Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager: I wish we were doing this under better circumstances, but here we are.
For starters, I hope all of you and your families are all safe and healthy during this uncomfortable time. Please follow the instructions from the CDC on how to best protect yourself and others. The “I’m young and healthy and will be fine if I get this” logic is flat-out wrong. A.) You don’t know if you’d be healthy if you’d acquire coronavirus. Why in the world would you want to test that? And B.) This is about the people who are the most vulnerable. Let’s do our best to protect them.
Both Katie and I are working from home, as is the Timberwolves & Lynx organization for the foreseeable future. We’re about a week past when we found out Rudy Gobert, and later Donovan Mitchell, had tested positive for COVID-19.
After that, it seemed like all of the dominos fell and we saw sports across the United States either cancel tournaments and seasons or postpone them. The country as a whole followed after.
Katie, what was your initial reaction when you found out an NBA player had tested positive?
Katie Davidson, Digital Content Associate: I was actually on a run when I got a notification from either Woj or Shams about the Thunder vs. Jazz game being postponed just as they were about to tip-off.
From there, I don’t think I really had time to process anything. I don’t remember the exact timeline but it seemed like within the hour we found out Gobert had tested positive. I remember messaging you and the rest of our team when I found out, and your response was something like, “They have to postpone the season.”
Sure enough, in a matter of minutes, the suspension was announced. As much as we’re missing hoops right now, it was absolutely the right call, and I’m glad the league acted as quickly as it did. Attempting to keep as many players, coaches, fans, officials, etc. healthy is so much more important than having the season go on as scheduled.
There are plenty of things to be more concerned about, but it’s still pretty sad to think about how long we’ll be without basketball. What have you missed the most about the season since the hiatus?
Ratke: I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I guess the certainty of it. I knew there were going to be games on these certain days and could plan accordingly. That also is a reminder of how incredibly lucky we are.
Since our world has been totally flipped. What is the new normal? I’m not sure, but it feels like we’re going to have plenty of time to figure that out. I say that as someone who works for a team, but I think that goes for every American. This is an uncertain time and each morning, I’m not sure anyone knows what’s going to happen on a given day.
In the grand scheme of life, sports aren’t all that important. But they serve as an escape to so many people. I’ve realized very quickly that watching sports and sports only for 29 years of my life really boxed me in. It turns out, there are other things.
Over the last week, we’ve seen Karl-Anthony Towns make a $100,000 donation to Mayo Clinic for COVID-19 research, and owner Glen Taylor has pledged he’ll pay up to $1 million to pay Target Center gameday employees.
It’s worth noting that the Timberwolves do not own the Target Center and the Target Center employees are not technically Taylor’s employees. That made the process take a little longer, but there was no doubt from the beginning that Taylor was going to help the situation. There were just some technicalities that had to be dealt with prior.
Those are moves that didn’t have to be made. I hate saying “the silver lining of this is . . .” because I think that’s probably pretty insensitive, but it has proven how family-oriented the NBA family is, right?
Davidson: Oh, for sure.
It’s been moving to see teams, owners and individual players go out of their way to help those in need league-wide, and I guess it doesn’t really surprise me since this league has always emphasized the importance of giving back and been so interactive with its fans.
As far as Towns’ donation goes, again, I wasn’t surprised because he has always made it his mission to give back either to young basketball players or those in need. But seeing him step up like that impressed me even more.
Same goes for the Taylor family. I figured it was only a matter of time before he worked out the logistics to support Target Center’s staff considering how friendly he is with the in-game staff. It takes about five minutes for him and Becky just to get to their seats because they’re greeting and talking to every staff member they run into once they enter the arena.
Personally, it’s very comforting to know I work for a franchise that values the well-being of its employees and is doing its best to commit to transparency during this time of countless unknowns. Sadly, many people in our world don’t have that sense of security right now.
Don’t get me wrong — there are still plenty of questions the league has yet to answer that will most likely go unanswered for quite some time. But what have you learned about the status of the league and its players this week?
Ratke: I think we all kind of know the same. We don’t know when the season will be back. Will the regular season be played? Will the playoffs be shortened? How will that trickle into the summer with the draft and Summer League? These are all huge questions and I’m certainly glad Adam Silver is the Commissioner of the league throughout all of this.
Another shoutout to a leader. Timberwolves & Lynx CEO Ethan Casson has been sending emails every other day to our entire staff giving us updates and advice on how to feel comfortable working from home, along with how to feel our best mentally. He even urged us to learn a new language! I’m not writing this to get any brownie points (I mean, if you wanna throw a few my way, cool), but I think Casson has given the staff a sense of safety in a time when I think we all need it.
So, to recap on the serious stuff:
- Take COVID-19 seriously. It’s going to impact all of us for longer than many probably thought. This is a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic (hopefully) and let’s all try to get out of it the best we can. A lot of that is up to us. Individually, we can all help the greater good. You can get to know more of the facts behind coronavirus and how you can play your part here.
- There aren’t any updates surrounding when the NBA will return. But when it does, it will signify healing in this country.
- Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay in your house as best as you can.
With all of this, our content team is still working. We have daily video calls, and yesterday, our Motion Graphics Animation Manager, Joe, wore an Andrei Kirilenko jersey for it. A true legend.
To start the week, a few of us have been working on our WNBA Draft Central site. You can check this out here.
Katie, super-duper job on that.
Besides work . . . What are you doing to pass time at home? Reading? TV shows? Movies? Sleeping 17 hours a day?
Davidson: Thank you for all of your guidance with the Draft Central site.
I would have much rather spent this week watching WNBA prospects make a name for themselves in the NCAA Tournament, but getting back to writing about basketball was still enjoyable. As of now, the WNBA draft is still scheduled for April 17, and I think readers should expect more basketball-related content once we begin to figure out our new normal.
I’ve been getting up earlier in the mornings and trying to catch up on the news and read a chapter of a book before I dive into work. But I’ve definitely spent more hours watching TV than reading (I’d highly recommend Hulu’s new “Little Fires Everywhere” series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington). Not having West Coast games to watch until midnight has done wonders for my sleep schedule, but I’d still prefer the alternative.
How’ve you been killing time? Looks like your cat is about ready to kick you out of your house.
Ratke: Yeah, my cat is ready to give me the boot. It’s amazing how much cats sleep. If there’s anything I’ve learned so far from this experience, it’s that. Not super productive animals.
I’ve been reading a lot more. I’ll spend an hour or two reading articles from various sites throughout the day. I’m currently on season three of “The Wire” which has turned out to be awesome. The series is from 2002-2008, so that’s a little different, but overall, awesome show. Highly recommend it.
That should wrap this up. Thanks to everyone for reading and please be safe and smart. Hopefully, we’ll be writing about basketball soon. Until then, we’ll do our best to keep you engaged in Timberwolves’ land.