Welcome back, NBA isolationist! As always it is the highlight of my week to be here with you, reporting on the high stakes world of NBA players stuck in their homes. There was a time when saying something like that would be at best depressing and at worst the deepest kind of self-own, but no more.
This week, as players (like us) settle into these routines for the foreseeable future — because they (also like us) are caring, responsible and community-minded people — some things became apparent. First, isolation can be lonely. Second, in days that can occasionally feel like drifting, establishing a routine helps. Pets, always a gift but especially now, help to mitigate both of these things and featured heavily in the lives of players this week.
Kuz got a puppy and sheesh is she cute. Loyal readers, meet Snoh! She looks kinda like a little husky pup but could also be a Pomsky, a poodle husky mix, of which Normal Powell is a double owner. Either way, she loves to snooze and also poop, Kuz confirmed, and probably smells so good and is so soft and falls asleep with her little puppy belly sticking up and god I’m glad you can’t hear the sounds I’m making right now.
Rating: Can’t wait until Snoh goes to town on Kuzma’s closet but she’s so cute he can’t stay mad and dresses her up in her own little matching outfit.
This emotional rollercoaster started at the end of last week’s NBA Self ISO Watch (NBA SIW). McCollum fostered a puppy and put out a call for help because the poor pup wasn’t drinking water and seemed hella stressed out. Mario Hezonja came to the rescue. He wisely advised his teammate to take it slow, because the dog was likely overwhelmed and needed some time. But it didn’t end there, because CJ was a part-time dog dad now, and he was invested.
While beautiful, it was a little heartbreaking, because McCollum was only fostering. He’d eventually have to give up the puppy and everything he acquired on Amazon for her while going down the rabbit hole.
Listen, I take this seriously, so I was going to do my due diligence no matter how much it stung. I’d scour McCollum’s social feeds until he said a sad goodbye, no matter how much it was going to hurt. But, because we all need some good news, something wonderful happened.
CJ adopted the dog! Her name is now Fiona, and he carries her outside to go to the bathroom. He’s cooking her meals, beef and rice, and also describes at length her bowel movements, which any pet owner can tell you comes with the freak territory. A very happy ending.
Rating: Isolation just got a whole lot cuter.
Love’s Vizsla, a very spunky dog named Vestry, has been his near-constant companion for almost a year now. He and girlfriend Kate Bock got her as a puppy last summer, and took her on vacation to some glacial lakes in Northern British Columbia, Canada as soon as she was old enough to travel. Love has been honest about how tough the loneliness that comes along with self isolation is, and it’s heartening to see he’s got such a weighted, living heating pad disguised as a dog to help with that feeling.
Rating: Would love to talk to Kev about all the different smells the top of his dog’s head can have in a week. For example, mine cycles through popcorn, corn chips, fresh ocean, and gross garbage.
John Wall dressed his depressed, but nevertheless up for it, best friend up in his clothes for a photoshoot.
Rating: They are both missing basketball, for different reasons.
Larry Nance Jr.
Larry has two dogs, Reggie and Ellie, and this is Reggie looking like an expressive human man dressed up like a dog.
Rating: You’ll remember that Reggie is also the one who intercepted Nance Jr.’s attempts to balance a roll of toilet paper like a soccer ball in the first NBA SIW, because Reggie hates trends that might upset people.
We knew that Kanter got a little kitten named Bere, but what we didn’t know was that it was a tiny wittle strawtegic geniwus!
Rating: Every kitten’s just a tiny demon you don’t know yet.
A familiar experience for any pet owner is getting your pet something you are really excited to have, something that is going to make them so happy and so comfortable and so well cared for, and then having them destroy that thing. Alfonzo McKinnie’s French Bulldog did just that. In the video, McKinnie tries to sternly admonish the dog for destroying the brand new bed it “just got four days ago,” but as soon as the dog stubbornly settles into its new nest of annihilation, he can’t stay mad.
Rating: If you love something, rip it to shreds and make a home of the poly-fill stuffing, I always say.
Bell hit the gym with his two dogs who were good spotters so long as they marked each rep with a lil kiss.
Rating: Bonus points for the husky heading out of frame pronto to probably go lie on a couch somewhere, good dog.
These aren’t traditional pets, maybe, but if you use your imagination like DeAndre did, well, I guess they’d be even more terrifying rendered to life and enhanced to twice the size.
Rating: Anyway it’s always good to give your imagination something to do instead of letting it create new and anxiety-ridden ways to think about the next few months.
