David Pick-Teil 37

Geschrieben von: Luca Markwald am 14. Juli 2020.

In December 2019 we started hearing whispers about a mysterious virus outbreak in China. Since then, it has been given a name, multiple names - "CoronaVirus" and "COVID-19".

The world was slow to respond, but sooner than later caught on to the pandemic as the virus began to spread from Asia to Europe to America, hitting hard countries such as Italy and France, and New York, resulting in thousands of catioulties and nine million people infected.

The world announced a global lockdown. We were at war, we still are - World War III - and the scariest part about it all is we don't know what our enemy looks like, where it attacks, how it attacks, or why it is hunting us down.

Governments announced a state of emergency and shut down employment worldwide, cancelled sports, tore families apart, enforced the usage of facial masks, quarantine etc. But fast forward to the present, and some of us were given a gift. That's why it's called the "present" - because after a lot of heartache and mostly boredom indoors - BASKETBALL IS BACK, in some places.

China, Germany, Israel and Spain - are the only four active countries in the world trying to play out the 2019-2020 season. It surely was not an easy process to say the least. I know players personally, such as former NBA guard Pooh Jeter, who left China due to COVID and was subject to serve two weeks quarantine at his home in Los Angeles. He then returned to China upon the resumption of the CBA and served an additional two weeks quarantine there. However, China experienced a second outbreak of the virus and announced the season has been temporarily cancelled. Jeter returned home again, and guess what? Two more weeks of quarantine. That's just one example. In Israel, my coach Stefanos Dedas, head tactician for Hapoel Holon, returned home to Athens upon cancellation of the season in Israel and did two weeks of quarantine. He then travelled to see his children on a Greek neighboring Island and per the Island's official rules - two weeks quarantine. With the Israeli League starting up again, Holon wanted to bring him back to coach, but the situation presented off the court challenges.

Dedas would need to stay under house arrest for two weeks when he returns to Israel. Then after the season concludes in late July, go through two weeks quarantine again in Athens, then an additional two weeks quarantine when he lands back in Israel to prep for the 2020-2021 season. Did you do the math? That adds up to a total of SIX QUARANTINES - 12 weeks, 3 MONTHS in total isolation. That's INSANE. I ended up reaching a gentelmans' agreement with Holon to relieve Dedas of his obligation to coach the club for the remainder of the season, and he will return for training camp in August.

BACK TO CHINA. The local federation insisted on carrying out the season with a variety of formats - with US imports and without. The Chinese Basketball League (CBA) 1st game between Zhejiang Lions and Nanjing Monkey Kings was held in Qingdao, and all players and staff members made a W-shaped gesture to pay respects to medical workers in combat against Covid-19 before tipoff.

More so, former NBA legend and CBA owner of the Shanghai Sharks Yao Ming also paid tribute to the medical workers before the match, fighting the virus, risking their lives to help, rescue, and secure infected humans all across Asia.

Japan is likely the most active league with regards to signing free agents for next season. While Serbian veteran Milan Macvan retired ,Dinamo Sassari's Dwayne Evans turned down a $280,000 offer to return to Italy for a whopping $400,000 deal in Japan. The ASEAN League is on total standstill because the logistics of the league, consisting of many different teams in random countries, are required to travel all around Asia; and with most air borders closed indefinitely, it makes things difficult to plan ahead.

I'm not going to dive deep into the resumption of the German BBL League, although I've been pleasantly enjoying watching the Bundesliga games on TV in Tel Aviv. Bayern Munich came back looking really bad, while Ratiopharm ULM and MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg had great battles for the rights to qualify for the Finals phase. In fact, the 71-71 tie in the opening leg of the two-game series, was the first tie in the German playoffs since Giessen and Wolfenbuettel finished 78-78 in the second semi-final game in the 1974-75 season. THANK YOU CORONA FOR REWRITING HISTORY.

The Spanish ACB association also revived it's basketball in a 2 group, 10 team tournament in Valencia. Upsets were recorded there as well as FIBA Champions League club San Pablo Burgos stunned Euroleague powerclub Real Madrid 87-83. Oh, and since we are on the topic of FIBA BCL and Euroleague - a new war has broken out between FIBA and the governing body of the EuroCup.

We have seen club bolts from the EuroCup to the BCL before, such as Hapoel Jerusalem. But things have recently gotten out of hand, and it appears that EuroCup officials have been sleeping on the job. It's one thing to lose your sweetheart to your arch nemesis. It happened before with Vassilis Spanoulis bolting from Panathinaikos to Olympaiacos. Or Nikola Mirotic returning from the NBA to Spain and opting to sign with Barcelona over Real Madrid. Or Guy Pnini who did this crazy route: Maccabi Tel Aviv --> Hapoel Jerusalem --> Maccabi Tel Aviv. Speaking of, Jeremy Pargo from Maccabi Tel Aviv --> Hapoel Jerusalem. I can go on, there are plenty more examples. Giannis Papapetrou from Olympiacos to Panathinaikos. Alexey Shved from CSKA to Khimki Moscow.

Basically, point made. French side Limoges, Turkish club Tofas Bursa, Lithuania's Rytas Vilnius and Spanish cinderalla Bilbao signed agreements with the BCL. But it's another thing entirely when your queen, your most prized possession, your greatest love, stabs you in the back. That's what happened to the EuroCup, losing not ONE, but TWO former competition Champions: Galatasaray and Darussafaka to FIBA's BCL. I reached out a few days ago to a well-established EuroCup GM, whose club will remain in the league going forward - "Which league is now better, BCL or EuroCup?" His response was simple: "EuroCup is better than BCL, but not as good as Euroleague''.

Life in Israel is more or less back to normal, despite a small 2nd outbreak of COVID. Schools were back to a near full capacity, though multiple students were then diagnosed with COVID, and the government was forced to retrace its decision and sent many kids back to home schooling. For sports, things are pretty clear. To date, no players have been diagnosed with COVID. Soccer games have been ongoing for weeks while fans, despite not being able to enter the stadiums, gather together in thousands outside to cheer their teams for afar.

The Ministry of Health's rules to resume the 2019-2020 basketball season were clear and left no room for question, but many for error. ALL players were initially bound to reside in quarantine and total isolation from the outside world. The route for practices and games was simple: HOME -> GYM -> HOME. For 2 months, till the end of July.

Players took to Twitter to criticize the league and its decisions. Scottie Wilbekin, Othello Hunter, Alex Hamilton and Jake Cohen blew off steam. They kind of made sense to be honest. I totally understand the league for wanting to isolate players and prevent them from coming in contact with the outside world. But the restrictions overlap. It doesn't make sense for players and coaches to be isolated while the rest of the country is fully engaged in social gatherings. It doesn't make sense for players and coaches to be isolated when the referees are bouncing from gym to gym. Amare Stoudemire is a single father that has to cater to his children's need to get out of the house and breathe some fresh air; or go to the supermarket and stash up on food supplies; or drive his kids to private school. Wilbekin has a dog that needs to be taken out a few times a day, to prevent it from unleashing its personal business indoors (LOL).

The rebellions didn't take long to act. Former NBA and EuroCup wingman Jordan Hamilton stepped outside to buy some shoes at SneakerBox, a local sportswear and shoe store in Tel Aviv and was fined 30,000 NIS. Stoudemire twice violated quarantine and was fined 60,000 NIS. Angelo Calioaro and Sandy Cohen both were quarantined to attend a street party in Tel Aviv and each was 30,000 NIS. Following these acts, the Ministry of Health responded. Players are allowed to go supermarket shopping, take their kids and pets out for walks and go to the parks - with a 100 meters radios restrictions from their homes. Things have since gotten better, and there's room to believe that come Final Four in late July, we might actually have a full area, or half an arena, with fans. The government already permits social gatherings and private events with a limit of 250 people. So we actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.


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