Like all of us, Celtics center Enes Kanter is hanging out at home, trying to pass the time. It’s March and Kanter is healthy, but he is unable to play basketball with the sports world on hiatus because of the coronavirus.
But you’ll hear no complaints from Kanter. He is emphasizing that everyone should remain at home and practice social distancing. He is managing to have some fun in his Boston-area condo, such as placing marshmallows on his treadmill and attempting to gobble them all up. Boredom will lead you to do some bizarre things.
“Right now, you cannot go anywhere and practice, so for me it’s like I’ve been doing a lot of TikTok videos, hanging out and stuff,” he said.
NBA players are not allowed to use their teams’ practice facilities, so the Celtics are connecting players with courts in the area so they can work out individually. Kanter said he has taken some shots at a court at the home of his personal manager but has been staying in shape with home workouts arranged by team trainer Art Horne.
“The Celtics are calling players on FaceTime, trying to make sure they’re getting their pushups in, their crunches, the situps,” he said. “They’re trying to make sure we are trying to stay in shape.”
The Celtics were in Milwaukee preparing for a March 12 showdown with the Bucks when news broke that the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus, and the season was suspended shortly thereafter.
Kanter said he was watching the Dallas-Denver game when the suspension was announced. He went to the hotel lobby, where Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was relaying the information to team officials. The Celtics met on the morning of the 12th and then headed back to Boston.
“That’s when I knew something serious was going on,” Kanter said. “That flight was so weird because we don’t know who has it or not. People sitting together on the plane, just sitting there worried.”
The Celtics players were tested for coronavirus March 14, and guard Marcus Smart tested positive. He announced Sunday night that he has been cleared of the virus by the Massachusetts Department of Health. The Celtics had played the Jazz twice in a two-week period, including four days prior to Gobert’s positive test.
“It was tough because it’s obviously a very scary situation, and you see your teammate going through this kind of thing,” Kanter said. “I know Marcus is a tough guy and I don’t think any virus fazes him.”
In describing the test, Kanter said: “They put something up your nose and they try to get something. But it was very painful.”
Kanter had faced off against Gobert during those two games, so there was a high level of anxiety as he waited for the results.
“You cannot see it, so you have no idea who has it or not,” he said. “The scary part is you don’t really see any symptoms. The person can feel just as normal but he has the virus. So you just have to be careful of everything, just the social distancing and everything."
Kanter said he hasn’t been able to speak to any of his family in Turkey, from which he is banned for his statements about the government. He also has a brother, Kerem, who plays basketball professionally in Spain. Kerem has not been allowed to leave Spain because of virus concerns.
The break has allowed Kanter to heal from various basketball-related injuries. ,
“This is the time to let your body heal, but it’s definitely boring, man,” he said. “You got little bruises and bumps, but it’s boring because we’re all feeling good and want to go out there and play.
"But I don’t think the world has experienced anything like this. It’s history. You can’t do nothing about it. You can’t control it. It’s wild.”
Kanter said the Celtics are keeping in touch through video chats. Coach Brad Stevens is leading these gatherings for the players to exchange ideas, offer updates, and just maintain connections.
“I’m calling people on FaceTime and texting them,” Kanter said. “You’ve just got to keep that spirit going because the season is not over. That’s what we’re hoping for.
"This is the time to realign ourselves with each other. You’ve got to call your teammates and ask not just how they’re doing but their loved ones and friends. It definitely could be a scary thing.”
Kanter has been unable to work on his off-court efforts such as the basketball camps he organizes worldwide because of the uncertainty about when normal life will resume.
“We’re not sure if the season is going to start or not, if I am going to have any time to do any basketball camps or charity work,” he said. “We’re all waiting for this thing to slow down a little bit.”
Kanter said he has no issues with the practice facilities being closed. NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave the league a 30-day window to determine the next course of action. That window expires in roughly 10 days.
“I think the NBA is doing an amazing job of just keeping the players’ safety first,” Kanter said. “I understand a lot of the players can’t wait to go in the gym and start working out, but like, hey, let’s take it easy.
"This is the smartest thing, make it a priority first. Let’s keep this virus from each other, from our families. So I feel the NBA is making the right move.
“When they canceled this season like that, it was tough because we actually have a chance to go out and win a championship. But I feel like safety first, health first. Basketball is important but it’s safety first.”