Wayne’s had a big week in paradise. First, he set up a Slip N Slide in his backyard, rigged that thing up with an extra long runway, and went slipping first so he could spin, mid-slide, to catch his son as he started his little slide. You can see in the background there’s a big and mini basketball hoop and a half court, plus various Tonka trucks I assume are used as obstacles for ball handling drills. A couple days later, Ellington went to whatever quadrant of his yard the pool is in and watched his bright green iguana slowly saunter along, just tickled by it.
Rating: Good news, all’s well in Wayne’s World.
The big guy’s really been missing his friends, like the rest of us, so one was nice enough to come by for a window dap.
Rating: It’s weird that the nicest thing you’ve seen all week can also be the most heartbreaking, but here we are!
Isolation is doing really weird things to all of us; revealing long buried truths or making us come to honest revelations that speak to our very souls. For me, that’s been admitting I see myself more in Aaron Gordon than I ever could have, or allowed myself, to imagine. Fishing off the swamp dock at sunset wearing a mask but also, going topless? Sitting on my balcony and making someone take a paparazzi-style photo of me as I read my book with a psychedelic tie-dye towel on and my other knee with the melting peace sign tattoo poking out just so?
Rating: Embrace these times of self-awareness, of your third eye being opened and realizing it’s blocked by a terrycloth headband you’re wearing for no particular reason.
Oh god, he’s at it again, being the perfect candidate for NBA Self-Isolation Watch MVP (NBA SIW MVP). It seems critically unfair to call things this early, but when you’ve commandeered a child-sized car and are taking suggestions on where you should joyride it to, it gets tough to imagine how anyone dare compete.
Rating: Grand Theft ISO.
Just when you think it’s impossible to fall any harder for P.J. Tucker, you get to picture a little P.J. Tucker, watching Space Jam, getting quote chills (!!) whenever the scene came around of Michael Jordan arriving at the cartoon gym to whip Taz, the Mr. Big and Tall chicken, the formal pig et al. into shape.
Rating: You also get to picture the current P.J. Tucker in a no doubt matching and luxurious sweatsuit, getting chills to the same scene. Lucky.
Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler (and Mark Wahlberg?)
Melo hosted Butler for an episode of “What’s In Your Glass,” a show that, I’m very ashamed to report, has not won or even been nominated for an Emmy or an accolade of any kind. The two, after Butler insisted to Melo that they weren’t friends, admitted their suspicion of white wine before Butler, vulnerable, admitted he came around to it “on a trip to Bordeaux last summer.” They then did a “virtual cheers” and Butler said he’s been nothing but “drinking wine and working out.” You can watch the whole 50 minutes if you like, but you’ll never recover from those first five, promise.
Rating: Hey sommeliers, here’s a brain buster, what vintage pairs well with Melo’s heart piercing smile and Jimmy Butler’s beguiling eyes?!
These were different days and different modes of transportation but there is no doubt that D’Lo is not isolating like you or I and also not in Minnesota. This comes very close to my other area of expertise, NBA Summer Vacation Watch, but please, let’s get through the regular self-isolation season before we get to its well-earned postseason, thanks.
Rating: If, while on his nautical joyrides, Russell could get a big bullhorn out and shame people off of California’s crowded beaches, that would be some real NBA Cares-level of public service.
Giannis pretending to be embarrassed his longtime partner, Mariah Riddlesprigger, got TikTok is going to be good when he’s for sure going to be the one making them do the Renegade over and over until they get it right.
Rating: Sorry if that dance reference is embarrassing and very old now.
I know I said Millsap had this, but Waiters is another contender for NBA SIW MVP. It could be that the guy is just very good at operating on wheels (roller skates indoors, now popping a wheelie), but I have a feeling that boredom is going to reveal his other hidden talents.
Rating: I hope the Lakers are thrilled. No, really, I do!
Tim Hardaway Jr.
The chill king of self iso returns with a new meditative exercise for us this week. All you need is a dock that goes out into aquamarine waters, a pair of wild and majestic manatees who have gently bumbled their way along into that water, and a regular garden hose. Then, just hose those guys down for a good five to ten minutes.
Rating: What if nature IS nurture?
Let me let you in on something about Buddy Hield: the guy isn’t capable of doing anything halfway. He is literally the only person who I could not chastise for running along the beach to work out during his summer vacation this past year, because he would run down to the water intermittently and frolic around. Likewise with this, setting up a regular half court in his driveway, it was not enough to throw up a hoop, he had to get somebody out there to paint the lines. You know before he let this guy touch paint to pavement he had him measuring.
Rating: If the next All-Star three-point contest is held remotely, with guys in their driveways, Hield’s getting a head start.
Crowder took a night swim.
Rating: Plenty of lighting, very safe.
T Ross took a day swim, or at least thought about it.
Rating: It’s ok to not feel too bad for T Ross right now.
