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The NBA’s New Workout Plan

With players stuck in quarantine like the rest of us, they’re having to get creative to keep their games and minds sharp. Here’s a look at what NBA stars are doing to pass the time and stay (loosely) connected to basketball.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

On Thursday, the NBA told its teams to close their practice facilities due to the coronavirus in order to protect players and staff. Players are also not allowed to practice or work out at local gyms, clubs, or any other public facilities. It was the latest sign, as more players test positive for the virus, that we may be even further from actual basketball than we thought. So, before we begin to entertain the questions of when, where, and how the NBA could come back from its hiatus, let’s start with something much more basic: How will NBA players work out in the meantime? Some have home gyms that could help with this; others may be able to work with their personal trainers virtually or from a safe distance. (That’s a discussion and story for another day.) But for most NBA players, access to their team’s facilities is their outlet to basketball. Now that it’s gone, rather than get too dark, let’s take a lighthearted jog through the options they may still have to keep their games sharp during quarantine.

The Serge Ibaka HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Express Workout

Who among us hasn’t tried to sneak in some cardio without going outside or getting on a treadmill? Well, here’s the Raptors big man running sprints in his living room hallway to try and get a sweat in. NBA players … they’re just like us?

I respect Isaiah Thomas shamelessly roasting Ibaka in the replies by telling him he would need to do a thousand of those to even make it worth his while. And while Thomas is probably right, sometimes all you need to do to feel better while being stuck at home is move. Who’s to say that these half-hearted minisprints aren’t psychologically preparing Ibaka for his long day ahead? I’m giving it a week before Ibaka adds a weighted scarf to his workout.

Old-fashioned Running

As someone who recently had to force himself to start running to, you know, see the sun and everything, I can only imagine the antsiness plaguing pro athletes right now. May I recommend a nice jog through the neighborhood? Look, I haven’t been in good shape since my soccer days in high school, so I will not be sharing my mile times publicly, but I can vouch for feeling healthier and refreshed after my runs, which should count for something. I know most players are probably used to sprint work, but if we’re in this stoppage for the long haul, it may not be a bad idea to work on that long-term endurance. At the very least, it’s finally a way to put your overpriced FitBit or Apple Watch to use, and for players like CJ McCollum, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Zach LaVine—who average nearly 3 miles per game, according to NBA.com/Stats—to try running long distances in a straight line for once.

The Trae Young … Sock Challenge?

Let me try to validate this one for a second. Stay with me. If you shoot with a smaller ball, errr, bundled-up sock, for a long period of time, then maybe when you switch back to a regular basketball, the effect will be—no, I can’t do it. Sorry. This is just the beginning of a bad internet challenge, isn’t it? I can’t wait until Ben Simmons posts a video of him only dunking his socks in a basket or shooting them from up close. Everyone please stay on brand. Also, someone get Trae a Nerf hoop at least.

Do It for the TikTok

On the internet, a difference of a year in age can sometimes be a chasm in cultural knowledge, which is why 23-year-old Matisse Thybulle’s TikTok—and really, TikTok in general—confounds the 24-year-old writing this story. What I will say is that Thybulle is one the most entertaining and wholesome players in the league, and of all the gimmick workout videos players have put out, at least Thybulle is using furniture and a tennis ball (like Steph!) to try and hone his dribbling. As a rookie whose calling card isn’t exactly his ballhandling, this is actually something he will need to work on in the future. What better time to start than right now, while getting millions of views and some followers in the process? It looks like both Domantas Sabonis (the player whose actual game least says “TikTok”) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have both taken to the app to work on their footwork and, uh, follower count, too.

Watch and Do Celebrity Workouts on YouTube

I am constantly bombarded on YouTube with an intense ad in which Chris Hemsworth tells me that I can now get trained by the experts who train him. I won’t lie: It’s an enticing offer, but I don’t have the kind of money or confidence to believe that I can look like Thor one day. Yet if you’re an NBA player, it’s more likely that you do have those things, so why not give the Hemsworth workout a try? Maybe you don’t want to bulk up and would rather tone instead? That’s OK. Fellow actor Sterling K. Brown has the perfect full-body, no-weight workout for you.

Personally, until Brown plays a superhero in a Marvel movie, I feel more confident going with this one.

Watching Old Highlights

Players have to keep their brains and memory sharp too, and what better way to do that than by watching film? Not recent game film, though, like all players do during the season and in the hours leading up to a game. Let’s take it all the way back. LeBron, for example, showed on his Instagram this week that he went back and watched his high school games. That fadeaway jumper (a relic in today’s game) was automatic even back then.

NBA 2K

We’re lying to ourselves if we try to pretend this isn’t what most players are doing during the hiatus. I can’t say I blame them. Their couch is the closest they’ll get to playing competitive basketball for who knows how long.

Presented without comment:

I can’t wait until we’re in October and basketball Twitter is debating whether Ty Jerome’s hand size is hurting him in his quest to deliver the Suns their first NBA title. Scratch that, I can wait. Let’s never let that happen.

Peloton

Look, it may be time to come clean. Maybe the husband in the extremely controversial Peloton ad from far simpler times knew what was waiting for us on the horizon. Now his gift doesn’t look so bad after all, does it? In all seriousness, I wish I had a Peloton in my living room right now, and if you’re an NBA player, not only can you certainly afford one, but why not add a treadmill while you’re at it? Someone DM Ibaka and tell him about this modern technology before his hardwood floors get scratched up.