Written by: Chris Cason
A week before teams were preparing to travel to the NBA’s bubble environment in Orlando, Los Angeles Clippers guard Landry Shamet echoed the thought of many of his colleagues in being a little uneasy with traveling to Florida in the wake of the state becoming the nations No. 1 hotspot for COVID-19 cases. Just days later, Shamet would test positive for the coronavirus.
After a two-week quarantine, he was cleared over the weekend and made his way to the NBA’s campus bubble. He’s expected to play in today’s first seeding game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers own the second-best record in the Western Conference and the game could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals.
I spoke with Shamet on behalf of Tohi before his positive coronavirus test about his concerns while in the bubble, how he plans on utilizing his free time while in Orlando and why he feels the competition level might be at another level with no fans in attendance.
Why is this partnership with Tohi special to you?
LS: Being from Kansas City, Tohi being based there and me being really body conscious about how I fuel myself. I want to give myself the best that I can to prolong my career and take care of my body. Tohi offers that and is on the rise to be hopefully something that can be seen globally to help others do that as well. It worked out perfectly because we're both from Kansas City. I'm passionate about Kansas City and taking care of my body.
I've put them in a few protein shakes but from a calorie standpoint, I like my shakes to be a little heavier. I'll drink a few Tohi's throughout the day, with breakfast, at night, after practice when I need some extra hydration. My favorite used to be the Ginger-Lime but now it's Dragonfruit.
Did you run into any difficulties in trying to remain motivated to keep in shape while quarantined?
It's been weird and it still is weird. Even with the facilities open now, we're only allotted one player and one coach per workout. There's only four players in there at a time. Right when you drive through the gate, you're getting your temperature checked and it's just different and part of that new normal that everyone talks about. When it first went down, it was weird but I just tried to take it for what it was and tried to enjoy the first week or two with the time off that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
My birthday came up, my girlfriend and best friend from high school was here and we were all quarantined together and tried to make the best of it. After a while, it was tough from a mental standpoint. Our owner, Steve Balmer, was great in sending us all the equipment to make sure we had home gyms set up to get good workouts in. The working out wasn't a big issue. The biggest thing was the motivation because you didn't know if we were going to play and it got a little tough. Ultimately, you find a way and I'm in a good place right now.
What has communication been like between you and your teammates?
Our group chat is very active. We've been in touch every day. Guys are talking about new updates and it's been good. We talk about everything, even everything going on with social justice and what can we do, what it looks like, how we want to make an impact and we're discussing real opportunities to be able to make a change. Obviously, we talk about the bubble and the restart. We're pretty open with each other. It's kind of well known but you can speak your mind here without any repercussions as long as you're respectful.
Has it been helpful to have some of those tough conversations following the murder of George Floyd?
Just having the dialogue has been the biggest thing in the last month or so. Being able to be more open and talk with everybody, I think that's the big thing. It's not a tough conversation to have. It's a real and human one to have. Just having the conversations, being open, acknowledging the issues, discussing what needs to change, and what can happen in the future is half the battle. It's been good to see the dialogue pick up and to hear it talked about so much more. That's been some of the good that has come from this so far.
Do you think you can put the worry factor behind you once you get back into your routine in Orlando?
It's going to be interesting because it's all individual workouts right now. We can't do anything as a group, so it's going from one to 100. We're going to get to Orlando and be able to practice, be in contact with all these other teams and everyone is all going to be in one place. It is a little weird but this is a weird time for everyone and there is no blueprint for how it's supposed to look. Personally, I'm not super worried but as weird and uncomfortable as the bubble is going to be, they're taking the precautions necessary to make sure the risk is as low as can be. I think there are things that we'll find out as we go along to see what works and what needs to change.
How do you plan on utilizing your free time while in the bubble?
It's going to be tough. That's one of my biggest concerns outside of not seeing anyone that I would be able to normally see. It's going to be tough but I think it's going to be a mindset thing. It's three months of just being locked in, like a boot camp. It's about going down there and not coming back empty handed. This is what it is and you might as well get the job done to make it worthwhile. I'm going to bring a few more books than I normally would on a road trip. I'll bring my XBbx and maybe I'll pick up golf and hit Doc [Rivers] up to see if we can golf. I haven't fully figured it out yet.
Do you see playing in an empty arena as being an issue or do you believe once the ball is thrown up, it doesn't matter?
It's going to suck from the standpoint of the playoff atmosphere in the NBA is second to none. Other than that — and other players will tell you this also — some of the most competitive basketball I've played has been in gyms where there are no fans. There's something about it because the confrontation is much more in your face. You can hear what guys are saying and there's no crowd noise to avoid it. It's going to be just as competitive if not more competitive. I think it brings more out of you since it's like a pickup setting. That playoff atmosphere will be missed though.
The NBA has added a slight delay in the broadcasts to censor the cursing and trash talk. Do you feel they should just allow it to play as normal?
There is a lot of trash talking that goes on during a game and now there will be no fans there so there's going to be more that would've otherwise gone under the radar. In a pickup game, you hear everything. Just from a TV standpoint, unless you want to have a viewer discretion is advised announced before the game, they're going to have to put the delay on there. As a fan, I understand wanting to see what it's really like.
How excited are you to know that you guys will all be fully healthy when the playoffs begin?
I love our group and love who we have. We just have to make sure that we come in and do our job. There are a lot of good teams that are capable of beating anybody. It's just a matter of can we come in, control what we can, have our minds in the right place and beat everybody. I love our chances. I think that we're a favorite and we should be.