CHICAGO – There were a number of times on Tuesday where he realized that things were going to be a bit different for a while.
The first experience for Jim Boylen was watching the reports on the spread of the coronavirus through various media sources. That included the NBA’s decision to close the locker rooms to anyone other than players, coaches, and “essential personnel.”
“If you watch the news at all, it can be a little overpowering,” said Boylen, who was speaking from a podium for his pregame news conference this season, per the NBA mandate. “There is a lot coming out. I just saw the little thing on New Rochelle, New York. The National Guard is going there, I think. Those things are, I’m sure when you see that, that’s a little bit frightening.”
The second change came when he arrived at the United Center ahead of the game with the Cavaliers.
“When I walk into the building on gameday, the security guys usually gives me the (fist) pound and today I think I got a half elbow,” said Boylen. “It’s on people’s minds.”
It’s on his team’s too, with the new developments with the virus along with the NBA’s response taking up the bulk of the conversation around the league. Its talk that’s hard for the team to ignore, especially for BullsZach LaVine.
Despite not playing on Tuesday with a strained quad, he was spending plenty of time talking to reporters about the virus.
“It gets scary because it’s unknown,” said LaVine when asked about the concern level on the team. “Obviously if we’re taking more precautions like this it’s getting more serious. I just hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy, staying clean. Make sure you wash your hands and things like that. “
Rookie Coby White, who made the first start of his NBA career on Tuesday, also spend a bulk of his pregame news conference on the topic.
“We talk about it a little bit, just how crazy it is, and how it came out of nowhere, and how it spreading so fast in Italy and stuff,” said White. “But other than that, it’s not like a topic of the day or anything like that.”
It could grow if the NBA takes further action to protect players, like keep fans out of the arenas or even canceling games. The Ivy League decided not to hold their tournament this week and the Mid-American Conference closed the tournament to the general public.
While White and LaVine said they will continue to interact with fans, they do want to take precautions to make sure they along with spectators remain safe.
“I think the main thing is that it’s unknown for sports and entertainment; people in our intermediate circle of what we do, how we could be affected because we’re around so many people,” said LaVine. “We’re on flights all the time, we have so many different interactions, and you see how easy it can spread. You just want to make sure everyone is safe and we’re doing the right thing.”
For White, that’s doing the simple things.
“We wash our hands, use hand sanitizers. Our trainers do a good job of giving us hand sanitizers and making sure we wash our hands and staying on top of everything,” said White.
That’s all the Bulls, the NBA, and others around the world can do as the coronavirus crisis continues.