How do you pass the time whilst doing your part to ensure the spread of the coronavirus does not occur? Have you mastered a new instrument yet? Are you pulling a D.Book, hitting the sticks, and playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare War Zone? Did you finally paint that room in your house? (I did, and trust me, “morning dawn” isn’t as white as you think it is...I feel a repaint in my future).
Members of the Phoenix Suns are no different as we all face this unprecedented time in our existence. In Gina Mizell’s recent article on the Athletic, we are given a glimpse into the life of a Suns player who was practicing self-quarantining before it became society’s modus operandi. The night in which the NBA made its decision to suspend all games, Cameron Johnson was at home, feeling the fatiguing effects of mononucleosis.
Yes, remember before everything went down, that Cam had mono? The rookie three-point specialist had been diagnosed with the “kissing disease” just days before the NBA suspended the season. Cam was recovering on his couch and watching the events in Salt Lake City around Ruby Golbert unfold before him, similar to the rest of us.
The weeks since that night have given birth to phrases we have never heard before, such as, “social distancing,” “fomite,” and “flatten the curve.” We are all learning better ways to avoid spreading the virus, and in doing so, spending plenty of time at home. Johnson is no different, as he has had to find creative ways to better himself, mentally and physically.
Cam Johnson has been authoring a rookie diary for the Athletic this season, providing us insight to the transition of a college player into the NBA, as well as sharing the struggles and triumphs as he navigates his rookie year. The North Carolina forward, best known for his silky smooth three-point jumper, has been a fun read.
Cam had a head start on us all as he began to feel the effects of his illness on March 3. He has had to pass the time creatively, attempting to find ways to make the days go by. He reveals that, like us all, he has the nerdy rabbit holes he travels through. While many have been watching Netflix’s Tiger King, Cam has been, “reading books about space. I always found outer space to be very interesting. I was reading a book about black holes. There’s a lot that goes on in the universe, like time warping and stuff like that.”
If only we could time warp to the time in which the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror and basketball is filling arenas once again.
Personally, I’ve been running around the block and hiking (as I state on our Suns Report: What You Been Doing? Podcast, please do loop trails rather than summit trails. This allows for more social distancing and less of the “40 people at the top of a mountain, huffing and puffing”); doing whatever I can to keep my body and mind sharp. I’ve made the occasional trip to Lowe’s and the grocery store. I find the same result that Cam notes in his diary: That everything has been picked over and you are left with what you can get.
In Johnson’s quest for workout equipment, he notes that he was only able to obtain a 25-pound dumbbell. It is with that dumbbell, coupled with a previously owned weight vest, an agility ladder, a jump rope, and the guidance of Suns’ strength and conditioning coaches that Johnson continues to stay in shape. Yes, that is what an NBA player is doing to keep in shape. I’m sure, minus the Suns conditioning coaches, we have the tools at our disposal to do the same.
One of the hardest aspects of the self-quarantine process is the lack of social interaction. We are, after all, social creatures who thrive in communal environments. I don’t think I’ve talked to my family more than right now. Cam reaches out to his friends and his teammates as well, checking in to see how they’re doing.
He makes a profound observation, stating that “It’s funny because we see each other so much during the season (that) it’s definitely taken for granted. ... suddenly, they’re gone and you have this quick period where you’re like, “Finally, I get to be by myself.” Then, it’s like, “Man, I haven’t seen those guys in a long time now” because I kind of went into quarantine first. But I miss those guys, you know what I mean? It’s kind of crazy how it works.”
Ain’t that the truth? Thankfully we live in a time that connecting is easy, be it a phone call, a text, or a FaceTime conversation. My family has fallen in love with the Houseparty app. It’s like FaceTime but with multiple people in a “room” and you can play games, such as trivia and Catch Phrase. You can even play a dumbed-down version of Card Against Humanity!
Cam shares the desire we all have: that the 2019-20 NBA season will soon return. He is still carrying hope that the final chapters of his rookie season have yet to be written. He is ready to play. And we are ready to watch him.
Lastly, Johnson is focusing on positivity, as we all should. He observes that “if you just sit there and think about it too long and anything that can happen, you’ll start thinking bad-case-scenario things.” Amen, brother. Negativity and fear can easily consume us, especially with the access to information we possess. Find your credible sources, stay informed, but don’t panic.
Focus on ways to breed positivity. Cam is doing it right. He’s bettering his mind by reading books about the vastness of space and time-warping. He is improving his body by working out, albeit with a 25-pound dumbbell. Together we will all come out the other side of this thing. Soon we’ll be watching Johnson as he tickles the ‘old twine.
In the meantime, continue to do your part. Just as Johnson is.