Shaq doesn’t see point to NBA coronavirus return: ‘Scrap the season’
Shut it down.
Trying to restart the NBA season is simply not worth the risk as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the country, Shaquille O’Neal believes.
If it was up to him, it would already be over.
“We should scrap the season,” the Hall of Fame center told The Post in a phone interview. “Continue to care about the safety of the players and the people, let the government figure out how they’re going to get rid of this thing forever. I hate hearing this statement, oh it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back.”
It remains uncertain whether the NBA can return. On Friday the league opened practice facilities for voluntary, individual, socially distanced workouts in locations where there weren’t stay-at-home orders. Only the Trail Blazers and Cavaliers were expected to open Friday, while the Nuggets, according to ESPN, are planning to do so Monday.
There have been a number of reported options for resuming the season, such as creating a bubble for players in a remote location such as Las Vegas or Orlando, Fla. On April 17, though, commissioner Adam Silver said, “we are not in a position to make any decisions, and it’s unclear when we will be.”
“If we try to finish the season with no fans, you still got to bring in a camera crew, you still got to bring in the trainers, you still got to bring in other people. What if one of those guys gets it? All it takes is one,” said O’Neal, along with WNBA star Candace Parker, crashed Philadelphia middle school Young Scholars Charter School’s basketball and cheerleading teams’ Zoom meeting Friday. The basketball stars announced a surprise donation on behalf of Mission Tiger and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes in their ongoing campaign to improve and save middle school sports nationwide.
The donation included an outdoor court, equipment, new uniforms and covered the cost of facility fees for canceled games.
O’Neal, now an NBA analyst for Turner Sports, isn’t sure what the league will ultimately decide to do. Nor is he sure whether a majority of players would prefer to restart the season or see it canceled. But the four-time NBA champion thinks if the league picks up where it left off, or just went directly into the postseason after a lengthy layoff, it could lead to an undeserving champion.
“Most of the time you could predict who is going to win a championship. Now what if we come back and a team that wasn’t supposed to win wins. There’s going to be an asterisk behind that championship,” he said. “I think, personally, we should say, ‘OK, let’s just continue to worry about the safety of the people and the players, and we’ll see you guys in training camp.’ ”
O’Neal said he wouldn’t refuse to play if this pandemic happened during his career, but he wouldn’t perform very well. Fans and large crowds always inspired him. It could be cheering. It could be jeering. But it is where he got his motivation.
“I would absolutely play horrible with no fans,” he said. “Oh my God. I would be the worst center in NBA history, because I need to feed off the energy of the crowd, I need to get my adrenaline boosted.
“You know how many games I won just by going into opponents’ arenas and fans look at me crazy? Every time I missed a free throw they laughed. I would go, ‘oh you think it’s funny? Watch this.’ I would definitely need that.”
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