August 17, 2020
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the March 30 edition of the Purple and Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.It’s now been almost a month since an NBA game was played, and I can tell you two things with a certain degree of confidence:1) With a nation hungry for sports and a great deal of money on the line, the league and its teams are dispensing a lot of work to figure out a plan to resume the season.2) As of now, with the nation under quarantine that has no definite endpoint, there is no one plan that the league is considering seriously above all others — and the only plan that seems more plausible with each passing day is cancelling the season. But as Marc Stein of The New York Times pointed out this week: That likely entails players, coaches, support staff, referees, television crews and staffers and other essential employees that could still number in the thousands depending on how many teams the NBA wishes to send. Would that mean the regular season is over? Would the playoffs be shortened to a number of teams that could somehow be deemed safe, or within the “controllable” range, and would the fans and teams accept such a winner as a legitimate champion? The sheer number of hypothetical questions this raises is troubling to say the least.What about home arenas? It might be best to defer to the words of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who this week said he didn’t imagine California would be holding events with fans by August or September. And thinking you can control groups of a hundred or more with a virus that can spread through asymptomatic carriers could is likely flawed. ESPN’s Zach Lowe also made a point that if the NBA was able to staff such games with doctors and other healthcare workers to test players and staff members, wouldn’t that strike the public as an unfair distribution of resources in a time when COVID-19’s death toll is already in the thousands?It’s profoundly vexing and troubling, which is why the NBA doesn’t have any frontrunning plan to resume play. It’s why Adam Silver has said very little outside of his two nationally televised interviews shortly after the season was suspended. There simply aren’t a lot of definite factors to signal that any plan is more feasible than another.ESPN reported that the NBA is working on a H-O-R-S-E tournament in short order, in which players would shoot from home isolation. Unfortunately for the league and its fans, that seems to be the most firm return to competition anyone can promise at this point.I PROMISE DOCUMENTARY DEBUTSIf you were ever curious what happens inside LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, you’re not likely to get a closer look than I PROMISE, a new documentary series that debuts today.It’s a behind-the-scenes look (albeit one backed by Springhill Entertainment, LeBron’s production company) at the work the school is doing with at-risk elementary-school aged kids who were selected to attend I Promise precisely because they’re at risk. Told through 15 episodes, all shorter than 10 minutes on the new mobile video platform Quibi, cameras go in classrooms, in faculty meetings and even in student homes to describe the struggles of students and their families, and detail the journey of a radical approach to public education.I’ve written about the services and goals of the I Promise School before, but a pre-release screener gave a closer look into the actual people at ground level. Even though it is a LeBron-sponsored look at his own school, it doesn’t hold back all that much in episodes that cover the early challenges of socializing the students who have been hindered by trauma in their home lives.One of the toughest scenes to watch is a third-grade girl withdrawing from her classmates, slinking into a locker and closing herself in. Teachers are shown openly crying during a meeting, frustrated and worried about the intense scrutiny their school faces after a very public opening on national television. There are also scenes of patience, in which administrators and teachers try very diligently to understand why their students are acting out, rather than offering indiscriminate hard-nosed discipline.We have a sense of where this goes, because we have the benefit of being nearly two years ahead: Last spring, The New York Times reported promising test scores and retention rates for the school, which has continued to expand both in its facilities and its grades (it now serves fifth graders in addition to third and fourth graders). While only episodes one through three are available now, with episodes to come, we know that from those early days of struggle come positive results.But one arresting thought I had while watching the screener — one that “I PROMISE” probably can’t answer — was how those kids are doing right now during the pandemic. Many of the characters we’re introduced to early have disabilities, or one-parent homes, or parents who have health problems, or parents who have been in and out of their lives. So much of the work faculty does at I Promise is tactile — hugs, one-on-one counseling, offering an open food pantry and social services. The school has continued to offer meals to families through the lockdown in Ohio, which is a critical service. But as a viewer watches the progress these students made in the last academic year, it’s harder to ask now if any of that progress is being undone.– Kyle GoonEditor’s note: This is the March 30 edition of the Purple and Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here. Link in while locked downMamba In – Kobe Bryant is now in the Hall of Fame, a moment that was long-expected, but sobering in a world without basketball and without Bryant.Coaching through quarantine – Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy is one of the most revered skill development minds in basketball, and even at home, you can get access to his tips through an app that shows his passion for coaching.Frank discussion – Frank Vogel talked about a number of topics including how he’s stayed plugged in with the team, how the COVID testing has gone, and perspective in case the season is lost.No symptoms for the Lakers – According to the team, no players, not even the two who tested positive, has experienced coronavirus symptoms.Memories you can reach out and touch – In case you missed the last newsletter, a recollection of the close encounters and behind-the-scenes moments that I’ll remember this year.Follow our COVID-19 news coverage – The latest on local cases and procedures to limit the pandemic. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIt feels like a gut punch. The NBA does not want to do it. Owners are losing money, and reports indicate that most players can expect to lose money. Arena workers are out of jobs. Fans are hurting without sports while idling at home, and many of them are holding on to tickets or paying for sports packages that have been rendered worthless. Few people want to give up.But that may be the only solution that makes sense depending on how long the threat of COVID-19 goes on: While several outlets reported that President Donald Trump spoke with the commissioners of major sports leagues including Adam Silver and anticipated that sports could resume with fans in August or September, other experts have cautioned that is merely wishful thinking.The Washington Post interviewed disease experts who largely took a pessimistic view, saying that events with fans are likely to lag well behind any return to competition. One of the primary threats will be caution about a second wave of coronavirus — even if the curve is flattened for cases and the U.S. starts to see a decline, many could still be vulnerable to the virus. There also could be consumer caution that delays enthusiasm about packing into an arena immediately after quarantines end.The challenge of the Chinese Basketball Association was considered a setback in league circles this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported. While the CBA has recalled Americans back to play in their league, they’ve pushed back their restart date. It’s hard to know for sure what infection numbers are in China, or if they are reliable, but new cases are popping up daily in China, where they briefly seemed to have control over the virus’ spread.The model China had hoped to have in place is the one that has gained some popularity as an NBA solution in the last week: Hold games in an empty arena in one or two cities (Las Vegas has been linked to the NBA, where it holds its annual Summer League). Even though LeBron James is already one of the players who has disapproved of this idea, theoretically, the NBA could quarantine people in hotels and play the game in a “controlled” environment.