Normally, a trip to New Orleans during basketball season would include a delicious Cajun meal: okra, red beans and rice, smothered, a bottle of wine, the works.
But as the Warriors wrap up their final trip of the regular season with Tuesday night’s game against the Pelicans, they remember the hardest part of the trip amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mostly just not being able to go out to dinner very often,” said coach Steve Kerr, adding that as restrictions across the country loosened, they have recently been able to dine out more often. “Being on the road, one of the best things about it is going out for dinner with friends or maybe a team meal or a staff meal. Maybe go out and do something fun.
“We’ve been pretty much confined to our hotels all year, so it hasn’t been as much fun as it used to be.”
In San Antonio, Kerr typically enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with his friend and mentor, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. In Philadelphia, Steph Curry may have wanted to visit his brother, Seth. But they may not have been able to do it.
In this regard, NBA players and coaches are a lot like anyone who has gone months without seeing their friends and loved ones in person. At the start of the pandemic, people were staying on site and restaurants were mostly closed for on-site meals.
However, as the country has opened up in recent months, NBA employees still face certain restrictions on whether and where they can dine. Those who venture outside of these restrictions may be struck by the dreaded health and safety protocol, which can effectively sideline a player for at least a week of games.
For the most part, coaches and players were confined to their hotel rooms, forced to order room service. Now maybe it seems like a first world problem, but try being happy with a prepackaged turkey club for the umpteenth time when a delicious muffaletta is available just around the corner.
And what about pizza in New York? Washington DC steakhouses? Nightlife in Miami?
The point is, these trips are essential for building team bonds. As the Warriors went through a pandemic and a rebuild this season, they missed the usual opportunities to create the much-needed camaraderie that is often the key to consistently playing winning basketball.
“Definitely alone,” Kerr said. “You were used to having a lot of team and family meals at those meals and big festive occasions, and now you are often alone in your room.
“It’s like everyone on Earth – we had to adapt,” he continued. “We’re obviously very lucky to be working and playing basketball and doing what we love, but I think it doesn’t matter who you are, where you, where you live, what you do, this pandemic has kind of taken hold. a lot of joy. of life.”