Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that guard Marcus Smart is doing “great” in the wake of testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
“Great. He’s great. Great spirits. Joking as always,” Stevens said Friday morning on a conference call with local media. “We had a Zoom with the team, told the team we were going to give them their own space to hang out and have fun — and he told us to get off.
“So he’s great.”
Stevens and the Celtics were in Milwaukee on Wednesday, March 11, preparing to play the Bucks the next night — in front of no fans — when the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus prior to that night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Boston, having played Utah the week before, wound up coming home from Milwaukee the next day and self-isolating, before Smart eventually tested positive for the virus.
Stevens said he and the rest of the Celtics have continued to check in on Smart and that the player feels good. Stevens added that he was proud of Smart for announcing his positive test and spreading the word to people to be smart and self-isolate to try to slow the spread of the disease.
“Obviously this thing spreads very quickly, and doesn’t need as much contact as obviously you get when you’re in the middle of a basketball game,” Stevens said. “I’m just happy that when he tested positive he continued to experience no symptoms and has felt great ever since.
“We landed from Milwaukee 15 days ago now, and he’s been feeling good. I’ve checked in with him as everybody else has, very regularly. I’ve seen him on conference calls a few times and he seems to be doing really well.
“I’m proud of how he kinda took the initiative to tell people that he had it and that he felt good and that he got online and just continued to ask people to practice social distancing and self-isolation right now. It’s a really unique, unsettling time for everyone.”
Stevens admitted that he had begun thinking about the severity of the situation when the league had announced restrictions on media access two days prior to the suspension of games. He said he believes that the NBA shutting things down was a turning point for how the rest of the country began to see the virus.
“We were all flying to Milwaukee that Wednesday after we played Indiana thinking we would probably play the Milwaukee game with no fans,” he said. “But, obviously, that all changed during the Oklahoma City game. And I think in a unique way that was a starting point for the whole country in recognizing that.
“I know a lot of people that have experienced symptoms or that ultimately — throughout this NBA family — that have gotten this. So I think it hit home well before that. But I do think that Wednesday night [when Gobert tested positive] will be something that we all remember and obviously the days following that as we entered this kind of new world. My heart goes out to all the people [impacted by this].
“We’re calling sitting at home an inconvenience. What a joke. There are so many people that are working so hard every day to try to help our communities and help the sick and putting their own selves at risk. And I think any time you turn on the TV it hits home even more.”
As far as basketball goes, Stevens said he’s gone through his usual postseason review process in order to try to be as ready as possible when — or if — games resume. But he said that, until there is a timeline for a potential resumption of play, there isn’t much else to be done.
“I’m sure we will dial into details of that when some possible scenarios become more clear,” Stevens said. “You turn on the TV and there’s different viewpoints of how long this thing is going to take. Anybody that is speaking scientifically or from a math point of view says it’s going to take awhile. You see the schools are closed here until May 4th, you see all the stay-at-home adversaries around the country — I think there is a lot to determine.
“And I don’t think you can determine any [possible scenarios in which the NBA could return] until you have a timeline — and it’s just almost impossible to get a timeline right now.”