With the NBA on hiatus and team facilities shut down amid the COVID-19 outbreak, players are trying their best to remain in shape while stuck at home. For high-paid veterans with expansive home gyms, that’s easier than it is for players living in an apartment complex, but all of them are facing difficulty of how to avoid a major drop-off from in-season shape amid uncertainty about when the season could pick back up.
The longer the hiatus lasts, the longer it’ll take for players to get back in game shape, which will impact when the season can actually come back — some believe players might need as much as a full month of work before they can play games once facilities are allowed to open back in full. As such, this season may stretch deep into the summer and possibly finish the playoffs as late as September. That’s a world of difference from the June finish players are accustomed to, and as such, there’s a very new challenge facing them.
LeBron James addressed that on the latest Road Trippin’ podcast on Uninterrupted, where he visited with Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, and Allie Clifton, making his first comments at length about the hiatus and everything going on. LeBron noted that while some have thought the hiatus might help a player like LeBron by giving him some rare rest at this time of year, his body is already confused by the sudden shutdown and he thinks it’s a much bigger detriment than it is a help. (Transcription via Dave McMenamin of ESPN)
“When you’ve been building six months of conditioning and preparation and then [it’s gone], the narrative that I don’t like [is], ‘Well, now guys get so much rest.’ Or, like, ‘LeBron, he’s 35, he’s got so many minutes on his body, now he gets so much rest,'” he said. “It’s actually the opposite for me because my body, when we stopped playing, was asking me, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’
“My body was like, ‘Hey man, what the hell is going on? It’s March 13th, you’re getting ready for the playoffs, why are you shutting down right now?’ And I was right there turning the corner, like, I felt like I was rounding third base, getting ready for the postseason.
“So the rest factor, I think it’s a little bit [overblown]. Especially when you’re in the full swing of things.”
There was some thought that some time off might help older players regain their legs for the stretch run and playoffs, but as LeBron notes, his body has been building to being at its peak in the next month or two for the entire season, and suddenly that’s put completely on hold. As such, he’s going to have to find a way to keep himself in quality shape without burning himself out in case he has to play in July, August, and even September.
Players of LeBron’s caliber, who have been through numerous deep playoff runs have learned exactly what they need to do to be at their best when they need to be, which is usually from April to June. Now, that timeline is pushed back and it’s going to present a very new challenge to him and other players who are so routine driven and have their conditioning for an NBA season down to a science.