Experience is always considered a valuable commodity in the world of sports.
Teams rely on veterans who have been in tough situations, who have fought through losing streaks, and can help steer them to their postseason goals.
The New Orleans Pelicans have those vets. Jrue Holiday (30), E’Twaun Moore (21), Derrick Favors (31), and JJ Redick (110) have a combined 192 playoff games under their belts.
The rest of the Pelicans have none.
However, there’s not much any of those four can offer when it comes to what their team is going to face in the so-called, NBA “bubble.”
This is an unprecedented situation. With America facing a pandemic, societal unrest, and economic troubles, focusing on “making a run” under these conditions will be difficult to say the least.
“I think a lot of guys have concerns about going inside that bubble, especially with the coronavirus and everything going on,” Favors said Tuesday on a Zoom conference call with media. “I think the NBA’s doing as best as they can right now in a tough situation, as far as just trying to keep everyone safe while also making sure that we finish the season out.
“I think a lot of teams, a lot of high school teams and college teams and players are going to be paying attention to see how it goes because they have to start their season up soon, so I think there are concerns. I don’t really have any right now, but I think there are a lot of concerns.”
E’Twaun Moore knows that every decision made by players is going to be scrutinized, but he is going to make the best of it.
“With the movement and everything that’s going on, no decision is going to be easy,” Moore said. “We knew that coming back to play wasn’t going to be easy with everything going on with the pandemic. It’s something we’ve never seen (and) we have to fight through. All the social injustice, everything that’s going on with that movement...it’s definitely not going to be easy, but I think we should take advantage of this time and of this platform that we’ve got with speaking out.”
Players are going to be asked to be athletes, ambassadors, spokespeople, unifiers, and guinea pigs to some degree. It’s an incredible amount of weight to put on anyone’s shoulders, no matter how broad they are.
No one could have imagined this back in March, when the league suspended play. Redick, the team’s most experienced and outspoken player, tried to put his thoughts into words.
“There is no comfort level,” Redick said last week. “We’re not with our families. We’re not at our homes. We’re isolated in a bubble in the middle of a hot spot in the middle of Florida while there’s social unrest going on in the county and we’re three months away from potentially the most important election in our lifetimes. So there’s all of that going on. Now we have to figure out a way to perform and play basketball and all of that, because I do believe it is the right thing to go and play.
“But there is absolutely no comfort level...none. I know the league and I know the (Players) Union has tried to create this environment, and I get it. But there is so much else going on right now. We’re going to go play and we’re going to do our best, but we realize there’s so many more important things.”
So many more.
But as of today, the Pelicans are in Orlando with games to play. So, the postseason goal is still there within reach.
As long as it is, they’re going for it. And they’re approaching it as just another hurdle to climb in a season full of them.
“Talk about an obstacle that you have to get over,” Holiday said. “We had a couple of them this season. Zion out half of the season, me being hurt, having a 13-game losing streak, bouncing back and on a groove. Right when the pandemic hit, it was a perfect groove for us and we felt like we kind of had that (eighth) spot for sure on lockdown.
“I think coming back now, having that excitement of going back is something that’s really big for us and momentum that we can use. It is still ultimately the goal to make the playoffs...You’ve got teams that are right neck and neck with us, and Memphis who still doesn’t want to let that (playoff spot) go. They’ve had time to rest and they’ve had time to prepare. Mentally, I think it’s going to be one of the biggest challenges that we’ve kind of faced.”
And that’s no understatement.