There were some concerns about the three NBA head coaches 65 or older — Alvin Gentry, Mike D’Antoni, and Gregg Popovich — headed into the NBA’s restart bubble in Orlando.
They are all there, but Houston’s Mike D’Antonio and New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry have worn masks while coaching NBA games as a safety precaution.
Both said this is about more than their health, it’s a statement to the people back in their home cities and the nation, via Mark Medina of the USA Today.
“It’s important to Houston and a lot of the country. Right now, they should be masked up,” D’Antoni said following the Rockets’ scrimmage against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. “We do it for Houston. We do it for you. I do it for my players. I do it for my coaches. I just feel like it’s the thing to do right now with where we are as a country.”
“It’s a statement saying we think it’s important enough even down here to have on a mask,” Gentry said after the Pelicans’ scrimmage against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. “We’d like to send a message out to everybody that if we’re going to get this thing under control, I do think that this makes a big difference.”
It’s “important” and “the right thing to do” for others. Exactly. Unfortunately, for too many people in our nation, that combination of logic and concern about others is not enough.
Much like with the Black Lives Matters messages from players out of the Orlando bubble, no one statement, no one symbolic move alone will change hearts and minds (or policy). However, the wave and totality of a lot of people doing the right thing can change things in our nation and help us start to get this disease under control.
In the case of D’Antoni and Gentry, it also helps that in a much quieter, fanless arena the plays and coverages they call out — even with a mask on — can be easily heard by players. Wearing the mask will not impact their ability to do their jobs.
Plus, it’s just the right thing to do, for themselves and everyone around them.