Patty’s still strumming away, but he’s doing this nice thing where he shreds a snippet of a song without singing, because he says his voice is no good (it is, Patty!) and asks his followers to name that tune and he posts their replies. It’s called Thrills With Mills. You got some real John Mayers in there, but for the most part, it’s pretty wholesome and good and shows how hungry just about everyone is for community right now.
Rating: But I’ve been saying, we gotta get the band back together.
— Steven Adams (@RealStevenAdams) April 2, 2020
Speaking of John Mayers in the replies, here’s Steven Adams. Big Kiwi answered the siren song of Thrills With Mills with an acoustic rendition of a literal John Mayer song, regulation size guitar turned child’s toy in his hands.
Rating: If only we could get a glimpse of the wild man’s face!
Forbes did a rousing rendition of “Chopsticks” and asked Patty Mills for a feature.
Rating: With a keyboard called BIGFUN you always know what you’re gonna get!
Turner did another one of these puzzles for NASA candidates.
Rating: Does he do them first in pencil, do you think? Is that rude to ask?
I think I need to be socially distanced from my refrigerator
— Bojan Bogdanovic (@44Bojan) April 2, 2020
It is very comforting to picture a 6’6″ basketball player standing in the lambent glow of his refrigerator, deliberating as quietly as possible is he going to take a little hunk of cheese, maybe a scoop of whatever pasta bake is in there as leftovers, maybe some juice, a yogurt? The very same way that you probably did last night.
Rating: Quarantine 15(lbs), baby!
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Here’s Jackson, just RIPPING a fit, with a tiny tartan bag that maybe represents the absence of basketball and the shoes he once carried, artfully geotagged with Wash Your Hands and a look that would make Wintour enter into quarantine but because she is so humiliated to ever declare herself adjacent to fashion again.
Rating: More backyard fashion shows as we get deeper into this, please.
Dennis Smith Jr.
I want to draw Steph Curry’s attention to Dennis Smith Jr., who has assisted in digging a hole at one end of a concrete court for what we can only assume is going to be a pole for a backboard for an eventual hoop. Curry got frustrated putting together a pre-made hoop in his home, so this really goes to show that there are two kinds of people in this world when it comes to tenacity and patience: Dennis Smith Jr. and the rest of us.
Rating: Like, there’s no Allen key in sight.
Ha ha, yes totally, the only time I’ve done this is definitely now, on day whatever of government-mandated social distancing measures and not ever normally when I still had the gift of friendship, going out, human touch, higher learning, or emotional betterment.
Rating: What I’m saying is I did this all the time but to Miller’s point, it is a great option if you’re running low.
Let’s go live to Hezonja still isolating at the Palace of Versailles, handling himself publicly in a way that will by no means backfire.
Rating: “You can be assured that I need no one’s guidance in anything concerning propriety. No harm will come to me.” — Marie Antoinette and Mario Hezonja, probably.
Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony aren’t the only ones who can talk at length about wine, Paul Pierce is right there with them. The only difference is that Paul Pierce is alone in a jacuzzi, giving a thumbs up to his wine glass, not another soul in sight.
Rating: Is this a blatant dis to LeBron, who still can’t find someone to drink wine with him?
Rudy’s out! It’s ok, he’s allowed out. Gobert just wrapped his quarantine and decided to celebrate by taking a hike to the highest vista, which is coincidentally what many of his teammates and players around the league probably wanted him to do immediately after he rubbed his paws over all those mics and inadvertently got the season suspended.
Rating: The air must truly smell sweet when you’ve earned it with global penance.
Josh Hart asked a question that is telling of a towel baron.
Rating: Of course you reuse your towel, of course you do.
Lonnie picked up some light reading.
Rating: Defensive strategy is one thing but invention of modern day military tactics is entirely another. Anyway, this explains a lot about the Spurs.
LaVine set up his snacking station.
Rating: Good to have about a thousand things of Big League Chew on deck when you’re settling in for a relaxing another entire day at home.
Bamba binge watched Tiger King, just like you.
Rating: But the look, folks, suits him?
Bosh did this on behalf of public safety, but he also flossed his way into a space-time vortex.
Rating: That’s not an editing feature, Chris Bosh’s body was made to floss that fast.
BONUS: OTHER TRENDS!
A big trend that emerged this week, after the toilet paper soccer ball thing died down and the pushup challenge continued into oblivion or else people’s arms snapped off so they could no longer @ anyone to challenge them, was this filter that made it look like you were in the middle of a truly bumpin’ party, but also above it? So crowdsurfing, but standing.
Jordan Clarkson did it first:
Trae Young and Rodney Hood soon followed suit: