Before he made his first NBA start, Coby White had a confession.
“I’m a germaphobe, so I’m the type to shake your hand and then go straight to the bathroom and wash them,” the rookie guard said.
White didn’t need the coronavirus dominating worldwide headlines to practice healthy habits. But with the virus entering the NBA’s consciousness more and more each day, he admitted he’s talking about it with teammates.
“I’ve just been curious about how do stop it? You know what I mean?” White said. “We talk about it a little bit, about how crazy it is and how it came out of nowhere and how it’s spread so fast like in Italy and stuff.
“It’s just weird. Like, this is just different. They’re taking precaution. I’m glad they’re doing that. There’s a lot of stuff going on with the virus. I didn’t imagine my NBA season like this, but whatever.”
The “this” to which White referred as different was his location. Instead of answering reporters’ questions from inside the Bulls’ locker room, White spoke from behind a table in the United Center’s Concert Club. That’s a room typically reserved for networking events, happy hours and small performances.
As part of a new media policy enacted jointly by Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and the NBA, locker rooms were closed to all non-essential personnel and reporters were required to be at least six feet away from their interview subjects.
“It’s going to be an adjustment because you pretty much have your set routine coming in and out of arenas, different for you (reporters) obviously as well too,” Zach LaVine said. “I think everybody just has to adjust to it. But knowing the bigger picture and reason why, it’s for everybody to be safe.”
Indeed, this is unknown territory for everybody. The NBA is scheduled to talk to team owners and governors on Wednesday regarding future potential changes. Coaches and players from both teams answered questions about possibly playing in empty arenas.
“I was close one time. I coached in the consolation game of the Diamond Classic in Hawaii at like 11 in the morning,” said Jim Boylen, then the University of Utah and now the Bulls coach. “I think it was my wife, my two daughters and one of my assistant coach’s wives behind our bench.
“We’ll just work our way through it. To me, it’s about the league. It’s not about me or us individually. We’ve just got to do the best thing for the league and for everybody concerned.”
Players passed around hand sanitizer during timeouts. Some talked about using more fist bumps than handshakes or adjusting autograph signing practices.
“It gets scary because it’s unknown,” said LaVine, who missed his fifth straight game with a strained quad on his 25th birthday but planned to return in the next week. “Obviously if we’re taking precautions like this, it’s getting more and more serious. I just hope everybody is staying safe, staying healthy, staying clean, washing hands and things like that.
“The main thing is it’s unknown for sports and entertainment people, our little circle, and how it could be affected because you’re around so many people. You go on flights all the time, have so many interactions. You see how easy it spreads, so you just want to make sure everyone is safe and doing the right thing.”
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Bulls adjust to new normal of media policy due to coronavirus concerns originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago