Mike D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry speak out on importance of masks after wearing them during scrimmages

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The coronavirus is dangerous for everyone, but especially so for those 65 or older. That was a major concern as the NBA built its bubble at Disney World. Although players are largely in their 20s and extremely healthy, older coaches might be at greater risk, and as such, there was talk early in the process about potentially keeping certain coaches out of Orlando for their own safety. That didn’t come to pass, and one of the things that has allowed those older coaches to stay with their teams has been their commitment to wearing masks. 

The NBA has three coaches at or above that 65 threshold: Mike D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry and Gregg Popovich. All three have worn masks during their scrimmages so far in Orlando. Popovich has not held the role of head coach so far in Orlando, instead allowing his assistants to lead the way during scrimmages, but has still remained committed to wearing one. Both D’Antoni and Gentry have spoken out about the importance of masks since then. 

“It’s important to Houston and a lot of the country. Right now, they should be masked up,” D’Antoni said following the Rockets‘ scrimmage against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, according to USA Today’s Mark Medina. “We do it for Houston. We do it for you. I do it for my players. I do it for my coaches. I just feel like it’s the thing to do right now with where we are as a country.”

Gentry spoke about how little it impacted him, and hoped that could be an example that fans could follow. 

“We got all the young kids looking at the game — they can see that it’s not really restrictive in any way to have a mask on,” Gentry said. “I was fine with it.”

The setup in Orlando, in as much as NBA games can be, is fairly conducive to mask-wearing. Without fans making noise, any obstruction of what coaches have to say is limited. Inactive players and coaches in the second row on the bench are required to wear them during games. So far, the only vocal dissent against masks in the bubble has come from Dwight Howard.

The NBA has a captive audience as many fans are still spending the majority of their time at home during this pandemic. It has taken a number of steps to use its platform to take advantage of that audience socially speaking, such as by putting the words “black lives matter” on the court and allowing players to wear social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys. Their coronavirus messaging isn’t as vast or organized, but the same principle applies. Coaches wearing masks during games sends a message to fans that they should as well. 



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