Dallas Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber was among the last NBA players on the field before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic — after their 113-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on March 11.
The German power forward has been confined to his flat in Dallas most of the time but told DPA he can also shoot a few balls in a friend’s garden, and can’t wait for the Mavs’ training facilities to open again, and then a planned league restart. “I am feeling quite good. I pass the time with training, making music, reading and movies,” the 28-year-old said.
“The circumstances are not perfect but I can shoot in someone’s garden. I am not in contact with anyone there. It is so much fun just having a ball in your hand again. But the halls all remain closed.”
Kleber said that franchise owner Mark Cuban “wants to make sure that there is no health risk” before facilities are re-opened.
Some other teams have returned to individual sessions amid strict social distancing rules at their facilities, and Kleber admits it is hard to remain patient although he is firmly keeping his feet on the ground.
“You are always a little impatient because you want to play and train again. But as long as there is no solid answer and a risk remains I have no problem with it,” he said.
“If you look at the unemployment rate in the US I certainly can’t complain that I miss basketball a little bit. You have to stay grounded and realistic.” Kleber welcomed that the German basketball season will be completed at one venue in Munich over three weeks in June in quarantine-like conditions, and hopes that the NBA will take a similar approach.
“As an athlete you want to continue the season. As a team we reach the playoffs for the first time. That’s a shame now, without fans it’s not the playoff atmosphere you want. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether it is really important,” Kleber said.
There is speculation that the NBA could resume in July, with Las Vegas or Orlando possible host cities.
Kleber said that probably three weeks of team training were needed to get teams back in shape, and added that he misses sports in general at the moment.
“When I turn on the TV I don’t just miss basketball, but sports in general. I think that’s how many people feel. I miss sport in general, it gives you something to cheer and celebrate at home,” he said.
“You definitely don’t have to. But I would like to have sport on TV again.”
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