Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol missed nine games after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocol at the beginning of March. The 36-year-old returned to the starting lineup in the 109-101 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, revealing in the post-game interview a nasty battle with coronavirus (COVID-19) caused his lengthy absence.
After taking a few nights off to work on conditioning, Gasol played on a minute restriction and spent on the floor 15 minutes in total. However, the Spaniard admitted feeling better during the game than he had expected. “I didn’t get as much practice. No practice, definitely,” he said. “So everything had to be done with coaches and guys.
“With the traveling, it’s always hard to find the time, but better than expected. I’m still unathletic, so the infection didn’t affect me much. I’m still not a very athletic guy, so I’m still the same. That’s good.”
Gasol said he expects to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers the following day unless “something happens overnight.” He added COVID-19 made him seriously ill for almost a week to the point he found it difficult to walk up the stairs. “Yeah, and it got me pretty good for five-six days. I was down. I couldn’t move much,” Gasol said.
“The worst symptoms for me were the headaches, difficulty breathing, especially when you try to move and go upstairs. That’s when I realized how hard it was and how it was impacting my body. The body aches, the fever and all that. It’s manageable, but the headaches and the difficulty to breathe were definitely to me the worst symptoms.”
Gasol added that his body shut down out of the blue after initially suffering from light headaches. He is also still regaining his sense of taste and smell. The possibility of infecting his wife and children with the coronavirus worried the center the most when he fell ill, the Spaniard claimed. But Gasol said that “sadly, it went around the house too,” suggesting his family also battled COVID-19.
Gasol hopes mass vaccination will allow Lakers fans to attend playoff games
Despite his heavy bout with coronavirus, Gasol’s view on the risks associated with playing games in the middle of the pandemic didn’t change. The center said players are aware they can contract the virus even if they follow the guidelines, just as he did.
Gasol emphasized the importance of responsible behavior at all times and expressed hope that the vaccine rollout would soon enable the U.S. to return to some sort of normality – perhaps even allow Lakers fans to attend playoff games at Staples Center.
“I think we all understand this is not 100 percent proof of what we’re trying to do here and hopefully, we get through the season and have as many people as possible vaccinated by the playoffs, so people can come and watch the games and enjoy what we do,” he said.
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