.
Kanter said players will need a few weeks to get back into game-shape before play resumes, a sort of mini-training camp.
“I think we’ll need two to three weeks just to get back on the court because people are in their apartments and not moving at all,” he explained. “If you jump straight to playoffs — playoffs are like a war where you’re going to give everything you have. We have to make sure everybody is 100 percent healthy and in good shape, game-shape, and then we can go out there and compete.”
Kanter is open to having all of the postseason in one city, but he’s hoping the NBA keeps the best-of-seven format if the playoffs do take place, “because every game you play in the playoffs is a blessing.” However, he doesn’t think fans will be part of the equation, and if that is the safest way to conclude the season, he’s open to that option.
“Just broadcast on TV and we’ll play the games without fans,” he said.
Kanter has been staying in shape physically, because the Celtics have been making sure all players are staying active. He’s also staying sharp mentally, which he said is extra important during the hiatus. He’s doing a ton of reading and watching lots of documentaries. He’s even learning how to cook and play the piano.
“This is the best time to invest in yourself, educate yourself,” said Kanter. “I’m really trying to spend my time on something I haven’t done before.”
And he’s certainly had plenty of time to fit all of that in. When the NBA paused the season three weeks ago, the Celtics were put on self-quarantine. They had recently played the Utah Jazz, which had two players test positive for coronavirus. A short time later, it was revealed that Celtics guard Marcus Smart tested positive for the virus.
During his time at home, Kanter thought a lot about his teammate, and all of those around the NBA.
“I was worried about all my other teammates and praying for Marcus Smart. I know he’s a strong guy. It was very sad because we are competitors and we want to go play basketball, but safety first,” he said. “Make sure our teammates, organization and other organizations are safe.”
And like most of Boston, Kanter wasn’t too concerned about Smart. He knew the virus didn’t stand a chance against Boston’s defensive bulldog.
“I knew he was going to beat that, because the virus has never faced anyone like Marcus Smart,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how outspoken he is about this stuff, because people need that. He’s been through it and it’s so amazing to see.”